Dietary Tryptophan as a Treatment For Anxiety

Anxiety may be caused in some cases by dysfunctional serotonin synthesis. Increasing dietary intake of tryptophan may be a useful strategy in the treatment of anxiety because tryptophan is converted into serotonin. Supplemental tryptophan has been shown to increase brain levels of serotonin and this may in turn cause improvements in anxious feelings. However, as well as supplements, tryptophan within protein may also have this effect. For example, in one study, researchers administered deoiled gourd seed, a rich source of tryptophan, to a subjects suffering from social phobia. A high glycaemic index carbohydrate was also given to remove competing amino acids from the bloodstream. The results of the study showed that the protein and carbohydrate combination was significantly able to lower anxious feelings in the subjects when compared to carbohydrate alone. The dose of tryptophan from the 25 grams of gourd was 250 mg, and the carbohydrate dose was 25 grams of glucose.  

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Hudson, C., Hudson, S. and MacKenzie, J. 2007. Protein-source tryptophan as an efficacious treatment for social anxiety disorder: a pilot study. Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology. 85(9): 928-932

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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