How Inositol Benefits These 6 Mental Health Conditions

How Inositol Benefits These 6 Mental Health Conditions

Explore how Inositol Benefits six mental health conditions, offering comprehensive support for improved well-being and mental resilience. Inositol is a nutrient that is a vital cofactor for the brain’s major neurotransmitters. Learn how inositol supplements benefit many mental health issues. Inositol is available as a natural supplement that’s very effective at treating a wide range of mental health conditions, in some cases even better than the usually prescribed medications. For reasons not yet understood, it works particularly well in women to relieve anxiety, binge eating, PMS, and more. As a mood-enhancing nutrient, inositol doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

Once known as vitamin B8, it was considered part of the B complex vitamin family. But once scientists discovered that the body could produce its own inositol, it was no longer deemed a true vitamin. Now, researchers consider it a pseudovitamin, relegating it to the status of a neglected stepchild within the vitamin B complex. However, when people use it as a remedy or supplement to enhance deficiency states, inositol proves to be quite valuable.

Inositol Benefits for Mental Health

Inositol, found in high concentrations in the brain, facilitates communication among the billions of brain cells.

Major neurotransmitters important for positive mood — serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine — rely on inositol to relay messages

Just as you can’t talk on your smartphone when there’s no signal, neurotransmitters can’t do their job of communicating when there’s not enough inositol.

And neurotransmitters play a major role in most aspects of your life, including mood, productivity, ability to handle stress, ability to learn and remember, sleep, cravings, addictions, and more.

Because inositol is a part of so many brain chemical systems, it can help a wide array of mental health conditions.

Here are 6 ways inositol can improve your mental health and well-being.

1. Inositol Is a Valuable Natural Remedy for Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Anti-anxiety medications don’t work for everyone and many users can’t tolerate their side effects.

Inositol is a natural anti-anxiety remedy that has proven useful for many kinds of anxiety including panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and agoraphobia.

One study found that it reduced symptoms of panic disorder as well as the medication fluvoxamine, but with fewer side effects. 

Study participants taking fluvoxamine experienced nausea and fatigue, while those taking inositol experienced no negative side effects.

Fluvoxamine belongs to a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

It also treats anxiety disorders like panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and social anxiety disorder.

2. Inositol May Be Helpful for Depression

Inositol levels are lower than normal in people with depression. 

It’s supplementation shows promise for reducing depression symptoms

In one study, there was a significant improvement in depression symptoms even when patients discontinued their antidepressants.

Inositol diminishes the mood swings, depression, and anxiety of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and the more severe premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

A meta-analysis of studies concluded that depressed patients, especially those with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), benefit from inositol supplementation

Tip: Mood disorders that respond positively to serotonin-boosting SSRIs also generally respond to inositol supplementation. 

If you do not benefit from SSRI antidepressants, it’s likely that you will not benefit from inositol either.

3. Inositol Diminishes Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Symptoms

Inositol looks promising for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a type of anxiety disorder characterized by unwanted, recurring thoughts and behaviors.

Several studies have found that inositol reduces symptoms of OCD.

One study found that inositol reduced symptoms of OCD as well as the usually prescribed medication.

Just as individuals not aided by SSRIs for OCD, those with OCD typically find no relief with inositol.

4. Inositol Significantly Reduces Symptoms of Bulimia

Inositol is an excellent natural supplement for bulimia nervosa, a serious eating disorder that involves binge eating and purging.

High doses of inositol (18 grams) reduced the depression, anxiety, and binge eating associated with bulimia. 

As with depression, the effects of inositol on bulimia seem to be more evident in women than in men.

5. Inositol Is Helpful for Bipolar Disorder

There’s some evidence that inositol may be useful for the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder.

One large study that compared treatments for bipolar depression found that inositol worked significantly better than the bipolar medication risperidone.

It significantly aids in managing a common side effect of lithium drug therapy: lithium-induced psoriasis.

Lithium is known to deplete inositol which then leads to psoriasis. 

