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Tryptophan: A Case Study

Here’s an example of what I believe we need to fix in our current medical paradigm.

I noticed my mother responded extremely well to tryptophan, which positively affected both her memory and her mood, so I googled “Alzheimer’s tryptophan.” The top hit was an article in the journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, by Donald F. Weaver et al, whose title declared in full caps: ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE IS A DISORDER OF TRYPTOPHAN METABOLISM.

But does the article suggest supplementing with tryptophan (available for $20 on Amazon)? No. It wants, instead, to invent a drug that mimics tryptophan. There’s an enzyme called IDO involved in tryptophan metabolism, and the objective of this research is to “target[s] synthetic analogues of tryptophan as potential competitive inhibitors of IDO.” As a culture, as scientists, we are looking at synthetic analogues (drugs) that mimic tryptophan, rather than looking at tryptophan itself.

To be fair to ourselves and to Donald F. Weaver (who sounds like a genius who has been toiling in the Alzheimer’s trenches for years), there may be a problem with tryptophan itself. After all, it’s an amino acid found abundantly in bananas, chick peas, and turkey—among other things—so my mother is already getting it in her diet. Perhaps either her tryptophan needs are larger than normal, or she’s not able to properly use what she gets, or both.

For instance, I know from my own illness journey that stress and inflammation can cause the loss of tryptophan via something known as the “Tryptophan Steal,” where tryptophan is shunted toward B3 synthesis. Loss of tryptophan to this other pathway—which can also produce a potent neurotoxin known as quinolinic acid—may be involved in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s. Personally, I think one of the defining elements of Alzheimer’s will be that the sodium-calcium exchanger is jammed.

Perhaps my mother’s tryptophan supply is being diminished because she’s using her tryptophan to make DMT. (This could also explain why I recently saw a patent application to use LSD, another potent hallucinogenic that mimics DMT, as a treatment for Alzheimer’s.) If her pineal gland is calcified and is misreading the density of the universe as higher than it actually is, this could mean her DMT needs were exaggerated. Perhaps tryptophan is being used to fill that gap.

But it’s a dysfunctional loop that we don’t, in the end, want to feed. If she needs more DMT because she’s reading time wrong, the answer isn’t to supply more tryptophan—and, consequently, more quinolinic acid. The answer is to fix her body’s perception of time.