L-Tryptophan: Pharmaceutical Grade
Free-Form Amino Acid




 Serving Size: 1 Capsule 60 servings per bottle

Amount Per Capsule

 % Daily Value

Tryptophan (as L-Tryptophan USP)

500 mg



 * Daily Value not established

Other ingredients: Gelatin, Cellulose, Magnesium Silicate. Silicon Dioxide.

This product is manufactured to meet the stringent standards of the US Pharmacopoeia for quality, purity, potency.

Made from pure, quality ingredients. Contains no sugar, starch, yeast, wheat, soy, corn, egg, milk, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives.

As a dietary supplement, take one (1) or more capsules per day or as recommended by your health care professional.

Do not refrigerate.

Keep out of reach of children.

Keep in a dry place, tightly capped.

Variation in the product color may occur.

There is little monetary reward for researchers who pursue the intricate secrets of amino acids. Rather, very odd situations have developed: The rush to artificially duplicate the work of the amino acid, tryptophan, (that converts into serotonin) has resulted in many prozac-type drugs that can't increase serotonin but can play with it in the brain. Prozac hot wires the serotonin neurotransmitter's firing mechanism to artificially speed up the pumping of serotonin into the brain. It also blocks serotonin from recirculating back into the transmitter as it was designed to do. The effect is that extra serotonin artificially remains within the brain and this increased level can then fulfill its job as an anti- depressant.

Interestingly, if the serotonin neurotransmitter were not running on empty, but was continually being loaded up by adequate amounts of the amino, tryptophan converting to serotonin, the anti-depressant effect in the brain would be the same. (That's how most of the human population do it!) Its almost always true that the firing mechanism works fine. But there is just very little left to fire in certain people. What depletes it? Ongoing stress, genetics, alcohol and drugs are great destroyers of your natural supply of tryptophan and serotonin.

Sometimes Prozac-type drugs mis-fire in the brain. Recently, a client told me he went berserk on this drug and felt compelled to smash up his car. He was nearly killed! There has been a Senate investigation over the many horror stories told by Prozac users. On the other hand, risks from taking natural tryptophan have been negligible.



Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, that we can't manufacture ourselves. The brain uses it to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin, which maintains emotional calm, regulates sleep, and prevents depression. Suicidal patients show significant decreases in serotonin levels. Autopsies have shown that a very low brain level of serotonin is one biological marker to suicide. People who are depressed or agitated can often use tryptophan as effectively as antidepressants.

Tryptophan's benefits in loading the brain with serotonin to lift depression are well documented. The Journal of Biological Psychiatry, 1985 describes how abnormal tryptophan and serotonin metabolism can cause impulsive acts of suicide.

Tryptophan is the only substance in existence that makes serotonin, a powerful calming brain neurotransmitter. The many copycat anti-depressant drugs now on the market confirm the popularity of flooding our brains with "mellowing" serotonin. Tryptophan's benefits have been well documented in treating anxiety, panic, and compulsive obsessive disorders. For many years tryptophan was only available by prescription in the United States.

The two major neurotransmitters involved in preventing depression are serotonin (converted from the amino acid tryptophan) and norepinephrine (converted from the amino acids L-phenylalanine and L-tyrosine.) The new anti-depressant drugs are based on firing one or both of these neurotransmitters into the brain. Instead of using drugs, you can "restock" your brain's supply of these vital neurotransmitters and end the depression their absence causes, by taking amino acid capsules daily. In doing this you reload these neurotransmitters so that their firing mechanism continually has a full load to deliver to your brain. This is nature's design, not Prozac's. The artificial SSRI drugs do not raise neurotransmitter levels. Instead they trap what little you have and keep using it over and over in the brain sites, blocking it from returning to the neurotransmitters as it was designed to do.

Taking amino acids instead of drugs:

  • is much less expensive
  • is much safer (no side effects)
  • is more natural (in tune with the organic mechanisms we evolved with)
  • Accomplishes the same outcome, or better in most cases.


How Tryptophan Works

The essential amino acid tryptophan is the ONLY SUBSTANCE able to "manufacture" serotonin, the neurotransmitter which controls our moods, sleep, sex drive, appetite and pain threshold. Eating disorders and violent behavior have been traced to serotonin depletion. Replacing needed serotonin can quickly lift your depression and end your insomnia.

In one notable study, a Dutch medical researcher demonstrated that the combination of tryptophan (2 grams nightly) and vitamin B6 (125 mg three times daily) could restore patients with anxiety-type depression to normal in four weeks. Remember that the type of depression that is accompanied by anxiety and sleep disturbances is most likely to respond to tryptophan (serotonin's precursor.)

New research (1997) from McGill University in Montreal has found that men produce 52% MORE serotonin than do women. This information seems to explain why more women than men appear to experience a shortage of this critical chemical that modulates moods, and so are more likely to suffer from depression and/or eating disorders.


