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Complementary Medicine

Is it Safe to Take 5-HTP and How Many Times Can This Be Taken?

04/06/2004

Question:

Hi, I have recently stopped taking anti-depressants after many years. The only medications I take now are Primarin .625 one every morning, Florasil 4.7 three time a day and sometimes Benadryl for allergies. I would like to know if I can take a supplement called, 5-HTP. If so, when is the best time to take this in a day? How many mg`s per day? Do I take this everyday or do I only take it when needed? What are the good and bad effects that I need to look out for? Also, I would like to add these two supplements: Co-Enzyme Q10 600mg, once a day in morning L-Carnitine 1,500mg a day while taking 5HTP, is this okay?"

Answer:

There hasn't been enough research to recommend 5-HTP. It is converted to Serotonin in the body, but whether or not this crosses the blood-brain barrier, and becomes clinically significant, is not known. Research done in the 1970`s and 80`s show that 5-HTP doesn't appear to be effective in serotonin-resistant depression. Since there isn`t good data to support its use, I don`t recommend it, and therefore don`t have information on dosage and use with other supplements.

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Response by:

Tanya I Edwards, MD, MEd Tanya I Edwards, MD, MEd
Formerly, Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University