Background: Intact protein rich in tryptophan was not seen as an alternative to pharmaceutical grade tryptophan since protein also contains large neutral amino acids (LNAAs) that compete for transport sites across the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Deoiled gourd seed (an extremely rich source of tryptophan-22 mg tryptophan/1 g protein) was combined with glucose, a carbohydrate that reduces serum levels of competing LNAAs which was then compared to pharmaceutical grade tryptophan with carbohydrate as well as carbohydrate alone.
Method: Objective and subjective measures of sleep were employed to measure changes in sleep as part of a double blind placebo controlled study where subjects were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: (1) Protein source tryptophan (deoiled gourd seed) in combination with carbohydrate; (2) pharmaceutical grade tryptophan in combination with carbohydrate; (3) carbohydrate alone.
Subjects: Out of 57 subjects 49 of those who began the study completed the three week protocol.
Results: Protein source tryptophan with carbohydrate and pharmaceutical grade tryptophan, but not carbohydrate alone, resulted in significant improvement on subjective and objective measures of insomnia. Protein source tryptophan with carbohydrate alone proved effective in significantly reducing time awake during the night.
Conclusion: Protein source tryptophan is comparable to pharmaceutical grade tryptophan for the treatment of insomnia.