5-HTP works in the brain and central nervous system by increasing the production of the chemical serotonin. Serotonin can affect sleep, appetite, temperature, sexual behavior, and pain sensation. Since 5-HTP increases the synthesis of serotonin, it is used for several diseases where serotonin is believed to play an important role including depression, insomnia, obesity, and many other conditions.

5-HTP may have been shown to help with the following conditions:

  • Depression. There is some evidence that 5-HTP might be about as effective as some prescription drugs for depression.
  • Fibromyalgia. Taking 5-HTP by mouth appears to improve symptoms of fibromyalgia including pain severity, morning stiffness, and sleeplessness.
  • Anxiety. There is some evidence suggesting that 5-HTP might reduce symptoms of anxiety disorders.
  • Weight loss and obesity. Preliminary evidence suggests that taking 5-HTP might help reduce appetite, caloric intake, and weight in obese people.