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Generalized Anxiety Disorder and 5-Hydroxytryptophan

Read more about 5-Hydroxytryptophan.


Tryptophan is a naturally occurring amino acid in certain foods. In the human body it acts as a precursor to serotonin, which is then converted in Melatonin. A substitute form, 5-HTP or 5-hydroxytryptophan is a more common and readily available form of Tryptophan.

Effect of 5-Hydroxytryptophan on Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Tryptophan (5-HTP) has been historically prescribed for the treatment of depression, but since anxiety is often a symptom of depression, this is sometimes also prescribed for anxiety as well. (The same is true for insomnia, which is also a symptom of depression that can be beneficially affect with a 5-HTP supplement.)

Research Evidence on 5-Hydroxytryptophan

An 8-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled study compared 5-HTP and the drug clomipramine in 45 individuals suffering from anxiety disorders.31 The results showed that 5-HTP was effective, but clomipramine was more effective.

Side Effects and Warnings

5-HTP should not be used in combination with antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) or herbs that have MAOI activity. 4

As Tryptophan is sometimes recommended for relieving insomnia, it may cause some drowsiness.

Some users have reported nausea in the first few days of usage, but it typically goes away.


  1. Kahn RS, Westenberg HG, Verhoeven WM, et al. Effect of a serotonin precursor and uptake inhibitor in anxiety disorders; a double-blind comparison of 5-hydroxytryptophan, clomipramine and placebo. Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 1987;2:33-45.