Inositol is used to for metabolic syndrome and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). It's also used for many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.
How does it work ?
Uses & Effectiveness ?
Possibly Effective for
- Side effects caused by lithium. Taking inositol by mouth seems to improve psoriasis, a skin condition caused by lithium. But it doesn't seem to help psoriasis in people not taking lithium. Inositol doesn't seem to improve other side effects caused by lithium.
- A grouping of symptoms that increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke (metabolic syndrome). Taking inositol with or without alpha-lipoic acid seems to improve insulin resistance, cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure in postmenopausal women with metabolic syndrome.
- A type of anxiety marked by episodes of intense fear (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, larger clinical studies are needed before inositol's effectiveness for panic attacks can be proven.
- A hormonal disorder that causes enlarged ovaries with cysts (polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS). Taking either D-chiro-inositol or myo-inositol by mouth seems to lower triglyceride and testosterone levels, decrease blood pressure, and improve the function of the ovaries in overweight or obese women with PCOS. Taking the two forms of inositol together seems to improve blood pressure, blood sugar, ovulation, and pregnancy rates better than taking either form alone.
- Preterm birth. Taking inositol with folic acid during pregnancy seems to lower the chance of having a preterm birth when compared with folic acid alone in women who are at a higher chance of developing diabetes during pregnancy. It's unclear if inositol is helpful for preventing preterm birth in women who are not at risk for developing diabetes during pregnancy.
Possibly Ineffective for
- A sudden and serious lung condition (acute respiratory distress syndrome or ARDS). Giving inositol intravenously (by IV) to premature babies with ARDS does not seem to help. In fact, it might be harmful. The largest study to date shows that inositol does not decrease the risk of death or blindness in these infants. It might even slightly increase the risk of death and blindness.
- Alzheimer disease. Taking inositol by mouth doesn't seem to improve symptoms of Alzheimer disease.
- Anxiety. Taking inositol by mouth doesn't seem to improve the severity of anxiety symptoms.
- Autism. Taking inositol by mouth doesn't seem to improve symptoms of autism.
- Depression. Most research shows that inositol doesn't improve symptoms of depression. While some early research shows that depressed people receiving inositol for 4 weeks may improve at first, they seem to get worse again after a while. 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.
- An eye disorder in premature infants that can lead to blindness (retinopathy of prematurity). Giving inositol intravenously (by IV) for a short amount of time and then by mouth to premature babies doesn't seem to lower the chance of developing retinopathy. In fact, it may even increase the risk of death.
- Schizophrenia. Taking inositol by mouth doesn't seem to improve symptoms of schizophrenia.
Likely InEffective for
- Nerve pain in people with diabetes (diabetic neuropathy). Taking inositol by mouth doesn't improve the symptoms of nerve pain caused by diabetes.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Early studies show inositol might not help improve ADHD symptoms.
- Bipolar disorder. Early research in children with bipolar disorder shows that taking inositol with a certain omega-3 fatty acid improves mania and depressive symptoms.
- Diabetes. Early research in overweight people with type 1 diabetes shows that taking a combination of folic acid and a form of inositol called D-chiro-inositol decreases blood glucose more than taking folic acid by itself. Inositol might also help prevent diabetes in pregnancy. Taking a certain form of inositol called myo-inositol along with folic acid during pregnancy might reduce the chance of developing diabetes during pregnancy in women who are at risk. But giving inositol to pregnant women that already have diabetes doesn't seem to help.
- Inability to become pregnant within a year of trying to conceive (infertility). Early research suggests that adding myo-inositol to folic acid does not increase pregnancy rates in women undergoing medical fertility treatments.
- Lung cancer. Early research shows that taking inositol does not reverse the growth of pre-cancer cells in people at high risk for lung cancer.
- A type of anxiety marked by recurrent thoughts and repetitive behaviors (obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD). There is some evidence that people with OCD who receive inositol by mouth for 6 weeks experience an improvement in OCD symptoms. However, inositol doesn't seem to improve OCD symptoms in people already being treated with medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
- A type of anxiety that often develops after a terrifying event (post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD). Early research shows that taking inositol by mouth doesn't improve distress in people with PTSD.
- Hair pulling (trichotillomania). Taking inositol by mouth doesn't seem to improve symptoms of compulsive hair pulling.
- Hair growth.
- High cholesterol.
- Problems metabolizing fat.
- Trouble sleeping (insomnia).
