L-Tryptophan Is Back
This versatile amino acid is often an effective treatment for depression, insomnia, and premenstrual mood changes
United States regulatory agencies have recently reversed a 20-year ban on the over-the-counter sale of the essential amino acid L-tryptophan, and once again joins countries such as the United Kingdom, Japan, and the Netherlands in allowing this valuable nutrient to be sold as a dietary supplement. A versatile amino acid, L-tryptophan is often an effective treatment for depression, insomnia, and premenstrual mood changes (premenstrual dysphoric disorder).
A manufacturer mess-up makes history
In the 1980s, L-tryptophan was a very popular dietary supplement. However, its over-the-counter sale was banned in 1989, after a manufacturing error by one of the world's five L-tryptophan producers introduced a contaminant into the product that resulted in a number of cases of a serious and sometimes fatal illness known as eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome. The manufacturing error was identified and corrected relatively quickly, and there have been no reports of eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome resulting from the use of uncontaminated L-tryptophan.
Using it safely and wisely
Using it as a treatmentSome safe intake amounts have been established:
Tips to maximize effectivenessAs with many supplements, when and what you eat can affect the way it reacts in the body:
An expert in nutritional therapies, Chief Medical Editor Alan R. Gaby, MD, is a former professor at Bastyr University of Natural Health Sciences, where he served as the Endowed Professor of Nutrition. He is past-president of the American Holistic Medical Association and gave expert testimony to the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine on the cost-effectiveness of nutritional supplements. Dr. Gaby has conducted nutritional seminars for physicians and has collected over 30,000 scientific papers related to the field of nutritional and natural medicine. In addition to editing and contributing to The Natural Pharmacy (Three Rivers Press, 1999), and the A-Z Guide to Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions (Three Rivers Press, 1999), Dr. Gaby has authored Preventing and Reversing Osteoporosis (Prima Lifestyles, 1995) and B6: The Natural Healer (Keats, 1987) and coauthored The Patient's Book of Natural Healing (Prima, 1999).