Categorized | Studies & Research

5-HTP vs Garcinia Cambogia

Determining which daily nutritional supplement to take for better overall health can be confusing. Learning about the difference between 5-HTP and Garcinia Cambogia supplements can go a long way in helping individuals determine which will be best for them personally. Both have many benefits, but they do have slight differences in the ways they affect the body.

  • What is 5-HTP

  • What is Garcinia Cambogia?

  • Health Benefits of 5-HTP Supplements

  • Health Benefits of Garcinia Cambogia Supplements

  • Garcinia Cambogia vs 5-HTP Supplements

  • Can I Take 5-HTP and Garcinia Cambogia at the Same Time?

  • More Sources

What is 5-HTP?

The full name of 5-HTP is 5-hydroxytryptophan. It is a precursor to tryptophan, which helps produce serotonin in the body. The primary source of 5-HTP is the seed of the Griffonia simplicifolia plant, which is native to Africa.  Quite a few health benefits have been linked to taking 5-HTP supplements daily.

5-hydroxytryptophan has been used in alternative medicine as an aid to relieve the symptoms of anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, insomnia, chronic headaches, premenstrual syndrome, binge-eating related to obesity, attention deficit disorder, and chronic headaches. 5-hydroxytryptophan has also been used in treating certain seizures and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. (Source: Norris Cotton Cancer Center Health Encyclopedia)

What is Garcinia Cambogia?

Garcinia cambogia is  a small, sweet, purple fruit also referred to as the Malabar tamarind. Natives living near where it grows have used the fruit for many years for a variety of reasons, but modern science has backed up many of the claims of those who eat the fruit daily. The best news is that it is safe to take.

The Malabar tamarind (from which HCA is extracted) is a traditional food and flavoring in Southeast Asia. No serious side effects have been reported from animal or human studies involving either fruit extracts or the concentrated chemical. A proprietary calcium-potassium salt of HCA appears to have undergone considerable formal safety study, without evidence of toxicity appearing.(Source: * Thom E. Hydroxycitrate (HCA) in the treatment of obesity [abstract]. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1996;20(suppl 4):75.)  However, maximum safe doses have not been established, especially for pregnant or nursing women, young children, or people with severe liver or kidney disease. (Source: NYU Langone Medical Center)

Health Benefits of 5-HTP Supplements

Here are some of the ways taking 5-HTP in the proper dose on a daily basis may help.

  • Anxiety – One reason many people take 5-HTP is that it can help lower the intensity of anxiety attacks, causing them to vanish completely for some people.

  • Depression – Low serotonin levels may cause mild depression for some people, which can lead to more serious mental problems. Pure 5-HTP tablets can help with this.

  • Insomnia – Additionally, people who have trouble falling asleep or sleeping throughout the night may also be dealing with the results of low serotonin levels. In these cases, 5-HTP supplements can help.

  • Fibromyalgia – Some research has pointed toward 5-HTP being a natural and safe way to help deal with issues of pain caused by fibromyalgia.  (Source: Medline Plus)

  • Weight Loss – Some studies have shown that higher amounts of 5-HTP may also help with efforts to lose weight. More research needs to be done, but initial results have been positive.

Most of the benefits of 5-HTP are thought to be caused by the amino acid helping produce more serotonin, a vital hormone for helping balance moods. Quite a bit of clinical research has been conducted on rats as well as humans.

Health Benefits of Garcinia Cambogia Supplements

Here is a look at the major health benefits of taking garcinia cambogia in the recommended amounts on a daily basis.

  • Weight Loss – In an 8-week double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 60 people who were overweight, the use of HCA extract at a dose of 440 mg 3 times each day resulted in significant weight loss compared to those in the study who took a placebo.(Source: Thom E. Hydroxycitrate (HCA) in the treatment of obesity [abstract]. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1996;20(suppl 4):75.)

  • Appetite Suppression – One of the ways that HCA extract tablets help with weight loss is by helping control the appetite. This is one of the main reasons so many people ate the rind of the garcinia cambogia fruit throughout history. (Source: Evaluation of the safety and efficacy of hydroxycitric acid or Garcinia cambogia extracts in humans. by Márquez F, Babio N, Bulló M, Salas-Salvadó J.)

Garcinia Cambogia vs 5-HTP Supplements

Looking at the list of benefits of both 5-HTP and garcinia cambogia above, some similarities do exist, especially when talking about possible help with weight loss. However, looking close, the differences become more noticeable. Here is a look at who should consider taking each supplement and why.

  • When to Take 5-HTP – For those who have problems with anxiety or other mood disorders (like depression) and think the cause may be low serotonin levels, then taking the recommended dosage of 5-HTP tablets on a daily basis is a good idea.

  • When to Take HCA Extract – On the other hand, for those who are just interested in controlling the appetite to help with weight loss efforts, choosing to take pure garcinia cambogia extract tablets makes more sense.

Both 5-HTP and garcinia cambogia (HCA extract) have their pros and cons. The decision on which one to take daily will vary from person to person, but understanding all the differences will help make the decision easier.

Can I Take 5-HTP and Garcinia Cambogia at the Same Time?

Consulting a physician or health professional is the best way to learn the answer to this common question, but some people have found good results when taking both 5-HTP and garcinia cambogia supplements at the same time in lower doses. Before taking any supplements, talking with a doctor is recommended.

More Sources

Here are some other places to get more accurate and useful information about both 5-HTP and garcinia cambogia.

  • Heymsfield SB, Allison DB, Vasselli JR, et al. Garcinia cambogia (hydroxycitric acid) as a potential antiobesity agent: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA.1998;280:1596-1600.

  • Vasques CA, Rossetto S, Halmenschlager G, et al. Evaluation of the pharmacotherapeutic efficacy of Garcinia cambogia plus Amorphophallus konjac for the treatment of obesity. Phytother Res. 2008;22:1135-1140.

  • Badmaev V, Majeed M, Conte AA, et al. Garcinia cambogia for weight loss [letter]. JAMA. 1999;282:233-234.

  • Kriketos AD, Thompson HR, Greene H, et al. (-)-Hydroxycitric acid does not affect energy expenditure and substrate oxidation in adult males in a post-absorptive state. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord . 1999;23:867-873.

  • Kahn RS, Westenberg HG, Verhoeven WM, et al. Effect of a serotonin precursor and uptake inhibitor in anxiety disorders; a double-blind comparison of 5-hydroxytryptophan, clomipramine and placebo. Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 1987;2:33-45.

  • Bono G, Criscuoli M, Martignoni E, et al. Serotonin precursors in migraine prophylaxis. Adv Neurol. 1982;33:357-363.

  • Mattes RD, Bormann L. Effects of (-)-hydroxycitric acid on appetitive variables. Physiol Behav . 2000;71:87-94.

  • Preuss HG, Rao CV, Garis R, et al. An overview of the safety and efficacy of a novel, natural(-)-hydroxycitric acid extract (HCA-SX) for weight management. J Med. 2004;35:33-48.

  • Titus F, Davalos A, Alom J, et al. 5-hydroxytryptophan versus methysergide in the prophylaxis of migraine. Randomized clinical trial. Eur Neurol. 1986;25:327-329.

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