Medically reviewed on October 4, 2018
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Nutriceutical
Uses For tryptophan
L-tryptophan is used along with other medications to treat mental depression. Also, L-tryptophan is used along with lithium to treat bipolar disorder.
Before Using tryptophan
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For tryptophan, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to tryptophan or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Studies on tryptophan have been done only in adult patients, and there is no specific information comparing use of L-tryptophan in children with use in other age groups.
Many medicines have not been studied specifically in older people. Therefore, it may not be known whether they work exactly the same way they do in younger adults or if they cause different side effects or problems in older people. There is no specific information comparing use of L-tryptophan in the elderly with use in other age groups.
Interactions with Medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking tryptophan, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using tryptophan with any of the following medicines is not recommended. Your doctor may decide not to treat you with this medication or change some of the other medicines you take.
- Methylene Blue
Using tryptophan with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- Morphine Sulfate Liposome
Interactions with Food/Tobacco/Alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other Medical Problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of tryptophan. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Achlohydria or malabsorption (digestion problems)—L-tryptophan may cause breathing problems in patients with certain types of digestion problems
- Bladder cancer—L-tryptophan may increase the risk of bladder cancer
- Cataracts—L-tryptophan may cause cataracts
- Diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes)—L-tryptophan may cause diabetes in patients with a family history of diabetes
Proper Use of tryptophan
Take with a low-protein, carbohydrate-rich meal or snack to prevent an upset stomach.
The dose of tryptophan will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of tryptophan. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For oral dosage forms (capsules or tablets):
- For mental depression:
- Adults—8 to 12 grams per day, given in 3 to 4 equally divided doses
- Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For mental depression:
If you miss a dose of tryptophan, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Precautions While Using tryptophan
It is important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits, to allow dosage adjustments and help reduce any side effects.
Tryptophan may cause some people to become drowsy, dizzy, or less alert than they are normally. Make sure you know how you react to tryptophan before you drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are dizzy or are not alert.
Tryptophan may cause dryness of the mouth. Using sugarless candy or gum, ice, or a saliva substitute may be helpful. Check with your physician or dentist if dry mouth continues for more than 2 weeks.
Avoid excessive exposure to ultraviolet light to reduce the chance of cataract formation.
Tryptophan Side Effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Symptoms of overdose
Get emergency help immediately if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur:
- overactive reflexes
- poor coordination
- talking or acting with excitement you cannot control
- trembling or shaking
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- dry mouth
- loss of appetite
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
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- Drug class: miscellaneous anxiolytics, sedatives and hypnotics
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