Inositol greatly improves this skin disorder without negating the drug’s mood-calming effects.

Managing bipolar disorder presents complexities.

Do not attempt to self-medicate with inositol before discussing this with your doctor.

6. Inositol Reduces the Mood Swings of PMS and PMDD

Inositol may be a woman’s best friend.

As we saw earlier, it works better in women than in men for depression and bulimia.

It also diminishes the mood swings, depression, and anxiety of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and the more severe premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). 

Inositol is particularly useful for treating polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

Hormone imbalances cause this disorder, impacting 10% of women.

It is characterized by menstrual irregularities, infertility, and a tendency to retain weight.

It seems to work by normalizing levels of the hormones testosterone and insulin.

Some nutritional supplement formulations specifically designed to promote fertility contain inositol.

Mental Health Disorders That Inositol May Help

A lot of websites selling inositol claim that it’s good for various disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s.

Research currently does not support the use of inositol for any of these disorders, but that does not mean that inositol will not be found useful for these conditions in the future. 

Further research is crucial for this largely overlooked supplement.

Regrettably, much of the research on inositol dates back 20 to 30 years, ancient history in the rapidly evolving field of neuroscience.

The Best Form of Inositol Supplements and Their Dosages

The term “inositol” encompasses a group of nine substance forms, with myo-inositol being the most commonly utilized in supplements.

If a supplement doesn’t specifically say what form it is, you can assume it’s myo-inositol, which is also the most abundant form in nature. 

Mental health uses for inositol require substantial doses, usually 12 to 18 grams daily.

Since most inositol capsules contain 500 mg, this would mean swallowing a lot of pills.

However, you can bypass this problem by taking inositol powder which readily mixes with water.

Most people find this the most convenient and economical way to take it, and since inositol is a carbohydrate, it tastes slightly sweet.

This makes it a well-tolerated choice for children with mood disorders

For mental health conditions, you won’t go wrong with the myo-inositol form of inositol.

The exception is for PCOS when d-chiro-inositol is usually the recommended form.

Some inositol supplements pair it with choline, another compound that was formerly a B vitamin.

Choline works much like inositol to support brain cell health and nerve transmission function, while also providing the precursor to acetylcholine, the “memory and learning” neurotransmitter.

Fun fact: Ever wonder about the white powder that actors snort in the movies? Inositol is frequently substituted for cocaine.

Why You Can’t You Get Enough Inositol From Food

Inositol is present in all basic food groups: dairy, meat, fruit, vegetables, and grains.

It’s also an added ingredient in some energy drinks.

The best food sources of inositol are:

  • almonds
  • beans 
  • cantaloupe
  • citrus fruits and juices
  • peanut butter
  • walnuts
  • wheat bran
  • whole wheat

But to consume one gram of inositol, you’d have to eat almost an entire melon or 1½ cups of cooked beans.

A 2,500-calorie diet will yield at most 1 gram of inositol, while our kidneys make another 2 grams or so. 

The bottom line is that for most people it would not be practical, or even possible, to consume therapeutic amounts (i.e., 12+ grams) of inositol from food alone.

Inositol Side Effects and Interactions

Inositol is generally considered very safe and there are no known interactions with medications or other supplements. 

In general, inositol is very well tolerated in doses of up to 12 grams.

Some reported side effects include digestive upset, insomnia, dizziness, headache, and the rare report of mania.

Inositol is mildly sedating

This can be a welcome “side effect” if you need some help relaxing or use inositol as a sleep aid. 

While inositol seems to be safe during pregnancy, and is sometimes taken to mitigate gestational diabetes, talk to your doctor before taking while pregnant. 

Recommended: Upgrading brain health is key to making your brain work better.

Brain supplement can help you:

  • Improve your mental clarity and focus.
  • Boost your memory and your ability to learn.
  • Increase your capacity to think critically, solve problems, and make decisions.

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Also read our blog on What is Adrafinil?

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