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Natural remedies for bipolar disorder

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Herbs for bipolar disorderNatural remedies that cause maniaInteractioonsBipolar disorder treatmentSummary
Natural strategies that help manage bipolar disorder may include omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, Coenzyme Q10, and regular physical activity. However, these do not replace professional support.
Medically reviewed by Ericka Goodwin, MD, DFAPA
Written by Uxshely Carcamo
Updated on

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition characterized by sudden changes in your mood and energy levels.

Bipolar disorder often involves periods of euphoria and high energy (mania) and periods of low mood and fatigue (depression).

Treatment of bipolar disorder may involve a mix of strategies, including medication, psychotherapy, and lifestyle changes. 

In addition to professional support, some people with bipolar disorder may find that natural remedies, such as herbs, can be effective.

Do supplements and herbs help with bipolar disorder symptoms? 

Pile of supplements used as natural remedies for bipolar disorder
Raymond Forbes LLC/Stocksy United

Research is limited and inconclusive on the benefits of natural remedies for bipolar disorder. Still, some herbs, nutrients, and supplements may help some people.

It’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional before taking herbs or supplements. For one, the United States does not overly regulate natural remedies. This may lead to safety concerns. On the other hand, some supplements may interact with prescription drugs, lowering their efficacy.

Research suggests these natural remedies and supplements may complement bipolar disorder treatment. 

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil and fatty fish like salmon may help boost your mood. They can also reduce depression symptoms if you have bipolar disorder.

2022 review found symptom improvement in people with bipolar disorder after nutritional supplementation, including omega-3.

According to the review authors, omega-3 may also lower the chances of cardiovascular disease in people with metabolic syndrome, common among those with bipolar disorder.

Probiotics

Some evidence suggests that taking a probiotic supplement may reduce the frequency and reoccurrence of episodes of mania. 

Probiotics are microorganisms that help restore gut health. Some research suggests gut health is associated with ideal overall and mental health.

Natural probiotics include yogurt, sauerkraut, and miso.

N-acetylcysteine (NAC)

NAC is an amino acid that may be converted into antioxidants in your body. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Antioxidants counteract and prevent free radicals, often associated with chronic diseases like cancer.

Some research indicates NAC may also help improve depression symptoms in people with bipolar disorder. More studies are needed to confirm these results.  

You can find NAC in high protein foods like meats and eggs. Supplements may require some caution because of their potential effects on the liver. Before taking these supplements, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional.

Coenzyme Q10 (Coq10)

Coq10 is a compound produced naturally in the body. You can also take it in a supplement form. 

Research suggests that Coq10 may help manage bipolar disorder symptoms, particularly if you take it with probiotics. 

Folic acid (Vitamin B9) 

Folic acid is a B vitamin that you can take in supplement form or from eating foods like leafy greens, eggs, and liver.

Some evidence suggests that increasing folic acid, together with other vitamins and minerals, may improve the symptoms of bipolar disorder. More studies are needed to determine its solo effects on the condition. 

Inositol 

2021 review suggests that taking inositol may help counteract the side effects of lithium, a prescription medication often used to treat bipolar disorder. 

It’s important to consult a healthcare professional before including inositol in your routine. If you’re taking any type of medication or have specific health conditions, a healthcare professional may need to assess the dosage, frequency, and time of the day.

Can natural remedies cause episodes of mania?

Researchers have not yet established the cause of bipolar disorder. They think it may be a combination of:

  • genetics
  • life experiences
  • environmental factors
  • chemical processes in the body

Although limited, some research suggests that a few natural remedies may help improve depression symptoms. But these remedies may also trigger or increase the chance of episodes of mania. These include:

  • St John’s Wort: For some people, this herb may help lower depression symptoms. But research from 2005 indicates that the herb may worsen symptoms of mania and psychosis in some people with bipolar disorder. It may also reduce the effectiveness of prescription medications. 
  • S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e): This is a substance that the body naturally produces. It’s available in supplement form and may improve depression symptoms. But some research suggests it may cause mania in some people. 
  • Ginseng: Ginseng is often used as an energy booster, which some people with depression may find beneficial. However, its stimulating effects have been associated with a higher chance of mania.
  • High dose caffeine products: Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, energy drinks, and some supplements. High doses of caffeine may interfere with sleep and cause anxiety symptoms in people with bipolar disorder.

Do natural remedies interact with bipolar disorder medications?

Some supplements, including herbs, may reduce the effect of prescription medications. Others may increase the chance of liver toxicity.

To avoid side effects, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional before taking any natural remedies for bipolar disorder.

For example, St. John’s Wort may make mood-stabilizing medications less effective

Herbal supplements and certain vitamins also often interact with medications used to treat bipolar disorder. 

How is bipolar disorder treated? 

Treatment of bipolar disorder may involve psychotherapy, lifestyle changes, and medication. 

Medication

Medications for bipolar disorder may include:

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Talk therapy

Different types of psychotherapy may help you manage symptoms of bipolar disorder, including: 

Lifestyle changes 

Lifestyle changes may be the most effective natural remedy for bipolar disorder. Lifestyle changes can support professional treatment and improve your symptoms in a timely manner.

Some of these may include:

  • building routines around meal and sleep times
  • getting regular physical activity like dancing, cycling, swimming, walking, or running
  • focusing on a nutrient-dense diet 
  • reducing caffeine and alcohol intake (if applicable) to improve sleep quality 
  • keeping a journal of how you’re feeling so that you can identify triggers
  • spending quality time with loved ones and educating them on bipolar disorder
  • engaging in self-care strategies like relaxation exercises, positive self-talk, and playtime 

Summary

Natural remedies like herbs, supplements, physical activity, and a nutrient-dense diet may help manage symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, and Coq10 may improve your mood.

Natural remedies may cause side effects and interfere with medications. It’s important to consult a healthcare professional before taking supplements and herbs. 

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