Generalized Anxiety Disorder and 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.
- 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.