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Bipolar Disorder

(Manic-Depressive Disorder)


Definition | Causes | Symptoms | Nutrients
Herbs | Recommendations | Suggestions | Bibliography


Cyclic affective psychosis in which there are alternating moods of depression and mania. This is a psychosis that is characterized by extreme mood swings. The typical manic-depressive individual will go from a period of unrealistic enthusiasm and elation to misery and the depths of depression.

When he is in the depressive stage, the patients demonstrates low self-esteem and has feelings of hopelessness. They lack motivation to do anything, even to get out of bed. Some sleep for weeks. Some withdraw from social activities, avoid relationships with others, and are unable to work
Mania is a mental disorder characterized by excessive excitement, a form of psychosis characterized by exalted feelings, delusions of grandeur, elevation of mood, psychomotor overactivity, and overproduction of ideas. Used in a combining form to signify obsessive preoccupation.

The depression is characterized by altered mood. There is loss of interest in all usually pleasurable outlets such as food, sex, work, friends, hobbies, or entertainment. Diagnostic criteria include presence of at least 4 of the following every day for at least 2 weeks:

  1. Poor appetite or significant weight loss; or increased weight gain;
  2. Insomnia or hypersomnia;
  3. Psychomotor agitation or retardation;
  4. Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities, or decreased sex drive;
  5. Loss of energy, or fatigue;
  6. Feelings of worthlessness, self-reproach, or excessive or inappropriate guilt;
  7. Complaints of or evidence of diminished ability to think or concentrate;
  8. Recurrent thoughts off death, suicidal ideation, wish to be dead, or attempted suicide.

When in the manic stage, the manic-depressive will have what seems to be boundless energy, will not want to rest or sleep for 24 hours or more.
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There are several theories about the causes of this disorder. Possibly it is triggered by extreme stress. Some researchers think that early experiences, such as the loss of a parent or other early childhood trauma, play a role in the cause. There is also evidence of increased concentration of intracellular sodium during these mood swings, and this returns to normal after recovery. In depressed individuals, monoamines are depleted in the brain.
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Some of the symptoms of manic-depressive disorder are changes in sleep patterns, withdrawal from society, extreme pessimism, failure to finish projects that were started with enthusiasm, chronic irritability, sudden attacks of rage, and lack of inhibition, especially in sexual behavior.
The periods of mania start suddenly and without warning. They appear for no known reason and worsen rapidly. Some cases have attacks frequently, and others have years between occurrences. Most people who suffer from this disorder seem relatively normal between stages.
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L-Taurine (amino acid), 500 mg. 3 times per day (L-taurine deficiency results in hyperactivity, anxiety, and poor brain function. L-Tyrosine, 500 mg. twice per day on an empty stomach, is important in treating depression and stabilizes mood swings.
Protein (free form amino acids), taken twice per day on an empty stomach, is needed for normal brain function and combats depression. Vitamin B complex, 100 mg. 3 times per day, B vitamins are essential for normal brain function and a healthy nervous system. B12 lozenges, 1 tablet twice per day on an empty stomach, is important in making myelin, the sheath covering the nerves.
Zinc, 50 mg. per day, protects the brain cells.
Lithium, taken by prescription only, alters the manic-depressive cycles, producing mood stability.
Multivitamin and mineral complex, taken as directed on the label (mineral imbalance may cause depression).
Calcium, 1,500 mg. Magnesium, 750 mg. Unsaturated fatty acids, taken as directed on the label, improves cerebral circulation and blood pressure stability. Vitamin C, 3,000-6,000 mg. per day, is a powerful immunostimulant and aids allergic defenses.
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Since there are two sets of symptoms (manic and depressive) the herbs will be listed in two sections. One will be to calm the overactive tendencies and the other will relieve the depression.

First the depressive symptoms:

  • Betony, wood
  • Bog myrtle
  • Chervil
  • Comfrey
  • Gentian, yellow
  • Ginseng
  • Heather
  • Lemon balm
  • Nettle
  • Pimpernel
  • Primrose, evening
  • St. John’s wort
  • Saffron
  • Spanish needles
  • Thistle, Holy
  • Viper’s bugloss

These are some of the calming herbs to counteract the overactivity of the manic:

  • Betony, wood
  • Calamus
  • Chamomile
  • Cinnabar
  • Flag, sweet
  • Hops
  • Lady’s slipper
  • Marjoram
  • Milkwort, sea
  • Nettle, stinging
  • Passion flower
  • Skullcap
  • Snakeroot, Seneca
  • Valerian

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The patient should have no sugar or its by-products. Dairy products, alcohol, soda, and caffeine should be avoided. Avoid foods with added chemicals, additives or food colorings.

The diet should consist of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes. Whole grains are good, but avoid excessive amounts of bread. Eat white fish and turkey twice a week.

High doses of B complex vitamins are needed because the manic-depressive does not absorb the B complex easily.
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Some researchers have found that manic-depressives appear to be hypersensitive to acetylcholine, a chemical that carries messages to the brain. Recommend that choline should not be taken in a dose that exceeds the amount in a multiple vitamin.

Other researchers reported that manic-depressives had deficiencies of the B complex vitamins and that improvement in their conditions occurred with B12 injections and megadoses of B vitamins. The B vitamins have a lithium-like effect on the brain. The trace metal lithium is known to alter the period of the rhythmic cycling.

The high doses used in lithium treatment may include the following side effects: nausea, vomiting, tremors, kidney dysfunction, and thyroid enlargement.

If the patient has food allergies, certain foods may trigger a manic-depressive attack.
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Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

Buy It! Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Fifth Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements, by James F. Balch, M.D. and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C., Avery Publishing Group, Inc., Garden City Park, NY

Buy It! Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, 15th Edition, F. A. Davis Company, 1915 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

Buy It!The Magic of Herbs, by David Conway, published by Jonathan Cape, Thirty Bedford Square, London, England. (Out of print)

Buy It! The Healing Plants, by Mannfried Pahlow, Barron’s Educational Series, Inc. 250 Wireless Blvd., Hauppauge, NY 11788, 1992

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