Tryptophan is an amino acid present in all protein sources. Tryptophan is important to neurological function as it can be converted into serotonin. The body must first convert the tryptophan into 5-HTP which then becomes serotonin through a second conversion. Also called l-tryptophan, it has the ability to move through the blood-brain barrier and has sedative effects.
L-tryptophan should not be combined with antidepressants, CNS depressants, dextromethorphan, meperidine, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), pentazocine, or tramadol due to an increased risk of serotonin syndrome and additive serotonergic effects. It is not recommended that l-tryptophan be used with either benzodiazepines or phenothiazines.
Some people may experience gastrointestinal side effects when taking l-tryptophan. These side effects include nausea, vomiting, heartburn, stomach pain, belching, flatulence, diarrhea, headache, dry mouth, lightheadedness, impaired vision, ataxia, drowsiness, and anorexia.
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