Tryptophan Conundrum

BruceD

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Jun 20, 2019
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22
Hi,

New member to the forum. I have been doing Ray Peat for about 1 and 1/2 years. I have had great success so far. All symptoms have improved.

I still have some issues, mostly with sleep due to hypoglycemia. I can make it about 5-6 hours before I wake up. And I feel somewhat nervous when I wake up (racing thoughts, etc.). I often take sleep meds or supplements to get additional sleep.

Here is my question - I am following Ray Peat in pretty much every aspect except for Tryptophan. It is the single most effective med/supplement for me for insomnia. I literally dump a heaping tablespoon in my mouth and drink it down with fruit juice. I have heard that the sleep with Tryptophan is not quality, its like torpor, etc. I disagree, I sleep great with it. Much better than without.

I have attempted to cut it down per Ray Peat guidelines. My sleep becomes really bad. After I wake up after my 5 or so hours of sleep (sometimes less), I cannot fall back asleep and no amount sleep meds or other supplements can even phase me. I am irritable, angry, etc. I give up after a couple of weeks, take a bunch of tryptophan, and sleep fantastic. Tried several times so I know it is repeatable.

I can't think of any negative side effects of the tryptophan. Everything seems improved.

Also, I have the MAO A R297R gene with the 'T' allele. This encodes to reduced MAOA activity, which should result in higher transmitters, including serotonin.

Everything I am doing Ray Peat-wise is really helping. There is more progress to be made, and this is the only guideline I am not following, the reverse of it seems to be much better.

I am at a loss. Anyone have any idea of why this would work this way? Am I an exception somehow??

Thanks in advance for any responses! Hope this is not TL:DR :)
 

Cirion

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How many calories do you eat? Honestly this whole thread screams insufficient caloric intake, especially insufficient carbs.

That said, for some folk, tryptophan isn't as apt to convert to serotonin, and there is a chance you do well on some. Tryptophan is disasterous to my metabolism, and probably most peoples' though. It does indeed induce a torpor, which can help you sleep without awakening, but that doesn't necessarily mean that is a good thing.

For me the #1 reason for insomnia is insufficient calories (hence why I ask). #2 in my opinion would probably be EMF's.

In any case, I would not recommend supplementing tryptophan even if it doesn't convert to serotonin. You'd be better off eating wholesome whole food sources of tryptophan like milk, which also would get you some calcium and sugar.
 
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redsun

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Dec 17, 2018
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1,737
Hi,

New member to the forum. I have been doing Ray Peat for about 1 and 1/2 years. I have had great success so far. All symptoms have improved.

I still have some issues, mostly with sleep due to hypoglycemia. I can make it about 5-6 hours before I wake up. And I feel somewhat nervous when I wake up (racing thoughts, etc.). I often take sleep meds or supplements to get additional sleep.

Here is my question - I am following Ray Peat in pretty much every aspect except for Tryptophan. It is the single most effective med/supplement for me for insomnia. I literally dump a heaping tablespoon in my mouth and drink it down with fruit juice. I have heard that the sleep with Tryptophan is not quality, its like torpor, etc. I disagree, I sleep great with it. Much better than without.

I have attempted to cut it down per Ray Peat guidelines. My sleep becomes really bad. After I wake up after my 5 or so hours of sleep (sometimes less), I cannot fall back asleep and no amount sleep meds or other supplements can even phase me. I am irritable, angry, etc. I give up after a couple of weeks, take a bunch of tryptophan, and sleep fantastic. Tried several times so I know it is repeatable.

I can't think of any negative side effects of the tryptophan. Everything seems improved.

Also, I have the MAO A R297R gene with the 'T' allele. This encodes to reduced MAOA activity, which should result in higher transmitters, including serotonin.

Everything I am doing Ray Peat-wise is really helping. There is more progress to be made, and this is the only guideline I am not following, the reverse of it seems to be much better.

I am at a loss. Anyone have any idea of why this would work this way? Am I an exception somehow??

Thanks in advance for any responses! Hope this is not TL:DR :)

Pretty sure tryptophan is needed to make melatonin. It first needs to be made to serotonin then melatonin. Perhaps your melatonin levels are low and when taking in more tryptophan it helps increase it to improve sleep.

