Tryptophan: A Natural Relaxant

A natural relaxant, Tryptophan helps alleviate insomnia by inducing normal sleep. Tryptophan also is said to reduce anxiety and depression.

Tryptophan helps in the treatment of migraine headaches; helps the immune system; helps reduce the risk of artery and heart spasms; works with Lysine in reducing cholesterol levels. Tryptophan is also sometimes used to help people quit smoking and to enhance athletic performance.

Trypotophan is also known to assist with jaw pain, teeth grinding (bruxism) due to its anti-anxiety benefits and ability to help you get a more restful night’s sleep.

Tryptophan From Food

Turkey is the most well known source of tryptophan. Other foods high in tryptophan include: Chicken, beef, brown rice, nuts, fish, milk, eggs, cheese, fruit, and vegetables.

The best sources of this amino acid, however, are bajra, barley, finger millet, colocasia, sweet potatoes, cashew nuts, mangoes, papayas, and milk.

Using foods that contain more carbohydrates is a better way to increase your tryptophan absorption and aid in the production of serotonin, which helps to relax the body and combat sleep problems.

If you are worried about not getting enough tryptophan then using a natural supplement that contains tryptophan can help to put your mind at ease. It is important to remember that tryptophan cannot be made in the body and it is therefore up to you to provide it.

Debunking the Tryptophan Myth

Turkey does contain tryptophan, an amino acid which is a natural sedative. But tryptophan doesn’t act on the brain unless it is taken on an empty stomach with no protein present, and the amount gobbled even during a holiday feast is generally too small to have an appreciable effect. That lazy, lethargic feeling so many are overcome by at the conclusion of a festive season meal is most likely due to the combination of drinking alcohol and overeating a carbohydrate-rich repast…

Tryptophan for Insomnia

Nibble on cheese and a cracker. To be most effective, it is important to get tryptophan in combination with starches. A bagel is a good example. When you eat a starchy food like a bagel, the body releases insulin, which pushes all the amino acids except tryptophan into muscle cells. This leaves tryptophan alone in the bloodstream, so it’s first in line to get into the brain.

Side Effects and Cautions

Overall, tryptophan is well tolerated in humans. Make sure you buy from a reputable company that uses NO fillers or additives and never take more than the recommeded amount. Most health experts believe that the following conditions and adverse symptoms stemmed from contaminated products, so be very careful when purchasing tryptophan.

You may be at a higher risk for problems with tryptophan if you have liver disease, kidney disease, high levels of eosinophils (known as eosinophilia), any allergies. Also take care when pregnant or breast feeding.

  • Bothersome effects can include heartburn or indigestion, loss of appetite, drowsiness, abdominal pain, belching or gas, nausea, diarrhea, headaches, light-headedness, dry mouth and blurred vision.
  • Tryptophan can cause a condition called serotonin syndrome technically referred to as eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS). EMS can become quite serious. Symptoms include nerve pain, difficulty walking, fast heartbeat (tachycardia), feeling faint, sweating, difficulty walking, hallucinations and very severe muscle pain.
  • Some people might have an allergic reaction, such as a rash, hives, itching, swelling of the mouth or throat, wheezing, or difficulty breathing.

Read More: Essential Nutrients