Using Tryptophan To Make Serotonin

Poor tryptophan has had the misfortune of acquiring a bad reputation due to a single event in 1989. At that time its largest manufacturer, Showa Denka in Japan, accidentally contaminated its product. Until then we had used tryptophan at Health Recovery Center for nine years with great success and no ill effects. However, that contaminated batch was enough for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prohibit all future sales of tryptophan in the U.S for more than ten years. The rest of the world, including Canada continued to have access to this irreplaceable amino acid, while the FDA banned tryptophan even in baby food, for years. Scientists finally were able to prove that the deaths and illnesses that resulted from the bad batch of tryptophan were not caused by the amino acid itself but by its contamination. It has been several years since the New England Journal of Medicine reported the clear evidence that confirmed this.

Only recently has the FDA made L-tryptophan more available to the public. Their current policy on the marketing of dietary supplements containing L-tryptophan and related compounds states:

"Although FDA continues to enunciate its concern about the safety of dietary supplements containing L-tryptophan and related compounds such as L-5-hydroxytryptophan, this does not mean that FDA prohibits the marketing of dietary supplements that contain L-tryptophan. Under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (the Act), as amended by the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), the manufacturer is responsible for ensuring that its products are safe."

Because Bio-Recovery is guided by a medically licensed clinic with a vast knowledge in understanding orthomolecular approaches to treating addictions, we feel secure in offering pharmaceutical grade L-Tryptophan once more.

Tryptophan is NOT a drug. It is an essential amino acid much needed to support life and sanity. In an interesting coincidence, Prozac made its first appearance within days of the ban on tryptophan. Now there is a whole family of serotonin stimulating drugs, but NONE of them can create an iota of serotonin. They speed its firing into the brain and block the natural reuptake into the neurotransmitters, so levels of serotonin are slowly becoming even more depleted. Many have experienced one of these serotonin-firing anti-depressants ­ (Zoloft, Paxil, Desyrel, Prozac, Serzone). Typically our physician switches them to the natural serotonin precursor, L-tryptophan, which promptly restores their serotonin levels. Usually their firing mechanism works fine: the problem was that there was very little serotonin to fire.


Guidelines For Taking Tryptophan while working with a physician

  • Like all natural substances, tryptophan needs help to convert to serotonin. These co-enzymes are B6 and Vitamin C. See formulas from Seven Week to Sobriety or Depression Free, Naturally.
  • Tryptophan converts to niacin before finally becoming serotonin. If your body is deficient in niacin, the tryptophan you take will supply you with niacin, not serotonin. For this reason, it is a good idea to take a B-complex vitamin daily. It will give you both B6 and niacin and allow your tryptophan to make more serotonin.
  • The B vitamin, INOSITOL changes into a substance that regulates serotonin's effectiveness within nerve cells. A recent double blind study confirms inositol's effectiveness with depression. Inositol powder is sweet and good tasting. One and 1/2 teaspoonful three times daily is the researched dosage. American Journal of Psychiatry, 1995
  • Of all the amino acids, tryptophan is least able to cross the blood-brain barrier. It must pass this biological hurdle in order to be converted to serotonin. You can give it the right "nudge" by taking it with fruit juice. The carbohydrate will trigger insulin release, which will assist the tryptophan across the blood-brain barrier. Always take tryptophan on an empty stomach.


Is It Safe?

Tryptophan has been widely used by orthomolecular physicians, clinics like Health Recovery Center and the general population, in doses of one to four grams daily. Since you can't store it in your body, you cannot accumulate toxic levels. However, taking high amounts of tryptophan can produce some side effects:

  • Feeling drowsy the next morning
  • Bizarre or strange dreams (rare)
  • increased blood pressure in persons over sixty who already have high blood pressure.
  • Aggressiveness (this rare side effect can occur in the absence of sufficient co-nutrients needed for the normal conversion of tryptophan to serotonin)


  • Do not use tryptophan if taking MAO inhibitors.
  • Do not use tryptophan if you have liver damage, or you are restricted from taking phenylalanine, tyrosine, or histadine.
  • Tryptophan cannot break down into serotonin without B6. Without adequate serotonin there will be erratic sleep and ongoing irritability.


Can Tryptophan Be Combined With An SSRI Anti-Depressant?

Combing SSRI drugs and tryptophan is inviting a deluge of serotonin into the brain...it's dangerous to do, and in most cases not recommended. However a recent client is taking a very small dose (5 milligrams) of Prozac in conjunction with daily tryptophan and the result has been exactly right for her. Warning: Do not play with this or any combination of tryptophan and anti-depressant drugs. Your doctor MUST be supervising such an experiment.


Accept No Imitations:
A Word of Caution About 5-Hydroxytryptophan or 5-HTP Taken from The Life Extension Foundation Newsletter

The reasons for the potential risks of 5-HT were brought to our attention by Steven B Harris, M.D. He explained that: 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HT) is one step closer to serotonin than tryptophan. The Sequence is as follows.

