Bad Dreams, Nutrition, and 5-hydroxytryptophan
G. Douglas Andersen, DC, DACBSP, CCN
Volume 23, number 1, 1/1/05, page 30
I remember as a child I would have a bad dream that would cause me to wake up. I would go down the hall to my parents' room (I cannot remember if I knocked or not), go to my mom's side of the bed, and say "Mom, I had a bad dream." She would then move and let me get in the bed between her and my father. I would immediately feel safe and fall back to sleep (it never crossed my mind that I may not have been welcomed). In my case, this happened no more than once a year, approximately between the ages of 3 and 8.
Over the years I have had a few patients who mentioned that their children had nightmares on a much more regular basis (3 to 6 times per month). Until now, my only recommendations were (1) make an appointment with a pediatrician to rule out disease, (2) determine if a specific incident was provocative and, if so, seek out psychotherapy, (3) provide parental support and reassurance, and (4) in the absence of disease, disorder, or an identified external cause, consult a sleep specialist.
The authors stated that due to the lack of side effects and development of tolerance during long-term use, 5-HTP was selected as a possible interventional aid. The dosing was also low - 2 mg/kg/bw, especially when compared to commonly used amounts of other amino acids.
There were limitations to the study, the most important of which is the association between tryptophan products and eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome (EMS). Although it is extremely rare in 5-HTP products, EMS has been reported.3 The authors of this study stated that improved purification and analysis methods have resulted in unadulterated pharmaceutical grade preparations of 5-HTP that are safe. Other limitations of this study were the amount of subjects (45) and the fact that it was an open-label trial. I hope these findings provoke a double blind, placebo-controlled trial with a larger sample size. Finally, anyone who takes 5-HTP should only purchase this product from major nutrition companies and/or from companies that cater to healthcare professionals.References
E. Imperial Hwy.
2004, G. Douglas Andersen, DC, DACBSP, CCN, 916 E. Imperial Hwy, Brea,
CA 92821, (714) 990-0824