Please note that this section reports on claims that have not yet been substantiated
Tryptophan may make you sleepy. It’s been used to treat insomnia. It’s also said to
be a natural antidepressant and stress reducer. It may help treat hyperactivity in
children. It may also treat manic episodes in people with bipolar disorder. Tryptophan
also decreases appetite.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has prohibited sales of tryptophan. This
is because it’s seen as a harmful chemical. This is because it may cause a fatal side
effect. However, this is controversial. It’s recommended that no one take tryptophan
as a supplement.
Side effects, toxicity, and interactions
The use of tryptophan has been associated with a potentially fatal condition. This
is called eosinophilic myositis or eosinophilia-myalgia (EMS). This issue was linked
to tryptophan made by a Japanese company that had recently changed its chemical processes.
The cause of the condition has been hotly debated. Most experts doubt that tryptophan
itself caused the problem. Instead, they think it may have been caused by something
else in the compound.
Ongoing studies have found that 4,5-tryptophan-dione is the likely culprit. In a study
of over-the-counter tryptophan, this contaminant was found to make up 0.5–10.3% of
the samples of tryptophan. The presence of this contaminant in all samples means that
tryptophan supplements aren’t safe to use.