L-5 hydroxytryptophan is a natural chemical in the body that people can also take as a nutritional supplement. Some people believe that taking the supplement can improve certain aspects of health, including mental health and sleep quality.
The compound is a natural precursor to a neurotransmitter called serotonin, which helps produce “feel-good” chemicals in the brain and body.
Many studies into the health benefits of 5-HTP and sleep are based on animal models.
For example, a 2018 studyTrusted Source looked the effects of 5-HTP and gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) on fruit flies, mice, and rats. The scientists used caffeine to induce sleeplessness, then they administered the GABA/5-HTP combination.
They found that the combination could induce sleep and seemed to enhance sleep quality and length of sleeping time.
Another review of treatmentsTrusted Source available for sleep problems found that 5-HTP may be beneficial in treating disorders of arousal, such as sleep terrors and sleepwalking.
For weight loss
Taking 5-HTP may support behaviors that help a person lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
They then performed an MRI scan while showing participants real food and images of food to see how their brains responded.
A brain response for protein-rich foods was more likely to occur in those who took the 5-HTP supplement than in people who did not.
Protein can help a person maintain a healthy body weight, so the researchers concluded that 5-HTP may help a person lose weight by reducing cravings for unhealthful foods.
It is vital to note that this study was very small, so larger-scale research is necessary to validate these results.
As a dietary supplement for adults, take two capsules daily with water or juice after meal.