The neurotransmitter 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is required as an intermediate for the production of serotonin. This in turn has a positive effect on our mood. If our organism does not produce enough, 5-HTP as a dietary supplement can compensate for the deficit.

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5-HTP – neurotransmitter and link

5-HTP is an amino acid as well as a direct precursor of serotonin, the messenger substance sometimes referred to as the “happiness hormone”.

Precursor from food

For our body to produce 5-HTP, it needs L-tryptophan as an essential precursor. In vegetarian or vegan nutrition, adequate absorption of L-tryptophan is not guaranteed. As a result, there is also not enough 5-HTP available to form serotonin. 

5-HTP in food

This amino acid is found primarily in:

  • Poultry

  • Fish

  • Eggs

5-HTP and its task as a neurotransmitter

Neurotransmitters, as the body’s own messenger substances, pass information from one nerve cell to the other. An essential property of amino acid 5-HTP is to be able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. As a result, serotonin synthesis in the central nervous system increases rapidly. The serotonin produced can perform its important tasks throughout the body. 

Natural 5-HTP – from griffonia

In nature, 5-HTP is produced in various banana species and in the African black bean (bot. Griffonia simplicifolia). The amino acid from griffonia is used for the production of dietary supplements. For this purpose, the seeds are ground and processed further. The properties of this herbal dietary supplement are similar to those of the body's own 5-HTPs. 

View Product: Griffonia 50 Serolution®

Studies with Griffonia

The same effect that is ascribed to serotonin is also hoped for from 5-HTP. It is thought to balance appetite, brighten your mood, reduce weight, and have a calming effect. Animals reacted with behavior that showed a reduction in fear in tests. 


Since 5-HTP affects the serotonin balance, interactions with medications are not excluded. This applies in particular to serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and other antidepressants. Patients with this medication should seek medical advice before taking 5-HTP. Pregnant and breastfeeding women must also discuss the consumption of this dietary supplement with their treating physician. 

“The dose creates the poison”

As with everything we take, this well-known guiding principle also applies here. While side effects are to be expected when taking SSRIs and other medications, 5-HTP, which contains the African black bean Griffonia, is thought to be a foodstuff. Nonetheless, an increased intake of 5-HTP can cause undesirable consequences. An overdose can, for example, lead to serotonin syndrome – with symptoms such as restlessness, muscle twitching, sweating, and tremors. In this case, a doctor should be consulted. Experience reports also show that a dose that is too high at the start of intake can lead to nausea or loss of appetite. In the case of 5-HTP, it is particularly important to adhere to the recommended doses. If you have any uncertainties, you should seek professional advice, for example from a doctor.

From 5-HTP to serotonin

Further research is being conducted on the application possibilities of 5-HTP. Its properties have led to it being seen as a precursor of serotonin. Serotonin affects on

  • body temperature

  • appetite

  • the central reward system

  • moods and emotions

  • driving and sleep

  • pain sensation

The extent to which 5-HTP can affect all these functions requires further clinical studies.

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