- Side Effects
- Drug Interactions
- Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
- What Else to Know
Generic Name: l-tryptophan
Other Names: tryptophan
Drug Class: Herbals
What is l-tryptophan, and what is it used for?
L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid required for the synthesis of proteins, enzymes, muscles, and chemicals (neurotransmitters) such as serotonin and melatonin that nerve cells use for signaling.
L-tryptophan supplements are used as an adjunct to antidepressant therapy to treat depressive disorders. L-tryptophan supplements are also used for many other conditions including anxiety, insomnia, teeth grinding (bruxism), premenstrual syndrome symptoms, and migraine headaches.
L-tryptophan is not naturally synthesized in the body and must be obtained from dietary intake. Some good sources of l-tryptophan include milk, cheese, turkey, chicken, egg whites, fish, oats, peanuts, and sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds. In general, the body's needs for l-tryptophan can be met with a healthy, balanced diet.
Is l-tryptophan good for depression?
Supplemental l-tryptophan can increase the availability of l-tryptophan for the synthesis of the neurotransmitters, serotonin, and melatonin. Serotonin’s functions include the regulation of mood, sleep, appetite and digestion, while melatonin promotes nighttime sleep. Low levels of serotonin may be implicated in depression and mood disorders. L-tryptophan is likely effective for depression, however, there are insufficient scientific studies to support most of its other uses.
- Do not take l-tryptophan if you are hypersensitive to any of the components in the formulation.
- L-tryptophan has been associated with hypersensitivity reactions including rash, itching, hives, swelling, muscle pain and wheezing. Use with caution.
- Higher l-tryptophan levels may increase the risk for cataract formation, especially if exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light.
- Serotonin syndrome, a potentially life-threatening drug reaction, can occur if l-tryptophan is taken simultaneously with other drugs that increase serotonin levels, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
- Use l-tryptophan with caution in patients with diabetes mellitus.
- Use with caution in patients with bladder cancer.
- L-tryptophan may increase the risk of lung conditions such as emphysema and pulmonary edema in patients with absence of hydrochloric acid in the stomach (achlorhydria).
- L-tryptophan can cause amino acid imbalance in patients who are protein-deprived.
- Some bipolar patients are acutely sensitive and would not tolerate dosages higher than 1-2 g/day.
- In patients with depression, clinical worsening and suicide ideation may occur despite taking medication.
What are the side effects of l-tryptophan?
Common side effects of l-tryptophan include:
- Dry mouth (xerostomia)
- Loss of appetite (anorexia)
- Stomach pain
- Hypersensitivity reaction including:
- Blurry vision
- Serotonin syndrome
- Sexual disinhibition
Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms or serious side effects while using this drug:
- Serious heart symptoms include fast or pounding heartbeats, fluttering in your chest, shortness of breath, and sudden dizziness;
- Severe headache, confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness, vomiting, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady;
- Severe nervous system reaction with very stiff muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, and feeling like you might pass out; or
- Serious eye symptoms include blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain or swelling, or seeing halos around lights.
This is not a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions that may occur from the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may also report side effects or health problems to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What are the dosages of l-tryptophan?
- 8-12 g/d orally divided four or three times daily
- Lower dosage effective in combination with other antidepressants
- Take with low-protein, carbohydrate-rich meals or snacks
- Safety and efficacy not established
- L-tryptophan overdose can cause agitation, confusion, diarrhea, fever, overactive reflexes, poor coordination, restlessness, shivering, sweating, uncontrolled excitement, trembling or shaking, twitching, and vomiting.
- Overdose may be treated with discontinuation of l-tryptophan and symptomatic and supportive care.
What drugs interact with l-tryptophan?
Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking, who can advise you on any possible drug interactions. Never begin taking, suddenly discontinue, or change the dosage of any medication without your doctor’s recommendation.
- L-tryptophan has no known severe interactions with other drugs.
- Serious interactions of L-tryptophan include:
- L-tryptophan has moderate interactions with at least 54 different drugs.
