How Inositol May Help with Relaxation, Sleep, Mood

How Inositol May Help with Relaxation, Sleep, Mood

Inositol is an isomer of glucose, a carbohydrate sugar alcohol, once called vitamin B8, but because it is produced by the body from glucose, it is not considered an essential nutrient. It has 9 varieties, is most concentrated in cell membranes, and actually plays a lot of important roles in the body. Given what we know about its functions, it can be a particularly effective compound for boosting brain function, mood, focus, promoting relaxation, and improving sleep quality.

Inositol as a facilitator of neurotransmitters, and thus mood.

One of the key roles of inositol is as a part of a cellular messenging system. It facilitates the passing of signals through the cell, from surface proteins all the way to the nucleus, and then between cells. What makes it so important is that all the neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, etc, utilize inositol to transmit messages. This is essentially why inositol can be so useful for mood issues and mental disorders.

Studies over the last decades discovered a link between inositol levels and depression. One particular study in the 70's found that those suffering from bipolar disorder had lowered levels of inositol in their spinal fluid. Moreover, it seemed clear that there were often problems with messenger systems in those with bipolar disorder, suggesting that maybe the depression that can accompany the disorder results from inositol deficiencies.

While we are still identifying the exact nature of all these complex relationships, it does seem fairly certain that inositol imbalances are central to neurochemical imbalances, and hence mental and mood disorders. Correlations exist, like lowered myo-inositol levels found in post-mortem examinations of suicide victims, or in the frontal lobes of depression sufferers.

Furthermore, there have been a significant number of trials in which inositol supplementation had positive benefits for depression sufferers, with many patients showing definite improvements in mood after 4 weeks.  Of course, mood is such a complex issue that results will always vary, but inositol was often successful (placebo notwithstanding) in the "treatment resistant" patients who did not respond to other treatments. In other studies, inositol had positive effects on anxiety, sleep quality, eating disorders, and obsessive compulsive disorder.  It seems to impact certain forms of depression in similar fashion to an SSRI.

Helpful for brain function, synergistic in a mood complex, can cause drowsiness.

Inositol has numerous other functions including enhancing intracellular calcium (by making inositol triphosphate and diacylglycerol, thus opening calcium channels in the brain,) maintaining cell membranes, helping to break down fats, and is even involved in gene expression. Dietary and supplemental administration does increase inositol concentration in the central nervous system, as well as the effects on mood and mental function (it is also involved in neurogenesis, the creation of neurons within the brain.)

In our own testing with inositol, we found that it can be very useful as part of a natural mood or anti-anxiety formula, a sleep aid formula, and a brain function support complex. It is easily absorbed and synergizes well with other mood effectors and relaxants (enhancing the production of key 'pleasure' neurochemicals,) improving nerve function, cellular communication, and a host of other benefits.

As I mentioned, inositol is readily available through regular diet, being abundant in nuts. grains, beans, fruits, and organ meats. Animal sources are actually more bioavailable than the plant sources if you are looking to up your intake. You do not need to supplement inositol for normal function and health, but if you are looking for a specific aforementioned use, it can be an excellent compound, especially as part of a focused complex.

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The opinions expressed in this article are of the author. Content and other information presented on the site are not meant to be medical advice or any substitute for professional advice, counseling, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard professional medical or mental health advice from your physician or other qualified health provider.

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