I find this strange to even suggest, but if you are not getting bad symptoms from tryptophan, perhaps you should stick with it. Or maybe you just need the cofactors to make melatonin. I don't know of a reason you would be deficient in tryptophan unless you had an incredibly low protein diet. According to this website I found B3, B6, B12, acetyl carnitine, and protein improve melatonin production. Not sure how accurate the source is, you might want to do some extra digging. I do know B12 helps with melatonin as I read about that before.
 

BruceD

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Jun 20, 2019
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Hi Cirion! Thanks for the reply. I eat around 5000 calories a day, give or take. If I eat ice cream, which is more often than not, look at around 6000 - 6500 calories.

I am male, 6'5", and 300 lbs. I have gained 50 lbs in the last 6 - 9 months. Most of it is muscle, I have a 40" waistline. Not exactly lean either. I lift weighs in thyroid supportive fashion.

I get tryptophan from muscle meats (about 1 lb daily) and whey protein. Drink about a gallon of milk per week. Drink about a half gallon of fruit juice per day. Eat some sugary snacks as well like dried fruit, occasional candy.

That being said, I am hungry all the time it seems. Crave sugary foods. Hence the love of Ice Cream.

Could you tell me about the EMF angle? I live in a very urban area.
 

BruceD

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Jun 20, 2019
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Pretty sure tryptophan is needed to make melatonin. It first needs to be made to serotonin then melatonin. Perhaps your melatonin levels are low and when taking in more tryptophan it helps increase it to improve sleep.

I find this strange to even suggest, but if you are not getting bad symptoms from tryptophan, perhaps you should stick with it. Or maybe you just need the cofactors to make melatonin. I don't know of a reason you would be deficient in tryptophan unless you had an incredibly low protein diet. According to this website I found B3, B6, B12, acetyl carnitine, and protein improve melatonin production. Not sure how accurate the source is, you might want to do some extra digging. I do know B12 helps with melatonin as I read about that before.

The tryptophan is really a conundrum. Everyone seems to do well on low tryptophan, and I see posts about all the bad side effects of high serotonin. I feel like the opposite. I get a lot of protein, about a 1 lb of muscle meat, 40gms of collagen, 30 grams of whey protein, couple eggs, lots of milk, etc. Take a b complex as well.

I agree with the 'stick with it' sentiment. But I then think that this is what is holding back any further progress.
 

Cirion

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Sep 1, 2017
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St. Louis, Missouri
If you convert Tryptophan into niacin, when you take supplementation tryptophan, it'd almost be like taking niacinamide, which is a very commonly promoted beneficial supplement in Peatland.
 

Vinny

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Dec 11, 2018
Messages
1,175
Age
48
Location
Paphos, Cyprus
Hi,

New member to the forum. I have been doing Ray Peat for about 1 and 1/2 years. I have had great success so far. All symptoms have improved.

I still have some issues, mostly with sleep due to hypoglycemia. I can make it about 5-6 hours before I wake up. And I feel somewhat nervous when I wake up (racing thoughts, etc.). I often take sleep meds or supplements to get additional sleep.

Here is my question - I am following Ray Peat in pretty much every aspect except for Tryptophan. It is the single most effective med/supplement for me for insomnia. I literally dump a heaping tablespoon in my mouth and drink it down with fruit juice. I have heard that the sleep with Tryptophan is not quality, its like torpor, etc. I disagree, I sleep great with it. Much better than without.

I have attempted to cut it down per Ray Peat guidelines. My sleep becomes really bad. After I wake up after my 5 or so hours of sleep (sometimes less), I cannot fall back asleep and no amount sleep meds or other supplements can even phase me. I am irritable, angry, etc. I give up after a couple of weeks, take a bunch of tryptophan, and sleep fantastic. Tried several times so I know it is repeatable.

I can't think of any negative side effects of the tryptophan. Everything seems improved.

Also, I have the MAO A R297R gene with the 'T' allele. This encodes to reduced MAOA activity, which should result in higher transmitters, including serotonin.

Everything I am doing Ray Peat-wise is really helping. There is more progress to be made, and this is the only guideline I am not following, the reverse of it seems to be much better.

I am at a loss. Anyone have any idea of why this would work this way? Am I an exception somehow??

Thanks in advance for any responses! Hope this is not TL:DR :)
Welcome in the forum.
If something worked so f***ing amazing for me as trypto for your sleep, I,d just keep going on that without much hesitation. It,s a rare case, a single substance makes so huge positive diference. You are extremely lucky!
 

