Table of contents

  • Brand Names
  • Drug Combinations
  • Chemistry
  • Pharmacologic Category
  • Mechanism of Action
  • Therapeutic Use
  • Pregnancy and Lactation Implications
  • Contraindications
  • Warnings and Precautions
  • Adverse Reactions
  • Toxicological Effects
  • Genes that may be involved
  • Drug Interactions
  • Dosage
  • Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics

Brand Names

Austria: Kalma; Germany: Ardeydorm, Ardeytropin, Kalma, Solamin, Tryptophan; UK: Optimax.

North America

Canada: Tryptan, Tryptophan; USA: L Tryptophan.

Drug combinations

Calcium Chloride; Cysteine; Cyanocobalamin Riboflavin (Vitamin B~2~); Sodium Acetate; Sodium Lactate; Sodium Phosphate; Soybean Oil


Tryptophan: C~11~H~12~N~2~O~2~. Mw: 204.23. L-Tryptophan. CAS-73-22-3.

Pharmacologic Category

Antidepressants, Miscellaneous. Amino Acid. (ATC-Code: N06AX02).

Mechanism of action

L-tryptophan is an essential dietary amino acid and, following hydroxylation and decarboxylation, is the major source of 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT). L-tryptophan, 5-HT and 5-HT metabolite levels are lower than normal in depression. Administration of L-tryptophan re-establishes inhibitory action of 5-HT on amygdaloid nuclei, thereby reducing feelings of anxiety and depression.

Therapeutic use

In treatment-resistant depression after trials of standard antidepressant drug treatments, and as an adjunct to other anti-depressant medication.

Pregnancy and lactiation implications

Safety in pregnancy or lactation not established.

Unlabeled use


Patients with previous history of eosinophilia myalgia syndrome (EMS) following use of L-tryptophan. Patients with known hypersensitivity to the active substance or any of the excipients.

Warnings and precautions

Depression is associated with increased risk of suicidal thoughts, self-harm and suicide (suicide-related events). This risk persists until significant remission occurs. Patients with history of suicide-related events, or those exhibiting a significant degree of suicidal ideation prior to commencement of treatment are at greater risk of suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts. EMS reported in association with use of oral L-tryptophan-containing products; this is a usually reversible, rarely fatal multisystem disorder. Symptoms of EMS reported to include eosinophilia, arthralgia or myalgia, fever, dyspnea, neuropathy, peripheral edema and skin lesions which can include sclerosis or papular and urticarial lesions. Caution should be exercised with patients who experience some but not all of the symptoms of EMS after taking L-tryptophan. Treatment should be withheld and symptoms investigated until possibility of EMS can be excluded. Possible interaction between L-tryptophan and 5-HT reuptake inhibitors could lead to «serotonin syndrome», characterized by a combination of agitation, restlessness and GI symptoms including diarrhea. Combinations with 5-HT reuptake inhibitors should only be used with care.



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