Fibromyalgia and the serotonin pathway

Altern Med Rev. 1998 Oct;3(5):367-75.


Fibromyalgia syndrome is a musculoskeletal pain and fatigue disorder manifested by diffuse myalgia, localized areas of tenderness, fatigue, lowered pain thresholds, and nonrestorative sleep. Evidence from multiple sources support the concept of decreased flux through the serotonin pathway in fibromyalgia patients. Serotonin substrate supplementation, via L-tryptophan or 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), has been shown to improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and somatic pains in a variety of patient cohorts. Identification of low serum tryptophan and serotonin levels may be a simple way to identify persons who will respond well to this approach.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • 5-Hydroxytryptophan / therapeutic use*
  • Fibromyalgia* / drug therapy
  • Fibromyalgia* / etiology
  • Fibromyalgia* / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Tryptophan / therapeutic use*


  • Serotonin
  • Tryptophan
  • 5-Hydroxytryptophan