- L-tryptophan has no known mild interactions with other drugs.
The drug interactions listed above are not all of the possible interactions or adverse effects. For more information on drug interactions, visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker.
It is important to always tell your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider about all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, as well as the dosage for each, and keep a list of the information. Check with your doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions about the medication.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
What else should I know about l-tryptophan?
- L-tryptophan supplements are possibly safe for most adults when taken orally in recommended doses for up to 3 weeks.
- Check with your healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement, including l-tryptophan.
- Take l-tryptophan exactly as prescribed or as per label instructions.
- Dietary supplements often contain many ingredients. Check labels for the components in the l-tryptophan product you choose.
- L-tryptophan is marketed as a dietary supplement and is not regulated by the FDA. Products may differ in formulations and strengths, and labels may not always match contents; exercise caution in choosing your product.
- L-tryptophan may impair physical and mental abilities. Avoid performing tasks that require mental alertness, such as driving and operating heavy machinery while taking the supplement.
- Store safely out of reach of children.
- In case of overdose, seek medical help or contact Poison Control.
L-tryptophan supplements are used as an adjunct to antidepressant therapy to treat depressive disorders. L-tryptophan supplements are also used for many other conditions including anxiety, insomnia, teeth grinding (bruxism), premenstrual syndrome symptoms, and migraine headaches. Common side effects of l-tryptophan include nausea, dry mouth (xerostomia), loss of appetite (anorexia), vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, rash, hives (urticaria), itching (pruritus), swelling (edema), muscle pain (myalgia), wheezing, dizziness, drowsiness, headache, blurry vision, serotonin syndrome, and sexual disinhibition. Do not take if pregnant or breastfeeding.
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The 3 nutrients essential for treating seasonal depression are vitamin D, omega-3s, and carbohydrates, as well as the following foods.
Can Depression Stop Me From Losing Weight?
While depression itself does not stop you from losing weight, your weight loss goals will be affected if you cope with your depression by reaching for unhealthy foods.
How Do You Get Rid of Vestibular Migraines? Triggers, Medications, Symptoms
Getting rid of vestibular migraines involves managing the active episode (acute treatment) and preventing further episodes (prophylactic treatment).
What Is an Episodic Migraine? Causes, Treatment, Symptoms
Migraine attacks are said to be episodic if they occur less than 15 days in a month. Learn the causes, symptoms, and treatment of episodic migraines below.
What Is ATypical Migraine Aura?
A typical aura is the sensory, visual, and motor change that some people with migraine experience before or during a migraine attack. Migraine is a common disabling headache disorder.
Depression and Suicide
Depression is a psychiatric illness that affects one in six people in the United States. Nearly two-thirds of people with depression do not realize that they have a treatable illness and do not seek treatment. Depression could happen when there is a decrease in the functional balance of the brain chemicals e.g., serotonin and norepinephrine.
How Do You Get Rid of a Migraine Fast?
Migraine is a neurological condition that is characterized by recurrent episodes of intense headaches. It may be associated with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and other clinical features.
Depression in the Elderly
Depression in the elderly is very common. That doesn't mean, though, it's normal. Treatment may involve antidepressants, psychotherapy, or electroconvulsive therapy.
What Does an Anxiety Attack Feel Like?
Anxiety attacks typically last 30 minutes or less and include feelings of extremely intense terror, fear, or anxiety. Check out the center below for more medical references on anxiety, including multimedia (slideshows, images, and quizzes), related disease conditions, treatment and diagnosis, medications, and prevention or wellness.
Is Trichotillomania an Anxiety Disorder?
Trichotillomania, also known as hair-pulling, is an impulse control disorder. It could be caused by anxiety and stress. It can coexist with an anxiety disorder. However, psychiatrists consider it as a separate illness and not an anxiety disorder.
What Does a Neurologist Do for a Vestibular Migraine?
Neurologists may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or triptans for vestibular migraines to help control or reduce symptoms.
