anxiety and dietary supplements
April 18, 2008 4:02 PM   Subscribe

My doctor prescribed 5-HTP (dietary supplement ) for anxiety. If others have used it, can you pl. let me know your experience. What side effects did you experience ? Were there sexual side effects ?
posted by tom123 to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I used to take 5-HTP extensively. I didn't notice any sexual side effects, but it did tend to make me a bit drowsy, so I limited my use to right before bed. Also, I recall that my dreams during that period of time were much more vivid, although that could be the result of me suddenly being more aware of my sleeping habits.

Note: I was not taking 5-HTP for anxiety. I was using it to offset the side effects of certain recreational chemicals that I used in those days. Your prescription might be for a significantly different amount than what I was taking, and so the standard IANYD warning applies here.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 4:10 PM on April 18, 2008

My purpose was taking 5-HTP was as Parasite Unseen seems to be. Never had any ill effects from it.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:31 PM on April 18, 2008

I've taken it for insomnia and seasonal depression. I didn't have any side effects that I can remember, certainly no sexual side effects. I remember that I had very vivid dreams while on it, but that's probably because 5-HTP usually comes bundled with B6 (which causes crazy dreams).
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 4:38 PM on April 18, 2008

I give it to my 9-year-old son twice a day. He seems more calm on it, certainly. Other than that, no issues.
posted by GuyZero at 4:43 PM on April 18, 2008

I took 5-HTP for insomnia, and it really helped with that. However, I stopped because it gave me terrible headaches.
posted by Squeak Attack at 4:52 PM on April 18, 2008

It has worked very well for me. Find the dose that works for you, though - I started on 100mg a day which dulled my mind dramatically and left me almost unable to communicate with other people (don't let that scare you - the issue went away the next day when I lowered my dose). I backed of to 50mg a day, and things have been great since. I'm going on two years now, with periods of being off it when I felt I didn't need it.
posted by MillMan at 5:06 PM on April 18, 2008

It gave me crazy dreams, but I don't remember any other side-effects.
posted by belladonna at 5:23 PM on April 18, 2008

I took 5-HTP in the morning only. Late at night it gave me the CRAZY DREAMING.
posted by brautigan at 5:54 PM on April 18, 2008

I also took it for a while for depression and anxiety. No memorable side effects aside from what people have already mentioned: hooyah CRAZY DREAMS.
posted by fuzzbean at 6:07 PM on April 18, 2008

It didn't really have any effect on me, but the roommate that recommended them to me liked them.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:41 PM on April 18, 2008

The enterochromaffin cells in your gut already produce the vast bulk of circulating serotonin within your body. Over-stimulating circulating serotonin levels can result in pulmonary hypertension as a side-effect, but this is rare and difficult to accomplish with oral dosing.

Your gut uses serotonin signalling as part of its motility regulation. Derangement of gut serotonin signalling has been implicated in at least a subset of Irritable Bowel Syndrome cases.

Serotoninergic stimulation has some recognised adverse effects. You could check something like Serotonin a la carte: Supplementation with the serotonin precursor 5-hydroxytryptophan, paying special attention to Section 4.4: Safety issues regarding 5-hydroxytryptophan.

Here's a PDF.
The most common adverse effects of 5-HTP are gastrointestinal (GI) and include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Less commonly, headache, insomnia, and palpitations can occur.
I am not a doctor, not your doctor, and this is not medical advice.
posted by meehawl at 10:03 PM on April 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

I'm on 5-HTP plus a B-complex vitamin right now. I like it and I've got no side effects, and the price is right.

I used to take Cymbalta instead, and when I first started on it a few years ago, I got a few weeks of no appetite and no sex drive, and a few months of the aforementioned crazy dreaming (I would recall three or four dreams a night, every night), both of which went away eventually. I'm not particularly medically knowledgable, but I wonder if I'm not getting the crazy dreams on 5-HTP because I already got that side effect out of my system through another medication.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:58 AM on April 19, 2008

Meehawl -- You just gave me some information to track down an issue I'm having. I'm on an SSRI, have been for a year+ now and am experiencing a sudden onset of IBS, Crohn's, or something else -- getting scoped a week from Tuesday to see if they can figure it out. I wonder if the SSRIs are screwing with my ECL cells and overproducing acid... or the other way around if the reason I need the SSRIs is that my enterochromaffin cells are screwed up somehow.
posted by SpecialK at 8:17 AM on April 19, 2008

I can confirm that nausea and vomiting occur in larger doses. I accidentally received a high milligram dosage (1 capsule = 200mg) so the benefit that should have been there was negated by the fact that I spent a night or two super queasy until I figured out what was going wrong. Standard disclaimer that YMMV and IANAD.
posted by kuppajava at 9:37 AM on April 19, 2008

Queasyness is also pretty common with B vitamins. If I take a big B complex pill on an empty stomach, oooohhhh.... ugh. Awful.
posted by GuyZero at 10:30 AM on April 19, 2008

I've been taking 5-HTP for a few months now to help with fibro symptoms. It's working rather well, I hurt less and have less bad, bad days. One side effect I've noticed is when I run out or forget to take it for a few days, I get the munchies wicked bad. Like, you've been smoking with Cheech and Chong bad, eat everything in the house including that bizarre funky jelly in the back of the fridge bad.

No real nausea, but I'll second the wacky dreams.
posted by teleri025 at 10:54 AM on April 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

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