An Amino Acid and the precursor to Serotonin, Melatonin, 5-HTP and Carnitine. Tryptophan is useful for Insomnia, Depression and Anxiety. Reduces the craving for carbohydrates. Alleviates headaches and inflammation, increases the body's threshold to Pain.
Health Benefits of Tryptophan
Tryptophan may lower Blood Pressure in Hypertension patients.
Tryptophan (2,000 mg per day) may alleviate Restless Legs Syndrome.
Tryptophan may stimulate the production of Antibodies.
Tryptophan may reduce Inflammation.
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) patients are often found to have low levels of Tryptophan. Tryptophan supplementation may inhibit the development of full-blown AIDS in persons infected with the HIV virus.
Tryptophan may reduce the toxic effects of Carbon Tetrachloride on the Liver.
Fibromyalgia patients often exhibit decreased Tryptophan transport mechanisms and often exhibit significantly lowered Tryptophan levels (indicating that supplemental Tryptophan may be of benefit to Fibromyalgia patients). references
Tryptophan (3,000 mg per day) may reduce Aggressiveness (by stimulating the production of Serotonin).
Tryptophan may help to alleviate Anorexia Nervosa (by improving Appetite).
Tryptophan may alleviate some cases of Anxiety (by stimulating the production of Serotonin).
Tryptophan may increase the Appetite for dietary Proteins and may decrease the Appetite for Carbohydrates (this is useful for people attempting to lose weight):
Tryptophan may reduce Carbohydrate Cravings (due to Tryptophan’s role in the production of Serotonin).
Tryptophan (3,000 mg per day) may increase Assertiveness (non-aggressive Assertiveness). references
Tryptophan may help to prevent and treat Bulimia (due to Tryptophan facilitating the production of Serotonin).
Tryptophan may alleviate some forms of Depression - the types of Depression that can be treated with Tryptophan are (in general) characterized by intense cravings for Carbohydrates
Tryptophan may alleviate Bipolar II Depression.
Tryptophan may alleviate some cases of Major Depression.
Tryptophan may alleviate Manic Depression.
Tryptophan may alleviate the Depression that is often associated with Female Menopause.
Children afflicted with Down’s Syndrome often exhibit low serum Tryptophan levels.
Tryptophan may be beneficial in the treatment of some types of Drug Dependence:
Tryptophan may decrease the craving for Alcohol in Alcoholics.
Tryptophan may decrease the craving for Amphetamines in people undergoing Amphetamine withdrawal.
Tryptophan (4,000 mg per day) may reduce the physical Pain associated with Opiates Dependence.
Tryptophan may alleviate Headaches that are caused by constriction of the Blood Vessels.
Tryptophan may alleviate Insomnia if supplemental Tryptophan is consumed 30 - 45 minutes prior to retiring (due to its role as a precursor for the production of Serotonin and Melatonin).
Tryptophan may alleviate Mania.
Tryptophan may help to prevent and alleviate Migraine.
Tryptophan may improve Mood (by increasing Brain Serotonin levels).
Tryptophan may alleviate the symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (by functioning as a precursor for the endogenous production of Serotonin).
Tryptophan (2,000 - 4,000 mg per day) may increase the body's threshold to Pain (the underlying mechanism for this aspect of Tryptophan may be that Tryptophan is required for the release of Beta-
Endorphin, one of the body’s natural Pain relieving compounds).
Tryptophan may alleviate the symptoms of Panic Disorder.
Tryptophan may help to minimize the motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s Disease and may help to treat the Depression associated with Parkinson's Disease. Tryptophan may alleviate Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) (due to its role as a precursor for Melatonin). Tryptophan (500 - 4,000 mg per night) may reduce the amount of time taken to fall asleep (Sleep latency) when taken one to two hours prior to retiring: Tryptophan (500 - 4,000 mg per night) may increase the duration of Rapid Eye Movement Sleep(REM Sleep). Tryptophan is speculated to alleviate the symptoms of Tourette’s Syndrome (by functioning as a precursor for Serotonin production and thereby opposing the stimulating effects of excessive stimulation of Dopamine D2 Receptors by Dopamine).
Sexual System Tryptophan (6,000 mg per day) may improve Mood in Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) patients.
Tryptophan may Counteract these Toxic Substances:
Tryptophan may reduce the toxic effects of Carbon Tetrachloride on the Liver.
These Substances may Enhance the Function of Tryptophan
Alanine may enhance the function of Tryptophan.
