Inositol--Vitamin B8--has been found to reduce depression, hostility, tension and fatigue. It is a folk remedy for anxiety and sadness. Inositol has been shown in very small studies to be helpful for depression and panic disorder, and promising for treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders and bipolar disorder. Research has not yet shown any adjunctive benefit when inositol is used with psychotropic drugs. Inositol is a part of our diet, and supplementation seems benign. The risk is minimal.
Mental Health Implications
Depression and Panic Disorder
All four sources that discuss it support use of inositol for depression and panic disorder. Writing in Mischoulon and Rosenbaum's compendium, Belmaker and Levine propose inositol as a stand-alone supplement for depression and panic disorder rather than as a complement for other psychotropic drugs, noting responses in the same people and no proven additional benefit from using both drugs in combination. But in a 2011 analysis that included Mischoulon as a participant, Iovieno et al. summarize the evidence as "conflicting." Adjunctive use of inositol remains to be investigated.
Other Mental Health Conditions
Though promising, due to study design issues inositol has not yet been established as a treatment for
- obsessive-compulsive disorder,
- bipolar disorder, and eating disorders.
Belmaker and Levine found inositol ineffective in treating:
- electroconvulsive treatment (ECT)-induced memory impairment,
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and
Drug Interactions and Side Effects
There have been no documented cases of drug interactions in studies where inositol was co-administered with FDA-approved medications. Gastrointestinal side effects may be a problem for some people, but inositol is generally well tolerated and appears to have a favorable safety profile. There is no special concern in pregnancy, lactation or child use. However, there have been case reports of inositol-induced mania in people with bipolar disorder. It is uncertain how significant this effect would be if inositol were in wider use as a supplement. People with bipolar disorder should exercise appropriate caution, including consideration of using a mood stabilizer while using inositol.
Inositol is a very promising treatment for depression and panic disorder. It is promising for bipolar disorder, anxiety, obsession, compulsion, eating disorders, hostility, sadness, tension and fatigue. It is quite safe. Adjunctive use may not benefit but will not hurt. People with bipolar disorder should exercise greater caution.
For detailed information on Inositol and other treatments, download the full review.