Warning: This newsletter may put you to sleep
There are many factors that influence both depression and sleep. In a previous newsletter I talked about the dangers of GMO foods, and how Glyphosate (Roundup) has been shown to influence the Shikimate pathway of our gut bacteria and their production of amino acids such as Tryptophan and Tyrosine that are precursors to Serotonin and Dopamine. Other newsletters on Heart Rate Variability and stress pointed to the effects of the imbalance of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system and how cortisol fluctuations could influence hormones and sleep cycles. All of those factors are important but this newsletter will focus on Tryptophan, about why it is such an important amino acid, why it is poorly utilized and what can be done to improve optimal levels.
The Serotonin pathway and Kynurenine pathway
Tryptophan is an amino acid that gets converted to a neurotransmitter serotonin and this has been linked to restful sleep, and in the case of low levels, depression and even problems such as obsessive compulsive issues. There are a few biochemical steps that take place in order for this to happen. Tryptophan first gets converted to 5-HTP or (5-hydroxytryptophan) and this in turn is converted in our bodies to serotonin. If you or someone you know has tried either taking tryptophan or 5-HTP as a supplement, they may or may not have had success in achieving restful sleep or avoiding SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressant medications. The following information may explain why.