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.
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.
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.
Want to get more tryptophan from your diet? Click here to get a list of foods high in tryptophan content.
Tryptophan can be tried to see if it will help with your mil 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.
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.
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.
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.
One study involving 38 healthy females shows that tryptophan may be useful in the prevention of depression.
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.
Headaches / Headaches
Low levels of serotonin is shown to worsen migraine headaches symptoms such as nausea, headache and sensitivity to light.
/ 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.
Revised: January 5, 2010