How to Use 5 HTP With Rhodiola Rosea to Keep Serotonin for the Brain
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, or a chemical in the brain, that is involved in sleep, mood, memory and muscle contraction, among other things. Low serotonin levels can lead to depression and fatigue, and though there are medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, also called SSRIs, some supplements may also help maintain adequate levels of serotonin in the brain. Before using any supplements, talk with your doctor to make sure they are safe to consume.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Tell your doctor about your symptoms of low serotonin, like depression, sleep disturbances or fatigue. Ask whether 5-HTP and Rhodiola rosea may be beneficial for you, and whether they are safe for you to take. Even though they are natural substances, they can interact with medications and cause adverse effects.
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Take 50 mg of 5-HTP, one to three times daily, suggests the University of Maryland Medical Center 1. High doses of this supplement can be toxic, so ask your health-care provider what a safe dosage is for you, to reduce the likelihood of negative side effects and toxicity.
Consume 200 to 600 mg daily of Rhodiola rosea 2. According to Drugs.com, Rhodiola rosea has been shown to increase levels of serotonin in the brain, and it helps increase the permeability of the blood-brain barrier, which allows precursors to serotonin and other neurotransmitters to cross into the brain more easily 2.
If lack of serotonin is causing symptoms of depression, talk with your health-care provider. Depression is a medical illness that can have serious effects. It is treatable with medication, talk therapy and supplements. 5-HTP is converted to serotonin in the body and is a byproduct of tryptophan. You can get tryptophan through dietary sources like turkey, chicken, potatoes and milk. Consult with your health-care provider about whether dietary changes can help boost levels of 5-HTP or serotonin in your brain.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about whether these supplements are safe for you to take. Taking anti-depressants or other drugs with 5-HTP or Rhodiola rosea can cause serious side effects, so it is important that your health-care provider be aware of all medications or other supplements you are taking.
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- University of Maryland Medical Center; 5-HTP; Dr. Steven Ehrlich; 2009
- Drugs.com; Complete Rhodiola Rosea Information; 2011
- Rhodiola. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Modified September 24, 2017.
- Sarris J, Mcintyre E, Camfield DA. Plant-based medicines for anxiety disorders, part 2: a review of clinical studies with supporting preclinical evidence. CNS Drugs. 2013;27(4):301-19. doi:10.1007/s40263-013-0059-9
- Rhodiola. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Updated January 29, 2019.
- Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Reviewed January 15, 2020.
- Mao JJ, Li QS, Soeller I, Xie SX, Amsterdam JD. Rhodiola rosea therapy for major depressive disorder: a study protocol for a randomized, double-blind, placebo- controlled trial. J Clin Trials. 2014;4:170. doi:10.4172/2167-0870.1000170
- Lakhan SE, Vieira KF. Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: systematic review. Nutr J. 2010;9:42. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-42
Jaime Herndon has been writing for health websites since 2009 and has guest-blogged on SheKnows. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and women's studies, she earned a Master of Science in clinical health psychology and a Master of Public Health in maternal-child health. Her interests include oncology, women's health and exercise science.