DavidGardner

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Jul 1, 2015
Messages
165
Try substituting glycine. It sounds like you’re already getting a lot of dietary tryptophan. Glycine will help with sleep and blood sugar issues. I have taken tryptophan and know that it works like you say, but I don’t think it’s the best possible long term solution.

I understand the attitude that if something works without apparent side effects, just keep doing it, but if I had this attitude I would make no progress. Think long-term as well.
 

bzmazu

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Corozal, Belize
Google tryptophan and cancer
 

cardochav

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Adelle Davis and Ray both recommend more milk and Davis even suggests supplementing calcium before bed as much is lost in the morning urine. Also both recommend plenty of vitamin D especially in the form of sunlight as “vitamin d stimulates gut calcium absorption.” I notice I sleep best when I get at least 1.5 quarts of milk and 20 minutes sun exposure with my shirt off.. ten minutes each side if I’m laying out. Might be better off subbing Benadryl or cypro for the tryptophan.
 

BruceD

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Try substituting glycine. It sounds like you’re already getting a lot of dietary tryptophan. Glycine will help with sleep and blood sugar issues. I have taken tryptophan and know that it works like you say, but I don’t think it’s the best possible long term solution.

I understand the attitude that if something works without apparent side effects, just keep doing it, but if I had this attitude I would make no progress. Think long-term as well.

I have tried Glycine, it doesn't seem to make much difference to me. I would like to get away from the tryptophan eventually, but just don't know how yet. Poor glycogen storage is definitely a problem for me, and have improved my sleep considerably from working that angle.
 

BruceD

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Adelle Davis and Ray both recommend more milk and Davis even suggests supplementing calcium before bed as much is lost in the morning urine. Also both recommend plenty of vitamin D especially in the form of sunlight as “vitamin d stimulates gut calcium absorption.” I notice I sleep best when I get at least 1.5 quarts of milk and 20 minutes sun exposure with my shirt off.. ten minutes each side if I’m laying out. Might be better off subbing Benadryl or cypro for the tryptophan.

I drink a glass before bed and about a gallon a week. Benadryl does not seem to help much with sleep. Can take it all day and no drowsiness. I also have the VDR gene mutation that results in poor utilization of D. I take a lot in suplement form (10,000 ui). Try to get outside but have a desk job.
 

BruceD

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@DavidGardner, I know it has been a while, but thanks for the reply. I think I will try Glycine again as plenty of things have changed.

You said Tryptophan gives you similar results. Is there anything about your situation that would lead you to believe that you have unusually low serotonin?

I just tried to lower endotoxin by cleansing my gut with oregano oil and activated charcoal. Stopped after a week and a half due to the herxheimer reaction being to strong. Since quitting, my sleep has worsened - I wake up early in the morning and have a hard time getting back to sleep, if at all. Anxiety, restlessness, and can't quiet my mind.

I pulled out the Tryptophan and got the best sleep I have had since I began the experiment. (Stopped all supplemental tryptophan almost a year ago)

My interpretation of these events is this - killed off gut bacteria, lowered endotoxin and lowered serotonin to a point that is too low. Using tryptophan now is getting it back to more healthy level. (I only plan to use Tryptophan until I get back to feeling normal. Will not be a long term thing)

It seems trying to lower serotonin is not necessary as it is already probably pretty low on its own. And possibly the reason that tryptophan works as it does for me.

Is there anyone else out there with a similar experience?
 

DavidGardner

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@BruceD, I think, yes, serotonin can be too low, though this forum is an awkward place to say it. Mine may have been in the past. I don’t subscribe to the idea that serotonin—or estrogen or cortisol for that matter—are inherently bad, just that they need to be kept in check. Maybe more people have a problem with too much than too little, and because Peat illuminates their role in the stress response, it is easy for us to demonize them here on the forum.

I don’t know what might cause low serotonin, but I think there could be genetic predispositions, and also excessive caffeine and nicotine can definitely deplete it too much. Abusing these substance made me crave tryptophan rich foods.

Melatonin is converted from serotonin. You might try taking a low dose, like 1 mg max, to see if it does the same thing for you. If so, that is your underlying issue. And that can be helped in other ways, like avoiding too much white or blue light before bed.

Another thing to try is eating low-fat cheese sticks before bed, or cottage cheese. The tryptophan from these adds up quickly and the mild opioid effect of the casein augments sedation. Plus they are surprisingly nutrient dense.
 
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