Bipolar disorder, also called 'bipolar affective disorder' and 'manic depression', is a serious mood disorder affecting about one in every 100 people . The mood can be excessively high (mania) or very low (depression).
This is different from the mood changes you may have say when feeling very happy or excited when something good happens, or sad or stressed related to upsetting events . With bipolar disorder the feelings continue and effect relationships, daily activities and can at an extreme, cause the person to lose touch with reality (psychosis) .
There are a number of naturopathic interventions that can help, including changes in diet, lifestyle changes, nutritional supplements and herbal medicine. However, it is very important that if you are currently taking medication you do not stop the medication without consultation with your doctor. Some people with bipolar disorder are able in time to manage without pharmaceutical medication but this normally takes a long time, and some find that continuing medication and natural supports is the best way to health.
Supplements and medication
You don't have to stop medication for nutritional supplements or dietary changes to help. A study was carried out in 2009 of nearly 90 people in the mania or high phase of bipolar disorder. Half of the people were given folic acid supplements alongside their medication (sodium valproate), the other half continued taking the same without folic acid. The symptoms of mania decreased significantly more in the people taking folic acid .
High homocysteine and bipolar disorder
High levels of homocysteine have been found to be present in a number of chronic disease states, such as metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. People with bipolar disorder are more likely than most to have both of these physical conditions. So it comes as no surprise that people with bipolar disorder and metabolic syndrome or cardiovascular disease often have high homocysteine levels, however, people who have bipolar disorder without these physical problems have high homocysteine levels too . An investigation into problems that occur when homocysteine levels are high in people who have bipolar disorder was undertaken on over 100 people. The people with bipolar disorder, who were older, or had a later onset of the condition, and those taking more medication had higher homocysteine levels .
B Vitamins Reduce Homocysteine
Homocysteine can be reduced with B vitamins; and it is possible this could improve thought processes and the way the brain functions . The B vitamins that have been shown by numerous studies to reduce homocysteine levels are vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folic acid (also a B vitamin).
More reasons that B Vitamins are Important in Bipolar Disorder
The B vitamins can also help bipolar disorder symptoms even when the homocysteine levels are not high. Research recently has shown the importance of folates commonly known as folic acid, and vitamin B12 [2, 5, 6]. Part of the problem may be that people who have bipolar disorder also have an inbuilt problem with the way the body take in folate (folic acid); they may have a genetic problem which makes it hard for their bodies to use folic acid .
Vitamin B complex
By taking a number of B vitamins together, each individual B vitamin works better; so take B vitamins as a Vitamin B complex. When I use supplements I recommend the Entire Katoa Food State range for their optimum absorption, low dose and low toxicity.
Other nutrients also help people suffering from bipolar disorder. Many studies have shown how important the omega 3 fats are, especially during the depressive phases, and can help decrease the reoccurrence of illness [8-13]. Fish is an excellent source of omega 3 fats; and in areas where a lot of seafood is eaten, less people have bipolar disorders . Magnesium [15, 16] and zinc [17, 18] may also be helpful. Depending on an individual's needs, there may be a number of nutrients that are low that could increase the likelihood of episodes of bipolar disorder in those affected [15, 16].
Contact Bay Health Clinic today to find out more or to book a consultation with one of our Naturopaths; if needed they will also prepare tailored herbal medicines and recommend supplements to help you feel your best. Call 07 571 3226 or email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Behzadi AH, Omrani Z, Chalian M, Asadi S, Ghadiri M: Folic acid efficacy as an alternative drug added to sodium valproate in the treatment of acute phase of mania in bipolar disorder: a double-blind randomized controlled trial. Acta Psychiatr Scand 2009, 120(6):441-445. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19392814
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