melatonin safety

Pharmacology hubio543 at
Wed Oct 11 20:38:22 EST 1995

It was not bacterial contamination that caused harmful batches of 
tryptophan.  The Japanese company that produced tryptophan performed 
certain genetic manipulations of the organism that they had used for a 
number of years to make tryptophan.  The manipulation significantly 
increased the yield of tryptophan.  However, according to the laws of 
unintended consequences, a new compound was also formed.  I won't give 
the chemical name, but it was subsequently identified as 'peak E'.  It 
was present in VERY MINUTE quantities.  In fact, the tryptophan being 
sold with peak E as a minor contaminant was very pure.  It would pass all 
normal requirements for purity.  

However, not long after the new batches were sold, reports of 'problems' 
came in from Germany.  But the company did not believe that their product 
could be defective (after all it was very pure - and the yields were 
great) so they kept selling.  It was only after some excellent medical 
and epidemiological sleuthing that the cause of eosinophilia-myalgia 
syndrome (EMS) was discovered.  Fortunately, the sleuths worked 
relatively rapidly and the defective material was withdrawn.

Of course, the FDA in its infinite wisdom banned ALL tryptophan.  DUMB!.  
The cause of EMS is now known, and one can now test all trypthophan for 
it, but NO - simpler for a bureaucracy to simply ban something.

On 11 Oct 1995 mll6 at Lehigh.EDU wrote:

> In article <Pine.3.89.9510101953.A11659-0100000 at>, mmcwilli at USIBR
> 01.USI.EDU ("Mark A. McWilliams") writes:
> >
> >To whom it may concern,
> >
> >     I was looking for someone to correspond to about questions I had
> >about melatonin.   The questions I had are: How is melatonin supplements
> >produced?  I've been reading various books and articles on melatonin and
> >I've discovered something very shocking.  Melatonin is a by-product of
> >the amino acid tryptophan, right!   The supplement tryptophan has been
> >banned do to bad side effects produced by making synthetic tryptophan.
> >What if they made melatonin out of synthetically produced tryptophan?
> >Would that pose a health hazard?  Just wondering.
> >
> >
> >Please send response to:mmcwilli at
> >
> I read a short story about the tryptophan banning in a nutrition book.
> Basically, the story is that a Japanese manufacturer of tryptophan sold 'bad'
> quantities of it..'bad' because they were infected with a microbiological
> organism (I forget the name) and caused several deaths.  As far as I know,
> tryptophan is by itself, harmless within some range (and good for sleep
> quality);  Its naturally high in milk and banannas (sp.? :>).  Of course my
> info is from reading the book.

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