Guest Author - Karen Huber
Natural therapies for bipolar disorder are a viable option for many people. Bipolar medication have many undesirable side effects, such as weight gain. Anti-depressants alone can trigger manic behavior and rapid cycling that can lead to suicidal thoughts. Here are a few popular nutrients that some people have successfully tried.
Fish oils may help regulate omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in bipolar people. Under medical supervision a person can try it as well as krill oil or flax-seed oil. Lecithin contains choline, linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid), and inositol. It helps create cell membranes and the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, which allows the transmission of nerve impulses in the brain. There are claims that lecithin can make you smarter, aid in the heart disease, treat alcoholism, viral hepatitis, memory loss, Alzheimer's, depression, and tardive dyskinesia. Research confirms some of these claims.
5-HTP, from the seeds of Griffonia simplicifolia, has been shown to be beneficial for fibromyalgia syndrome, ataxia, depression, anxiety, binge eating, and insomnia. Lithium orotate is generally marketed as a dietary supplement used in small doses to treat conditions including stress, bipolar disorder, alcoholism, ADHD and ADD, aggression, PTSD, Alzheimer's and to improve memory. It has been promoted as an alternative to lithium carbonate, but higher serum levels of lithium have been found, which can lower kidney function.
Calming herbs which are generally safe include passion flower and lavender. Biochemic tissue salts, also known as tissue salts or cell salts, and natrium sulphate, kalium phosphate and natrium phosphate have a calming effect and help to balance mood and prevent mood swings. Hyoscyamus, part of the nightshade family, can be calming and safely be used together with psychiatric medication.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that can be used for a general feeling of well-being. This mood alteration stems from the increase of serotonin and melatonin. Turkey, chocolate, oatmeal, bananas contain this amino acid. Chamomile, St. John’s wort and Valerian root are other herbs recommended for natural treatment of bipolar disorder.
As always, use caution and consult a licensed physician before trying any of these alternative medications on your own. Some of them might not work for you and interact negatively with your regular bipolar medications. Do not go off of your regular medicines until you talk to your doctor. Your doctor may feel that these will not work for you or that they can be supplements to your regular meds. As stated above, sometimes antidepressants alone can trigger manic behavior and suicidal thoughts.