5-HTP is a precursor to the hormones serotonin and melatonin. It has been compared to many antidepressant medications because of its positive effect on mood.
Serotonin regulates mood, behavior, appetite, dilation of blood vessels and many other body processes. Serotonin is released in response to fullness and regulates appetite. Deficiency of serotonin may lead to overeating and obesity. This also accounts for the fact that when we are under stress, our appetite tends to change.
Melatonin regulates the body’s sleep/wake cycles. Optimal levels of melatonin allow us to have restful and restorative sleep. Melatonin also cues the body to release growth hormone and sex hormones, which are used during sleep to repair body tissues and normalize hormone levels. Finally, melatonin is an antioxidant that protects tissue by neutralizing damaging free radicals.
Before taking 5-HTP, consult with a health care professional. 5-HTP can interact with certain medications like antidepressants.