Tyrosine

Our rating
 No smiley: On the available evidence, this treatment does not seem to be effective.

What is it?

Tyrosine is an amino acid, one of the building blocks of protein. Tyrosine is found in protein-rich foods like meat, fish, eggs, dairy products and beans.

How does it work?

Tyrosine is used by the body to make the neurotransmitter (chemical messenger) noradrenaline. Noradrenaline is believed to be in short supply in the brains of people who are depressed.

Is it effective?

There is only one good scientific study on tyrosine as a treatment for depression. Participants in this study were 65 adults with clinicla depression. They were treated with either tyrosine supplements, an antidepressant medication (imipramine) or a placebo (dummy pill). Tyrosine was no more effective than the placebo at reducing depression.

Are there any disadvantages?

While tyrosine seems to be well tolerated, tyrosine supplements could cause side effects in some people. Like all supplements, it’s best to talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are thinking of taking tyrosine to see if it could interfere with any other medication you are taking.

Where do you get it?

Tyrosine is available as a dietary supplement from health food shops.

Recommendation

On the limited evidence available, tyrosine is not an effective treatment for depression.

Key references

  • Gelenberg AJ, Wojcik JD, Falk WE, et al. Tyrosine for depression: a double-blind trial. Journal of Affective Disorders 1990; 19: 125-132.

Last reviewed and updated: 1 November 2019