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Inositol for Anxiety & Mood

Inositol may help manage mood & anxiety disorders

 

Depression and anxiety can take many forms and do not discriminate against any particular group of people. This blog post will focus on Inositol’s role as a secondary messenger and how it is involved in relaying information between brain cells. Also, how inositol supplements may potentially increase the effectiveness of dopamine and serotonin neurotransmitters in the brain, helping Neuropathy patients to manage symptoms of depression and anxiety, so that they can better manage their other symptoms.

Neuropathy Sufferers often develop related depression and anxiety.
Image Source: Ulrike Mai from pixabay

What is Inositol and how does it affect serotonin and dopamine:

While Inositol is often thought of as a vitamin, “it is actually a sugar that has several important functions” (1). “Inositol occurs naturally in foods such as fruits, beans, grains and nuts, and it can also be produced in the body from the carbohydrates that we get from foods” (1). Inositol is a secondary messenger, so it can help brain cells to communicate with one another. Dopamine and serotonin are two neurotransmitters that are produced in the brain. These neurotransmitters rely on inositol to relay the information that these neurotransmitters contain to other parts of the brain (3). For example, after a good, productive work out the body will send signals to the brain for the increased production of dopamine. Dopamine is produced in a certain part the brain (ventral tegmental area) and is then relayed to other parts of the brain (3), such as the area responsible for forming memories (hippocampus), which will create a memory associating the increased dopamine level with the productive work out. Therefore, inositol acts like an individual that connects a call between two other people. In this way, it helps brain cells to communicate with one another (3).

Inositol distributes dopamine in the brain supporting better mental states
Image Source: Darius Vladeanu – CNA

How it can help Neuropathy patients with anxiety:

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is involved in regulating mood, and it affects the sleep cycle, appetite & digestion, and more (4). Inositol is believed to improve the effectiveness of serotonin neurotransmitters, therefore, researchers have explored the possibility of using inositol supplements to improve symptoms in individuals with conditions affecting serotonin and the brain, such as panic disorder (4). In one study of 20 patients with panic disorder, it was found that “18 grams of inositol each day reduced the number of weekly panic attacks by 4” (4). A feasible conclusion is that inositol supplements can increase the effectiveness of serotonin neurotransmitters, which can help to stabilize the mood in individuals with anxiety. However, the small amounts of research are not enough to discern whether inositol treatments are a viable option (4). In fact, some researchers are still questioning whether inositol is an effective treatment for anxiety disorders (4). It is important to note that the dosage used in this study is very high and anyone thinking about inositol as a possible treatment for anxiety disorders should consult their doctor first.

How inositol can help Neuropathy patients with depression:

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is typically associated with feelings of reward, motivation and pleasure. However, low levels of dopamine are seen in individuals with depression, in fact, research suggests that “there is an association between diabetic neuropathy and depressive symptoms” (2). Because inositol is believed to increases the effectiveness of dopamine neurotransmitters, researchers have also explored the possibility of using inositol supplements to improve symptoms in individuals with depression. In one study it was found that “12 grams of inositol per day taken for four weeks can reduce symptoms of depression relative to a placebo” (4). In another small study, it was found that “6 grams per day improved depression in 9 of 11 participants” (4). These studies suggest that inositol works to increase the effectiveness of dopamine neurotransmitters to improve mood in people experiencing depression symptoms. However, there is other research showing that “adding inositol to standard medication for depression does not improve symptoms more than the medication alone” (4). Moreover, inositol has not been proved to be “effective in reducing depression in those who previously failed to respond to standard medication” (4). While some research seems promising, many studies still need to be replicated and more extensive research still needs to be conducted. The small quantities of research that suggest inositol as a possible supplement for individuals with depression and anxiety symptoms should be approached with healthy scepticism. 

Key take-aways:

While inositol supplements may help to manage depression and anxiety symptoms, studies still need to be replicated and more extensive research needs to be done. Therefore, readers should approach research pertaining to this topic with healthy skepticism. It is also worthwhile to note that the most important self-management activity for individuals with neuropathy is to manage the underlying condition.


References:

  1. Healthline website. “Inositol: Benefits, Side Effects and Dosage”. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/inositol
  2. American Diabetes Association website. “Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy and Depressive Symptoms”. https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/28/10/2378
  3. Khan academy. Reward pathway in the brain. https://www.khanacademy.org/science/in-in-class-12-biology-india/xc09ed98f7a9e671b:in-in-human-health-and-disease/xc09ed98f7a9e671b:in-in-addiction-and-dependence/v/reward-pathway-in-the-brain
  4. Health line. Serotonin deficiency: What we do and don’t know. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/inositol-benefits#TOC_TITLE_HDR_5
  5. Pixabay website. https://pixabay.com/photos/holzfigur-stones-life-struggle-980784/
Food for thought…

We can’t do it alone

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