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Wayne L. Klein, PhD

Neuropsychological Assessment of Children & Adults; Couples & Individual Psychotherapy Offices in Franklin, MA & Spaulding Center for Children, Sandwich, MA
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Self-Regulation.com
There are several nutritional approaches to the management of Bipolar Disorder with varying degrees of scientific validity. The most controversial is the use of a vitamin and mineral supplement for the treatment of Bipolar Disorder. This website is NOT endorsing this approach, but I do believe that the public has the right to be aware of this approach, which has some clinical support.

The use of omega 3 fatty acids (cold water fish oil) is less radical, and makes milder claims. Bipolar Disorder is sometimes treated with anti-seizure medications. Since there are reports of the use of omega 3 fatty acids in the management of seizure activity, this may be the mechanism by which fish oil is helpful (if or when if it is helpful) in the management of Bipolar Disorder. However, it may be that omega 3 is helpful only with depression. Only more research will tell.

The amino acid, taurine, has also been used in the management of Bipolar Disorder, especially the manic phase, with controlled clinical trials now underway. Taurine has been reported to have anti-seizure and anti-anxiety activity.

Choline has been reported to have successfully treated mania. This has led to the suggestion that lecithin (which contains choline compounds as well as inositol) be used as an aide in the treatment of Bipolar Disorder. However, some reports suggest that energy drinks can induce states of mania; these reports cite the drinks' caffeine and inositol content as possible causes.

There are also individual case reports of mania in association with B12 deficiency.

There are claims (backed by clinical data) that mania can be treated with tryptophan; however, this appears counterintuitive (and dangerous) since tryptophan is the precursor for serotonin and elevated serotonin (via antidepressants) has been strongly shown to produce mania in susceptible individuals.

In addition, there are nutritional interventions used for the elevation of mood in unipolar depression such as folic acid, a B vitamin and S-adenosylmethionine., better known as SAM-e. SAM-e runs the risk of producing mania in people suffering from Bipolar Disorder. Any possible effect of folic acid is unknown.

Scientific study of all of these approaches is extremely important because current psychiatric medications are far from ideal treatments.

In addition, keep in mind that pursuit of a purely biological treatment is probably folly. Stress and other psychological factors contribute to the expression or amelioration of Bipolar Disorder as witnessed by the effectiveness of psychotherapy in assisting in the management of Bipolar Disorder, the role of stress in inducing episodes and by the strong role of placebo in the effectiveness of interventions.