Treating mental illness with nutrition.

Leave your drugs in the chemist’s pot if you can heal the patient with food.” Hippocrates.

My stepdaughter has bipolar disorder. She’s 5 years old. No, that is not a typo. In the 2 years since her diagnosis, we’ve tried several ‘traditional’ psych meds typically prescribed for childhood onset bipolar disorder with poor results. Each time her psychiatrist prescribes a new med, we go through the same pattern. We get a 2 or 3 weeks – a month if we’re really lucky of calm, really with it behavior followed by a total and complete meltdown. As her body begins to adjust to the meds it seems to over compensate and the results are not good. When we take her off the meds, she seems to even out and go back to her ‘typical’ bipolar pattern. A few months later, her psychiatrist wants to try a different med and we start the whole process over again.

We’ve decided to take her off the medication treadmill and treat her bipolar disorder with supplements and herbs if at all possible. So, I’m doing a lot of research on the topic and I thought I’d share what I’m learning here, in the hopes it will help on of my readers.

Several medical studies have shown that people who take 50 mg of Vitamin B1 or Thiamine experience improved moods, less depression, and faster reaction time than those whose intake is at or below the FDA for this vitamin.

Vitamins B12 and B9, or folate, have proven equally important when treating depression and other mood disorders. B12 deficiencies impair the body’s ability to clear out the amino acid homocysteine. High amounts of this amino acid have been shown to cause depression. Insufficient amounts of folate in the system cause symptoms of depression. In addition, low folate reduces the effectiveness of standard SSRI depression medications.

Serotonin production is dependent upon Vitamin B6. Inadequate amounts of B6 in the blood and brain result in the body not being able to produce this important brain chemical.

Selenium in amounts of appoximately 100 mcg per day helps relieve depression, anxiety and fatigue.

According to Psychology Today, several studies have found that chromium can effectively treat mild to severe depression. And a study at Duke University revealed that depression symptoms are reduced by taking 600mcg of chromium picolinate daily. Chromium is found naturally in liver, mushrooms brewer’s yeast, and whole grains.

Calcium, Omega 3 and zinc levels also seem to play a part in mood stability.

On theory is that those with bipolar disorder and other forms of mental illness may process and metabolize certain vitamins and minerals differently than those without mental illness. The difference in metabolic rate may cause deficiencies in the minerals and vitamins which regulate mood and stability.

I’m not a doctor, and everyone coping with mental illness should make treatment decisions in cooperation with their medical professional. A nutritionist or holistic doctor can help patients determine which vitamins and minerals they may be lacking, and can help the patient determine the best course of action to treat their illness in the most natural way possible


  • Lisa Emrich
    Posted March 7, 2008 11:50 pm 0Likes


    I have an MS Blogger Project underway over at my place. Please visit MS Awareness, Blogging Friends, and a little Link Love to join in.


  • TheDeeZone
    Posted March 11, 2008 1:17 am 0Likes


  • Lisa Emrich
    Posted March 21, 2008 7:03 am 0Likes

    Hi, I apologize for the ‘form’ letter but it is the easiest way to pass word most quickly.

    I am thrilled with the response to the MS Blogger project started at my blog, Brass and Ivory. I appreciate all those who took time to post about it on their blogs. I have discovered even more bloggers who have MS, whether they blog about the MS or not. A new listing is available at MS Blogger Community Project Revised.

    Secondly, I’m looking for submissions for next week’s Carnival of MS Bloggers. Information can be found at the end of each issue archived at Carnival of MS Bloggers. What I’m looking for this week are posts related to creativity. I discovered so many new bloggers who quilt, or knit, or crochet, or write, or photograph, etc. Basically, what do you do to express yourself?

    Thank you so much for participating.

    Lisa Emrich

    P.S. I also apologize for any increased ‘spamming’ of blog comments due to my growing linklist of bloggers with MS. For that I am sincerely sorry.

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