Inositol, a nutrient that is available as a supplement, has been shown to reduce symptoms of panic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) but did not reduce overall anxiety symptoms, according to a 2007 report, Herbal and Dietary Supplements for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders, published in the American Family Physician. According to the report, patients taking inositol supplements indicated symptoms of OCD were reduced more than those patients taking a placebo. Neither group showed a significant reduction of overall anxiety symptoms. Interestingly, when inositol was given to patients who were already taking SSRIs, there were no additional benefits shown; in other words, inositol had no effect on people taking SSRIs.
This supplement may also help patients with trichotillomania according to Dr. Fred Penzel, who has used this supplement for some of his patients. A article he wrote, Inositol and Trichotillomania explains his experience in using this supplement to help his patients.
Inositol, sometimes referred to as vitamin B8, is thought to be used by our bodies to:
- Reducing collection of fats in the liver
- Promotes healthy hair growth
- Helps process nutrients into energy
- Helps maintain a healthy metabolism
- Individuals with a deficiency in inositol may experience problems such as:
- High cholesterol
- Problems with vision
- Hair loss
A number of foods contain inositol:
- Cereals high in bran
- Red beans (especially kidney beans)
- Oranges and cantaloupes
Some energy drinks contain inositol, however most only have such a small amount that you would need to drink hundreds of energy drinks per day to get any benefit.
Possible Side Effects and Interactions of Inositol
- The most common side effects from inositol are gas and diarrhea. Usually side effects last for a short period of time as your body adjusts and then disappear. Some people never experience any adverse side effects or only have mild discomfort.
- Inositol should not be taken with lithium as it seems to interfere with the effectiveness of lithium.
- Dr. Penzel also indicates that caffeine may lower inositol in the body, therefore caffeine consumption should be limited.
As with all supplements, vitamins and other medication, you should talk with your doctor before taking inositol.
For more information on dietary and herbal supplements:
“Herbal and Dietary Supplements for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders,” 2007, Aug 15, Sy Atezaz Saeed, Richard M. Bloch, Diana J. Antonacci, American Family Physician, pp: 549-556
“Inositol and Trichotillomania,” 1997, 2008, Fred Penzel, Ph.D. Trichotillomania Learning Center
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.