- Other conditions.
Special Precautions and Warnings
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Inositol is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth during pregnancy. Not enough is known about the use of inositol during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Diabetes: Inositol may lower blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c levels. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use inositol.
We currently have no information for INOSITOL overview.
- For side effects caused by lithium: 6 grams of inositol has been taken daily.
- For a grouping of symptoms that increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke (metabolic syndrome): 2 grams of a certain form of inositol (isomer myo-inositol) has been taken twice per day for one year.
- For a type of anxiety marked by episodes of intense fear (panic disorder): 12-18 grams of inositol has been taken daily.
- For a hormonal disorder that causes enlarged ovaries with cysts (polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS): 1000 to 1200 mg of a certain form of inositol (isomer D-chiro-inositol) has been used. Also, a product containing 4 grams of another form of inositol (isomer myo-inositol) plus 400 mcg of folic acid has been taken daily for up to 6 months. A combination of 550 mg of myo-inositol and 150 mg of D-chiro-inositol has also been taken twice daily for up to 12 weeks.
- For preventing preterm birth: 2 grams of a certain form of inositol (isomer myo-inositol) plus 200 mg of folic acid has been taken twice daily throughout pregnancy. 1100 mg of myo-inositol plus 27.6 mg of another form of inositol (isomer D-chiro-inositol) and 400 mg of folic acid has been taken daily throughout pregnancy.
Agranoff BW, Fisher SK. Inositol, lithium, and the brain. Psychopharmacol Bull 2001;35:5-18. View abstract.
Allan SJ, Kavanagh GM, Herd RM, Savin JA. The effect of inositol supplements on the psoriasis of patients taking lithium: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Br J Dermatol 2004;150:966-9. View abstract.
Arentz S, Smith CA, Abbott J, Bensoussan A. Nutritional supplements and herbal medicines for women with polycystic ovary syndrome; a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017;17(1):500. View abstract.
Barak Y, Levine J, Glasman A, et al. Inositol treatment of Alzheimer's disease: a double blind, cross-over placebo controlled trial. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 1996;20:729-35. View abstract.
Benjamin J, Agam G, Levine J, et al. Inositol treatment in psychiatry. Psychopharmacol Bull 1995;31:167-75.. View abstract.
Benjamin J, Levine J, Fux M, et al. Double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial of inositol treatment for panic disorder. Am J Psychiatry 1995;152:1084-6. View abstract.
Bizzarri M, Carlomagno G. Inositol: history of an effective therapy for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci 2014;18(13):1896-903. View abstract.
Capasso I, Esposito E, Maurea N, et al. Combination of inositol and alpha lipoic acid in metabolic syndrome-affected women: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Trials 2013;14:273. View abstract.
Celentano C, Matarrelli B, Pavone G, et al. The influence of different inositol stereoisomers supplementation in pregnancy on maternal gestational diabetes mellitus and fetal outcomes in high-risk patients: a randomized controlled trial. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2020;33(5):743-751. View abstract.
Colazingari S, Treglia M, Najjar R, Bevilacqua A. The combined therapy myo-inositol plus D-chiro-inositol, rather than D-chiro-inositol, is able to improve IVF outcomes: results from a randomized controlled trial. Arch Gynecol Obstet 2013;288(6):1405-11. View abstract.
Colodny L, Hoffman RL. Inositol--clinical applications for exogenous use. Altern Med Rev 1998;3:432-47. View abstract.
Crawford TJ, Crowther CA, Alsweiler J, Brown J. Antenatal dietary supplementation with myo-inositol in women during pregnancy for preventing gestational diabetes. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;(12):CD011507. View abstract.
D'Anna R, Scilipoti A, Giordano D, et al. myo-Inositol supplementation and onset of gestational diabetes mellitus in pregnant women with a family history of type 2 diabetes: a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Diabetes Care 2013;36(4):854-7. View abstract.
Du Y, He Y, Wang YL, Zhou JG, Chen C. The efficacy and safety of inositol supplementation in preterm infants to prevent retinopathy of prematurity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Ophthalmol 2019;19(1):135. View abstract.
Facchinetti F, Orrù B, Grandi G, Unfer V. Short-term effects of metformin and myo-inositol in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS): a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Gynecol Endocrinol 2019;35(3):198-206. View abstract.
