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Bipolar Disorder

A Nutrient Formula for Bipolar Disorder

Promising but preliminary findings.

Complementary and alternative treatments of bipolar disorder

This is the third in a series of posts on bipolar disorder. The first post provided a brief overview of conventional treatment approaches. The second post briefly reviewed the evidence for vitamins and amino acids as treatments of bipolar disorder. This post is offered as an overview of a proprietary nutrient formula that may reduce symptoms of bipolar disorder in some cases. Although the formula has not been strongly substantiated by research findings, I've chosen to write about this nutrient formula because I believe it may emerge as a promising future treatment of bipolar disorder.

Preliminary findings

A proprietary 36-ingredient formula of vitamins and minerals may significantly reduce symptoms of mania, depressed mood and psychosis in bipolar patients when taken alone or used together with a mood stabilizer (Kaplan 2001). Researchers believe the formula works by correcting inborn metabolic errors that result in bipolar-like symptoms in genetically predisposed individuals when certain micronutrients are deficient in the diet.

In one series, 11 bipolar patients who completed a 6-month protocol were able to reduce their conventional mood stabilizers by half while improving clinically. In another case series, 13 out of 19 bipolar patients who continued on the nutrient formula remained stable after discontinuing conventional mood stabilizers (Simmons 2003). Some patients stopped taking the formula because of nausea and diarrhea and three patients resumed conventional mood stabilizers because of recurring manic symptoms.

Large prospective randomized placebo controlled studies are needed

The evidence for this nutrient formula should be regarded as preliminary pending the results of large prospective placebo controlled studies in individuals with different types of bipolar disorder. More specifically, additional studies are needed to determine whether the nutrient formula is an effective stand-alone treatment, to identify the most efficacious combination of nutrients and to determine optimum dosing strategies for different phases of bipolar illness. In view of reports of safety problems when the nutrient formula is taken together with a mood stabilizer, future studies also need to determine whether the nutrient formula can be safely used as an add-on treatment of bipolar disorder.


Kaplan BJ, et al: Effective mood stabilization with a chelated mineral supplement: an open-label trial in bipolar disorder, J Clin Psychiatry 62:936–944, 2001.

Simmons M: Nutritional approach to bipolar disorder, Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 64(3):338, 2003.

Bipolar Disorder: The Integrative Mental Health Solution, by James Lake MD

About the Author
James Lake, MD

James Lake, M.D., a clinical assistant professor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, works to transform mental health care through the evidence-based uses of alternative therapies.

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