How Does Anxiety Affect You Physically?
Physical signs of anxiety include rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, nausea, sweating, headache, and more. Find out how to recognize and ease your symptoms.
What Are the 9 Causes of Depression?
Depression is caused by a combination of biological, environmental, psychological and genetic factors. Here are the top nine causes of depression.
Are Migraine Auras Serious?
Migraine with aura (also called classic migraine) is repeated episodes of headache that occur during or after sensory disturbances (aura or migraine aura). These disturbances may include symptoms such as flashes of light, blind spots, and other vision changes or tingling over the hand or face.
What Does It Mean to Be High-Functioning in Depression?
Although not a clinical term, high-functioning depression is a phrase often used to describe a form of depression that may be less debilitating than others.
Are Migraines a Symptom of COVID-19?
Although the main symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath, migraines are also a common symptom that may persist during or after infection.
How Do I Get Rid of Winter Depression?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is triggered by a change in seasons. Here are 9 ways to get rid of winter depression.
Can Stress and Anxiety Hurt My Baby?
Research indicates that stress and anxiety in pregnant women may influence the health of the baby and result in several birth problems.
What Does Hemiplegic Migraine Feel Like?
Symptoms of hemiplegic migraine mimic those of a stroke, and the muscle weakness can feel so severe that it causes temporary paralysis on the affected side of the body.
What Does Migraine Do to the Brain?
A migraine is a severe headache that causes throbbing pain typically on one side of the head. Here is what happens in your brain during a migraine and why it causes pain and other symptoms.
What Are 6 Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders?
Anxiety disorders have an impact on one's behavior, thoughts, emotions, and physical health. The six major symptoms of anxiety disorders include worrying incessantly and excessively for no apparent reason; fear of any social or performance-related situations in which one may be subjected to scrutiny from others; irrational fear of an object or location; flashbacks, nightmares, and subsequent anxiety due to exposure to a highly traumatic event in the past; cleaning and rearranging things and objects around excessively and repetitively; and repeated panic attacks.
What Is a Strategy to Help Someone Who Is Suffering From Depression?
Knowing what helps and what doesn’t when it comes to helping someone with depression is incredibly important. Learn these 12 best strategies for helping a person dealing with depression here.
What Is the Best Test for Anxiety?
Screening for anxiety can help detect mental health problems early and ensure that you receive timely treatment. Learn about the best tests for assessing anxiety levels and how anxiety relates to anxiety disorders. Check out the center below for more medical references on anxiety, including multimedia (slideshows, images, and quizzes), related diseases, treatment, diagnosis, medications, and prevention or wellness.
What Is the Most Common Type of Migraine?
The most common type of migraine is migraine without aura (common migraine). 70-90% of people with migraine experience this type. The frequency of this type of migraine may range from once a year to several times per week.
Can Blue Light Cause Depression?
Yes, in humans, there is evidence that supports that blue light disrupts the normal circadian rhythms (biological clock), resulting in mood disorders such as depression.
What Are the 5 Symptoms of Anxiety?
Learn the 5 most common types of anxiety disorders and their symptoms below.
What Age Group Has the Highest Rate of Depression?
American Psychiatric Association defines major depressive disorder (depression) as a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how one feels, thinks and acts. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and decrease a person’s ability to function at work and home. Depression can occur at any age.
Which Are the Pressure Points to Relieve Migraines?
Migraines are complex disorders involving episodes of recurrent and severe headaches. They generally present as a headache on one side and may be associated with visual or sensory symptoms (such as seeing flashes of light, colorful or bright shapes, or hearing sounds of various types) collectively called “aura.”
What Are the First Signs of a Migraine?
The first sign of a migraine is severe eye pain associated with a dull headache. Migraines gradually worsen with physical activity.
What Causes Migraines?
A migraine is a complex disorder that involves episodes of recurrent and severe headaches. An episode of a migraine can be very painful, lasting for hours, making day-to-day activities difficult until the episode is resolved. The frequency and severity of migraine attacks tend to decline with age. And women are more likely to suffer from migraines than men.
