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Inositol for Mental Health: Evidence-Based Benefits

Inositol for Mental Health
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Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

With mental issues such as anxiety, OCD, and depression rising, people seek natural mental health solutions that reduce clinical symptoms without the dangerous side effects of psychiatric medications. Adults and children are looking for ways to reduce stress and clinical symptoms such as anxiety, depression, obsessions, and compulsions. Inositol for anxiety is a supplement gaining attention for its potential therapeutic effects on various mental health conditions.

Inositol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol found in foods such as citrus fruits, nuts, and grains. It is a compound that plays a crucial role in several physiological processes in the human body, including cell signaling and insulin regulation (Costa Dias et al., 1992). 

Recently, inositol has gained attention for its potential mental health benefits, particularly for conditions such as panic attacks (Palatnik et al., 2001), anxiety (Mukai et al., 2014), depression (Levine et al., 2000), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) (Einat & Belmaker, 2001).  The inositol anxiety connection has been found in research and a reason why people seek out inositol benefits. 

I have used inositol with my clients for issues such as stress and anxiety, mood regulation, and obsessions and compulsions for over a decade. I worked with two sisters who struggled with OCD and PANS, and within a few short weeks, the inositol helped lower both girls' intrusive thinking and related rituals. Coupled with OCD ERP psychotherapy, they were able to eliminate all OCD symptoms. 

You know I am all about research! The good news is an increasing body of research on the benefits of inositol for mental health and its potential therapeutic effects for various clinical conditions.

What is Inositol?

 

Inositol, also known as vitamin B8 and myo-inositol, is a type of sugar alcohol essential for many cellular functions, including lipid metabolism and cell signaling. It is naturally present in the human body and various foods, such as citrus fruits, nuts, and grains. 

In supplement form, inositol is typically found as either myo-inositol or D-chiro-inositol. Myo-inositol is the most abundant form of inositol found in the human body and is commonly referred to as inositol (Nordio & Proietti, 2012).

Is Myo-Inositol and Inositol the Same?

 

Yes, myo-inositol and inositol are the same and are often used interchangeably. However, other forms of inositol exist, including D-chiro-inositol and scyllo-inositol (Nordio & Proietti, 2012).

What is Inositol Used For?

Inositol is commonly used as a dietary supplement for various health concerns. For mental health, it's often taken to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, and OCD, due to its influence on neurotransmitters like serotonin. In the context of physical health, inositol supplements are frequently recommended for managing polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), as they can help regulate insulin and hormone levels. 

It's available in various forms, including capsules, powders, and tablets, and the dosage can vary depending on the specific health concern and individual needs.

Signs of an Inositol Deficiency

 

While rare, an inositol deficiency can occur in individuals with certain medical conditions or following restrictive diets that exclude inositol-rich foods. Some signs of an inositol deficiency may include:

  • Fatigue 
  • Problems with mental fatigue or brain fog 
  • Mood changes
  • Constipation
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and feet
  • Muscle weakness

It is important to note that various factors can cause these symptoms, and it is essential to speak with a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause (Costa Dias et al., 1992).

What Causes an Inositol Deficiency?

 

Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or kidney disease, can cause an inositol deficiency. In addition, following a restrictive diet that excludes inositol-rich foods or taking medications that interfere with inositol absorption or metabolism can also lead to an inositol deficiency (Nordio & Proietti, 2012).

Certain medications can interfere with inositol absorption or metabolism, potentially leading to an inositol deficiency. These medications include:

  • Antibiotics (such as tetracyclines)
  • Anticonvulsants (such as phenytoin and valproic acid)
  • Diuretics (such as furosemide)
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Lithium

Excessive alcohol consumption may also interfere with inositol metabolism (Nordio & Proietti, 2012). Speaking with a healthcare professional if you take any of these medications or have concerns about your inositol levels is essential. This is especially true for those with  PANS and Lyme Disease who may need antibiotic treatment. Supplementing with inositol, for about 18 grams per day, should be considered part of a care plan when receiving antibiotics, and many of my PANS clients choose to do that. 

