a)Tryptophan is the essential amino acid
from which your body produces 5-HTP, Serotonin and Melatonin and a wide array of structural proteins, enzymes, and other essential
biochemicals, including vitamin B3 (niacin).
Tryptophan, as such, cannot be replaced by
any other amino acid, herb, vitamin, mineral or
prescription chemical. Turkey contains only
modest amounts of Tryptophan, and the enormous consumption of carbohydrates at
Thanksgiving dinner - dressing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie - has a lot to do
with folks falling asleep at the table.
b)Lidtke Tryptophan is manufactured by a
fermentation process using non-GMO glucose
as a substrate. Many types of everyday foods
and beverages are made by fermentation, including yogurt, kefir and wine.
The resulting fermentation product is then
separated and purified using specific filtration
and re-crystallization procedures. Purification
steps are repeated until the purity is as close to
100.0% as possible.
Sometimes the assays are higher than
100.0% when the Tryptophan being produced
is superior to the expensive reference standards that are used in the HPLC testing process.
c)Tryptophan is an essential (aromatic) amino acid
that must be included in the diet. For this reason, Tryptophan is commonly added to baby formulas and to hospital intravenous solutions,
where it clearly is essential for the growth and survival of babies and adults.
a)Because we tend to associate serotonin
with mood alone, many are surprised that far
more serotonin-producing cells (at least 90%)
are located in your digestive system than in
your brain. In your GI tract, serotonin is believed to control the peristaltic movements that
move food along your intestine.
In either case, whether the cells are in your
brain or in your intestine, an enzyme in your serotonin-producing cells changes Tryptophan
to 5-HTP, and then later another enzyme
changes 5-HTP to serotonin.
Tryptophan > 5-HTP > Serotonin > Melatonin
Your body controls the first step in this pathway with a feedback loop, so the downstream
production of serotonin is tightly controlled.
In effect, the enzyme between Tryptophan
and 5-HTP acts as a faucet that turns the
downstream production of serotonin “on” and
“off.” Serotonin needs to stay within a narrow,
healthy range, so controls serve a purpose.
By contrast, when you take a capsule of 5-HTP, you bypass this controlling step, and the
5-HTP converts quickly to serotonin. This can
be a good thing when you need a more relaxed
mood, but whenever you bypass your own biochemical controls, you should be a bit more
careful about following the directions on the label.
To recap, 5-HTP is merely a stepping stone
in the production of serotonin, and it serves no
d)Tryptophan has long been used by doctors
in the United States and Europe to treat a variety of deficiency symptoms, especially physical
and emotional symptoms commonly associated
with Serotonin Deficiency Syndrome (SDS).
Deficiency symptoms include nervousness,
anxiety (stress), sleep disorders such as common sleeplessness, mood disorders such as
common depression, and excessive appetite. It
should be noted that neither Tryptophan nor 5-HTP should be mixed with several classes of
drugs, including MAOI's, Tricyclics, or SSRI's
without very careful supervision by an experienced doctor in order to avoid Serotonin Syndrome… a sometimes unpredictable (and potentially dangerous) surge in serotonin when
mixing drugs, or when mixing drugs with precursors of serotonin.
The Hunter Serotonin Toxicity Criteria is a
set of rules designed to allow doctors to move
patients from one of the above drugs to either
Tryptophan or 5-HTP safely.
According to dietary research conducted by
Dr. Charles I. Jarowski, founding Director of
Research and Development at Pfizer, Inc.,
Tryptophan is the amino acid most commonly
lacking in the American diet. The enormous
number of prescriptions being written for serotonergic drugs today may or may not bear witness to our faulty diet.
e)Medical doctors often share their guidelines with Lidtke, and the following seems to be
a consensus: when recommending Tryptophan
as a dietary supplement, medical practitioners
typically start low, often one capsule before
bedtime, and work up to a prudent level that
works best for the patient. Sixty days may be
needed for full benefit when a deficiency exists,
and supplements seldom exceed 500 mg per 50
lbs of body weight. These guidelines should in
no way replace the recommendations of a doctor.
f)Certain other amino acids, especially the
aromatic amino acids and branched-chain
amino acids, compete with Tryptophan for passage through the blood-brain barrier (BBB).
