(NaturalSociety.com) Several years ago, the FDA pulled tryptophan (an amino acid) from the US market when a contaminated batch was delivered to the American soil from Japan. Several people got sick, but it had nothing to do with trytophan itself, and only the fact that it was contaminated. In fact, trytophan is far safer than many of the sleeping pills on the market today (which have been linked to cancer and premature death). Still, it was pulled from the market, primarily to save FDA’s buddy, big pharma.
Part of the reason it was pulled from the market by the FDA was not to protect our health, but to protect the bottom line for drug companies. As a natural substance, L-tryptophan cannot be monopoly patented, which is a problem for the FDA and big pharma. Tryptophan is not only a safe way to deal with insomnia, but it also calms frazzled nerves and can be used as a safe antidepressant. It was big competition for Prozac, which has since been called less effective than a sugar pill and much more toxic.
Ironically, you can still find tryptophan in many baby formulas, and it is sold in Europe as a natural supplement, most often in the form of 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). In fact, some recent psychotherapists have come forward with some ‘surprising’ benefits of tryptophan. It primarily boosts the brain chemical serotonin, which is a hormone that allows us to feel calm, relaxed, and yes, even sleepy (though there are actual tests that can detect levels of serotonin). L-tryptophan helps you to naturally regulate its own serotonin more successfully, so that there is never too much or too little.
The International Journal of Tryptophan Research covers the subject of tryptophan benefits very well, along with related ‘precursors and metabolites such as serotonin, melatonin, niacin, tryptamine, kynurenine, and studies related to enzymes such as indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase and tryptophan hydroxylase. Topics include isolation, functionality, interactions, analysis, synthesis and industrial production, as well as supplementation and role in diet, physiology, neurological disorders and immune response.’
Arguably, tryptophan is a natural, extremely beneficial amino acid that could help millions of people suffering from depression, insomnia, and anxiety, without the messy side effects that the pharmacological industry likes to dish out with its holiday sweet potatoes. Though you can find it for sale today as a supplement (since the FDA allowed its sale in 2002 with less restrictions), the FDA still expresses concern about its use.