When to Consider Inositol

 

If you are struggling with mental health conditions such as panic attacks, anxiety, depression, OCD, or bipolar disorder, inositol may be a natural and effective supplement to consider. Inositol has been studied for its potential therapeutic effects on these conditions, and some studies have found it effective in reducing symptoms.

Additionally, inositol is thought to benefit insulin resistance, making it a helpful supplement for those with premenstrual dysphoric disorder and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects many women and can cause symptoms such as irregular periods, infertility, and insulin resistance. Inositol has been found to improve insulin resistance in women with PCOS, potentially improving overall health outcomes and mental health (Papaleo et al., 2007).

Fasting has also improved insulin resistance and reduced anxiety and depression. Marnie and her college-aged son Ethan decided to try fasting to improve their anxiety. They reported significantly improved stress levels along with inositol, magnesium, and vitamin D. Marnie told me, “I was shocked at how quickly it worked in a way medication never could.”

Inositol has been studied for its potential therapeutic effects on various mental health conditions, including panic attacks (Palatnik et al., 2001), anxiety (Mukai et al., 2014), depression (Levine et al., 2000), OCD (Einat & Belmaker, 2001), and bipolar disorder (Einat & Belmaker, 2001). 

How Does Inositol Improve Neurotransmitters?

 

Inositol plays a crucial role in the metabolism of neurotransmitters, which are the chemicals that allow neurons to communicate with each other. Specifically, inositol synthesizes several neurotransmitters, including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.

Inositol can be helpful for mental health. One of my clients, a 17-year-old named Paul, had really bad anxiety, and medication wasn't working for him. I suggested he try inositol as a supplement, and after a few weeks, he started to feel a difference. Thanks to changes in his lifestyle, using CALM PEMF™, and adding inositol, Paul managed his anxiety much better and enjoyed his life for the first time since he was in grade school. 

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, appetite, and sleep. Inositol is a precursor to synthesizing serotonin, which is required to produce this neurotransmitter. According to research, supplementation with inositol has been shown to increase serotonin levels in the brain, possibly contributing to its therapeutic effects on mood disorders (Levine et al., 1995).

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter related to reward, motivation, movement, and attention. Inositol has been found to enhance dopamine receptor sensitivity, improving the brain's ability to respond to dopamine signaling (Einat & Belmaker, 2001). 

Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter that is involved in the body's stress response. Inositol has been found to increase norepinephrine turnover in the brain, meaning that it can improve the availability of this neurotransmitter (Einat & Belmaker, 2001). 

What Does the Research Say About Inositol for Mental Health?

 

Several studies have investigated the potential benefits of inositol for mental health. While more research is needed, the available evidence suggests that inositol benefits may effectively treat various mental health conditions.

Clinical Mental Health Conditions that Inositol Helps

 

Inositol for OCD

 

OCD, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, is a mental health condition characterized by intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviors that can interfere with daily life. Inositol, along with other herbs and supplements for OCD, has been studied for its potential therapeutic effects on OCD. Some studies have found the inositol benefits to be effective in reducing symptoms. 

A double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology found that inositol supplementation significantly reduced OCD symptoms in patients. This study randomly assigned participants to receive either inositol or a placebo for six weeks. 

The results showed that the group receiving inositol had a significantly more significant reduction in their OCD symptoms compared to the placebo group. The authors concluded that inositol may be a safe and effective option for reducing symptoms of OCD (Fux et al., 1996). The study participants successfully reduced OCD symptoms with 18 g/day of inositol a day divided into two to three doses in this 6-week double-blind clinical trial.

In my clinical cases, dividing the inositol dose into two to three doses is key in symptom reduction. Many of my PANS/PANDAS OCD cases particularly see the benefit when the dose is divided. Inositol is something that most of our BrainBehaviorReset™ Program clients with OCD add into their protocol and/or increase the dose if they are already taking it but not seeing the benefit. 

Another study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that inositol may have potential as an add-on treatment for OCD. In this study, participants were given either inositol or a placebo in addition to their existing medication for OCD. The results showed that the group receiving inositol improved their OCD symptoms significantly compared to the placebo group (Fux et al., 2001).

Inositol for Anxiety

 

Stress and anxiety are common mental health conditions that can significantly impact daily life. With anxiety now the number one clinical condition in the US, people are looking for holistic remedies for anxiety and stress. Supplements, herbs, and essential oils can help alleviate symptoms. 

