Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is an anxiety-based disorder that impacts over two million Americans in a given year. Onset of symptoms can occur in childhood, adolescence or adulthood, says the National Institute of Mental Health. OCD is characterized by repetitive and irrational thoughts often related to self-contamination, harm of loved ones or sexual preoccupation. Distress from persistent thoughts results in ritualistic behaviors, or compulsions, to alleviate the anxiety or lack of control felt by the obsessions. Rituals commonly include excessive counting, washing or checking but the compulsive acts vary per individual. Traditional treatment for OCD involves use of anti-anxiety medications and/or anti-depressants and psychotherapy. Alternative or adjunct treatment may include vitamin and/or supplement therapy.
Get an evaluation and discuss use of supplements with your physician. Over-the-counter supplements and alternative treatments can interact with your prescribed medications. Before including supplements, talk to your physician to determine safety for your condition and specific symptoms.
Add a multivitamin to your daily nutrition. Multivitamins give you additional nutrients from the 13 essential vitamins, which can reduce the incidence of anxiety attacks experienced. Eat a well-balanced diet and take the standard dose multivitamin once a day.
Brew an herbal tea to calm your nerves. The herbs chamomile, valerian and skullcap calm the nervous system and increase your chance of restful sleep. Buy your choice of one of the herbs dried to make a tea or take it in capsule form each night before bed. Do not blend the herbs. Pick one and use it consistently per label instructions. The University of Michigan Health System notes that the standard dose of chamomile steeped as a tea taken three times a day reduces anxious thoughts.
Include a daily fish oil supplement into your diet. Fish oil supplements contain eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, an essential fatty acid important for your nervous system to improve thoughts associated with OCD and regulate the brain chemical serotonin. Depression and anxiety symptoms are impacted by low serotonin levels. The dose can vary depending on symptoms but 3g per day is typical in over-the-counter supplements. Fish oil capsules can be used in addition to other supplements; however, consult your physician before taking fish oil to determine dosage and safety.
Add high-dose inositol supplements with physician supervision. Inositol is one of the B vitamins. The B group of vitamins are essential for nervous system health and to regulate or increase serotonin levels. According to the Nutrition Journal, supplements that increase serotonin levels helps to reduce OCD symptoms. Inositol in high doses taken daily at 4 to 6g three times a day reduces symptoms. Do not mix or take additional inositol supplements without physician supervision due to possible side effects.
Start a St. John's wort daily supplement. St. John's wort contains the active ingredient hypericin, which reduces anxiety and depression symptoms. This supplement has known drug interactions with various prescription medications or other supplements and should not be taken without physician consent. Refer to product label instructions for proper dosage.
Eat fish like salmon or tuna twice a week as an alternative to fish oil supplements. Review dietary intake recommendations for proper dosing of individual or multivitamins.
You can take some supplements together like fish oil, multivitamins and herbal tea, but refer to product cautions before doing so to prevent interactions.
Supplements can cause prescription drug interactions and side effects. Do not begin supplement treatment for OCD without physician consent.
- University of Michigan Health System: Anxiety: Alternative Medicine
- Nutrition Journal: Nutritional therapies for mental disorders; Shaheen E. Lakhan and Karen F. Vieira; January 2008
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes
- HolisticOnline.com: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Alternative Therapies
- Association for Comprehensive Neurotherapy: Natural Treatments to Relieve Anxiety and OCD