Melatonin, serotonin, and tryptamine in some egyptian food and medicinal plants

J Med Food. 2002 Fall;5(3):153-7. doi: 10.1089/10966200260398189.


The mammalian pineal hormone melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine), an aminoindole produced by the metabolism of serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine), has been shown to be a potent scavenger for the highly toxic hydroxyl radical. Three substances that are very important in animal physiology (e.g., in brain metabolism) are noradrenaline, histamine, and serotonin; all three occur in plants. Here we report that serotonin, tryptamine, and melatonin were found in some edible and medicinal plants in Egypt. The results of this screening showed that the pulp of underripe and ripe yellow banana contains 5-hydroxytryptamine at concentrations of 31.4 and 18.5 ng/g, respectively. Corn, rice, barley grains, and ginger showed the highest concentrations of melatonin, at 187.8, 149.8, 87.3, 142.3 ng/100 g, respectively. On the other hand, potato samples were free from all indolamines. Pomegranate and strawberry showed a low level of indolamines (8-12 microg/g serotonin, 4-9 microg/g tryptamine, and 13-29 ng/100 g melatonin).

MeSH terms

  • Food Analysis
  • Free Radical Scavengers / analysis*
  • Hordeum / chemistry
  • Melatonin / analysis*
  • Musa / chemistry
  • Oryza / chemistry
  • Plants, Edible / chemistry*
  • Plants, Medicinal / chemistry*
  • Serotonin / analysis*
  • Tryptamines / analysis*
  • Zea mays / chemistry
  • Zingiber officinale / chemistry


  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Tryptamines
  • Serotonin
  • tryptamine
  • Melatonin