Glutamine may enhance the function of Tryptophan.
Dietary Carbohydrates facilitate the entry of Tryptophan into the Brain if they are consumed at the same time as Tryptophan.
Apple Pectin may inhibit the diversion of Tryptophan into its toxic metabolite, Kynuerine, thereby increasing the amount of Tryptophan available for the synthesis of Proteins and Hormones. This action of Apple Pectin occurs from Apple Pectin inhibiting the Tryptophan Pyrrolase enzyme.
Chymotrypsin is the Endopeptidase Proteolytic Digestive Enzyme responsible for "breaking down" the Carboxyl Groups contained in Tryptophan.
Tryptophan Hydroxylase catalyzes the conversion of Tryptophan to 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP).
Tryptophan Pyrrolase catalyzes the conversion of Tryptophan to Kynurenine.
Magnesium may enhance the function of Tryptophan.
Zinc may enhance the function of Tryptophan.
Folic Acid may enhance the function of Tryptophan.
Vitamin B1 facilitates the conversion of Tryptophan to Picolinic Acid.
Vitamin B2 facilitates the absorption of Tryptophan.
Vitamin B6 is a cofactor for the conversion of Tryptophan to Picolinic Acid and prevents the accumulation of excessive amounts of Tryptophan's intermediary byproduct - Xanthurenic Acid. references
Vitamin C is an essential cofactor for the conversion of Tryptophan to 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan).
These Herbs may Enhance the Function of Tryptophan
Passion Flower may facilitate the uptake of Tryptophan into the Brain.
Dietary Sources of Tryptophan note that in a normal diet, Tryptophan is the least plentiful of the 22 dietary Amino Acids.(mg of Tryptophan per 100 grams)
Algae: Spirulina 929
Velvet Deer Antler
Cereal Grains: Oat Bran 335 Wheat Germ 317
Wheat Bran 282
Dairy Products: Cottage Cheese Milk
Yogurt Cheese (cheddar) 340
Swiss Cheese 401 Parmesan Cheese 482
Edam Cheese 352 Gouda Cheese 352
Gruyere Cheese 421 Cheddar Cheese 320
Blue Cheese 312
Eggs: Whole Eggs 210
Fish Crab 330 Tuna (canned) 300
Fruit: Bananas 12 Dates
Grains: Wheat Germ 265
Legumes: Lentils 215 Soybeans 525
Kidney Beans 210 Split Peas 275
Mung Beans 260
Meat: Beef 400 Turkey 400
Chicken 400 Pork 400
Nuts: Peanuts 340 Brazil Nuts 185
Cashew Nuts 287 Pistachio Nuts 273
Processed Foods: Chocolate Cocoa Powder 293
Proteins: Soy Protein 1,120
Sea Vegetables: Kelp 48
Seeds: Sunflower Seeds 350 Pumpkin Seeds 560
Sesame Seeds 388 Mustard Seeds 526
Fenugreek Seeds 391 Poppy Seeds 255
Fennel Seeds 253
Vegetables: Carrots Broccoli
Yeasts: Brewer’s Yeast 700
Toxic Effects of Excessive Tryptophan
Excessive Tryptophan may accelerate the Aging Process by increasing the body's Serotonin
/Norepinephrine ratio - the Aging Process in rats was halted for ten months by withdrawing all Tryptophan from their diet.
Tryptophan undergoes putrefaction by the Intestinal Bacteria to produce Indole and Skatole which are the primary causes of the odor of Feces.
Tryptophan may reduce Blood Sugar levels if Vitamin B6 deficiency prevents its conversion to Serotonin.
Tryptophan's intermediate byproduct Xanthurenic Acid may accumulate to excessive levels within the body if insufficient Vitamin B6 is available to prevent its accumulation.
Tryptophan may Interfere with these Substances
High intake of Tryptophan may deplete the body’s Cysteine reserves.
Tryptophan may reduce the absorption of supplemental L-Dopa.
Tryptophan may compete with Tyrosine for entry into the Brain.
These Substances may Interfere with Tryptophan
Leucine may inhibit the absorption of dietary (or supplemental) Tryptophan.
Phenylalanine may inhibit the absorption of dietary (or supplemental) Tryptophan.
Tyrosine may inhibit the absorption of dietary (or supplemental) Tryptophan.
Valine may inhibit the absorption of dietary (or supplemental) Tryptophan.