Tryptophan > 5-Hydroxytryptophan > Serotonin

Based on the above metabolic sequence it would appear desirable to use 5-HT instead of tryptophan since 5-HT more readily converts to serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is often deficient in the brains of depressed people. Boosting serotonin can alleviate depression in some people and reduce carbohydrate cravings in others, thus inducing weight loss. Here's why 5-HT will not work for most Americans, and could be lethal to some people: The blood-brain barrier does not allow significant absorption of serotonin from the blood. The brain does have a large neutral amino acid pump that freely allows tryptophan and 5-HT into the bran for conversion into serotonin. The process by which 5-H is converted into serotonin is called decarboxylation. If decarboxylation occurs before 5-HT is absorbed by the brain, than blood levels of serotonin will elevate significantly, but very little serotonin will enter the brain. When Europeans take 5-HT, they are often prescribed the dopa decarboxylase inhibitor carbidopa that prevents 5-HT from being converted into serotonin until it reaches the brain. Americans do not take carbidopa with 5-HT and the result is possible serotonin overload in the blood, with virtually no serotonin reaching the brain. We will describe later the dangers of overloading the blood with serotonin. Americans taking 5-HT are more vulnerable to blood serotonin overload because, unlike most Europeans who are vitamin deficient, Americans who use 5-HT usually take large doses of vitamin B6 as well. Vitamin B6 rapidly converts 5-HT into serotonin before it can reach the brain. Even when combined with carbidopa, high levels of vitamin B6 will break through the carbidopa barrier and insure that 5-HT converts into serotonin in the blood before the it can reach the brain The multiple health benefits of vitamin B6 are too important, we believe, to recommend that people avoid taking vitamin B6 just to enable them to try using 5-HT to boost brain serotonin levels. This may be difficult anyway without also taking carbidopa, which is only available in the US. as a prescription drug. At the very best, those who take vitamin B6 with 5-HT are probably wasting their money. Unfortunately, high serotonin in the blood in not benign. Anyone suffering from heart disease should avoid 5-HT because the elevation in blood serotonin could cause coronary artery spasm an/or abnormal platelet aggregation, which are risk factors for sudden death heart attack. Here is the real frightening aspect of serotonin overload, as described by Dr. Harris: "Serotonin causes not only harmless flushing and diarrhea, but people with serotonin secreting tumors (hindgut carcinoids) also have problems with fibrosis of the endocardium and valves of their right hearts with can cause heart failure. The effect can also be seen with dietary intake of only modest amounts of serotonin, and there has actually been described in the medical literature, a tribe of South Sea islanders with right heart fibrosis as a result of eating green banana mush, which poisons them with its serotonin content" Dr. Harris goes on to state that people who ingest several hundred milligrams a day of 5-HT with B6 and without a decarboxylase inhibitor would expect to see urinary excretion of a serotonin metabolite in the same range as a person with a serotonin secreting tumor. Based upon Dr. Harris' report the Foundation had its analysts conduct an extensive review of the medical literature and have come to the following preliminary conclusions. 1) For 5-HT to boost serotonin levels in the brain it is necessary to: a)Take 50 mg of carbidopa before each 5-HT dose. Carbidopa is a prescription drug. b)Limit vitamin B6 supplementation to a small dose taken at least six hours before or after 5-HT carbidopa dosing. c) Have a urinary test to measure a metabolite of serotonin called 5-hydroxy indoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) on a regular basis. As long as 5-HIAA levels are normal, than 5-HT intake would be safe. 2) Those with existing cardiovascular disease, including atrial fibrillation, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, cardiomyopathy, valvular disease or pulmonary hypertension may want to avoid 5-HT completely. One Foundation analyst felt that 81 mg a day of aspirin and 500 mg a day of magnesium would reduce the risk of 5-HT inducing a heart attack. 3)The effects of 5-HT by itself elevating blood serotonin levels are extremely individualistic. Some people may not experience any blood serotonin increase, while others could suffer from a lethal serotonin peripheral overload. 4) Despite the potential dangers of 5-HT, most FDA-approved drugs to treat depression and obesity appear to be more toxic. 5) At the time of this printing, we have not been able to verify whether 5-HT induced serotonin overload would cause fibrosis of the aortic valve and destruction of the heart muscle. Based on the potential health risks of ingesting 5-HIT, Bio Recovery has decided not to offer it tat this time. we encourage anyone seeking to use 5-HT to follow strictly the above protocol for safe 5-HT supplementation. We'll post further evidence regarding 5-HTP as soon as it becomes available. This warning applies only to 5-hydroxy tryptophan (5-HT), not tryptophan itself. Published studies show that tryptophan does not readily convert into serotonin in the blood, but that 5-HT does, since 5-HT can convert directly into serotonin while tryptophan has to go through one additional metabolic step which protects against blood serotonin overload,


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