What Triggers Social Anxiety?
Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is a mental health condition that is characterized by extreme anxiety and fear of social settings. People with social anxiety disorder have a constant, intense, persistent fear of being watched, judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social situation.
How to Test for Clinical Depression
Doctors test for clinical depression by asking a set of questions, known as depression screening tests.
Can Anxiety Give You a Stomachache?
Anxiety triggers the release of cortisol, which can cause your stomach to produce more acid and give you a stomachache. Learn about how to cope with anxiety symptoms.
Is Exercise a Trigger for Migraines?
Vigorous exercise can trigger migraines for some people, possibly due to changes in blood vessel caliber. Here are 8 ways to prevent exercise-induced migraines.
How Can I Stop Menstrual Migraines?
Menstrual migraines are one type of migraine that tends to strike about 2-3 days before the start of your period. Here are 7 ways to prevent or treat menstrual migraines.
Is Psoriasis Linked to Anxiety?
Like other chronic conditions, psoriasis can take a toll on your emotional health. Anxiety can trigger or worsen psoriasis, and psoriasis can cause anxiety.
What Is Anxiety Mostly About?
Anxiety is a natural response to stress or danger that alerts us of potential threats. Check out the center below for more medical references on anxiety, including multimedia (slideshows, images, and quizzes), related disease conditions, treatment and diagnosis, medications, and prevention or wellness.
What Are General Methods Used to Treat Depression?
While there is no one size fits all solution to treating depression, symptoms may be reduced through medication, therapy, and lifestyle modifications.
What Does a Vestibular Migraine Feel Like? Treatment, Triggers
Vestibular migraine is a type of migraine that causes vertigo, as well as dizziness, unsteadiness, or lack of balance.
How Do You Prevent Migraines When Exercising?
Here are a few tips to help prevent a workout from causing a migraine, such as staying hydrated and sticking to a protein-rich diet.
How Do You Recover From a Retinal Migraine?
Retinal migraine treatment mainly focuses on preventing recurrence rather than aborting the attack because the vision loss subsides on its own.
What Does Social Anxiety Feel Like?
People affected by social anxiety or social phobia often feel intense fear or anxiety of being judged or criticized while being in a social situation.
Why Do Certain Foods Trigger Migraines?
According to recent studies, diet can play a significant role in triggering migraine episodes. Learn about foods you should avoid if you have migraine headaches.
What Does the Start of a Migraine Feel Like?
Warning signs that a migraine is coming on may include increased urination, constipation, food cravings, mood changes, tiredness, and sensitivity to light or sound.
Can You Have a Migraine Without Aura?
You can have a migraine without an aura. In fact, migraine without aura is the most common type of migraine. Learn about symptoms, triggers, and complications.
What Is the Best Treatment for Anxiety?
The best treatment for anxiety is typically a combination of psychotherapy and medication. However, lifestyle modifications can also help manage symptoms.
What Foods Trigger Migraines?
Migraine is a chronic neurological disorder that features intense headaches on one or both sides of the head. Migraine attacks may resolve in few hours or may take as long as several days.
What Is the Main Cause of Anxiety?
Anxiety is usually caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors that may include stress, trauma, family history, and underlying health conditions.
How Can I Help My Young Child With Anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal part of daily life, even for children. Help your young child with anxiety by giving the feeling a label, validating their feelings, tracking causes of anxiety, and using other methods.
What Is a High Frequency Migraine?
A patient is diagnosed with high-frequency migraine if they experience 10 to 15 (or more) headache days per month.
Is Retinal Migraine Serious?
With repeated retinal migraine attacks, there is a small risk that the reduced blood flow may damage the thin layer of the retina and the blood vessels of the eye. Permanent vision loss is rare.
How Should You Sleep to Avoid Migraines?
Migraines can be avoided by practicing good sleep hygiene. Here are 11 tips for improving your sleep habits and preventing headaches.
