Chemical precursor 5-HTP may directly elevate growth hormone levels.
5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is naturally found as an amino acid and serves as a metabolic intermediate between tryptophan and serotonin. It has most routinely been used to promote healthy mood and may also potentially benefit growth by:
- Elevating growth hormone levels. 5-HTP has demonstrated a capacity to directly increase growth hormone counts in various studies.
- Boosting serotonin. As a precursor to serotonin, 5-HTP intake may likely increase serotonin levels, which is necessary for effective growth hormone regulation.
5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), also known as oxitriptan, is a vital chemical compound for various bodily processes due to its standing as a metabolic intermediate: it is the by-product of tryptophan and the precursor to serotonin.
In regards to health, 5-HTP is most commonly used as an indirect nootropic to manage mood and social behavior through its conversion into serotonin. Serotonin is widely considered one of the principal neurotransmitters involved in happiness, well-being, and a positive mood, and is regularly offered as a viable anti-depressant.1
Although 5-HTP is only found in trace quantities in food, it can be naturally acquired after the metabolism of tryptophan, which is readily available in various meats, greens, and dairy.
The relationship between 5-HTP and tryptophan and serotonin spurned its commercial production as an extract of Griffonia simplicifolia seeds. It has since been used in medical practices to ameliorate depression, suppress appetite, aid in sleep, and relieve all kinds of dysphoria.
Supplementation with 5-HTP is beginning to see new life in recent years with a special emphasis in mood-enhancement through its association to serotonin and in workouts for its capacity to boost growth hormone (GH) levels.
How 5-HTP May Help With Growth Hormones
The precise mechanism behind elevating growth hormone levels through 5-HTP has yet to be elucidated, but there is a strong likelihood that this benefit stems from its connections to tryptophan and serotonin.
Tryptophan & Serotonin Support
Secondly, 5-HTP is a precursor to the neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin, which manage growth hormone secretion together.5 Supplementing with 5-HTP may, in turn, increase serotonin levels and allow its beneficial effects to take place.6
5-HTP Benefits & Uses for Growth Hormones
Considering that 5-HTP directly increases growth hormone levels and amps up cellular production, it may potentially be used to:
- Improve muscle growth after workouts
- Enhance muscle healing and regeneration
By elevating serotonin levels, 5-HTP may indirectly be capable of7:
- Diminishing depression
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Improving sleep
- Enhancing memory
Through these effects, 5-HTP shows promise as a muscle builder and mental performance enhancer. Moreover, it”s also believed to assist in weight management by increasing satiety and reducing appetite.8
Research indicates that 5-HTP may surge growth hormone (GH) levels:
- Administration of 5-HTP increased GH levels in rats.9
- Administration of 5-HTP increased GH levels in anesthetized dogs10 and normal male dogs.11
- Administration of 20 mg/kg body weight 5-HTP increased GH levels in lambs.12
In the limited number of clinical studies conducted, 5-HTP seems to elevate growth hormone levels while enhancing mood.
In this investigation, 11 healthy adults were given 200 mg of 1-5-hydroxytryptophan. Significant increases in GH plasma levels were noted 30 – 120 minutes after infusion with a mean peak value of 32.0 +/- 8.8 ng/ml.
- The study concluded that “a significant increase of GH release (P less than 0.01) was noticed 30-120 min after the end of 1-5 HTP infusion in both men and women.”13
In this investigation, 10 normal adults were given 0.8 mg / kg body weight of serotonin for 1 hour, after which they were given additional loading doses of 0.1 mg / kg body weight of 5-HTP and then two more times at 4 hours and 6 hours after the first dose. Administration of 5-HTP demonstrated a significant, but transient, increase in plasma GH, prolactin (PRL), and cortisol.
- The study concluded that “individuals receiving additional loading doses of 5-HTP demonstrated a subsequent increase in GH and cortisol.”14
In this investigation, a group of adults were administered 150 mg of 5-hydroxytryptophan. Human growth hormone levels were subsequently elevated in most cases, but not when given with glucose.