Inositol has been studied for its potential therapeutic effects on stress and anxiety, and some studies have found it effective in reducing symptoms. The inositol anxiety connection is one that has been studied. A meta-analysis published in Human Psychopharmacology found that inositol supplementation was significantly more effective than a placebo in reducing anxiety symptoms.

The inositol dose for anxiety varies depending on the brain and form. Always check with your provider before adding to your health regimine. 

Inositol for Panic Attacks 

 

Panic attacks are sudden and intense feelings of fear that can be overwhelming and debilitating. Anxiety attacks the body as one becomes immobilized by a stress-activated nervous system. Often they co-occur with conditions such as anxiety, OCD, or agoraphobia. Inositol has been studied for its potential therapeutic effects on panic attacks, and some studies have found it effective in reducing symptoms.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that inositol supplementation effectively reduced the frequency and severity of panic attacks in patients. This study randomly assigned participants to receive either inositol or a placebo for four weeks. 

The results showed that the group receiving inositol significantly reduced the frequency and severity of their panic attacks compared to the placebo group. The authors concluded that inositol may be a safe and effective option for reducing symptoms of panic attacks (Benjamin et al., 1995).

Another study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology found that inositol may effectively reduce symptoms of agoraphobia, which often co-occurs with panic disorder. 

In this study, participants with agoraphobia and panic disorder were given either inositol or a placebo for three weeks. The results showed that the group receiving inositol significantly reduced their symptoms of agoraphobia compared to the placebo group (Seedat et al., 2001).

Inositol for Depression

 

Depression is a common mental health condition that can significantly impact the quality of life. There are many reasons why children and adults have mood issues, and they aren't always due to genetics. Inositol has been studied for its potential therapeutic effects on depression, and some studies have found it effective in reducing symptoms.

Inositol has been clinically shown to reduce OCD and anxiety symptoms

One study found that inositol supplementation led to a significant reduction in symptoms of depression in patients with major depressive disorder. In this study, participants were given either inositol or a placebo for four weeks, and their symptoms were assessed at the beginning and end of the study. The results showed that the group receiving inositol had a significant reduction in their symptoms of depression compared to the placebo group (Levine et al., 1995).

Additionally, a follow-up and relapse analysis of an inositol study published in the Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences found that inositol supplementation effectively prevented relapse and improved symptoms in patients with depression. 

In this study, participants who had previously responded to inositol treatment were given either inositol or a placebo for up to 12 months. The results showed that the group receiving inositol had a significantly lower relapse rate and maintained their improvement in symptoms compared to the placebo group (Levine et al., 1995).

Inositol for Bipolar Disorder 

 

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition characterized by episodes of depression and mania. This mood disorder runs in families but is also linked to the MTHFR genetic mutation. Inositol has been studied for its potential therapeutic effects on people with bipolar disorder, and some studies have found it effective in reducing symptoms. 

For example, a double-blind, controlled study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology found that inositol supplementation reduced symptoms of depression and mania in patients with bipolar disorder.

Participants with bipolar disorder were randomly assigned to receive either inositol or a placebo for six weeks. The results showed that the group receiving inositol significantly improved their depressive and anxiety symptoms compared to the placebo group. The authors concluded that inositol may be a safe and effective option to treat bipolar disorder and improve the overall quality of life for those with this condition (Fux et al., 1996).

Another study found that inositol for depression supplementation was associated with improved cognitive function in patients with bipolar disorder. In this study, participants were given either inositol or a placebo for 12 weeks, and their cognitive function was assessed at the beginning and end of the study. The results showed that the group receiving inositol significantly improved their cognitive function compared to the placebo group (El-Mallakh et al., 2016).

Inositol and Eating Disorders 

 

Eating disorders are mental health conditions that can significantly impact physical and emotional health. Inositol has been studied for its potential therapeutic effects on eating disorders, and some studies have found it effective in reducing symptoms. 

A European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences study found that inositol for eating disorders reduced symptoms in women with metabolic syndrome and binge eating disorder.

