Studies have shown that daily supplements of vital nutrients often effectively reduce patients' symptoms. Supplements that contain amino acid peptides are converted to neurotransmitters that alleviate depression, anxiety, OCD, mood swings, insomnia, and fatigue.
Many antidepressants, anti-anxiety and mood stabilizers, and other prescription drugs can cause severe side effects, which usually discourage patients from taking their medications. Such unwilling patients, if left untreated due to lack of other treatment choices, are at a higher risk for complications.
One way to avoid medication-related side effects is to offer alternative or complementary nutritional treatments. Although further research needs to be done to determine the best recommended doses, we recommend doses of dietary supplements based on effectiveness studies and then adjust the doses based on the results obtained.
Applications of Nutritional Therapies
Many psychiatric and prescription drugs cause unwanted side effects like weight gain, sedation, sexual side effects, dizziness, tremors, and others. Sometimes side effects can be so severe and unpleasant that many patients are forced to stop taking them. Therefore, it is imperative that we provide our patients with complementary nutritional therapies.
The most common nutritional deficiencies seen in mental disorder patients are of DHA/EPA fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) which the body converts into docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), B vitamins, minerals, and amino peptides that are precursors to neurotransmitters. Replenishing these nutrients in adequate amounts reduces the intensity of symptoms. Below are a few common applications.
Depression has been known to be associated with deficiencies in neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, noradrenaline, and GABA. As reported in several studies, tryptophan, tyrosine, phenylalanine, and methionine are often helpful in treating many mood disorders. Replenishing these nutrients may lead to tranquility, sleep, and improved mood.
Replenishing dopamine and norepinephrine nutritionally can lead to alertness and arousal. Methionine combines with ATP to produce S-adenosylmethionine which facilitates the production of neurotransmitters in the brain.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) & docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have shown to elicit antidepressant effects, possibly due to conversion into prostaglandins, leukotrienes, and other chemicals the brain needs.
In addition, deficiencies in certain essential nutrients and minerals - methyltetrahydrofolate, pyridoxine, pentothenic acids, niacinamide, thaimnine and magnesium - have been linked to depression.
Some biochemical abnormalities in people with bipolar disorder include oversensitivity to acetylcholine, excess vanadium, B vitamin deficiencies, a taurine deficiency, anemia, EPA/DHA fatty acid deficiencies, and vitamin C deficiency.
Vitamin C has been shown to protect the body from the damage caused by excess vanadium.
Taurine is made from cysteine that is known to elicit a calming effect. A deficiency may increase intensity of manic episodes. The combination of essential vitamin supplements with the body's natural supply of lithium reduces depressive and manic symptoms of patients suffering from bipolar disorder.
Another well-known factor for mental disorders is that cells within the brain require fatty acid oils in order to be able to transmit signals that enable proper thinking, moods, and emotions. Numerous studies have shown that adequate doses of EPA added to one's daily intake decreases manic/depressive symptoms better than placebo.
Prescription lithium in the form of lithium carbonate is responsible for most of lithium's adverse side effects. Some of the more common side effects include a dulled personality, reduced emotions, memory loss, tremors, or weight gain. A dietary form of lithium is preferred because the orotate ion crosses the blood-brain barrier more easily than lithium carbonate. Therefore, the orotate form of lithium salt can be used in much lower doses (e.g. 5 mg) with remarkable results and no side effects.
Studies involving clinical trials have also shown that the amino acid-derivative, taurine, as an alternative to lithium, blocks the effects of excess acetylcholine that may contributes to bipolar disorder.
Disturbances in amino acid metabolism have been implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Specifically, an impaired synthesis of serotonin in the central nervous system has been found in schizophrenic patients. High doses (30 g) of glycine have been shown to reduce the more subtle symptoms of schizophrenia, such as social withdrawal, emotional flatness, and apathy, which do not respond to most of the existing medications.
Nutrients which increase serotonin levels will reduce the symptoms of OCD. Using amino acid precursors to serotonin and tryptophan supplements (which are better than 5-Hydroxytryptophan) will increase serotonin levels and alleviate OCD symptoms.
Proper medical diagnosis and a clear description of all possible treatment options should always be the first plan of action when treating mental disorders. However, the final decision on whether or not to try nutritional supplements as a treatment must be based on the patient preferences.
As with any form of treatment, nutritional therapy should be supervised and doses should be adjusted as necessary to achieve optimal results.