What are the Health Benefits of Tryptophan?

Article Details
  • Written By: Amanda R. Bell
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
In 2008, Mike Merrill became the first publicly traded person, allowing shareholders to control his life decisions.  more...

October 23 ,  1983 :  Suicide bombers killed nearly 300 US and French military troops in Beirut.  more...

Tryptophan is an amino acid required by the human body to process proteins. Due to the fact that the body does not naturally produce this nutrient, humans need to acquire it from food sources or tryptophan supplements. The health benefits of tryptophan appear to be numerous and it is one of the few nutrients sold as a pharmaceutical drug. It can treat premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), aid in smoking cessation, and help regulate a person’s sleep cycle and moods.

During the processing of protein, the body creates serotonin which helps to regulate appetite and mood. When the body makes serotonin, some of it is converted to melatonin, which helps to normalize sleep patterns. Disorders such as PMDD, seasonal affective disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Tourette’s syndrome are all thought to be caused by low levels of serotonin in the brain. By increasing intake of this nutrient, either through food, supplements, or medicine, it can potentially raise the amount of serotonin in the brain, thereby easing some of the symptoms of these disorders.


Researchers have found that regularly using nicotine products such as cigarettes changes the balance of chemicals in the brain. Even after quitting nicotine products, it can take a while before the chemicals balance out again. Tryptophan supplements have been found to speed this process and may reduce some of the withdrawal symptoms associated with stopping smoking. It is often used in conjunction with other smoking cessation measures and has been found to increase the likelihood of successfully quitting the nicotine habit.

While studies are mixed on the use of this supplement in treating insomnia or sleeping disorders, some have found that it can help people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. The melatonin that the brain creates in response to the amino acid is one of the primary chemicals in the brain that tells the body it is time to sleep. In some instances, doctors may prescribe tryptophan in conjunction with a mild sleep aid.

Doctors and researchers have also found success in using tryptophan to treat mood disorders, especially bipolar disorder and moderate to severe depression. This amino acid has been found to increase the body’s response to antidepressants, especially in those who have a difficult time finding the appropriate medication to address depression. The pharmaceutical version of tryptophan is often prescribed with lithium to treat bipolar disorder. It can increase the effectiveness of the drug and in some cases reduce the side effects.

Apart from supplements and medicines, this essential nutrient can be found naturally in several foods. While turkey is often believed to have unusually high amounts, it actually contains no more than any other poultry. The foods with the highest levels are eggs, cod, soy beans, and Parmesan cheese. Other good sources are chocolate, milk products, and pumpkin seeds.


You might also Like


Discuss this Article

Post 3

Since I'm unable to edit, I'll add that when I look for information on the web (something I do often daily), I deliberately avoid the medical literature because of the 100,000 wrongful deaths at the hands of the medical profession yearly in the US alone, along with the estimated million injured or harmed because of the medical "professionals."

But that's not all. A real burr under my saddle is the enormous amount of knowledge that the public cannot get from the medical community, which is not only helpful but often lifesaving and exceptionally inexpensive, but the medical "professionals," in some instances, feign ignorance and in other instances really are ignorant because fattening their pocketbooks is more important than the health

and well-being of their customers (patients).

I don't want to leave without giving you an example. Years ago, I saw a licensed medical doctor give a talk on his successful use of a 25,000 volt stun gun treatment for poisonous bites such as rattlesnake and brown recluse spider bites, complete with pictures of his patients before and after. Being shocked directly on the bite wound twice at 180 degree angles immediately neutralizes all venomous bites and the pain from the poisoned infection is virtually completely gone also and immediately begins to heal.

Every doctor has an obligation to share this information, but instead of sharing it, they scoff and claim, "There have been *no* studies that prove this. All there is are 'anecdotal testimonies' which are not reliable." (meaning $200 million studies -- which no one is ever going to do because this isn't a poison, patented drug.)

I don't know about you, but that kind of nonchalant, arrogant attitude is like a doctor saying, "If it's not making me rich, I'm going to mock and dismiss it, especially if someone can do it with paying me to come to my office and get a prescription and/or schedule an operation."

We have the Internet now. It's way past time for the public to find the information on the Internet that exposes the evils of the AMA, the FDA and the drug industry that sees everything through the eyes of "Money times how many people."

"Lorenzo's Oil" opened the eyes of thousands to the fact that the medical community's perspective is, "if it's not profitable to us, we're not going to even try to find a remedy to save your child."

Back to venomous bites. Having a sister who was bit by a brown recluse, I know that medical science has no remedy for such a bite.

I also know that as this information became more well-known, a *few* doctors put this information on their websites and one medical technician (now retired) put a list of these doctors' links to this information on his website.

Recently I found that he is now reporting that numerous doctors' websites have removed this beneficial information without comment and without explanation.

My first thought was "pressure from the medical authorities who can wreck their careers like they have others who don't bow the knee to those in control." Andrew Wakefield ring any bells?

This is just one of many examples why the last person I'll go to for information is a doctor.

If you're wise, you'll use your keyboard before you talk to a doctor.

Post 1

This article got it right that "the health benefits of tryptophan "appear" to be numerous" but the scientific data strongly supports the opposite implication. And worse even, what is "numerous" are side effects from tryptophan and serotonin.

A perusal of the medical literature shows, contrary to what this article says, that a lack of tryptophan in the brain is tied to better cognitive focus. Therefore, raising tryptophan and serotonin is unlikely to benefit people with ADD and ADHD. Serotonin has been found to impair the blood circulation in the brain, and tryptophan is capable of injuring the blood brain barrier. Both of these effects are thought to contribute to brain degeneration (as seen in Parkinson's and Alzheimer's Disease).

The gist

of studies on trytophan and serotonin for depression and insomnia also reveals disappointing results.

Serotonin and various tryptophan metabolites are fundamentally inflammatory substances (for instance they increase free radical production). The scientific evidence is sound that they are involved in many illnesses and diseases, such as muscle degeneration, blood clots, liver injury, cataracts, cancer promotion and so on.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?