b)Who needs 5-HTP? Part of our population seems to have trouble producing the enzyme that converts Tryptophan to 5-HTP. If
this is, indeed, the case, then you may have few
other options than to supplement your diet
On the other hand, part of our population,
perhaps a growing part, is malnourished and
lacks the critical dietary cofactors (vitamins
and minerals) that help produce and activate
critical enzymes. In either case, 5-HTP can be a life-saver. Yet, it should always be remembered that 5-HTP cannot swim upstream. It
cannot change back into Tryptophan or correct
a Tryptophan deficiency.
c)Lidtke 5-HTP is extracted from an herb,
Griffonia simplicifolia, using only water and
ethanol (the same type of alcohol found in wine
and beer) to squeeze out the 5-HTP. Griffonia
principally grows in the Gold Coast region of
Africa (Ghana). The plants are not cultivated
and tend to grow wild, and the seed pods are
hand-picked (wildcrafted). The pods only contain 3 or 4 seeds, about the size of lentils, and
they are spread out in a field to dry in the Sun.
Once the seeds of the Griffonia plant are
dried, they are shipped to an extraction facility
(in Germany or Switzerland or China, for example) where the 5-HTP is extracted and purified. Even during a good year, extraction
yields only about 4% pure 5-HTP. Purification
and testing add to this cost, hence premium 5-HTP can be fairly expensive.
d)Although 5-HTP is recommended in
Europe for many of the same deficiency symptoms as Tryptophan… such as helping to normalize mood, sleep, stress, and appetite… there
are many vital functions that 5-HTP cannot
perform. Also, unlike the essential amino acids, 5-HTP only occurs in small amounts in our
diet and must be taken as a supplement, if
needed. The safety of taking large amounts of
5-HTP over the course of many years is still
These amino acids include Phenylalanine, Tyrosine, Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. For
this reason, Tryptophan is most effective when
taken with a snack or beverage containing little
or no protein. So, low-protein snacks (such as
apple sauce) or beverages may facilitate passage of Tryptophan through your BBB.
g)The thorough testing of Tryptophan
should include the full battery of tests required
by the European Pharmacopeia (EP), including
organic volatile impurities (OVI’s), pyrogens,
toxic metals, such as lead, mercury, cadmium,
arsenic, aluminum, and barium, standard tests
for microbiological contaminants, and nonGMO certification. ••
e)Health practitioners commonly recommend between 50 mg and 200 mg of 5-HTP
per day when alleviating deficiency symptoms
in adults. Large doses of 5-HTP, however, may
cause nausea on an empty stomach, so 5-HTP always should be taken with a snack or beverage.
f)The thorough testing of 5-HTP should include a test for Peak X, the full battery of tests
required by the European Pharmacopeia (EP),
including organic volatile impurities (OVI’s),
pyrogens, toxic metals, such as lead, mercury,
cadmium, arsenic, aluminum, and barium,
standard tests for microbiological contaminants, and non-GMO certification. It pays to
use premium-quality ingredients. ••
a short note on:
Both Tryptophan and 5-HTP are building
blocks of serotonin, so when a scientific breakthrough is made concerning serotonin and
neurogenesis (the growth of neurons), it makes
sense that consumers of both Tryptophan
and 5-HTP should take serious notice.
It is difficult to establish where it got started,
but the notion that brains decline with age and
never recover was considered gospel even in
the 1960’s, and no scientists were willing to
risk their career to disagree. Several tried and
were ridiculed back into submission.
Having worked in research, I can say that the
business of science often is as much about the
pursuit of personal status as it is about locating
truth. One is always fighting the other.
Nevertheless, the strength of the research
linking serotonin levels to the recovery of brain
function, including memory and cognition, is
so strong that it refuses to be suppressed.
Stem cells are found in the brain just as they
are in other parts of the body, and serotonin is
instrumental in their conversion to neurons.
These neurons then migrate through the white
matter to the memory and cognition centers of
the brain, such as the hippocampus.
In animal studies, a relatively modest supplementation of Tryptophan or 5-HTP to the
diet seems to produce significant, even dramatic improvements in learning and memory
and long-term retention.
If you would like to see this topic covered in
more detail, please let us know. RS.