Original title: Nutritional therapies for mental disorders

Authors: Lakhan SE, Vieira KF

Source: DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-7-2

Note: This scientific study is freely accessible to everyone and has been translated into German by me. The emphasis is mine.

Although this study dates back to 2008, in my view it has lost none of its topicality. The authors work at the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation, Los Angeles, CA, USA.

They describe that “the incidence of mental disorders in industrialized countries is increasing with the deterioration of Western dietary habits. Previous studies have shown that nutritional deficiencies are linked to some mental disorders. Essential vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids in particular are often deficient in the general population of America and other industrialized countries; the deficiency is particularly high in patients suffering from mental disorders.

The most common nutritional deficiencies in patients with mental disorders concern omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, minerals and amino acids, which are precursors of neurotransmitters.

Numerous studies have been published on bipolar disorder, listing specific lifestyle changes and amounts of supplements that can be used to treat this disorder. Here is the summary of suggested causes and treatments for bipolar disorder:

Proposed cause Treatment
Excess acetylcholine receptors Lithium orotate and taurine
Excess vanadium Vitamin C
Vitamin B / folate deficiency Vitamin B / Folate
L-tryptophan deficiency L-tryptophan
Choline deficiency Lecithin
Omega-3 deficiency Omega-3 fatty acids

Today, nutritional therapies are a long-forgotten treatment method, as they were of no interest to pharmaceutical companies that could not patent or own them. There is great resistance from doctors to the use of dietary supplements for treatment, mainly due to their lack of knowledge in this area. Others prefer to use prescription drugs that are researched, monitored and, if necessary, recalled by the drug manufacturers and the FDA. However, for some patients, prescription medications do not have the effectiveness of supplements, and they sometimes have far more dangerous side effects. So when doctors forgo supplement therapies out of ignorance and unwillingness to use treatments that are not supported by drug companies and the FDA, they are jeopardizing their patients’ recovery through their own laziness or selfishness.

Studies have shown that the daily intake of vital nutrients is often effective in alleviating patients’ symptoms. Many of these studies were carried out in the 1970s and 1980s, but were soon discontinued because they were not sufficiently funded. Supplements containing amino acids also reduce symptoms as they are converted into neurotransmitters that alleviate depression and other mental disorders. Based on new scientific findings, this form of treatment with dietary supplements could be suitable for treating severe depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders, eating disorders, attention deficit/attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD), addiction and autism. ” (Excerpts from the summary and conclusions)

Here are excerpts from the section on bipolar disorder:

Biochemical abnormalities in people with bipolar disorder include hypersensitivity to acetylcholine, excess vanadium, vitamin B deficiency, taurine deficiency, anemia, omega-3 fatty acid deficiency and vitamin C deficiency.

Bipolar patients tend to have an excess of acetylcholine receptors, which is one of the main causes of depression and mania [42,43]. Bipolar patients also produce elevated vanadium levels, which cause mania, depression and melancholy [44,45]. However, it has been shown that vitamin C can protect the body from the damage caused by excess vanadium. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study in which elevated vanadium levels were controlled showed that a single dose of 3 g vitamin C reduced manic symptoms compared to placebo [45].

Taurine is an amino acid that is produced in the liver from cysteine and is known to have a calming effect on the brain. A deficiency of this amino acid can intensify the manic episodes of a bipolar patient. In addition, eighty percent of people with bipolar disorder have some degree of vitamin B deficiency (which is often accompanied by anemia) [46]. The combination of essential vitamin supplements with the body’s own supply of lithium reduces the depressive and manic symptoms of patients with bipolar disorder [47].

Another known factor in mental disorders is that the cells in the brain need omega-3 oils to transmit signals that enable proper thinking, moods and feelings. However, most Americans and people with bipolar disorder often have very low levels of omega-3 fatty acids [48]. Numerous clinical trials have been conducted, including double-blind, placebo-controlled studies, showing that 1 to 2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids in the form of EPA added to daily intake relieves manic/depressive symptoms better than placebo (see table Table11).

Prescription lithium is administered in the form of lithium carbonate and can be taken in a dose of up to 180 mg. It is these high doses that are responsible for most of the undesirable side effects of lithium. Some of the most common side effects are a dulled personality, reduced emotions, memory loss, tremors or weight gain [5,6]. Another form of lithium, lithium orotate, is preferred because the orotate ion can cross the blood-brain barrier more easily than the carbonate ion of lithium carbonate. Therefore, lithium orotate can be used at much lower doses (e.g. 5 mg) with remarkable results and without side effects [49,50]. Clinical studies with a daily dose of 150 mg lithium orotate administered 4 to 5 times a week showed a reduction in manic and depressive symptoms in bipolar patients [50]. In addition, unlike lithium carbonate, which is classified as a prescription drug by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), lithium orotate is available over the counter. Studies have also shown that the amino acid derivative taurine, as an alternative to lithium, blocks the effects of excess acetylcholine, which contributes to bipolar disorder [51].

You can read the full text translated into German here.