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5-HTP vs Kava – Which One Should You Take?

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So this is the year you’re going to improve your health with supplements.

Congrats – that’s a smart decision that will benefit you for years to come!

But there’s just one problem…

You’ve got no clue which one to take.

Fear not – I’m here to help you decide.

In my Supplement Comparison Series, I put two supplements against each other and compare their benefits, drawbacks, cost, and much more.

In this piece, we’ll take a look at 5-HTP vs Kava.

Let’s get started.

What is 5-HTP?

5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) is a compound derived from tryptophan – an amino acid that’s found in foods like eggs, salmon, and turkey.

5-HTP is used to produce serotonin, which is an important neurotransmitter that facilitates communication between brain cells.

Since it isn’t found in any food, we can’t consume 5-HTP directly through our diet. So, many people supplement with 5-HTP to remove the need to create it from tryptophan, with the goal of boosting serotonin levels.

What is Kava?

Kava (Piper Methysticum) is a plant native to Melanesia, Polynesia, and Micronesia.

It’s been consumed in these regions for thousands of years for social ceremonies.

Kava belongs to the Nightshade family of plants, which includes common vegetables like potatoes and egg plants.

Today, Kava is used across the globe for its calming and euphoric effects.


Benefits of 5-HTP

5-HTP may help relieve migraines

Research suggests that 5-HTP may be an effective supplement for migraine relief.

For example in one study, 124 migraine sufferers took either 5-HTP or a popular migraine drug.

The results showed that 71% of the 5-HTP group had a decrease in headache frequency.

In another study, 48 students took either 5-HTP or a placebo.

According to the results, 5-HTP reduced the frequency of headaches by 70%, while the placebo reduced the frequency by 11%.

5-HTP may help with weight loss

One of the biggest challenges of weight loss is feeling hungry all the time.

Well according to research, 5-HTP may help reduce these hunger pains making weight loss much easier.

In one study, 20 people with diabetes took either 5-HTP or a placebo each day for 2 weeks.

According to the results, the 5-HTP group consumed 435 less calories per day on average than the placebo group.

5-HTP may help improve sleep quality

Many people take 5-HTP supplements to sleep better at night.

In one study, 18 subjects with sleeping problems took either 5-HTP with GABA (Gabadone), or a placebo.

The results showed that the Gabadone group fell asleep quicker, slept for longer, and had a higher quality sleep than the placebo group.

5-HTP may help with depression

Depression is one of the most common mental ailments around.

It’s tricky to treat since the cause is largely unknown, but some scientists think it may be caused by a serotonin imbalance. (Source)

Well if that’s true, then 5-HTP may be a useful supplement for battling depression.

In one study, 60 depression patients took either 5-HTP or a common depression medication each day for 8 weeks.

By the end of the study, 73% of the 5-HTP takers showed improved symptoms of depression.

Benefits of Kava

Kava may help improve sleep quality

Like 5-HTP, many people consume Kava to sleep better at night.

In one study, 24 insomnia patients took 120mg of daily Kava for 6 weeks.

The results showed that the Kava significantly improved their insomnia by reducing their stress.

In another study, 61 people took either 200mg of daily Kava extract or a placebo for 4 weeks.

According to the results, the Kava group had significantly better sleep than the placebo group.

Interestingly, they reported less anxiety too.

Kava may help boost mental function

Research suggests that Kava may help improve mental function.

For example, a study showed that a single 300mg dose of Kava improved short-term memory and visual attention.

In another study, 12 subjects were given either Kava or oxazepam before a word recognition task.

The results showed that the Kava group performed significantly better at the task than the oxazepam group.

Kava may help reduce anxiety

Here’s a shocking fact for you.

More than 40 million US adults suffer from anxiety disorders.

Well, if you do suffer from anxiety, I have some good news.

A review of 11 studies found that Kava significantly improved anxiety symptoms when compared to a placebo.

In another study, 101 anxiety patients took either Kava or a placebo for 25 weeks.

The results showed that the Kava users had significantly improved anxiety after 8 weeks.


5-HTP Cost

5-HTP is normally sold in capsules.

For a mid-range 5-HTP supplement, you can expect to pay around $20 for 120 capsules.

Kava Cost

Kava is usually sold in capsules or as a powder.

Here are some typical prices for these:

  • Powder: $32 for 8 Oz
  • Capsules: $20 for 100

Side Effects

5-HTP Side Effects

The majority of people who take 5-HTP supplements experience minimal side effects. But in some cases, the following effects have been reported:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps

Also, 5-HTP may interact with other medications which can cause your serotonin levels to rise to a dangerous amount.

So, please speak to a doctor before taking 5-HTP supplements.

Kava Side Effects

Like 5-HTP, Kava supplements are usually well tolerated by health adults. But the following effects have been reported in some cases:

  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches

Also, Kava may affect your reaction time and motor skills, so it’s advised to avoid driving and operating heavy machinery after taking Kava.

Kava may interact with certain drugs and medications which can lead to severe liver damage, so please discuss with your doctor before taking Kava.


My 5-HTP Recommendation: Toniiq 5-HTP

Click to see on Amazon


Fair priced? Yep.

High strength? Mhmm.

Highly absorbable? You betcha.

Toniiq 5-HTP ticks all the boxes of a top supplement.

What I like about it

The unique extraction process ensures that the 5-HTP used in these capsules is 99% pure.

(To give you some perspective, most brands use 60% purity or less…)

The purer it is, the more bioavailable it is to the body, making it more effective.

Also, it’s pleasing to see that Toniiq are GMP certified.

This just means their whole manufacturing process is carefully analyzed for quality purposes. So when you purchase a supplement from Toniiq, you know you’re getting a top quality product.

Potential Drawbacks

Personally, I’d like to see Toniiq include fewer other ingredients in these capsules.

Check price and read more reviews of Toniiq 5-HTP on Amazon.

My Kava Recommendation: Kava Kalm Micronized Kava Powder

Click to see on Amazon


A solid powdered Kava supplement.

Perfect for those who enjoy the freedom to choose how much Kava they want to take.

What I like about it

My favorite type of supplements are those that are pure and powdered. Because these are the “cleanest” and you’re free to chop and change the dose to meet your own needs.

Kava Kalm Micronized Kava Powder ticks both these boxes.

The reviews are ace too which shows that this supplement has worked for many people and has delivered on its promises.

Potential Drawbacks

Some people have reported a “muddy” taste.

Check price and read more reviews of Kava Kalm Micronized Kava Powder on Amazon.

5-HTP vs Kava: The Verdict

I hope this 5-HTP vs Kava breakdown has been a fun read, and that you’ve learned some useful knowledge.

My goal for this article was to help you decide which one suits you the most.

So hopefully, you’re now in a good position to make that choice.

If not?

Then here’s a high-level summary to help you pick:

You might prefer 5-HTP if:

  • You suffer from migraines
  • You suffer from depression
  • You want to consume less calories

You might prefer Kava if:

  • You suffer from anxiety
  • You want to boost your mental function

Hope this helped!


Friday 9th of July 2021

Not just for these two supplements which I know nothing about. The L-theanine & Tyrosine and your whole blog is awesome. When I’m ready to order something I will do my best to come here and make sure you get a percent or commission of my order. I’m looking for kava. Just started L-theanine and tyrosine.

Just a suggestion, maybe you can write what is horrible as far as withdrawal like phenibut for anxiety etc. regardless thanks so much !


Tuesday 20th of July 2021

Hi Brian,

That's great to hear, thanks a lot for support!