What Symptoms Are Caused by Anxiety?
It's normal to feel stressed or worried about things that happen in our everyday lives. However, people who experience anxiety disorders often feel heightened fear or worry about common situations.
Can Bad Sleeping Habits Cause Migraines?
Bad sleeping habits can cause migraines, as migraine attacks have been linked to the sleep-wake cycle or circadian rhythm. If your sleep-wake cycle is disrupted, it can trigger a migraine.
Is Depression a Medically Treatable Disorder?
Depression is a medically treatable disorder because it is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. Learn about treatment options.
How Is Episodic Migraine Treated? Acute, How Long It Lasts
An episodic migraine can last between four hours to three days and may require the following treatment options.
How Do You Know If You Have Chronic Migraines?
Chronic migraine is defined by the International Headache Society as 15 or more headache days per month, with at least eight of those days satisfying the migraine criteria.
Is Bipolar Disorder Connected to Major Depression?
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that leads to severe mood swings. If you have an identified condition of depression, it cannot "develop into" or "lead to" bipolar disorder.
What Is the Best Cure for Migraine?
The best cure for migraine involves preventive medications and lifestyle changes. Some newer medications and therapies are effective in controlling the symptoms of migraine. Avoiding or controlling triggers may provide considerable benefit. Migraine can be prevented mainly by using medications, avoiding triggers and implementing lifestyle changes.
How Common Are Episodic Migraines?
Episodic migraines are characterized by 1-14 migraine headaches per month and are fairly common, affecting about 14% of the population.
How Do You Stop a Migraine Without Aura?
While migraines cannot be cured, symptoms can be improved with medications and preventative measures. Learn how to treat migraines without aura.
Treatment & Diagnosis
- PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)
- Postpartum Depression
- Postpartum Depression: Behind the Smile
- Illness Anxiety Disorder (Hypochondria)
- Teen Depression
- Migraine & Headache Q & A
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Anxiety, Panic, and Phobias: Seeking Help
- Headaches and Migraine: Easing the Pain -- Seymour Diamond, MD
- Anxiety Treatment with Virtual Reality Exposure
- Depression Drug Warning: Signs of Suicide
- Migraine: Managing Migraine Misery
- Anxiety: Facing Fear and Anxiety -- Jonathan Davidson, MD
- Migraines Survival with Christina Peterson, M.D.
- Depression: Beating the Holiday Blues
- Depression FAQs
- Migraine Headaches FAQs
- Migraine Headache Treatment
- Does Depression Cause Obesity or Does Obesity Cause Depression?
- Vestibular Migraine and Janet Jackson
- Depression - St. John's Wort
- Miscarriage - Depression Risk Increased
- Accutane (isotretinoin) for Acne linked to birth defects, depression and suicide
- PMS vs. PMDD - Whats' the Difference?
- Depression and Women
- Hot Flashes: Anxiety Worsens Hot Flashes
- Is Depression a Side Effect of Celebrex?
- How Do You Get Rid of a Migraine?
- Do Statins Cause Depression?
- What Is CNS Depression?
- Can Botox Cure Migraines?
- 11 Common Depression Symptoms
- Migraine Symptoms
- Diet and Depression: How Food Can Help with Depression Symptoms
- Migraines: Eat to Minimize Your Migraines
- PMS-Free Diet? What You Eat May Effect PMS
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
- Is Sex Good for Depression?
- Can Stress and Anxiety Cause Allergies?
- How to Cope With Anxiety Naturally
- What Can Trigger Depressive Episodes?
- What CBD Method Is Best for Anxiety?
- 9 Ways to Calm an Anxiety Attack Fast
- What Is L-Tryptophan and Does It Have Side Effects?
- How Do I Stop Anxiety at Work?
- 8 Foods That Help Reduce Anxiety
- How Do You Relieve Stress and Anxiety?
- How St. John’s Wort Fights Depression
- Is Vitamin D Good for Depression?
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.