When looking for a more natural way to treat their depression, many people are faced with the choice of 5-HTP vs St John’s Wort. In this article, we’ll explain the benefits and drawbacks of each of these supplements, helping you to make the right choice.
A quarter of people in England experience a mental health issue every year, so it’s no wonder that more and more people are looking for more natural ways to manage their depression. 5-HTP and St John’s Wort are both popular choices when it comes to alleviating the symptoms of depression.
Should You Choose 5-HTP or St John's Wort For Depression?
5-HTP and St John’s Wort are often seen as the main two alternatives to prescription medication for depression. Both are promoted as a natural remedy which can lift your mood and promote your mental wellbeing.
But which supplement is most effective and how do you know which is right for you?
Read on to discover the difference between 5-HTP and St John’s Wort and to find out which supplement is right for you.
What Is 5-HTP?
5-HTP is an amino acid which is naturally produced by your body. This amino acid plays a key role in triggering the production of serotonin, the hormone which regulates your mood, sleep and appetite.
However, 5-HTP isn’t just produced in the human body. It can also be found within the seeds of the African plant Griffonia Simplicifolia. After being extracted from the seeds for Griffonia Simplicifolia, 5-HTP can then be made into naturally-derived supplements.
How Does 5-HTP Help Depression?
5-HTP is heavily involved in the production of serotonin. The more 5-HTP that you have in your body, the more serotonin your body is able to produce. That’s why, when you take 5-HTP supplements, the amount of serotonin that your body is able to produce increases.
Research has shown that serotonin plays an important role in regulating your mood, as well as impacting your sleep, appetite, sexual behaviour and pain tolerance. Increased serotonin levels have been found to alleviate depression, improve insomnia, suppress appetite and even help with migraines.
As 5-HTP is directly involved with serotonin production, taking 5-HTP supplements can help to increase the levels of serotonin in your brain, leading to an improvement in depression. That’s why many people rely on the effects of 5-HTP supplements to naturally improve their mental wellbeing and ease their depression.
Is 5-HTP Effective At Treating Depression?
It’s well known that a lack of serotonin in the body is one of the main causes of depression, so it’s not surprising that many people swear by 5 HTP for managing their depression.
The effects of 5-HTP are backed up by research too. A 2002 review of studies concluded that 5 HTP can be effective in treating depression, especially in patients who are resistant to therapy. Those taking 5 HTP supplements typically report increased mental wellbeing and a greater sense of relaxation – something that most sufferers of depression crave.
Although more research is needed for 5-HTP supplements to be seen as a mainstream treatment for depression, the evidence is promising and many people swear by its effects.
What Is St John's Wort?
St John’s Wort is a naturally-occurring compound which is extracted from a star-shaped yellow flower known as hypericum perforatum. It has been used in alternative medicine across the world for thousands of years.
Many people take St John’s Wort to help to manage their depression. But how does it work and is it really safe and effective?
How Does St John's Wort Help Depression?
St John’s Wort contains the active ingredient hyperforin. Research has shown that hyperforin can help to increase the body’s levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. This is done by reducing the body’s ability to absorb and recycle neurotransmitters, meaning that they stay in your body for longer.
Increasing your body’s levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine can have a positive impact on depression and mental wellbeing. That’s why many people rely on St John’s Wort for managing their depression and improving their mood.
Is St John's Wort Effective At Treating Depression?
The research is split when it comes to St John’s Wort. A number of studies have found it to be an effective treatment for depression, whilst others have found it to be no more effective than a placebo and to even have potential harmful effects.
A 2017 review found that St John’s Wort can be equally as effective as SSRI antidepressants for those suffering from mild to moderate depression. Conversely, a 2011 study found St John’s Wort to be no more effective than a placebo.
The effectiveness of St John’s Wort in treating depression is largely debated, with researchers firmly on both sides of the fence.
What Does The Science Say About 5-HTP And St John's Wort?
The main difference between 5-HTP and St John’s Wort is that 5-HTP encourages the body to produce more serotonin whilst St John’s Wort attempts to prevent the re-absorption of serotonin.
The science seems to favour 5-HTP thanks to its high levels of efficacy and low risk of side effects. St John’s Wort, although still popular, appears to be falling out of favour after studies suggested that it was no more effective than a placebo during trials.
Research continues to be done on both supplements to establish the efficacy and safety of both potential treatments for depression.
Interaction With Other Medications
Another thing that should be considered before choosing to take either 5-HTP or St John’s Wort is the potential for interactions with other medications.
5-HTP is contraindicated for use with other medications that increase the body’s level of serotonin. This includes many SSRI antidepressants. This is because taking more than one medication that increases serotonin levels could lead to a dangerous condition known as serotonin syndrome, where your body has too much serotonin. However, 5-HTP is compatible with the majority of other medications.
St John’s Wort is known for its interactions with other medications. It’s been reported that St John’s Wort interacts with over 800 medications, including compromising the effects of birth control medications. In fact, the interactions of St John’s Wort can be so severe that countries such as France and Ireland have now banned its sale.
If you’re thinking of taking 5-HTP or St John’s Wort to treat your depression, it’s important to first check with your doctor or pharmacist to ensure that it won’t interact with any other medications that you may be taking.
5-HTP Or St John's Wort - Which Should You Choose?
There are many different factors to take into consideration when you’re deciding between 5-HTP supplements and St John’s Wort, including efficacy, side effects and interactions with other medications. The choice of which supplement to take is personal and should be carefully weighed up after reading the research.
Can I Take 5-HTP And St John’s Wort Together?
5-HTP and St John’s Wort should never be taken together. This is because taking both supplements alongside each other could increase the risk of serotonin syndrome. This condition is rare but is extremely serious. Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include seizures, increased heart rate, confusion, hallucinations and fever.
How Long Does It Take For 5-HTP To Start Working?
It can take up to 3 weeks for the full effect of 5-HTP to be achieved, so don’t be concerned if you don’t notice an immediate improvement to your depression. The improvement is likely to be gradual as the level of serotonin in your brain increases over time.
Is 5-HTP Better Than St John’s Wort?
5-HTP and St John’s Wort work in different ways. 5-HTP increases the amount of serotonin in your body whilst St John’s Wort tries to block the re-absorption of serotonin. The effects of 5-HTP seem to typically be stronger and faster than St John’s Wort, although not enough research has been done to conclusively say which supplement is most effective. Ultimately, the choice of which supplement to take is personal and should be based on your own needs, as everyone will react differently to different supplements.
Try 5-HTP For Depression Today
Many people rely on the effects of 5-HTP supplements for treating their depression and improving their mental wellbeing.
If you’re ready to try 5-HTP supplements to ease your depression, you can purchase vegan-friendly 5-HTP supplements from our online store.