Inositol for Anxiety

Anxiety if a psychological condition that can cause physical signs and symptoms. Although anxiety is a normal response to stress, it can become difficult to deal with, especially if it interferes with daily functioning. If you suffer from anxiety, you may feel tired, overwhelmed, restless and irritable. You may also become unable to sleep, and suffer from muscle tension or headaches. Fortunately, treatment for anxiety is available. Some people choose to take prescription medications to alleviate anxiety symptoms, while others choose to take natural supplements, including inositol. Before taking inositol, speak with your physician to discuss possible side effects or interactions.

Supplements in a brown bottle (Image: ArthitOnline/iStock/Getty Images)

Inositol

Inositol is a naturally occurring compound necessary for proper cell formation, nerve transmission and transportation of fats in the body. Inositol may also affect the action of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Levels of serotonin play a role in depression and anxiety. Most people are not deficient in inositol, which is found in beans, nuts, cantaloupe and wheat, but in in a 1995 double-blind study by the Ministry of Mental Health at Ben Gurion University, published in the "Journal of Clinical Psychology," inositol has shown to be an effective treatment for anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic disorder.

Dosage

The normal recommended dosage for inositol is 500 mgs two times day; however, to treat anxiety, panic disorder and OCD, you should take 12 to 18 g per day. The American Family Physician recommends that you not take inositol if you are taking an SSRI antidepressant for OCD.

Efficacy

In the study by the Ministry of Mental Health Center at Ben Gurion University, the efficacy of 18 g a day of inositol was similar to fluvoxamine, a prescription antidepressant, in patients with anxiety disorders. During the first month, inositol reduced panic attacks by four, compared with fluvoxamine, which reduced panic attacks by 2.4. Patients reported side effects of nausea and fatigue with fluvoxamine. Patients who are reluctant to take psychiatric medications may benefit from inositol, which causes very few side effects because it is a naturally occurring compound.

Side Effects

Because it is water-soluble, inositol does not produce toxic side effects. Most people tolerate inositol without any problems, but when taken in large doses, you may experience diarrhea, headache, fatigue and dizziness. As your body adjusts to inositol, these side effects should lessen or cease. Before taking inositol, always check with your doctor to minimize reactions with other medication you may be taking. Inositol can stimulate uterine contractions and is contraindicated in pregnant women.

Considerations

Studies have not been performed that discuss long-term effects of inositol. Even with a dosage 18 times the recommended daily intake, no serious side effects have been reported, states Baptist Health Systems. Patients with anxiety who also have bipolar disorder should consult a doctor before using inositol since inositol has triggered manic episodes in some people with bipolar disorder.

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