Do 5-HTP and Adderall interact?

In this article, we will take a close look at 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), a naturally occurring amino acid and a precursor to the neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin. We will delve into its benefits, how it works in the body, and its potential interactions with medications like Adderall. We will also discuss the role of enzymes like tryptophan hydroxylase, indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase, and tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase in the synthesis of serotonin.
Natasha Puttick

Natasha Puttick

Graduate medical student at Barts and London.

What is 5-HTP?

5-Hydroxytryptophan, commonly known as 5-HTP, is a naturally occurring amino acid and a chemical precursor in the biosynthesis of the neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin. It is often used as a supplement to boost serotonin levels, which can help regulate mood, appetite, and other important functions. 5-HTP is not found in the foods we eat, but it is made from the seeds of the African plant Griffonia simplicifolia and is available as a supplement [1, 2].

5-HTP is also a derivative of tryptophan, another amino acid. It is well absorbed from an oral dose, with about 70 percent ending up in the bloodstream. It easily crosses the blood-brain barrier and effectively increases central nervous system synthesis of serotonin [2].

In the central nervous system, serotonin levels have been implicated in the regulation of sleep, depression, anxiety, aggression, appetite, temperature, sexual behavior, and pain sensation. Therapeutic administration of 5-HTP has been shown to be effective in treating a wide variety of conditions, including depression, fibromyalgia, binge eating associated with obesity, chronic headaches, and insomnia [2].

How 5-HTP Supplementation Works

5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is a naturally occurring amino acid and a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin. It's often used as a supplement to boost serotonin levels, which can help regulate mood, appetite, and other important functions [1].

When you take a 5-HTP supplement, it's converted into serotonin in your body. The amount of 5-HTP that reaches the central nervous system (CNS) is affected by the extent to which 5-HTP is converted to serotonin in the periphery [3].

The conversion of 5-HTP to serotonin is controlled by the enzyme amino acid decarboxylase. In the periphery, this enzyme can be blocked by peripheral decarboxylase inhibitors (PDIs) such as carbidopa [3].

In the absence of supplementation with exogenous 5-HTP, the amount of endogenous 5-HTP available for serotonin synthesis depends on the availability of tryptophan and on the activity of various enzymes, especially tryptophan hydroxylase, indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase, and tryptophan 2,3-dioxygenase (TDO) [3].

Can Adderall and 5-HTP Interact?

Adderall, is a prescription medication used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It works by increasing the levels of certain chemicals in the brain that help with focus and attention. But what happens when these two substances are combined?

Based on the available scientific literature, there is a potential for interaction between 5-HTP supplements and Adderall. Adderall may interact with a supplement containing tryptophan, which is a precursor to 5-HTP. This is because tryptophan increases the amount of serotonin in your body, and taking this with Adderall may increase your risk of serotonin syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition characterized by agitation, hallucinations, rapid heartbeat, and fever [4].

Given there is a potential for a serious and potentially life-threatening interaction between 5-HTP and Adderall, Therefore, if you're considering taking 5-HTP supplements while on Adderall, it's crucial to discuss this with your healthcare provider first. They can provide personalized advice based on your health history and current medications.

Natasha Puttick

Natasha Puttick

Natasha is a medical student at Barts and the London school of Medicine and Dentistry, with an interest in the social determinants of health. She graduated from the University of Oxford with a BA in Human Sciences and has obtained two publications. Her most recent work investigating clinical vaccine trials has been published in BMJ Public Health.