Tryptophan for anxiety and depression is now being touted as one of the best natural anxiety cures you can buy. It is always hard to know if something like Tryptophan is effective or not because it is not marketted by big pharma companies and is therefore not widely researched.
Hydroxytryptophan, to give it its full name, is an essential amino acid which the body cannot produce itself and therefore needs to find through diet or supplement. There are many food sources but you can buy a supplement in most countries called L-Tryptophan.
Tryptophan is thought to be useful as a treatment of anxiety and depression (and other mood disorders) because it is a precursor to Seratonin. Your body uses Tryptophan to make Seratonin which is one of the most important neurotransmitters effecting mood. It also makes Melatonin, which helps control sleep.
Common dietary sources are things such as egg, cod, soya and some cheeses and some meats. Turkey is always said to be high in Tryptophan, but actually cod has more per kg. While many people get enough through their diet others do not. It is hard for Tryptophan to cross the blood-brain barrier because it has to compete with other amino acids. The best way round this is to eat some carbohydrate with the Tryptophan, which will release insulin which helps Tryptophan’s passage into the area of the brain where it is needed.
It is hard to say if Tryptophan works as an anxiety cure or a depression cure. Certainly many people find that carbohydrates make them relaxed which is likely due to elevated Seratonin levels in the brain. If that strikes accord with you then maybe supplementing is worth a try.
In may be better to supplement with Tryptophan than with its nearest neighbour 5-HTP, which has a habit of converting to Seratonin outside the brain and is thought to cause heart valve damage. The only real way to know if Tryptophan works for anxiety is to try it!