Amino Acid Byproducts
Kynurenine may inhibit the transport of Tryptophan (by using the same transport carriers as Tryptophan).
Tryptophan Pyrrolase may cause the destruction (catabolism) of Tryptophan:
Tryptophan Pyrrolase is responsible for approximately 98% of the degradation of Tryptophan.
Tryptophan Pyrrolase catalyzes the conversion of Tryptophan to N-Formylkynurenine.
Aspirin may lower plasma Tryptophan levels.
These Ailments may Interfere with Tryptophan
Fructose Intolerance (Fructose Malabsorption) may reduce plasma Tryptophan levels.
Excessive Stress may cause depletion of the body’s Tryptophan.
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) patients should not use Tryptophan supplements.
Tryptophan supplements should not be consumed at the same time as Alcohol (Ethanol) - as it increases the Aggressiveness associated with Alcohol (Ethanol) consumption.
Tryptophan supplementation can overly sedate people who are not suffering from Aggressiveness.
Asthma patients should not use Tryptophan supplements:
Asthma patients generally have a defect in their metabolism of Tryptophan resulting in reduced platelet transportation of Tryptophan (possibly as a result of Vitamin B6 deficiency).
Endogenous Tryptophan Levels
LABORATORY REFERENCE VALUES
The following blood plasma Tryptophan levels are regarded as normal for adults (values differ between different laboratories):
- 4 - 8 micromoles (mmoles)/100 ml
- 14 - 25 micromoles (mmoles)/100 ml
The following urine Tryptophan levels are regarded as normal for adults:
- 30 - 150 micromoles (mmoles)/24 hours
The minimum dietary requirement of Tryptophan for men is 250 mg and for women 160 mg per day.
The typical human diet provides 750 - 1,500 mg of Tryptophan per day.
Optimal Daily Intake
Many orthomolecular-oriented physicians believe that the optimal daily intake for Tryptophan is 500 - 700 mg per day.
The general therapeutic dosage for supplemental Tryptophan is 1,000 - 2,000 mg (1 - 2 grams) per day.
Therapeutic Dosage - Pain
The usual dosage of supplemental Tryptophan for the treatment of Pain is 3,000 mg (3 grams) per day.
Therapeutic Dosage - Drug Dependence
The usual dosage of supplemental Tryptophan for the treatment of Drug Dependence is 4,000 mg (4 grams) per day.
Tryptophan vs 5-HTP
Serotonin: Tryptophan is a precursor for Serotonin but is two metabolic steps away from Serotonin.Serotonin synthesis from tryptophan is rate-limited by a natural feedback control for Serotonin synthesis. This may be useful for preventing excessive Serotonin production.High doses of Tryptophan cause its own destruction by inducing the enzyme, Tryptophan Pyrrolase which metabolizes Tryptophan to Kynurenine. 5-HTP is a direct precursor for Serotonin. It is approximately ten times more potent on a gram for gram basis for the production of Serotonin.Unlike tryptophan, Serotonin synthesis from 5-HTP is not rate-limited by any natural feedback control for Serotonin synthesis. 5-HTP bypasses this governing mechanism. This permits 5-HTP to significantly increase Serotonin production by also increases the potential for excessive Serotonin synthesis.5-HTP is unaffected by the Tryptophan Pyrrolase enzyme and is therefore fully available for Serotonin synthesis.
Proteins: Tryptophan is used by the body for purposes other than Serotonin production. It can be used for the creation of certain proteins and enzymes. 5-HTP cannot be used by the body for the production of proteins and enzymes.
NADH: Typtophan is a precursor to NADH. 5-HTP is NOT a precursor for the production of NADH.
Infections: Sometimes supplemental Tryptophan can aggravate pre-existing bacterial and parasitic infections. 5-HTP does not aggraveate pre-existing bacterial and parasitic infections.
Tryptophan can only cross the Blood-Brain Barrier in the presence of Carbohydrates.
5-HTP readily crosses the Blood-Brain Barrier.
Dietary Tryptophan is generally well-absorbed however the absorption of supplemental Tryptophan is improved when it is consumed on an empty Stomach.
Tryptophan is able to cross the Blood-Brain Barrier, but only in the presence of Carbohydrates.
10% to 20% of the Tryptophan circulating in the bloodstream is “free” and 80% to 90% is bound to the protein Albumin.
Large quantities of Tryptophan are stored in the Liver.
Approximately 1% of ingested Tryptophan reaches the Brain.