There are various mood-altering substances available on the market today. Two of them are 5HTP and St John’s Wort. These two medications are critical for people with anxiety, depression, and other mental illness.
Let’s look at 5HTP vs. St John’s Wort as supplements, their differences, benefits in treating depression, and side effects in this article.
Which Should You Choose For Depression?
The two main natural treatments for depression that are frequently considered these days are 5HTP and St. John’s Wort. They are both available as natural remedies to improve mood and mental health.
But before we compare these two mood-altering substances, let’s find out first what they are and their benefits in treating depression.
5 HTP vs. St John’s Wort: What Are They and Their Benefits in Treating Depression?
The amino acid 5HTP is a substance produced in our body. The production of serotonin, the hormone that controls your mood, sleep, and appetite, is significantly influenced by this amino acid.
However, the human body is not the only place where 5HTP is available. The African plant Griffonia Simplicifolia seeds also contain 5HTP. Because of this, 5HTP is also available in the market today as a supplement produced from Griffonia Simplicifolia seed extracts.
5HTP can help treat depression, particularly in patients unresponsive to therapy, according to a 2002 study . Most people with depression want a stronger sense of calm. This is often reported by those taking 5HTP pills.
Like 5HTP, which is also naturally occurring in the African plant, St. John’s Wort is a natural substance present in wildflowers known as Hypericum perforatum. It is a star-shaped yellow flower present in regions of North America, South America, South Africa, and Australia.
St. John’s Wort contains an active compound known as hyperforin. According to research, hyperforin helps the body produce more serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. It happens by decreasing the body’s capacity to absorb and recycle neurotransmitters. As a result, neurotransmitters remain in your body for a prolonged period .
The levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in your body can increase to improve depression and mental health. As a result, many people turn to St John’s Wort to help them manage their depression and improve their mood.
Differences Between 5HTP and St John’s Wort?
The difference between 5HTP and St John’s Wort is that 5HTP promotes the body’s serotonin production, while St John’s Wort works to stop serotonin from being reabsorbed.
Serotonin functions as a neurotransmitter, carrying signals from one area of your body to another or your brain as needed. Once it delivers the message, it is reabsorbed by the bloodstream and either reused or broken down into component pieces for use in other functions.
This means that with the help of 5HTP, more serotonin leads to greater serotonin reactions. As a result, it reduces depression and anxiety, improves mood, increases happiness, and improves outlook on life in general.
On the other hand, St John’s Wort interacts with many other neurotransmitters and monoamines, including norepinephrine and dopamine, instead of focusing on serotonin.
Although not enough study has been done to establish which supplement is the most effective definitively, 5HTP benefits often seem to be stronger and quicker than those of St. John’s Wort.
5 HTP vs. St John’s Wort Potential Side Effects
Combining 5HTP with drugs that elevate serotonin levels in the body is not advisable. This covers many SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) antidepressants. This is due to the risk of serotonin syndrome, a severe disease when your body has too much serotonin, which can result from taking multiple medications that raise serotonin levels.
The signs and symptoms of having too much serotonin might be moderate, such as shivering and diarrhea. Additionally, some users may experience severe symptoms such as rigid muscles, seizures, and fever. If untreated, severe serotonin syndrome can be fatal.
St John’s wort reportedly interacts with over 800 drugs, affecting the effectiveness of birth control pills. In fact, St John’s Wort interactions can be so severe that countries like France and Ireland have recently restricted their distribution.
A group trial using St. John’s Wort for the treatment of depression found that 47% of participants suffered side effects, with one patient ultimately needing to go to the ER . This suggests that consumers must be more informed before taking St. John’s Wort.
Bottomline: 5 HTP vs. St John’s Wort
When choosing between supplements 5HTP and St John’s wort, there are many different things to consider, such as effectiveness, side effects, and drug interactions. This is why seeking professional advice before taking any of these medications is critical.
If you’d like to read more about combining 5HTP with another popular supplement called ashwagandha, check out our guide here.
Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.
Editorial References And Fact-Checking
- Shaw K, Turner J, Del Mar C. Tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan for depression. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2002;(1):CD003198. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD003198. PMID: 11869656.
- Hyperforin Mechanism of Action. (n.d.). SJW Info. https://stjohnswortinfo.com/hyperforin-mechanism-of-action/
- Beckman SE, Sommi RW, Switzer J. Consumer use of St. John’s wort: a survey on effectiveness, safety, and tolerability. Pharmacotherapy. 2000 May;20(5):568-74. doi: 10.1592/phco.20.6.568.35152. PMID: 10809344.