By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated 4 February 2015)
Inositol is a type of B vitamin. According to WebMD (2012), inositol supplements are used to treat a variety of conditions including panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and other problems.
Inositol Supplements for Anxiety
Neurotransmitters are substances in the body that affect mood. Neurotransmitter imbalances play a role in psychological problems such as depression and anxiety, and inositol is critical to all major neurotransmitter systems (Deans, 2011).
According to Saeed et al. (2007), a couple of small studies indicate that inositol is as effective as an SSRI antidepressant (fluvoxamine/Luvox) for reducing panic attack symptoms. Research also suggests that it may help to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, a recent research review found that while inositol may benefit some depressed individuals, it does not have a significant impact on anxiety symptoms (Mukai et al., 2014). On the other hand, Nick (2004) notes that in a study of inositol supplements for treating panic disorder, panic attacks diminished significantly and side effects were minimal. Given these conflicting results, more research is required to examine inositol’s effects on anxiety before any conclusions can be drawn.
Inositol supplements are considered safe for most people when appropriate doses are taken. However, little is known about its effects on pregnant mothers and infants, so those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid it. There are also concerns that it may worsen the symptoms of bipolar disorder, though this is not known for sure. Side effects may include nausea, dizziness, tiredness, or headache.
Nicke (2004) notes that in a study of inositol supplements for treating panic disorder, panic attacks diminished significantly and side effects were minimal.
Natural Sources of Inositol
It’s always best to get nutrients from natural sources whenever possible. To eat an inositol-rich diet, consume plenty of vitamin-C-rich fresh fruit, organ meat, and healthy carbohydrates.
Foods rich in inositol include hearts, livers, kidneys, citrus fruits, cantaloupe, nuts, seeds, beans, peas, grains, and molasses. Whole grains (brown bread, oats, bran, etc.) have much more inositol than refined grains (white bread), and fresh fruits and vegetables provide more inositol than canned or frozen produce.
Other Natural Anxiety Remedies
This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical or psychiatric advice. Medical concerns should be referred to a qualified doctor.
- Clements, R.S., Jr., MD, & Darnell, B., MS, RD. (1980). “Myo-Inositol Content of Common Foods: Development of a High-Myo-Inositol Diet.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 33, 1,954-1,967.
- Deans, E., MD. (2011, May 14). “Inositol – The Nervous System’s Pony Express.” EvolutionaryPsychiatry.Blogspot.ca.
- European Food Safety Authority. (2009, January 29). SCIENTIFIC OPINION: Inositol Hexanicotinate (Inositol Hexaniacinate) as a Source Of Niacin (Vitamin B3) Added for Nutritional Purposes in Food Supplements: Scientific Opinion of the Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources Added to Food (ANS)(Question No EFSA-Q-2005-213, EFSA-Q-2006-199). EFSA.Europa.eu.
- Mukai, T.; Kishi, T.; Matsuda, Y.; & Iwata, N. (2014). “A Meta‐Analysis of Inositol for Depression And Anxiety Disorders.” Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 29(1), 55-63.
- Nick, G. (2004, October). “Inositol as a Treatment for Psychiatric Disorders: A Scientific Evaluation of Its Clinical Effectiveness.” Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, FindArticles.com.
- Saeed, S.A.; Bloch, R.M.; & Antonacci, D.J. (2007). “Herbal and Dietary Supplements for Treatment of Anxiety Disorders.” American Family Physician, 76(4), 549-556.
- WebMD. (2012). “Inositol.” WebMD.com.