Alternative medicine and dietary supplements have gained in esteem and usage over the last twenty years. It seems inevitable that this therapy with supplements of all kinds should be considered for treatment of mood disorders. Additionally alternative medicine regards the body in somewhat different ways from traditional medicine. The mind the body and spirit regarded as a single integrated system. A life that balances these elements is regarded as ideal.
The explosion of alternative medicine has only been accelerated by the vast amount of information available on the Internet. It can be tempting to jump right in and see what’s available for treating someone one’s self for symptoms associated with bipolar disorder. Self medication has always had its perils. Self medication using herbal supplements without consulting with your Orange County therapist can be yet more dangerous. At the very least you should do your homework and consult with your doctor. In that way you may be able to initiate an intelligent discussion of the options available for treating your condition.
Be advised that supplements and herbal remedies can interact negatively with medications you are currently using.
Dietary Supplements Defined
The FDA defines dietary supplement ingredients as one or more combinations of the following substances:
• Herbs or botanicals
• Amino acids
• Dietary substances to supplement the diet that increase intake (e.g. enzymes or tissue storm organs or glands)
• Concentrates, constituents, or extracts
What is 5 HTP and What Good Can It Do?
It has been found that 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an effective treatment for mild depression. It can control the levels of eight brain chemical called serotonin and achieve a calming effect. It appears to influence sleep patterns, overall mood, and resistance to pain. Most certain levels can result in anxiety depression irritability and the lack of patience.
You should speak with your doctor before a taking 5-HTP supplements of any kind. There have been reports of adverse side effects and interactions with other medications that are used to treat bipolar disorders associated with this supplement. Furthermore, 5HTP simply cannot be regarded as a replacement for bipolar medications.
What is DHEA and what good can it do?
Until you are about 25 years old your body produces its own supply of a hormone called dehydroepiandosterone (DHEA). At that point production of the hormone declines and may eventually stop altogether. DHEA is touted by advertisers as having anti aging properties and anti-depressive properties. Many of us who are past the age of 25 might feel happy to feel 25 again, but claims made for this hormone have yet to be proven conclusively true. Some studies on patients with Addison’s disease showed promise while other studies on patients who were HIV positive appeared to have little effect on mood or well being. Side effects of the DHEA are few.
What about St. John’s wort?
Herbal therapy with St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) has shown encouraging results for alleviating the symptoms of mild depression. It appears to act on or in conjunction with the same three brain chemicals associated with bipolar disorder, serotonin, epinephrine, and dopamine. It would still be advisable to consult your doctor before commencing therapy with this herb.