- The study concluded that “oral administration of 150 mg of 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) resulted in a rise in plasma human growth hormone (HGH), ACTH and cortisol in most of the subjects tested.”15
Dosage for Growth Hormones
5-HTP may be taken as:
- A supplemental capsule, 50 – 100 mg
- Research studies tend to use slightly higher doses of up to 500 mg
- An oral cavity spray, 7.86 mg
Supplementation with 5-HTP seems to be most effective when it’s taken on an empty stomach.
Supplements in Review Says
- 5-HTP, 100 mg
Early research shows 5-HTP’s promise in boosting growth hormone. Research concerning 5-HTP’s benefits as a growth supplement are few due to it’s unfortunate association to tryptophan contamination. However, the studies conducted point to the direct and indirect impact 5-HTP may have on elevating growth hormone levels as a by-product of tryptophan and a precursor to serotonin.
Take 5-HTP as a standardized 100 mg tablet. We recommend starting off with 5-HTP in its standardized 100 mg form. It may be best to hold off on trying higher doses until more research is conducted.
- Frazer A, Hensler JG. Serotonin involvement in physiological function and behavior. In: Siegel GJ, ed. Basic Neurochemistry: Molecular, Cellular and Medical Aspects. 6th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott-Raven;1999. ↩
- 5-Hydroxytryptophan. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/5hydroxytryptophan-5htp Updated 2016. Accessed 2016. ↩
- Charney DS, Heninger GR, et al. The effect of intravenous L-tryptophan on prolactin and growth hormone and mood in healthy subjects. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1982;77(3):217-22. ↩
- .Hyyppa MT, Jolma T, et al. L-tryptophan treatment and the episodic secretion of pituitary hormones and cortisol. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 1979;4:29-35. ↩
- Smythe, GA, Lazarus, L. Growth hormone regulation by melatonin and serotonin. Nature. 1973;244:230-1. ↩
- Turner EH, Loftis JM, et al. Serotonin a la carte: supplementation with the serotonin precursor 5-hydroxytryptophan. Pharmacol Ther. 2006 Mar;109(3):325-38. ↩
- Hinz M, Stein A, et al. 5-HTP efficacy and contraindications. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2012;8:323-2. ↩
- Cangiano C, Ceci F, et al. Eating behavior and adherence to dietary prescriptions in obese adult subjects treated with 5-hydroxytryptophan. Am J Clin Nutr. 1992 Nov;56(5):863-7. ↩
- Cocchi D, Gil-Ad I, et al. Effect of 5-hydroxytryptophan on prolactin and growth hormone release in the infant rat: evidence for different neurotransmitter mediation. Neuroendocrinology.1977;24(1):1-13. ↩
- Zimmermann H, Kaplan SL, et al. Evidence that the effects of 5-hydroxytryptophan on the secretion of ACTH and growth hormone in dogs are not mediated by central release of serotonin. Neuroendocrinology. 1982 Jan;34(1):27-31. ↩
- Richard GE, Holland FJ, et al. Regulation of prolactin and growth hormone secretion. Site and mechanism of action of thyrotropin-releasing hormone, L-dopa and L-5-hydroxytryptophan in unanesthetized dogs. Neuroendocrinology. 1980;30(3):139-43. ↩
- Richards GE, Kendal JZ. Effect of intravenous 5-hydroxytryptophan on hypothalamic concentration of norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin and hydroxyindole acetic acid in the fetal lamb. Life Sci. 1987 May 18;40(20):2001-5. ↩
- Lancranjan I, Wirz-Justice A, et al. Effect of 1-5 hydroxytryptophan infusion on growth hormone and prolactin secretion in man. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1977 Sep;45(3):588-93. ↩
- Mashchak CA, Kletzk OA, et al. Transient effect of L-5-hydroxytryptophan on pituitary function in men and women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1983 Jan;56(1):170-6. ↩
- Imura H, Nakai Y, et al. EFFECT OF 5-HYDROXYTRYPTOPHAN (5-HTP) ON GROWTH HORMONE AND ACTH RELEASE IN MAN. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 1973;38(1). ↩
- Takahashi S, Kondo H, et al. Growth Hormone Responses to Administration of L-5-Hydroxytryptophan (L-5-HTP) in Manic-Depressive Psychoses. Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences. 1973 Sep;27(3):197-206. ↩