L-Tryptophan is one of the 20 standard amino acids, as well as an essential amino acid in the human diet. This means that it cannot be synthesized by the organism and therefore must be part of its diet. Amino acids, including tryptophan, act as building blocks in protein biosynthesis. In addition, tryptophan functions as a biochemical precursor for the following compounds:
- Serotonin (a neurotransmitter), synthesized via tryptophan hydroxylase. Serotonin, in turn, can be converted to melatonin (a neurohormone), via N-acetyltransferase and 5-hydroxyindole-O-methyltransferase activities.
- Niacin is synthesized from tryptophan via kynurenine and quinolinic acids as key biosynthetic intermediates.
- Auxin (a phytohormone) when sieve tube elements undergo apoptosis tryptophan is converted to auxins.
Clinical research has shown L-Tryptophan to be an effective sleep aid. Furthermore tryptophan has shown some effectiveness for treatment of a variety of other conditions typically associated with low serotonin levels in the brain such as premenstrual dysphoric disorder and seasonal affective disorder. In particular, tryptophan has shown considerable promise as an antidepressant alone and as an “augmenter” of antidepressant drugs.
Tryptophan the anti-depressive/anti-agitate/anti-anxiety protocol
Published research (S.N. Young and H.M. Praag) strongly suggests that L-Tryptophan is very beneficial to “Anxious-Agitated” depressive types. Young and Praag have revealed that at low levels of psychobiologic arousal, there is adequate neuronal serotonin to support the correlative low-level serotonin nerve activity, even when nerve serotonin levels are low. At higher levels of arousal, however, the more rapid turnover of serotonin in the synaptic gap will require higher levels of serotonin production to adequately maintain the greater activity of serotonin circuits. On other words, L-Tryptophan provides the anxious agitated depressive with needed relaxing counterbalance, restoring a sense of well being and behavioral self-control.
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