L-Tryptophan, The Obesity, Depression & ADD Silver Bullet Solution?



What is dietary Tryptophan and how is it healthy life essential?

It is one of the 8 essential amino acids our bodies require to function correctly.  It is found naturally in varying degrees within food we eat, such as red meat, milk, eggs, turkey, bananas and chocolate.  How does IMG_20130405_174848Tryptophan work to produce benefits for our bodies that could promote natural weight loss, reduce anxiety, increase happiness, remove depression, and promote good sleep?  Could it be possible this essential amino acid supplemented within a diet and known as “L-Tryptophan” could also help with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) for you and your children?

The answers will surprise, anger and shock many of you about the health benefits our pharmaceutical industries don’t want you to know about.  This is because the prescription industry is a billion (s) dollar industries that do not want to give up its mind altering and weight loss prescription turf!

Let’s first cover a bit of history.  Back in 1991 the US government banned the dietary supplement L-Tryptophan because it was linked to a large outbreak of a deadly disease that killed 38 people in a 1989 study.  After 10 years had passed without incident of use in Europe, the US loosened its marketing restriction on the substance in 2001.  Like anything else, if misused any product may cause ill-health conditions.  Like many competitive industries, and most specifically our pharmaceutical industries back in 1989, they took full advantage of this disaster and profited in the market place by denouncing L-Tryptophan supplementation and created a whole slew of potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals to mimic the benefits of this essential amino acid.

As you will read below, there are still risks of using L-Tryptophan if not used correctly.  But I believe the pharmaceutical cocktail mixes our doctors now prescribe to you and your children have greater risk to health than this natural occurring supplement also found in balanced diet.  So instead of our pharmaceutical industries developing a safe use form of this supplementation during its heyday, it was more profitable to create a whole lot of man-made chemicals appearing to do the same thing at greater expense and increased health risk to outpatients.

        How does this amino acid work in our bodies to promote health benefits?

Our bodies need serotonin and melatonin neurotransmitters which are bio-brain chemicals that allow proper function of our physiology.  Our bodies do not manufacture these neurotransmitters without this amino acid in the diet.  IMG_20130405_174935That’s what “essential” means, our body can’t produce this amino acid on its own, and it has to be obtained through the diet.  This is important why?  Because without enough of this essential amino acid in our diet any one of us stand a good chance of suffering from one, a combination, or any ill-health effect to varying degree:

Such as, migraines, low energy, sleepless nights, improper weight regulation, obesity, depression, anxiety and hyperactivity.  And if you are dieting and your diet is a low protein-high carbohydrate balance, you are at greater risk of ill-health effects.  By providing you and your children a high sugar-fat and low protein food habit (fast foods, energy drinks, sodas, processed and convenience foods, etc.), you diminish essential nutrients from the diet.IMG_20130405_175411

Fortunately, more consumers are educated about proper use and benefits of L-Tryptophan.  It is making a big comeback in the mainstream weight loss, anti-anxiety/depression and ADD marketplace.  Of course, you can imagine there is big opposition to this movement from the pharmaceutical industry because there is much money to be lost once consumers wean off unnecessary pharmaceuticals.”

I’m not saying all man-made products are without need and merit.  I am saying that there is a point where prescription use should be assessed.   Especially when risk of pharmaceuticals now pose a health risk, and/or the risk could be avoided through use of a natural supplement and diet to alleviate ill-health symptoms.  All too often, our physicians and psychiatrists are too quick to prescribe pharmaceuticals when the answer to the problem could be very simple:  A poor diet may simply require an essential amino acid boost to stimulate manufacturing of the necessary neurotransmitters!

Can supplementing the diet with L-Tryptophan help us regulate and reduce weight?   Science shows us that this supplement can greatly reduce our cravings for sweets and carbohydrates.  IMG_20130405_174805When dieting for example, our serotonin levels appear to decrease which creates a carbohydrate binging and cravings effect.  When our serotonin levels remain low there is a direct correlation with weight gain and obesity.  We know this binging and craving effect as the “Yo-Yo effect.”

There “are known side effects” of taking L-Tryptophan if proper dosages and impure quality grade are not considered:  Unlike Tryptophan extracted from the foods in our diet, there appears to be no health risk.   But like anything else we put in our bodies, if you consume too much with frequency and of low nutrition value, a negative to no benefit effect can result making the body ill.

