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Tryptophan: Top Benefits for Toronto Functional Medicine Patients


When you hear about tryptophan, do you think about turkey dinners in your Toronto home? Well, you’re on the right track! From the view of naturopathic integrative functional medicine, let’s discuss what tryptophan is and its key benefits for reaching optimal health.

What is Tryptophan?

Tryptophan is one of the amino acids the human body uses for protein biosynthesis. It’s essential because your daily life needs tryptophan for supporting muscles, neurotransmitters and enzymes.

Unfortunately, the body can’t create this amino acid by itself, so we need to find healthy sources of it. Tryptophan can be consumed through dietary supplements and food sources (i.e. bananas, peanuts and turkey). (Don’t worry, if you have dietary intolerances or concerns, a functional medicine practitioner can help you out.)

Studies have suggested that tryptophan could positively affect mental health and cognition. According to an article in the International Journal of Tryptophan Research, tryptophan can “change the rates of serotonin synthesis in the brain.” So how exactly does tryptophan impact health and your personalized medicine plans? We explain below:

Benefits of Tryptophan for Toronto Functional Medicine Patients

1. Tryptophan may improve sleep.

Sleep is crucial for our everyday lives. A study on adults aged 55-75 years old showed that tryptophan could enrich sleep for seniors. Participants were given cereals that contained tryptophan, which led to enhanced sleep efficiency and lowered sleep latency.

2. May promote anxiety relief.

In the same study, participants had improvements to their anxiety/depression symptoms after eating tryptophan-rich cereals. But tryptophan may also impact other age groups in reducing anxiety. In another study, university students were given high-tryptophan or low-tryptophan diets. Students who ate high levels of tryptophan experienced less depression and anxiety compared to those who ate low amounts of tryptophan.

3. Tryptophan may help ease PMS and PMDD symptoms.

Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, which may aid in the symptom management of PMS and PMDD (i.e. mood swings). In a study of women, a lack of tryptophan was shown to increase irritability during PMS and PMDD: “Symptom magnitude was correlated with diminution of tryptophan relative to other amino acids. This result supports other evidence implicating serotonin in premenstrual syndrome,” reported a Journal of Affective Disorders article.

4. Could help with nicotine withdrawal symptom management.

Tryptophan may help with quitting smoking. In a study published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, “Tryptophan-treated subjects who could not fully abstain were able to smoke fewer daily cigarettes. Reported anxiety and other withdrawal symptoms were lower in the tryptophan group compared with control subjects.”

Other helpful reading: What is SIBO and Can Naturopathic Functional Medicine Help?

Learn About Tryptophan at our Center for Functional Medicine in Toronto

Do you have trouble sleeping? Do you need help managing anxiety? There is potential for integrative medicine care to help alleviate your symptoms – and our private practice care for patients and functional medicine practitioners can help with that.

Our clinic’s functional medicine healthcare providers are happy to provide integrative care for their patients in-person and virtually. Our clinical practice has an integrative approach to naturopathic functional medicine. The TFMC’s treatments may consist of western medicine/allopathic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine/eastern medicine, medically-supervised IV therapy, cold laser therapy, functional medicine testing, client education on clinical nutrition and maintaining a healthy diet, among others.

Our clinical care and evidence-based functional medicine practices may be applied to these conditions and more: pain management, chronic disease management, symptom management (chronic pain) and abdominal pain.

If you require a bespoke health care program, don’t hesitate to ask us; we cater to personalized medicine requests, too.

Always know that functional medicine in Toronto is available at our private clinic! Recover and sustain your quality of life – call (416) 968-6961 or click here to send us a message.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is designed for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. This information should not be used to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting a doctor. Consult with a health care practitioner before relying on any information in this article or on this website.


Abad, V.C., Guilleminault, C. Insomnia in Elderly Patients: Recommendations for Pharmacological Management. Drugs Aging 35, 791–817 (2018).

Asako M. Kikuchi, Aya Tanabe & Yoshihiro Iwahori (2021) A systematic review of the effect of L-tryptophan supplementation on mood and emotional functioning, Journal of Dietary Supplements, 18:3, 316-333, DOI: 10.1080/19390211.2020.1746725

Bowen, D.J., Spring, B. & Fox, E. Tryptophan and high-carbohydrate diets as adjuncts to smoking cessation therapy. J Behav Med 14, 97–110 (1991).

Bravo, R., Matito, S., Cubero, J. et al. Tryptophan-enriched cereal intake improves nocturnal sleep, melatonin, serotonin, and total antioxidant capacity levels and mood in elderly humans. AGE 35, 1277–1285 (2013).

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Zamoscik, V., Schmidt, S.N.L., Bravo, R. et al. Tryptophan-enriched diet or 5-hydroxytryptophan supplementation given in a randomized controlled trial impacts social cognition on a neural and behavioral level. Sci Rep 11, 21637 (2021).


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