Tryptophan (Tryptophan) is an amino acid occurring naturally in food. In the brain,Tryptophan (Tryptophan) is converted to 5-hydroxy-tryptophan (5-HTP), which, in turn, is converted to serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter essential to regulating appetite, sleep, mood and pain levels.
The recommended dosage of Tryptophan (Tryptophan) to treat affective disorder is 8g to 12g per day in 3 or 4 divided doses. A small number of bipolar patients cannot tolerate more than 1g to 2g per day. Any patient using Lithium and adding L-Tryptophan to treat acute mania may have to decrease the Lithium dosage, especially if the Lithium dosage is greater than 900mg/day. The addition of Tryptophan (Tryptophan) will potentiate some of the side effects of Lithium such as nausea and vomitting. With some of the more sedative neuroleptics and anti-depressants use of L-Tryptophan should be monitored because of an additive sedative effect.
Prozac (Fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil (Paroxetine) and Effexor (Venlafaxine) to name a few also affect serotonin levels. But unlike Tryptophan(Tryptophan), which increases serotonin production, these drugs block the destruction of serotonin in the brain by interfering with the body's natural physiological regulatory system. Tryptophan (Tryptophan) supplements were once used as a safe, inexpensive and effective means to treat depression, insomnia, weight gain, migraines and anxiety.
Tryptophan side effects that require immediate emergency attention include: agitation; confusion; diarrhea; fever; overactive reflexes; poor coordination; restlessness; shivering; sweating; talking or acting with excitement you cannot control; trembling or shaking; twitching; and sometimes vomiting. Other Tryptophan side effects that do not require immediate attention include: dizziness; drowsiness ; dry mouth; headache; loss of appetite; and nausea.
The seasonal pattern of L-tryptophan was studied in a Fairbanks, Alaska, population that was unadapted to the extreme light variations of the North. Previously, this population was shown to exhibit seasonal behavior effects such as increases in fatigue and sleep duration, as well as endocrine effects such as increases in melatonin levels and phase shifting. Caloric and macronutrient intake have been reported to vary seasonally in humans, thereby potentially influencing the plasma levels of L-tryptophan, which is a precursor of serotonin and melatonin. Plasma levels of L-tryptophan from volunteers, whose average duration of stay in Alaska was eight months, were determined by automated amino acid analysis. Prominent results included finding increased levels in the winter at several different diurnal time points. These findings support hypotheses which relate underlying physiological adaptations to the North to the increased incidence of behavioral disorders such as depression and alcoholism. This study showed Tryptophan Depletion (TD) was significantly related to increased scores on clinician-rated depression and anxiety scales, and on self-rated depression, anxiety, and somatic symptoms. The control challenge had no effect, despite the fact that the reductions in plasma tryptophan during the control session were unexpectedly high. Some evidence was found for a threshold in the relationship between reduction of plasma tryptophan and mood response.
More Tryptophan Information on this study is available at http://www.biopsychiatry.com/5-htp.html