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Tryptophan supplements fell out of favor when a contaminated batch from Japan caused thousands to fall ill in the 1980s.
For decades, manufacturers shied away from selling this supplement, but it’s now readily available and widely known to be safe.
But SSRIs can have serious side effects and don’t work for everyone, possibly up to 40 percent of those who try them (1).
Some research shows they work no better than a placebo (2).
Several other brain-related disorders besides depression are related to low serotonin, including autism, ADHD, bipolar disorder, sleep disorders, and schizophrenia (3).
Many people with depression or other serotonin deficiency symptoms and conditions are searching for better ways to increase serotonin levels naturally without the use of drugs.
Conversely, there are times when these supplements can react adversely with medications or other serotonin supplements, and you need to know about those, too.Elsewhere in Europe, it’s available as a prescription drug (8).Unfortunately, this supplement’s usefulness for depression may be more hype than substance.A review of 108 studies on 5-HTP revealed there is still no definitive evidence that it helps depression (9). An Ongoing Debate: There’s an ongoing discussion in the natural health community whether it’s better to take tryptophan or 5-HTP to increase serotonin levels.Tryptophan more readily enters the brain, but 5-HTP requires one less step to convert into serotonin.