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Does 5-HTP Have Side Effects?

What to Expect When You Are Taking 5-HTP

Before dietary supplements are allowed to be distributed into the market, they need to undergo rigorous clinical trials first to make sure that they are safe for public consumption. Every weight loss supplement in the market is thus subjected to scientific testing to find out the effects that they have on the body. The same is true in the case of 5-HTP, which is a popular supplement for weight loss, depression, and insomnia.

After spending forty years of scientific study in testing 5-HTP for side effects, results have shown that the product is generally safe. After all, it is a naturally-occurring amino acid in the human body, and it is derived from a natural source, the Griffonia simplicifolia plant. Moreover, it is better tolerated by more people when compared with other weight loss supplements or antidepressants.

5-HTP is not free from side effects, though, and the experience varies from person to person, since different people react to different substances in their own unique way. Therefore, it is useful to know what to expect when taking 5-HTP as a dietary supplement so that you’ll be able to distinguish which reactions are normal and which should alert you that something has gone wrong.

Gastrointestinal Disturbances

The most commonly reported side effects of taking 5-HTP are related to the digestive process. 5-HTP works its magic by increasing serotonin levels in the brain, but because a large portion of serotonin in the body can also be found in the intestines, a handful of gastrointestinal disturbances can ensue.

Anything from mild nausea to diarrhea may occur with 5-HTP. Constipation, cramps, and vomiting are also possible, although these side effects are found to be more bearable when the supplement is taken with meals.

Because of its effects on the digestive system, 5-HTP is not recommended for those with preexisting gastrointestinal health concerns. If you are suffering from Crohn’s disease, ulcers, or any digestive problems at all, you should consult your physician first to find out if 5-HTP is safe for you to use. The doctor may go ahead and clear you, or suggest a different supplement for you to try, depending on your particular condition.

Altered Dreaming Experiences

Another common side effect that 5-HTP consumers experience is vivid dreams. Dreaming, along with sleep, is regulated by the neurotransmitter serotonin, and because 5-HTP has a direct effect on the brain’s serotonin levels, altered dreams may be expected. These alterations may range from simply vivid dreams to outright nightmares. However, since the mechanism of action of 5-HTP is to keep serotonin levels at a desirable range, these vivid dreams do not usually disrupt the sleeping process. Therefore, even though you may experience extreme dreams during sleep, you will still wake up completely rested because of the serotonin levels controlled by the 5-HTP.

It is rare that vivid dreams turn into nightmares, but it is possible, and it does occur. In such cases, though, the nightmares rarely last for long. Once the body is able to adjust to the levels of 5-HTP and serotonin in the body, dreams eventually normalize, and none of these vivid dreams become so unbearable that they cause consumers to stop taking 5-HTP.