Myo-Inositol is an isomer of glucose, or basic sugar, and naturally consumed in an average human’s diet. It is used in the phosphatidyinositol cycle, a metabolic process that helps mediate hormones, and it is also part of a second messenger system at the cellular level, including messenger systems that lead to the production of serotonin and noradrenalin. Myo-Inositol’s exact mechanism of action is beyond the scope of this blog, so just remember that it helps serotonin and noradrenalin function more effectively, and remember that low or altered production of serotonin is implicated in many anxiety and depressive disorders. Let’s take a look at randomized controlled trials (the gold standard of evidence) that support the use of Myo-Inositol in various disorders.
A double-blind, randomized controlled trial compared 18g/day of Myo-Inositol with Fluvoxamine ( an antidepressant) in patients with panic disorder. Fluvoxamine is often prescribed for panic disorder. At the end of one month, Myo-Inositol reduced the number of panic attacks by 4 compared to 2 for Fluvoxamine. This is encouraging, because Myo-Inositol isn’t known to have any significant side effects, and comparing it to an actual medication is a much stronger study than comparing it to a placebo. Also, the group who took Fluvoxamine complained significantly more of nausea and tiredness, common side effects of antidepressants.
A double-blind trial compared Myo-Inositol to placebo in patients with either bulimia or binge eating disorder. For six weeks, bulimic patients were given either 18g/day of Myo-Inositol or placebo. The Myo-Inositol group showed a significant reduction in bulimic symptoms compared to the placebo group. I am not ashamed to say that I struggled with bulimia quite a bit in my twenties. When I was really struggling with the binge/purge cycle, I supplemented with Myo-Inositol to help get me through the binge/purge cycle. I also view bulimia as an obsessive/compulsive disorder (OCD), in the sense that you are plagued with intrusive thoughts about binging on certain foods, especially when you are upset or stressed, and when the urge overwhelms you, compelled to act on those thoughts: shopping for food, binging, and then purging. I’m pointing this out, because next I’ll mention a study in which Myo-Inositol was effective for OCD.
In a randomized, double-blind controlled trial, patients with OCD were given either 18 g/day of Myo-Inositol or a placebo. At the end of 6 weeks, the group taking Myo-Inositol significantly improved more than the placebo group. Another study showed no significant improvement when Myo-Inositol was tested as an add-on treatment for individuals with OCD who were already taking an antidepressant.
You can buy Myo-Inositol supplements in capsule or powder form. I buy it in powder form. I don’t use it regularly or daily, but sometimes when I’m feeling anxious or obsessive, I use the powder to make a smoothie. I mix it with yogurt, ice cubes, strawberries, banana and spinach, but obviously you can blend whatever you want together. The powder is white and has a sweetish taste.
How much should you take?
One Tsp equals 3 grams. The randomized controlled trials mentioned above used 18/g day, so that’s 6 Tsps/ day. I usually put something close to that in my smoothies. Of course you can try smaller doses, especially if you are testing for any intolerances. Myo-Inositol has a very safe side-effect profile, but some people have complained of nausea, diarrhea or an upset stomach. I had zero side effects. Please note that it’s not recommended with pregnancy, as it has been linked to uterine contractions.