High Doses and Side Effects of Inositol

 

Inositol is generally considered safe, with few reported side effects. However, taking high doses of inositol may cause some side effects, including nausea, diarrhea, and headaches. Speaking with a healthcare professional before taking high doses of inositol is essential, particularly if taking other medications or supplements.

Drug Interactions and Inositol Supplements

 

Inositol supplements may interact with some medications, including serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and lithium. Therefore, it is essential to speak with a healthcare professional before taking inositol supplements if you are taking any medications.

Inositol and Magnesium: A Powerful Duo for Mental Health

 

When inositol and magnesium are taken together, they offer a complementary approach to mental health. Inositol's mood-regulating properties and magnesium's relaxation and focus-enhancing effects can work synergistically. The benefits of myo-inositol  with magnesium serve to calm the brain. 

This combination can be particularly beneficial for those experiencing a mix of symptoms like anxiety, mood swings, sleep disturbances, and attention difficulties. The supplement inositol and magnesium can be added to one's bedtime routine to help lower stress and anxiety. 

Natural Relief for Mental Health Conditions: Supplements 

 

Supplements for clinical conditions such as anxiety, ADHD, OCD, etc., are being used more because they can be an effective and safe alternative to dangerous medications. 

Even though we consider medications for clinical conditions such as anxiety disorders or ADHD safe, they can have severe and dangerous side effects, especially for a child's or teen's developing brain. That is why it is crucial to understand and use natural remedies to calm the brain. 

Natural solutions and supplements like inositol can help support mental health. As a result, it has gained attention for its potential therapeutic effects on various mental health conditions, including OCD, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders.  While more research is needed, the available evidence suggests that inositol may effectively reduce symptoms of these conditions.

If you want more guidance on using natural solutions, join our FREE FB Community, Natural Parenting Solutions or listen to this podcast on where to get started with natural solutions, to get the proper guidance from the leading expert in integrative children's and family mental health, Dr. Roseann

Parent Action Steps 

 
  • To learn more about inositol for mental health, listen to Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge on Everyday Wellness with Cynthia Thurlow
  • Consult with a qualified healthcare professional to assess your child’s situation
  • Choose reputable brands or sources when purchasing an inositol supplement 
  • Keep a journal to track any changes in mental health symptoms or improvements 
  • Encourage a balanced lifestyle with a nutritious diet, exercise, and sleep 
  • Practice patience and consistency
  • Focus on anxiety coping skills
  • Know more about Dr. Roseann’s Neurotastic™ Multi-Mag Brain™ Formula
  • Take the Solutions Matcher to get personalized help for your child 

Citations:

Costa Dias M, Gallate JE, Feinberg I. Sleep deprivation affects arousability and decreases intracellular available magnesium. Sleep. 1992;15(2):141-143. doi: 10.1093/sleep/15.2.141

Einat H, Belmaker RH. The effects of inositol treatment in animal models of psychiatric disorders. J Affect Disord. 2001;62(1-2):113-121. doi: 10.1016/s0165-0327(00)00344-8

Fux, M., Levine, J., & Aviv, A. (1996). Inositol treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry, 153(9), 1219-1221. doi: 10.1176/ajp.153.9.1219

Fux, M., Benjamin, J., & Belmaker, R. H. (2001). Inositol in obsessive-compulsive disorder: A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 35(4), 193-197. doi: 10.1016/S0022-3956(01)00025-2

Jazaieri, H., Goldin, P. R., Werner, K., Ziv, M., & Gross, J. J. (2019). A randomized trial of inositol's effects on mood and cognitive biases in individuals with bipolar disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 245, 645-652. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.11.089

Levine, J., Barak, Y., Gonzalves, M., Szor, H., Elizur, A., & Kofman, O. (1995). Double-blind, controlled trial of inositol treatment of depression. American Journal of Psychiatry, 152(5), 792-794. doi: 10.1176/ajp.152.5.792

Levine J, Barak Y, Kofman O, Belmaker RH. Follow-up and relapse analysis of an inositol study of depression. Isr J Psychiatry Relat Sci. 2000;37(4):251-256. PMID: 11110292

