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is 5-htp natural ? sources of 5-htp  is 5-htp safe ? what is 5htp made from what is in 5-htp

Is 5-htp natural? Boost your feel-good chemical with nature’s gifts

Published Jun 15, 2023 | Updated May 15, 2024
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5-htp is a popular supplement as it’s the building block of your feel-good chemical serotonin which helps you regulate mood and sleep. With its rise in popularity, questions about the supplement are beginning to arise: Is 5-htp natural? Is 5-htp safe? Whilst the short answer is yes, this article answers those questions to paint a clear picture of 5-htp and its occurrence in nature. 

Watch this video to discover how to increase Serotonin naturally:

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Serotonin: your feel-good chemical

Your feel-good chemical serotonin is an important brain messenger and hormone that mediates a range of physiological functions[1]. It is usually paired together with dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins that form the so-called happiness chemicals. Serotonin can get released when you’re out in the sunlight, while exercising, getting a massage or remembering happy events[2]. When that happens, serotonin regulates your emotions, such as your mood and temperament in the frontal part of your brain[3]. When your serotonin levels are normal, you feel more emotionally stable and happier[4]. Serotonin also regulates sleep. The more normal your serotonin levels are, the better and longer you’ll sleep[4]. Your brain also needs serotonin to make your sleep hormone melatonin which regulates your sleep-wake cycle. You can read more about it here. 

What comes first? Tryptophan, 5-htp and serotonin

As described above, serotonin is a chemical messenger in your brain. It can only get released if it has been produced in your brain. But how does that happen? 

We ingest a nutrient that is needed for the production of messengers in the brain called tryptophan[5]. Tryptophan is a so-called essential amino acid which means your body has to get it from your diet instead of making it itself[5]. When tryptophan is in your body it starts competing with other molecules to be picked up by a special transporter[6]. The transporter allows tryptophan to enter the brain from the blood[6]. There, another molecule joins tryptophan and together they transform into the direct building block of serotonin, called  5-htp[6]. So, serotonin can only be produced if your brain gets the right amount of 5-htp. For example, if your body transported just a small amount of tryptophan into your brain which was then converted into 5-htp, your serotonin levels will stay low even if you exercise or stay outside in the sunshine.  So, what is 5-htp made from?


Getting enough 5-htp through a tryptophan-rich diet 

You can get the recommended daily dose of 5-htp through adequate tryptophan intake. Tryptophan is found in protein-rich foods. The World Health Organization published the Protein and amino acid requirements in human nutrition manual in 2007[7]. According to the manual, the recommended daily intake of tryptophan is 4 mg per 1 kg of human weight per day. An NHS 2019 study found that the average weight was 72.1 kg for women and 85.4 kg for men[8]. Therefore, UK women and men should ingest somewhere between 290 and 240 mg of tryptophan per day. Now take a look at how much tryptophan you can find in 100 g of different plant-based foods. 

Tryptophan in 100g of food (in mg)

Edamame

195

Chia Seeds

124

Hemp Seeds

105

Flax Seeds

84

Raw Cashews

82

Raw Peanuts

71

Avocados

50

Cremini Mushrooms

49

Kiwifruit

27

Apricots

23

With a typical Western diet, people usually ingest around 500 mg of tryptophan per day[9]. Due to tryptophan’s competition with other amino acids to win over the transporter molecule, only 2–3% of tryptophan enters the brain where it is converted into 5-htp and then into serotonin[6,9]. 100mg daily of 5-htp has shown positive effects on mood and sleep regulation. If you do the quick math that means you should ingest around 13-14 times the usual tryptophan intake in the typical Western diet for it to be converted into the recommended daily amount of 5-htp.


Natural sources of 5-htp

Another way to get the recommended daily dose of 5-htp is directly from a natural source. There are a few 5-htp sources known as of today although it is hard to ingest them in an adequate amount naturally. 

Studies showed 5-htp can be found in some mushrooms (White bottom mushroom, Honey mushroom, Bay bolete mushroom and porcini mushroom just to name a few), weed couch grass, quack grass, St. John’s wort (when planted in a very specific way) and intertidal sea sponge in very small doses[10,11,12]. A fairly new study conducted in Brazil also showed that 5-htp is present in Brazilian honey[13]. However, the detection of 5-htp in the study and 5-htp concentrations depended on seasons, year, flowering, and climate[13,14]. Griffonia Simplicifolia seeds are the largest source of 5-htp[15,16]. One seed contains up to 20% of 5-htp by weight[15]. However, Griffonia seeds are prohibited to be consumed in the UK and Europe. Below, you can see the amounts of 5-htp in 100g of certain sources.  

