Inositol is a vitamin-like substance. It is found in many plants and animals. It can also be made in a laboratory.
Inositol is used for diabetic nerve pain, panic disorder, high cholesterol, insomnia, cancer, depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, promoting hair growth, a skin disorder called psoriasis, and treating side effects of medical treatment with lithium.
Inositol is also used by mouth for treating conditions associated with polycystic ovary syndrome, including failure to ovulate; high blood pressure; high triglycerides; and high levels of testosterone.
How does it work?
Inositol might balance certain chemicals in the body to possibly help with conditions such as panic disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and polycystic ovary syndrome.
Possibly Effective for:
- Panic disorder. Inositol shows some promise for controlling panic attacks and the fear of public places or open spaces (agoraphobia). One study found that inositol is as effective as a prescription medication. However, large-scale clinical trials are needed before inositol’s effectiveness for panic attacks can be proven.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). There is some evidence that people with OCD who receive inositol by mouth for 6 weeks experience significant improvement.
- An ovary disorder known as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Taking a particular form of inositol (isomer D-chiro-inositol) by mouth seems to lower triglyceride and testosterone levels, modestly decrease blood pressure, and promote ovulation in obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome.
- Problems breathing in premature infants known as “acute respiratory distress syndrome,” when given intravenously (by IV).
- Psoriasis brought on or made worse by lithium drug therapy. Inositol doesn’t seem to help psoriasis in people not taking lithium.
Possibly Ineffective for:
- Alzheimer’s disease.
- Depression. Limited research suggests that depressed people receiving inositol for 4 weeks may improve at first, but then get worse again after awhile. There was also some expectation that inositol might make antidepressant medications called SSRIs work better. But research so far hasn’t shown this to be true.
Likely Ineffective for:
- Nerve problems caused by diabetes.
- Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Early studies suggest inositol might not help improve ADHD symptoms.
- Hair growth.
- Problems metabolizing fat.
- High cholesterol.
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia).
- Other conditions.
Side Effects & Safety
Inositol is POSSIBLY SAFE for most adults. It can cause nausea, tiredness, headache, and dizziness.
Inositol is POSSIBLY SAFE when used in the hospital for premature infants with acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of inositol during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Bipolar disorder: There is some concern that taking too much inositol might make bipolar disorder worse. There is a report of a man with controlled bipolar disorder being hospitalized with extreme agitation and impulsiveness (mania) after drinking several cans of an energy drink containing inositol, caffeine, taurine, and other ingredients (Red Bull Energy Drink) over a period of 4 days. It is not known if this is related to inositol, caffeine, taurine, a different ingredient, or a combination of the ingredients.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For panic disorder: 12 to 18 grams per day.
- For obsessive-compulsive disorder: inositol 18 grams per day.
- For treating symptoms associated with polycystic ovary syndrome: D-chiro-inositol 1200 mg per day.
- For treating lithium-related psoriasis: 6 grams daily.