Here is a list of possible side effects when misusing, or using L-Tryptophan:  Eosinophilia-Myalgia Syndrome (EMS), or serotonin syndrome.  Symptoms include severe muscle pain, fatigue, and nerve pain, hair loss, rash, dry thickened skin, or skin changes. High eosinophil levels are found in the blood when supplementation has gone wrong.  Also when recommended dosages are disregarded, excess product toxic waste in the body can impact the brain bringing on psychotic symptoms.  This may include confusion, seeing, or hearing things, fast heartbeat, fever, sweating, diarrhea, difficulty walking.  Allergic reactions may include: Rash, hives, itching, swelling of mouth/throat, wheezing, or breathing difficulty.  Science still cannot tell us if EMS is the result of impure or specific brand L-tryptophan that had contaminants.  But for best results, it’s best to ensure a quality pharmaceutical grade is considered for use.

If L-Tryptophan is supplemented within the right dosages, the scientific data shows the brain will manufacture balanced serotonin and melatonin neurotransmitters promoting a cheerful mood, assist in weight reduction, relieve anxiety, reduce migraine, reduce hyperactivity, reduce depression and promote healthy sleep patterns.  Sounds like the same benefits you’d receive from a doctor’s prescription, does it not?   Because this supplement also has many potential risks like prescriptions; it would be prudent to work with your primary physician if interested in supplementing the diet with L-Tryptophan.

This essential acid as previously stated is responsible for manufacturing the neurotransmitter Melatonin (promotes healthy sleep patterns).  Melatonin is also found in an individual supplement tablet that can be purchased over-the-counter.

I’ve used melatonin after working grave yard shifts and I have to tell you this supplement works very well to induce sleep.  But if you’re getting enough dietary tryptophan sleepless nights become less frequent and melatonin supplementation may become unnecessary.  Think of how you feel after consuming a big turkey meal, very satisfied and sleepy.  This is because turkey has of high concentration per serving of this amino acid.  DSC00297Of course, we are all different in our ability to process Tryptophan and manufacture serotonin and melatonin, so these dietary  benefits will vary with each individual.

Also if you’d been advised to reduce the cholesterol in your diet, this will likely mean less animal product consumption, which may likely equate to a reduction of this dietary essential amino acid.  I have not supplemented my diet with L-Tryptophan, but would do so If I felt I couldn’t get the essential nutrient from my diet, or had dietary restrictions.


If you or your child suffer from ADD, obesity, anxiety, depression and insomnia, consider balanced diet with natural Trpytophan, or a high quality L-Trpytophan supplementation prescribed by a physician.

Understand there are literally thousands of Internet links and library resources on this topic.  There is much to be interpreted and derived from the data I found outside of the two links listed below.  I see the positive benefits of balanced diet and supplementation if needed.  The pharmaceutical and psychiatric community does not share a similar enthusiasm over the benefits over this supplement.  Research the Internet and read up on diet Tryptophan versus supplement “L-Tryptophan” and how it may be your silver bullet to weaning off of pharmaceuticals and promoting a good health solution for you and your family.  Good health to you and your family!

Research Links:  http://www.weight-loss-center.net/L-tryptophan.html; http://mental-health.emedtv.com/l-tryptophan/l-tryptophan-side-effects.html

Author:  Marc T. Woodard, MBA, BS Exercise Science, USA Medical Services Officer, CPT, RET2010 Copyright.  All rights reserved, Mirror Athlete Publishing @: www.mirrorathlete.com,  Sign up for your Free eNewsletter.

About Marc Woodard

As a fit healthy lifestyle author and consultant, retired corporate employee and retired Army officer, I've spent many years taking care of my career goals and financial security.  It is now my time to give something back to my community. Without a healthy mind, body and spirit it is really difficult to move forward to achieve great things in life. To share information is something everyone of us are capable of doing. And to share fitness and health related information with your children is the best thing you could do for them and your community. Saving the health of our nation one person at a time is our goal. Learn more about Marc Woodard @ LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/marc-woodard-94003930/ Good health to you and your family.
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