Tryptophan like other nootropics is an essential amino acid commonly found in both plant and animal protein. It is said to be “essential’ since the body cannot synthesize it by itself. It instead acquires it from the protein sources. The body uses the tryptophan to create new proteins that it requires. It is often linked to the ability to improve mood and the general body relaxation, a function entirely executed by a neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin is created through a series of conversion from the basic form of the tryptophan to the 5-HTP and finally to serotonin.

Also known as L-tryptophan, it has been used as a dietary supplement for sometimes now. Many foods do have the L-tryptophan, however, obtaining the right quantities to meet the desired purpose might necessitate the use of a supplement. It has also been proven to stimulate the secretion and release of growth hormones and reduce food cravings.

How does Tryptophan work?

As soon as an individual absorb the L-tryptophan into the body, it gets converted into the 5-HTP (5-hyrdoxytryptophan) with the help of enzymes. The 5-HTP is further converted into the neurotransmitter, serotonin. The two processes require the presence of some minerals and enzymes. The end product, serotonin, therefore functions in the brain by relaying signals between the cells. Serotonin can also make the blood vessels a little narrow. Any alteration on the level of hormone serotonin will affect the mood of the individual. Since the tryptophan can boost hormone serotonin, people do normally take it in order to achieve the calmness and relaxed mood.

The benefits of L-tryptophan

Tryptophan For Depression

It is amazing how the brain can be induced to create the mood needed. Perhaps people have realized the challenges that do occur due to the inefficiency of serotonin and are ready to walk over it. Researchers have provided evidence regarding the ability of the supplement to bring about a positive impact on both the mood and cognition. Studies also have it that when tryptophan is converted into serotonin, the end product makes the other essential amino acids readily available thus making the control of mood easier and the production of stress hormones is cut down.

Some studies have realized that supplements of both tryptophan and 5-HTP can work well like the other antidepressant prescriptions. This is utmost effective when the level of depression or anxiety is moderate. In a study involving 63 individuals, those who used the L-tryptophan did pretty much well like the rest. Another research also realized that a reduction in the consumption of tryptophan affects certain brain activities that are responsible for happiness and mood changes. The anxious and depressed individuals were found to have relatively low levels of serotonin.

Control Sleep Cycles with Tryptophan

When the tryptophan is converted into serotonin, secretion of another hormone called melatonin is stimulated. This hormone is responsible for both the sleep patterns and the quality of the sleep. It, therefore, regulate the wake-sleep pattern hence quality sleep. The level of melatonin are normally low during the day and increases significantly toward the night. This explains why individuals sleep predominantly at night than during the day. Sleep problems such as those conditions caused by jet lag and the delayed sleep phase syndrome could be greatly reduced with the use of tryptophan supplements.

According to the University of Rochester, there is no significant evidence that justifies tryptophan as being able to heal insomnia. This supplement is said to decrease the duration that a person takes to sleep as soon as he or she lies on the bed and improve the next day’s mood following a good night sleep. It is also purported to reduce grinding of teeth at night, a condition called bruxism.

Recovering from Addiction with Tryptophan

The L-tryptophan with 5-HTP and other ingredients have been used to help those affected by stimulating the conversion and secretion of serotonin and melatonin respectively. L-tryptophan is often administered to people who want to quit smoking to escalate the efficiency of the conventional treatment. It is also a way of teaching individuals to learn to control the pressure and the emotional states so as to easily go over the challenge.

Fighting Headaches and Migraines with Tryptophan

A study was conducted at Murdoch University School of Psychology in Australia to determine the impact of amino acids including the L-tryptophan on migraines. The research found out that after a drink containing several amino acids including tryptophan, the symptoms of migraines were greatly curtailed.Studies have shown that when the level of serotonin goes down, headaches and migraines appear to escalate in pain. Nausea and sleep problems may also be aggravated. Serotonin acts as a natural relief for headache.

Obtain the B vitamin niacin

The human body usually converts tryptophan into B vitamin niacin which is very important for the well-being of the nervous system and in food metabolism to provide energy to the body. It is only when there is a deficiency of tryptophan that the body can lack the B vitamin niacin. For this conversion to take place, vitamin B-6, iron and riboflavin should be available and incorrect amounts within the body. The sources that contain the L-tryptophan do mostly have the required nutrients for the conversion to take place.

Maintaining healthy weight with tryptophan

Basically, what happens from the conversion of the supplement to serotonin, the resulting relaxation, the mood and the general clarity of mind; all drive at the same direction in maintaining a healthy weight. For instance, the fact that serotonin reduces the excessive cravings for food means that one is able to regulate weight gain by only eating what is necessary.

Side effects and precautions for use of tryptophan

It is unsafe when taken through the mouth. Cases of eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS) have been reported for over 1500 times. The symptoms of this condition are normally expected to fade away after sometimes. In some cases, however, the symptoms may go for over 2 years or even lifetime. In 1990, for example, when the ban on the supplement was introduced due to rising cases of EMS, the number of individuals suffering reduced greatly.

Some other side effects may include, heartburn, nausea, belching and gas, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. It may also lead to headaches, sexual problems, drowsiness, dry mouth, muscle weakness and visual blurring.


The dosage to be taken depend on several factors including age, health and several other conditions. The physician judges by the diagnosis and prescribes it accordingly.