Tryptophan for Migraine: Is It Effective?

AminoAcidProducts | August 29, 2019 | Health

Do you want to know one interesting fact about migraine? Here we go. It is the third most common disease in the world. You’re surprised, right? Out of every 7 people, 1 person would have a migraine. No wonder we hear so many people complain about having migraine from time to time. Because of the increased number of people that experience migraine so many studies have been carried out. Including the treatment methods. Research shows that one good treatment for migraine is tryptophan. So we will be having a look at how tryptophan for migraines is effective.

More Than Just A Headache

Migraine is a condition wherein there’s a recurring headache at one side of the head. Migraine is associated with other symptoms such as nausea and noise sensitivity. Usually, the migraine would last for hours to days. One interesting fact about migraine is the fact that it’s more common among women. From research, it’s believed that a drop in serotonin level would lead to migraine. There are various causes of migraine. But today we will not be having a look at that. We will just be looking at the role of tryptophan in migraine.

What Is L-Tryptophan?

Amino acids are very important when it comes to the functioning of the body. Amino acids are building blocks for protein. Which are important for the growth of cells in the body. There are actually 20 amino acids. And some of these are essential amino acids. Tryptophan belongs to this group.

Tryptophan is particularly important for growth in children and also nitrogen balance in adults. As mentioned earlier tryptophan is an essential amino acid. This means that the body can’t produce this amino acid. So there are gotten from diet or taken in as supplements. L-tryptophan is the supplement form of this amino acid. It usually comes as capsules or tablets.

Role of Tryptophan In The Body

A decreased amount of tryptophan affects serotonin level. Reduced levels of serotonin in the body would lead to emotional imbalances, anxiety and increased stress level. This is why serotonin is associated with migraine.

Also, tryptophan helps with the production of niacin. Niacin is also known as vitamin B3. And the roles of vitamin B3 in the body is very important. It helps with getting rid of bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol in the body. At the same time, it also helps with converting carbohydrates into energy needed by the body.

L-tryptophan is also an amazing supplement for improving sleep. Many people with insomnia use L-tryptophan and it works amazingly well. That’s because it has an effect on the sleep cycle of a person.

You can get tryptophan from food. Some of these foods are

Over the years it has been proven that tryptophan works well for many emotional problems. Including depression, anxiety, mood swings, bipolar disorders, and many others. Also, it works for migraines, bulimia and many more.

There’s no doubt that tryptophan has sure come a long way in the health industry. And is very beneficial to many people out there. But the truth is that so many people abuse the use of L-tryptophan. And the bad news is that it comes with its own risks. We will be having a look at the risks later on. But now let’s have a look at how it works for migraines.

Importance of Tryptophan for Migraine

Research shows that very low amounts of serotonin in the brain would lead to a migraine attack and this can be reversed by L-tryptophan supplements. Here’s how it works. Tryptophan levels affect serotonin levels. It’s directly proportional. So if the levels of tryptophan increase in the body the level of serotonin would also increase. That’s why a patient that has a migraine that takes L-tryptophan would experience reduced pain in the head.

Serotonin is formed by the combination of tryptophan with tryptophan hydroxylase. Serotonin is mostly found in the gut and other parts of the body. But it’s also present in the brain. One interesting fact though is that serotonin can’t cross the blood-brain barrier. So if the brain needs serotonin it’s produced by the brain itself.

As mentioned earlier, tryptophan is the precursor for serotonin. Either serotonin produced in the brain or any other part of the body. So if there’s a decrease in amino acid tryptophan you would expect that there would be no production of serotonin in the brain. This is why tryptophan is very important for migraines.

Side Effects of Tryptophan

Even though L-tryptophan has amazing benefits and results it also has its risks. L-tryptophan could become harmful if not taken properly. L-tryptophan has actually been linked to EMS. EMS is eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome and it’s a very dangerous condition. EMS actually causes skin changes, muscle pain, and even nerve damage.

Other side effects of L-tryptophan includes:

  • Tremor
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Blurred vision
  • Palpitations
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Nausea
  • Head twitching

Also, L-tryptophan also reacts with other medications. This implies that they cause interference with the action of the medication. It’s advised that if you’re taking antidepressants don’t take L-tryptophan. If a person goes against this advise it could lead to serotonin syndrome.

Another thing is that pregnant women should be careful when taking L-tryptophan. It should be taken in proportion and not overused. Also, ask your doctor if it would be safe for the baby before you start using it.

The most important thing about taking supplements is talking to your doctor about it. Even if the supplement is natural. Your doctor would be able to advise you on a dosage to follow. And also if it wouldn’t cause any harm to you. So ask questions about L-tryptophan supplement. And don’t just go to a pharmacy to get tryptophan for migraines.

Woman experiencing migraine might find relief in tryptophan

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