5-HTP vs. Ashwagandha – How Do They Compare?

When it comes to natural supplements, ashwagandha and 5-HTP are some of the most popular choices at the moment. 

Both offer unique benefits, but how do they compare? 

In this article, we’ll explore the differences between 5-HTP and ashwagandha, their benefits, side effects, and whether you can take them together.

5-HTP vs. Ashwagandha – What’s the Difference?

5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) is a naturally occurring amino acid derived from the seeds of the Griffonia simplicifolia plant. It’s a precursor to serotonin, a “feel good” neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood, appetite, and sleep. [1]

People often take 5-HTP supplements to elevate their mood and improve sleep quality or address any other issue associated with low serotonin.

On the other hand, ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb with a long history in Ayurvedic medicine. 

Praised for its stress-reducing and anti-anxiety properties, ashwagandha works by modulating the body’s stress response, promoting balance, and supporting overall well-being. [2]

While both 5-HTP and ashwagandha target mental health, they do so through different mechanisms and at the “opposing ends” of the stress spectrum, so to speak.

You see, 5-HTP primarily focuses on increasing serotonin levels, whereas ashwagandha acts as an adaptogen, helping the body adapt to stress by lowering cortisol.

How Do the Benefits of 5-HTP vs. Ashwagandha Compare?

Both 5-HTP and ashwagandha offer an array of mental health benefits. But as we said, they slightly differ in focus.

That said, let’s explore some of these benefits:


When it comes to mood, 5-HTP is like a little ray of sunshine that helps boost your serotonin levels in the brain, making you feel happier. 

Ashwagandha, on the other hand, does not directly target serotonin, but it’s still got your back when it comes to keeping you calm and stress-free by keeping your cortisol levels low(er).

How much of a real-world difference will this make? It’s hard to say.

But, if research is anything to go by – you should definitely feel something.


Now, about sleep – we all know how important a good night’s rest is, right? 

5-HTP can help you catch those Z’s by regulating your sleep-wake cycle [3], while ashwagandha works its magic by making you feel more relaxed and less anxious at bedtime.

Once again, there are plenty of other factors when it comes to quality sleep, so it wouldn’t be wise to expect either 5-HTP or ashwagandha to make a world of difference on their own.

Stress & Anxiety

First of all, ashwagandha is like a superhero when it comes to fighting these two pesky villains.

While there’s still more research needed to fully assess its effectiveness, from what we know so far, ashwagandha is one of the most efficacious natural adaptogens.

It truly helps your body adapt to stress, and it can work wonders for anxiety. 

On the other hand, 5-HTP isn’t the main star here, but it can still lend a helping hand by increasing serotonin levels.

Cognitive Performance

Lastly, let’s talk about brainpower! 

Ashwagandha has been shown to give your cognitive function and memory a nice little boost. [4] Unfortunately, we still need a lot more research on this particular topic before we can confidently praise ashwagandha.

It’s promising, but that’s just about it.

5-HTP vs. Ashwagandha – Does Either Have Any Side Effects?

The good news is that when it comes to 5-HTP and ashwagandha teaming up, there don’t seem to be any extra interactions to worry about. Both 5-HTP and ashwagandha are generally well-tolerated, but some individuals may experience side effects. 

First up, 5-HTP. 

If you’re already taking antidepressants, particularly those that target serotonin (like SSRIs or MAOIs), you might want to think twice about adding 5-HTP to the mix. 

Some people believe that combining these could cause serotonin levels to skyrocket, which could be dangerous. 

However, there’s some new research that suggests the opposite might be true, so it’s always best to chat with your doctor before giving it a go.

As for ashwagandha – interacting with medications like immunosuppressants, diabetes medication, and high blood pressure meds could be an issue.

So, if you’re taking any of those, it’s a good idea to check in with your healthcare provider to make sure it’s safe for you.

Do Both 5-HTP and Ashwagandha Need to Be Taken Daily?

Consistent daily usage is generally recommended for both 5-HTP and ashwagandha to achieve optimal benefits.

However, the long-term effects of both still haven’t been properly assessed, so we can’t say that you should (or shouldn’t) take any of these two on a daily basis for an extended period of time.

Ashwagandha is usually recommended for up to 8 weeks, and there have been reports of 5-HTP losing its potency after a few months of regular use.

Can You Take 5-HTP and Ashwagandha Together?

Combining 5-HTP and ashwagandha is generally considered safe for most people. 

In fact, taking them together may lead to additional benefits, providing a more comprehensive approach to supporting mental health. 

For instance, 5-HTP’s mood-boosting and sleep-enhancing properties may potentially complement ashwagandha’s stress-reducing and cognitive benefits.

However, as we always say – don’t listen to us – listen to your doctor. It is essential to consult with your healthcare provider before combining (or taking) these supplements.

Bottom Line: 5-HTP vs. Ashwagandha – Which Would Lead to the Most Benefits?

The choice between 5-HTP and ashwagandha ultimately depends on your individual needs and goals. 

If you’re primarily seeking mood and sleep support, 5-HTP may be the better option. 

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a more well-rounded supplement that addresses stress, anxiety, and cognitive function and has some potential benefits for your physical health and athletic performance – ashwagandha might be more suitable.

In some cases, combining the two supplements may provide the most comprehensive support.


Overall, both 5-HTP and ashwagandha are popular natural supplements that provide a range of benefits. 

Depending on your goals, either supplement may be beneficial – or they can be taken together. It’s up to you!

In the end, it’s just important to remember that despite all of these claims and proposed benefits, none of this necessarily has to work for you.

There’s still a ton of research to be done, but as far as supplements go, these do appear to be a real deal!

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