Bipolar disorder, formerly referred to as manic-depressive disorder, affects approximately 5.7 million adults in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
For many of these individuals, onset of the condition occurs in the mid-twenties, but bipolar disorder can occur as late as the 40’s or 50’s.
Because treatment with a professional medical team can be expensive even with health insurance, some individuals look for natural remedies for bipolar disorder.
It is important to remember, however, that bipolar disorder is the sixth leading cause of disability in the world, and while no one knows what causes the condition, experts feel there is a hereditary component.
Natural remedies for bipolar disorder may help with symptoms, but it may not be possible to “banish bipolar disorder” forever.
Natural remedies for bipolar disorder
Treating any condition completely and safely requires knowledge of why the condition has occurred.
The exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown; however, the Mayo Clinic indicates there are factors beyond heredity which may have an influence. These include:
- An imbalance in neurotransmitters.
- Imbalanced hormones.
- Environmental influences such as stress, abuse, or a traumatic event.
By managing these contributors to bipolar disorder, it may be possible to find a natural remedy for symptoms of the condition.
*Just remember to consult with a health professional before using any of these natural remedies for bipolar disorder – especially if you are taking prescription medications of any kind.
5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) supplements are sold in most health stores as a natural remedy for the symptoms of depression.
While there are no FDA regulations regarding this supplement and thus no significant scientific trials, WebMD explains the theory behind 5-HTP supplementation is that 5-HTP is a precursor to serotonin, a calming neurotransmitter in the brain. 5-HTP can increase serotonin, thus improving mood, sleep and pain control and making it a natural remedy for bipolar disorder.
Another popular supplement that can be used as a natural remedy for bipolar disorder is the hormone dehydroepiandosteronem (DHEA).
Some research studies on this substance have shown it helps improve and stabilize mood and reduce the symptoms of depression, though DHEA is not for everyone.
Individuals with blood clots, abnormal heart rhythms, a history of liver disease, and those who are pregnant or nursing should not supplement with DHEA.
This hormone is also not recommended as a solitary means of treating bipolar disorder. When taken alone, it can cause impulsive behaviors and other psychiatric effects. Never use it without consulting with your health professional.
Fish oil supplements
Fish oil is indicated in a number of natural health remedies.
Fish oil contains the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are important for nerve tissue health and hormone production.
Fish oil supplements have been used to successfully treat depression but not mania, so the benefits of using this type of product may not be as obvious with bipolar disorder. However, fish oil is fundamental in a healthy diet, so it will help you feel better overall.
In a similar manner in which fish oil supplements may benefit people with bipolar disorders, flaxseed oil may also be a good supplement to consider.
This oil contains omega-3 fatty acids which, according to Tufts Medical Center, can help enhance traditional therapies for bipolar disorder. Flaxseed oil is not a natural remedy to be used alone however.
Ginseng and herbal remedies
Ginseng and other herbal treatments like gingko biloba and black cohosh may have some indication in the relief of depression; however, not many research studies have been done on herbal therapies.
Some, like St. John’s Wort, may decrease depression symptoms but trigger mania in individuals with bipolar disorder who tend to more maniac phases.
St. John’s Wort has also been known to interact with a number of prescription medications. Before starting one of these supplements, be sure to consult with a physician.
Acupuncture is considered an alternative medical treatment but one that is widely acknowledged by Western medicine as beneficial for a number of ailments.
According to Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, acupuncture stimulates the central nervous system and can cause the release of endorphins in bipolar patients.
Aside from being a great workout, yoga is one of the natural remedies for bipolar disorder.
According to research conducted by the National Institute of Health , yoga has as high as a 73 percent success rate for treating depression.
Yoga can relieve stress, reduce anxiety and decrease the panic attacks associated with bipolar disorder.
Like yoga, massage is a way for people with bipolar disorder to recover emotional well-being.
Through massage therapy an individual can experience prolonged periods of relaxation and stress relief.
Massage may also help improve sleep patterns which are important to brain health and to balance mood.
The serious reality of bipolar disorder
While a natural remedies for bipolar disorder may seem ideal compared to prescription medications, many of these natural treatments should not be used as stand-alone therapies.
Bipolar disorder can be a serious medical condition, affecting how an individual lives day-to-day life.
Natural supplements and alternative therapies should only be undertaken after consulting with a medical professional to make sure it is in the patient’s best interests.