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Effects of Tryptophan - What are the Benefits?

What are the beneficial effects of tryptophan?

There are extensive animal studies and many clinical studies done to strongly suggest that low levels of serotonin in our body results in many health problems. Clinical studies exist to show that tryptophan may help with depression, insomnia, fibromyalgia, headaches and anxiety.

Some Facts and Information

L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is found in meat and plants. Tryptophan is absorbed by our body and converted to 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) which is then converted to serotonin.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays significant roles in brain function. Low levels of serotonin can cause a wide variety of mental health problems such as depression, insomnia and anxiety.

In Canada (and some other parts of the world), tryptophan is a prescription medication. It is approved by Health Canada for treating depression when used in addition to conventional antidepressant medications.

What are some foods high in tryptophan?

Wantt to get more tryptophan from your diet? Click here to get a list of foods high in tryptophan content.

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Tryptophan can be tried to see if it will help with your mild depression, or insomnia. It may also be tried to help with mood swings related to premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Some supplements marketed to help with improving mood also combine natural remedies such as St. john's wort.

Typical dosages used in clinical studies are 500 mg to 2,000 mg (0.5 to 2 grams) up to three times daily.

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Evidence of Benefits (Leaf Rating System)

leaf rating natural remedies review home remedy cure Depression Treatment

The effects of tryptophan when combined with conventional antidepressant medications show that it works better than just taking the antidepressant alone.

In Canada and a number of other countries, tryptophan is a prescription medication approved for treating depression.

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The effects of tryptophan supplement in helping with inducing sleep is backed up by some clinical studies.

You may also consider melatonin or valerian to help with insomnia.

leaf rating natural remedies review home remedy cure Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) - Mood related

One well-designed study with 37 patients with PMS showed that taking 6 grams daily of tryptophan improved mood swings, tension and irritability.
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One study involving 38 healthy females shows that tryptophan may be useful in the prevention of depression.
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In patients suffering from fibromyalgia, brain tryptophan levels seems to be lower. In one clinical study, it was shown that 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) supplement improved all the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

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Low levels of serotonin is shown to worsen migraine headaches symptoms such as nausea, headache and sensitivity to light.

leaf rating natural remedies review home remedy cure Anxiety / Social Anxiety Disorder

One small clinical study involving 7 subjects showed that tryptophan supplements helped with reducing anxiety.

A much larger study will need to be done to confirm this effect of tryptophan on anxiety.

Related topics that may be of interest to you

Foods high in tryptophan

Treat insomnia using melatonin

Reduce stress and get rid of insomnia using valerian root

Use St. John's wort to reduce stress, anxiety and help with depression

Return to FAQ List from Effects of Tryptophan
Created: January 5, 2010

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