Inositol has been used in a variety of psychiatric conditions. There is evidence that it can be helpful in obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, and panic disorder. It has been tested in schizophrenia however the results were not promising.
Inositol is an important part of any cell membrane. It makes up a part of the messenger system that is linked to serotonin and norepinephrine receptors. Serotonin and norepinephrine are both linked to psychiatric disorders.
OCD is an anxiety disorder marked by repeated unwanted thoughts, ideas, and behaviors that lead the sufferer to do something. We have the obsession, which is the thoughts, which lead to the action (compulsion). In one study OCD patients were treated with 18 grams per day of inositol for a 6 week trial. The patients showed a significant improvement after the 6 weeks. I’ve talked to a psychiatrist who uses this treatment in patients who cannot tolerate the side effects of SSRI medications.
The cerebrospinal fluid has decreased levels of inositol in patients who show signs of depression. As a result, researchers decided to study inositol for the treatment of depression. The study found that 12 grams daily of inositol is more effective than a placebo in reducing depression scores at week 4. It has been reported however that the depression appears to recur once the inositol has been discontinued.
Panic disorder is another anxiety disorder. The person who suffers from panic disorder fears something bad will occur even though it is not expected. The person lives with an intense fear that something bad will happen. A study compared the results of using the SSRI fluvoxamine to 18 grams of inositol daily. In the first month of the study inositol was more effective than fluvoxamine in reducing panic attacks.
Inositol has been used safely with few side effects at 18 grams for up to 4 weeks. However because there is little information on use during pregnancy and lactation it should be avoided in those circumstances. It may interfere with absorption of minerals. It can also cause some abdominal distress in large dosages.
Inositol dissolves in water easily and large dosages can easily be taken in a glass of water or juice. It has a slightly sweet flavor and a pleasant taste. Inositol, while not expensive, does require large doses to get to 18 grams. Expect one 8 oz. bottle to give you about a 12 days’ supply.
While all the articles that reported inositol to work well for OCD, depression and panic disorder recommend further study, there is still a paucity of recent studies on inositol. While inositol compared well the SSRI antidepressant there has been a great deal of research developing and expanding SSRIs and adapting their use to other conditions and at the same time ignoring the development of inositol. The politics and financial realities of science are often not in favor of natural products even if they can be less costly and more effective.