L-tryptophan

Generic Name: L-tryptophan (L TRIP toe fan)
Brand Name: Tryptan

What is L-tryptophan?

L-tryptophan is an amino acid that is made from plant or animal sources.

L-tryptophan has been used in alternative medicine as an aid to treat sleep problems (insomnia), anxiety, depression, premenstrual syndrome, attention deficit disorder, and for smoking cessation and other conditions.

Not all uses for l-tryptophan have been approved by the FDA. L-tryptophan should not be substituted for medications prescribed for you by your doctor.

L-tryptophan is often sold as an herbal supplement. There are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for many herbal compounds and some marketed supplements have been found to be contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.

It is dangerous to try and purchase l-tryptophan on the Internet or from vendors outside of the United States. The sale and distribution of l-tryptophan outside of the U.S. does not comply with the regulations of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the safe use of this medication.

L-tryptophan may also be used for other purposes not listed in this product guide.

What is the most important information I should know about L-tryptophan?

Not all uses for l-tryptophan have been approved by the FDA. L-tryptophan should not be substituted for medications prescribed for you by your doctor.

L-tryptophan is often sold as an herbal supplement. There are no regulated manufacturing standards in place for many herbal compounds and some marketed supplements have been found to be contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs. Herbal/health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination.

Use l-tryptophan as directed on the label, or as your healthcare provider has prescribed. Do not use this product in larger amounts or for longer than recommended.

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It is dangerous to try and purchase l-tryptophan on the Internet or from vendors outside of the United States. The sale and distribution of l-tryptophan outside of the U.S. does not comply with the regulations of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the safe use of this medication.

In 1989, a life-threatening condition called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS) occurred in many people using L-tryptophan and some died from the condition. All of these people had taken L-tryptophan distributed by a company in Japan. This L-tryptophan was found to contain trace levels of impure ingredients. Since that time, the FDA has limited the availability of L-tryptophan in the U.S. However, the increased use of the Internet has made many dietary supplements available from non-U.S. sources.

There have been no published cases of EMS within the last several years, but you should be aware of the symptoms. Stop using L-tryptophan and call your doctor or care practitioner at once if you have any of these signs of EMS: severe muscle pain (most often in the shoulders, back, or legs); weakness, numbness, tingling, or burning pain (especially at night); tremors or twitching muscle movements; swelling in any part of your body; skin changes (dryness, yellowing, hardening); breathing difficulty; uneven heartbeat.

What should I discuss with my health care provider before taking L-tryptophan?

Do not use this product if you are allergic to l-tryptophan.

Before using l-tryptophan, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, herbalist, or other healthcare provider. You may not be able to use l-tryptophan if you have certain medical conditions.

If you have certain conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely use this product. Before using l-tryptophan, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, herbalist, or other healthcare provider if you have:

  • liver disease;

  • kidney disease;

  • eosinophilia (high levels of a certain type of white blood cells); or

  • a muscle disorder (such as fibromyalgia).

It is not known whether l-tryptophan is harmful to an unborn baby. Do not use this product without talking to a healthcare provider if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.

L-tryptophan may pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Ask your healthcare provider before using l-tryptophan if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Do not give any herbal/health supplement to a child without the advice of a doctor.

How should I take L-tryptophan?

When considering the use of herbal supplements, seek the advice of your doctor. You may also consider consulting a practitioner who is trained in the use of herbal/health supplements.

If you choose to take l-tryptophan, use it as directed on the package or as directed by your doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider. Do not use more of l-tryptophan than is recommended on the label.

Store L-tryptophan at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Consult your doctor, pharmacist, herbalist, or other healthcare provider for instructions if you miss a dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have used too much of this product.

What should I avoid while taking L-tryptophan?

L-tryptophan can cause side effects that may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be awake and alert.

Avoid using other dietary or herbal supplements to treat the same condition for which you are using L-tryptophan.

L-tryptophan side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

In 1989, a life-threatening condition called eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS) occurred in many people using L-tryptophan and some died from the condition. All of these people had taken L-tryptophan distributed by a company in Japan. This L-tryptophan was found to contain trace levels of impure ingredients. Since that time, the FDA has limited the availability of L-tryptophan in the U.S. However, the increased use of the Internet has made many dietary supplements available from non-U.S. sources.

There have been no published cases of EMS within the last several years, but you should be aware of the symptoms. Call your doctor at once if you have any of the following:

  • severe muscle pain (most often in the shoulders, back, or legs);

  • weakness, numbness, tingling, or burning pain (especially at night);

  • tremors or twitching muscle movements;

  • swelling in any part of your body;

  • skin changes (dryness, yellowing, hardening);

  • breathing difficulty; or

  • uneven heartbeat.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • dry mouth, heartburn, burping, gas;

  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea;

  • feeling drowsy or light-headed;

  • blurred vision;

  • weakness, lack of coordination;

  • headache; or

  • lost appetite.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

What other drugs will affect L-tryptophan?

L-tryptophan may interact with other medicines. Before taking L-tryptophan, tell your doctor or care practitioner if you are also using:

  • medicine for depression such as St. John's wort, citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), amitriptyline (Elavil), imipramine (Tofranil), venlafaxine (Effexor), and others;

  • a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) such as tranylcypromine (Nardil), phenelzine (Parnate), selegiline (Eldepryl), or isocarboxazid (Marplan);

  • a sedative or tranquilizer such as diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), clonazepam (Klonopin) and others;

  • a phenothiazine drug such as chlorpromazine, (Thorazine), prochlorperazine (Compazine) and others; or

  • drugs that make you sleepy (such as alcohol, cold medicine, pain medication, muscle relaxants, and medicine for depression or anxiety).

This list is not complete and there may be other drugs that can interact with L-tryptophan. Tell your doctor or care practitioner about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor or care practitioner.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist can provide more information about L-tryptophan.
  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 2.02. Revision Date: 2009-08-05, 1:38:57 PM.

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