Along with enhancing mood and relieving insomnia, tryptophan has many other health benefits. There is a lot of evidence that tryptophan may help to alleviate migraine headaches and irritable bowel syndrome. Tryptophan can also help those people who are trying to lose weight by decreasing cravings for carbohydrates that usually can frustrate dieters.
Tryptophan depletion seems to worsen the symptoms that are found in the majority of both migraine sufferers and non-migraine sufferers. The effects of tryptophan depletion on both migraine and non-migraine sufferers were examined by measuring sensitivity to light, headache, and nausea five and eight hours after depletion or not. Those patients who were tryptophan-depleted experienced more glare and light-induced pain. After eight hours of tryptophan depletion, not only did migraine sufferers have increased headaches, but all participants experienced aggravated nausea. Another study compared motion sickness in thirty-nine migraine sufferers and thirty-seven non-migraine sufferers. The results concluded that tryptophan depletion increased dizziness, nausea, and the illusion of movement in non-sufferers to levels approaching those of migraine sufferers.
One treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the manipulation of serotonergic activity by the application of serotonin modulators. Patients with depleted levels of tryptophan have significantly higher levels of urge and pain “visceral perception” has been seen than those control patients.
Some people who are attempting to lose weight struggle with craving both sweets and starchy foods including breads, cakes, and candy, especially if they are stressed. For example, those people who have seasonal affective disorder or premenstrual syndrome, or even those who are trying to quit smoking have elevated levels of stress and crave these types of food. This is understandable because eating carbohydrates increases the synthesis of brain serotonin, which, in turn, calms the person.
Additionally, serotonin plays a critical role in regulating energy balance and controlling appetite. These facts suggest that tryptophan treatment could help people lose weight. In several studies participants were place on a weight-loss diet for three weeks, results showed a decrease in blood tryptophan. However, people given 5-HTP not only lost weight but also have eaten less than those individuals who were untreated in the same studies.
Before beginning to take l-tryptophan , be sure to tell your doctor or other health care practitioner if you have liver disease, kidney disease, eosinophillia, or a muscle disorder such as fibromyalgia. Any of these conditions may prevent you from using L-tryptophan, or you may need a dosage adjustment or special tests during treatment. Do not use L-tryptophan without telling your doctor or health care practitioner if you are pregnant, as it is unknown whether l-tryptophan would be harmful to an unborn baby.
Also, do not use L-tryptophan without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby. L-tryptophan may interact with other medicines, so before using it, make sure to tell your doctor or health care practitioner if you are using medicine for depression, a MAOI, a sedative or tranquilizer, a phenothizine drug, or any drugs that make you sleepy such as alcohol, cold medicine, pain mediation, muscle relaxants, and medicine for depression and anxiety.