Using Supplements While On SSRI's with Bipolar Disorder

By Barbara Christensen - 11:46 AM

Using Supplements While On SSRI's with Bipolar Disorder

The bipolar disorder center had a great article about bipolar issues with natural "remedies" and I wanted to address it especially because I was contacted by a coach from another company that was feeling that agitated feeling after using their meal replacement shake. I have often shared my concern for those that don't realize that herbal remedies are great, but can work just as powerfully to harm someone as help them without the right information. The center shared all of these items that have been known to cause that feeling

Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa). A nervous system depressant and sedative, sometimes used by people with autoimmune conditions for its anti-inflammatory effects. Its active ingredient appears to bind to estrogen receptor sites, so it may cause hormonal activity.
  • Damiana (Turnera aphrodisiaca). A traditional remedy for depression. As its Latin name indicates, it is also believed to have aphrodisiac properties. Whatever the case may be there, it does seem to act on the hormonal system. Its energizing quality might be dangerous for bipolar patients. 
  • Gingko biloba. An extract of the gingko tree, advertised as an herb that can improve your memory. There is some clinical evidence for this claim. It is an antioxidant, and is prescribed in Germany for treatment of dementia. It is believed to increase blood flow to the brain.
  • Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium). Has an energizing effect that may be helpful to people whose depression is accompanied by extreme fatigue and lethargy.\
  • Grapeseed oil and pycogenol. Both are extra-powerful antioxidants. (Pycogenol is derived from marine pine trees.)
  • Gotu kola (Centella asiatica, Hydrocotyl asiatica). An Ayurvedic herbal stimulant sometimes recommended for depression and anxiety.
  • Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra, Liquiritia officinalis). Boosts hormone production, including hormones active in the digestive tract and brain.
  • Sarsaparilla (Hemidesmus indicus). Like licorice, it seems to affect hormone production as well as settling the stomach and calming the nerves.
  • St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum). Has gained popularity as an herbal antidepressant. It has the backing of a decent amount of research. Those choosing to use this remedy should follow the same precautions as with SSRIs and MAOIs, two families of pharmaceutical antidepressants. It can also cause increased sensitivity to light. It is available by prescription in Germany, where it is the most widely used antidepressant. It is potentially dangerous to use St. John's Wort with prescription antidepressants or any other medication that could affect serotonin.
They also mentioned that:

Vitamins often cited as important in mood regulation include the B vitamins. If you are deficient in any of the Bs, depression, anxiety, and fatigue can result. The B vitamins work together, so it's best to take a B-complex supplement that mixes them in proper proportions along with folic acid. The Bs have a generally energizing effect and help build up the immune system. Some alternative practitioners recommend vitamin B-12 shots for depressed patients. They don't always work, but sometimes they can have surprisingly quick mood-elevating effects. Because of that energizing effect, however, they may not be a good idea for those who are hypomanic or manic

What I found interesting is that many of the studies are showing the methylation issue for the "fortified" and synthetic B's. So you really seem to have to know what it is you're using. Also this seems to tell me that you may want to stay away from some of the "energy" items in a lot of these healthy fitness supplements out there on the market if you are worried about side effects. Make sure you really talk to your pharmacist and doctor before starting to use any supplement, especially one with so many ingredients it can be hard to remember the m all, or even realize that all the way at the bottom is the Gingko you shouldn't be taking. Stick to simple, products. That's not to say that vitamins like B vitamins are safe for you  if you take SSRI's, but it may not be for everyone. 

Other healthy ways to support your wellness goals

I've been reading in my studies about how the ketogenic diet (high in fat but low in carbs) shows benefits for so many of us. The magic ketogenic number seems to be (fats, carbs, protein). For me I see the best way to do this by using the a complete shake with a cup of flax milk, ice, and a tbsp of coconut oil. You get the added benefit of the omegas with the flax milk, and it's also lower calorie than other alternatives.  

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