From OCD to depression to anxiety, learn how inositol can prevent many mental health disorders

Having a clean bill of health doesn’t just mean that a person is physically fit. It also includes whether his mental health is in check, which is something that a lot of people don’t regularly think about, and an issue that affects over three in four employees in the U.S., according to a recent survey by the American Health Association.

It’s not limited to workplaces: On average, nearly 44 million American adults experience mental illness each year, which makes it a growing cause of concern for everyone. It also makes the need for natural options to treat the condition that much important, given the adverse effects that certain medications have, which range from worsening of symptoms to even thoughts of suicide.

Scientists have looked at one particular supplement, inositol, given its efficacy in treating these conditions, and in some cases, even better than prescription drugs. Inositol is a natural supplement known for its ability to relieve anxiety, binge-eating, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in women. The substance, which was once known as vitamin B8, is found in high concentrations in the brain, where it helps regulate important chemicals associated with mood, including serotonin and dopamine. In a recent study, researchers have found that people with conditions such as anxiety, compulsive disorders, and depression have lower levels of inositol in their brains. In fact, other major neurotransmitters depend on inositol to relay messages, making it a key component in a lot of chemical systems in a person’s brain, including the ability to handle stress, learning and cognition, mood, productivity, sleep, and addiction.





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Inositol has proven to be beneficial for the following conditions:

Anxiety and panic disorder

Studies have shown that inositol is effective against panic disorder, a form of anxiety where a crippling fear takes over a person and greatly affects his way of life. It’s also been proven useful against other forms of anxiety such as agoraphobia and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It’s even known to work better than anti-depressants like fluvoxamine, which is used to treat OCD, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder (MDD), and social anxiety disorder. In a separate study, participants who took inositol exhibited no negative side effects, compared to those who experienced nausea and fatigue after taking fluvoxamine.

Depression

People who suffer from depression have notably lower levels of inositol on average. The jury’s still out, however, on whether inositol is effective in treating depression: An early study revealed that inositol is able to improve the symptoms of people with depression, while another study yielded inconclusive results. Scientists have also pointed out that inositol, when used as a supplement, can work with medication to improve mood disorders.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Unlike depression, studies have shown that inositol is a promising candidate to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, a condition marked with repeated thoughts and feelings and the compulsion to act on these. In one study, scientists found that inositol effectively reduced symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorders as well as prescription drugs, without the side effects.

Bipolar disorder

Research on the effects of inositol on bipolar disorder is also promising. A study has shown that children with bipolar spectrum disorders had exhibited significant decreases in mania and depression after taking 2 g of inositol every day for 12 weeks. Other studies indicate that as little as 3-6 g of inositol each day can lower the side effects of lithium, a common drug for treating bipolar disorder.

Indeed, inositol is great for managing — and even treating — certain mental disorders, and it’s generally considered safe. Certain food items, such as beans, whole grains, nuts, and citrus fruits, contain inositol, but these aren’t even close to enough. To get a gram of inositol, it would take eating a whole melon or a-cup-and-a-half of cooked beans. There are supplements that are available that have myo-inositol, which is the most abundant form of inositol in nature.