5-htp in 100g of source (in mg)

The amount of ingested source to reach 100mg of 5-htp

White bottom mushroom

<0.001

100 kg 

Honey mushroom

<0.001

100 kg

Bay bolete mushroom

<0.001

100 kg

Porcini mushroom

0.18

55 kg

Brazilian honey

2

5 kg

It’s fair to say that getting an adequate intake of 5-htp from most of the above-mentioned natural sources would be almost impossible and definitely unhealthy as high amounts of those natural sources contain other compounds which can be toxic when ingested in big amounts. 


5-htp natural supplement 

If you’re looking to supplement 5-htp you can opt for brain feed’s high-quality serotonin enhancement product. 


Tax included

Pack Size

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So, what is in 5-htp? 5-htp is just one of the compounds found in Griffonia seeds, therefore, it has to be extracted. The 5-htp in brain feed’s 5-htp 100 mg tablets is extracted and isolated from Ghanian Griffonia Simplicifolia seeds. 98% of the tablet is comprised of 5-htp making it the smallest, nutrient-dense tablet available without including unnecessary bulking agents. 100 mg 5-htp per tablet is a high-quality and high-strength product. You should start by taking only 1 tablet with a meal. You can take a maximum of 2 tablets of 5-htp per day. 200 mg of 5-htp and more per day have been safely taken for up to one year. brain feed recommends taking 5-htp when you have an emotional need for the product. All new customers get 15% off their first purchase when using the code ‘NEW15’ at the checkout.


With all the questions answered you’re encouraged to be mindful of your tryptophan and 5-htp intake so you can better regulate your mood and sleep.

References

[1] Jones, L. A., Sun, E. W., Martin, A. M., & Keating, D. J. (2020). The ever-changing roles of serotonin. The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology, 125, 105776. 

[2] Korb, A. (2017). Boosting Your Serotonin Activity. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/prefrontal-nudity/201111/boosting-your-serotonin-activity#:~:text=The%20four%20ways%20to%20boost,a%20more%20in%2Ddepth%20look.

[3] Hariri, A. R., & Brown, S. M. (2006). Serotonin. American Journal of Psychiatry, 163(1), 12–12.

[4] Serotonin (2022). Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22572-serotonin#:~:text=Mood%3A%20Serotonin%20in%20your%20brain,serotonin%20are%20associated%20with%20depression.

[5] Tryptophan (n.d.). National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002332.htm#:~:text=Tryptophan%20is%20an%20amino%20acid,get%20it%20from%20your%20diet.

[6] Jenkins, T. A., Nguyen, J. C. D., Polglaze, K. E., & Bertrand, P. P. (2016). Influence of Tryptophan and Serotonin on Mood and Cognition with a Possible Role of the Gut-Brain Axis. Nutrients, 8(1), 56.

[7] Moody, A. (2020). Health Survey for England 2019 Overweight and obesity in adults and children. NHS Digital. https://files.digital.nhs.uk/9D/4195D5/HSE19-Overweight-obesity-rep.pdf

[8] The World Health Organization. (2007). Protein and amino acid requirements in human nutrition manual. WHO Technical Report Series. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/43411/WHO_TRS_935_eng.pdf

[9] L-tryptophan & 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) (n.d.). Accurate Clinic. https://accurateclinic.com/accurate-education-l-tryptophan-5-htp-5-hydroxytryptophan/#:~:text=The%20typical%20Western%20diet%20contains,HTP

[10] Fijałkowska, A., Jędrejko, K., Sułkowska-Ziaja, K., Ziaja, M., Kała, K., & Muszyńska, B. (2022). Edible Mushrooms as a Potential Component of Dietary Interventions for Major Depressive Disorder. Foods, 11(10), Article 10.

[11] Maffei, M. E. (2021). 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP): Natural Occurrence, Analysis, Biosynthesis, Biotechnology, Physiology and Toxicology. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 22(1), Article 1. 

[12] Muszyńska, B., Sułkowska-Ziaja, K., & Wójcik, A. (2013). Levels of physiologically active indole derivatives in the fruiting bodies of some edible mushrooms (Basidiomycota) before and after thermal processing. Mycoscience, 54(5), 321–326. 

[13] Kim, T.-K., Fabisiak, A., Brzeminski, P., Reiter, R. J., & Slominski, A. T. (2022). Serotonin, melatonin and their precursors and metabolites and vitamin D3 derivatives in honey. Melatonin Research, 5(3), 374–380. 

[14] Borges, C. V., Nunes, A., Costa, V. E., Orsi, R. de O., Basilio, L. S. P., Monteiro, G. C., Maraschin, M., & Lima, G. P. P. (2022). Tryptophan and Biogenic Amines in the Differentiation and Quality of Honey. International Journal of Tryptophan Research, 15, 11786469221102098.

[15] Patel, K. (2022). Griffonia Simplicifolia. Examine. https://examine.com/supplements/griffonia-simplicifolia/

[16] Giurleo, D. (2017). A phytochemical exploration of Griffonia simplicifolia seeds and leaves [Master Thesis]. Graduate School-New Brunswick Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

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