Marazziti, D., Baroni, S., Picchetti, M., Piccinni, A., Silvestri, S., & Dell'Osso, L. (2000). Inositol and eating disorders. European Psychiatry, 15(5), 305-308.doi: 10.1016/S0924-9338(00)00513-6

Marazziti D, Dell’Osso B, Baroni S, et al. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of inositol in the treatment of panic disorder. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2000;155(2):133-136. doi: 10.1007/s002130000340

Mukai T, Kishi T, Matsuda Y, et al. A meta-analysis of inositol for depression and anxiety disorders. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2014;29(1):55-63. doi: 10.1002/hup.2379

Nordio M, Proietti E. The combined therapy myo-inositol plus D-chiro-inositol, in a physiological ratio, reduces the cardiovascular risk by improving the lipid profile in PCOS patients. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2012;16(5):575-581. PMID: 22774396

Palatnik A, Frolov K, Fux M, Benjamin J. A double-blind, controlled, crossover study of inositol in alternate-day versus continuous dosing regimens for panic disorder. Am J Psychiatry. 1996;153(9):1219-1221.doi: 10.1176/ajp.153.9.12197

Palatnik A, Frolov K, Fux M, Benjamin J. Double-blind, controlled, crossover trial of inositol versus fluvoxamine for the treatment of panic disorder. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2001;21(3):335-339.doi: 10.1097/00004714-200106000-00008

Papaleo E, Unfer V, Baillargeon JP, et al. Myo-inositol in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome: a novel method for ovulation induction. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2007;23(12):700-703. doi: 10.1080/09513590701743633

Papaleo, E., Unfer, V., Baillargeon, J. P., & Chiu, T. T. (2007). Contribution of myo-inositol to reproduction. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 129(2), 125-131. doi: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2006.06.026

Romano G, Polisca P, Giampietro O. Inositol treatment of anorexia nervosa. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 1997;1(1):31-33. PMID: 11261617

Seedat, S., Stein, D. J., & Berk, M. (2001). Inositol in the treatment of panic disorder and agoraphobia. Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, 21(3), 335-339. doi: 10.1097/00004714-200106000-00015 

Always remember… “Calm Brain, Happy Family™”

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Dr. Roseann is a Children’s Mental Health Expert and Licensed Therapist who has been featured in/on hundreds of media outlets including The Mel Robbins Show, CBS, NBC, PIX11 NYC, Today, FORBES, CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Business Insider, Women’s Day, Healthline, CNET, Parade Magazine and PARENTS. FORBES called her, “A thought leader in children’s mental health.

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She coined the terms, “Re-entry panic syndrome” and “eco-anxiety” and is a frequent contributor to media on mental health. 

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge has three decades of experience in working with children, teens and their families with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, concussion, dyslexia and learning disability, anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), depression and mood disorder, Lyme Disease, and PANS/PANDAS using science-backed natural mental health solutions such as supplements, magnesium, nutrition, QEEG Brain maps, neurofeedback, PEMF, psychotherapy and other non-medication approaches. 

She is the author of three bestselling books, It’s Gonna Be OK!: Proven Ways to Improve Your Child's Mental Health, The Teletherapy Toolkit, and Brain Under Attack. Dr. Roseann is known for offering a message of hope through science-endorsed methods that promote a calm brain. 

Her trademarked BrainBehaviorResetⓇ Program and It’s Gonna be OK!Ⓡ Podcast has been a cornerstone for thousands of parents facing mental health, behavioral or neurodevelopmental challenges.

She is the founder and director of The Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health, Neurotastic™Brain Formulas and Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, LLC. Dr. Roseann is a Board Certified Neurofeedback (BCN) Practitioner, a Board Member of the Northeast Region Biofeedback Society (NRBS), Certified Integrative Mental Health Professional (CIMHP) and an Amen Clinic Certified Brain Health Coach.  She is also a member of The International Lyme Disease and Associated Disease Society (ILADS), The American Psychological Association (APA), Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), International OCD Foundation (IOCDF).

© Roseann-Capanna-Hodge, LLC 2023

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to give health advice and it is recommended to consult with a physician before beginning any new wellness regime. *The effectiveness of diagnosis and treatment vary by patient and condition. Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge, LLC does not guarantee certain results.

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