5 HTP is a chemical our body makes out of tryptophan and a precursor to serotonin. Whereas 5-HTP itself is not found in the food that we eat, tryptophan is an amino acid that is found in certain foods like poultry, milk and pumpkin. Once tryptophan has been converted into 5 HTP, it is changed once again into serotonin. It is serotonin- a neurotransmitter responsible for mood which gives 5 HTP its medicinal benefits and can help treat a variety of conditions linked to low levels of serotonin such as depression and insomnia.
There is some evidence that 5-HTP could work just as well as antidepressant drugs for people with mild or moderate forms of depression. Like the prescription drugs Prozac or Zoloft, 5-HTP increases the body’s production of serotonin and its availability in the brain. SSRIs like Prozac work by allowing the brain to reuse its existing serotonin while 5-HTP actually replenishes the brain’s serotonin levels. 5-HTP has been just as effective as these prescription drugs with far fewer of the associated side effects