5-HTP and Migraines?

Can 5-HTP be helpful with migraines? Is it contraindicated by: multivitamins, turmeric, magnesium, melatonin and POLY MVA?

Can I place an order from Israel?

EINAT, Tel Aviv

Dear Einat,

While 5-HTP is primarily used for its beneficial effects in promoting sleep and for weight loss (200 –300 mg at night) and as an anti-depressant (usually, 50 –100 mg taken several times per day), there is evidence that it can be used to treat chronic headaches of various types, including migraine, tension headaches, and juvenile headaches.1–9 In the Nicolodi 1999 study,2 100 –200 mg/day was given to a risk-predisposed (migraine is inheritable) population of 413 children at bedtime for up to 5 consecutive years. In follow-up lasting 17 years, 5-HTP was shown to help prevent migraine pain.

For non-headache purposes, 5-HTP should be taken on an empty stomach for its benefits (one hour before, or two hours after meals). It is not contraindicated by any other supplements, but may work better when taken with cofactors such as pyridoxine (vitamin B6).10

Of course, you can order from Israel.

Ward Dean, M.D.


  1. Nicolodi M, Sicuteri F. Fibromyalgia and migraine, two faces of the same mechanism. Serotonin as the common clue for pathogenesis and therapy. Adv Exp Med Biol. 1996;398:373-9.
  2. Nicolodi M, Sicuteri F. L-5-hydroxytryptophan can prevent nociceptive disorders in man. Adv Exp Med Biol. 1999;467:177-82.
  3. Riberio CA. L-5-Hydroxytryptophan in the prophylaxis of chronic tension-type headache: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study. For the Portuguese Head Society. Headache. 2000;40:451-6.
  4. Maissen CP, Ludin HP. Comparison of the effect of 5-hydroxytryptophan and propranolol in the interval treatment of migraine. Schweiz Med Wochenschr. 1991;121:1585-90.
  5. De Giorgis G, Miletto R, Iannuccelli M, et al. Headache in association with sleep disorders in children: a psychodiagnostic evaluation and controlled clinical study-L-5-HTP versus placebo. Drugs Exp Clin Res. 1987;13:425-433.
  6. Titus F, Davalos A, Alom J, Codina A. 5-Hydroxytryptophan versus methysergide in the prophylaxis of migraine. Randomized clinical trial. Eur Neurol. 1986;25:327-9.
  7. De Benedittis G, Massei R. Serotonin precursors in chronic primary headache. A double-blind cross-over study with L-5-hydroxytryptophan vs. placebo. J Neurosurg Sci. 1985;29:239-48.
  8. Longo G, Rudoi I, Iannuccelli M, et al. Treatment of essential headache in developmental age with L-5-HTP (cross over double-blind study versus placebo). Pediatr Med Chir. 1984;6:241-5.
  9. Bono G, Criscuoli M, Martignoni E, et al. Serotonin precursors in migraine prophylaxis. Adv Neurol. 1982;33:357-63.
  10. Calderón-Guzmán D, Hernández-Islas JL, Espitia-Vázquez I, Barragán-Mejía G, Hernández-García E, Santamaría-del Angel D, Juárez-Olguín H. Pyridoxine, regardless of serotonin levels, increases production of 5-hydroxytryptophan in rat brain. Arch Med Res. 2004 Jul-Aug;35(4):271-4.

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