Farren M, Daly N, McKeating A, Kinsley B, Turner MJ, Daly S. The Prevention of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus With Antenatal Oral Inositol Supplementation: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Diabetes Care. 2017;40(6):759-63. View abstract.
Fraticelli F, Celentano C, Zecca IA, et al. Effect of inositol stereoisomers at different dosages in gestational diabetes: an open-label, parallel, randomized controlled trial. Acta Diabetol. 2018;55(8):805-812. View abstract.
Fruzzetti F, Perini D, Russo M, Bucci F, Gadducci A. Comparison of two insulin sensitizers, metformin and myo-inositol, in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Gynecol Endocrinol. 2017;33(1):39-42. View abstract.
Fux M, Benjamin J, Belmaker RH. Inositol versus placebo augmentation of serotonin reuptake inhibitors in the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder: a double-blind cross-over study. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol 1999 Sep;2(3):193-195. View abstract.
Fux M, Levine J, Aviv A, Belmaker RH. Inositol treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Am J Psychiatry 1996;153:1219-21. View abstract.
Ghasemi A, Amjadi F, Masoumeh Ghazi Mirsaeed S, et al. The effect of Myo-inositol on sperm parameters and pregnancy rate in oligoasthenospermic men treated with IUI: A randomized clinical trial. Int J Reprod Biomed (Yazd). 2019 Nov 7;17(10):749-756. View abstract.
Goodman GA, Rall TW, Nies AS, Taylor P. The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 9th ed.
Gregersen G, Bertelsen B, Harbo H, et al. Oral supplementation of myoinositol: effects on peripheral nerve function in human diabetics and on the concentration in plasma, erythrocytes, urine and muscle tissue in human diabetics and normals. Acta Neurol Scand 1983;67:164-72. View abstract.
Gregersen G, Borsting H, Theil P, Servo C. Myoinositol and function of peripheral nerves in human diabetics. A controlled clinical trial. Acta Neurol Scand 1978;58:241-8. View abstract.
Hallman M, et al. Inositol supplementation in premature infants with respiratory distress syndrome. N Engl J Med 1992;326:1233-9. View abstract.
Hallman M, Pohjavuori M, Bry K. Inositol supplementation in respiratory distress syndrome. Lung 1990;168:877-82. View abstract.
Harwood AJ. Lithium and bipolar mood disorder: the inositol-depletion hypothesis revisited. Mol Psychiatry 2005;10:117-26. View abstract.
Howlett A, Ohlsson A, Plakkal N. Inositol in preterm infants at risk for or having respiratory distress syndrome. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2015;2:CD000366. View abstract.
Howlett A, Ohlsson A, Plakkal N. Inositol in preterm infants at risk for or having respiratory distress syndrome. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2019 Jul 8;7:CD000366. View abstract.
Kamenov Z, Kolarov G, Gateva A, Carlomagno G, Genazzani AD. Ovulation induction with myo-inositol alone and in combination with clomiphene citrate in polycystic ovarian syndrome patients with insulin resistance. Gynecol Endocrinol 2015;31(2):131-5. View abstract.
Kaplan Z, Amir M, Swartz M, Levine J. Inositol treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety 1996;2(1):51-2. View abstract.
Lam S, Mandrekar SJ, Gesthalter Y. A Randomized Phase IIb Trial of myo-Inositol in Smokers with Bronchial Dysplasia. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2016;9(12):906-14. View abstract.
Leppink EW, Redden SA, Grant JE. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of inositol in trichotillomania. Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 2017;32(2):107-14. View abstract.
Levine J, Aviram A, Holan A, et al. Inositol treatment of autism. J Neural Transm 1997;104:307-10. View abstract.
Levine J, Barak Y, Gonzalves M, et al. Double-blind, controlled trial of inositol treatment of depression. Am J Psychiatry 1995;152:792-4. View abstract.
Levine J, Barak Y, Kofman O, Belmaker RH. Follow-up and relapse analysis of an inositol study of depression. Isr J Psychiatry Relat Sci 1995;32:14-21. View abstract.
Levine J, Goldberger I, Rapaport A, et al. CSF inositol in schizophrenia and high-dose inositol treatment of schizophrenia. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 1994;4:487-90. View abstract.
Levine J, Mishori A, Susnosky M, et al. Combination of inositol and serotonin reuptake inhibitors in the treatment of depression. Biol Psychiatry 1999;45:270-3. View abstract.
Levine J. Controlled trials of inositol in psychiatry. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 1997;7:147-55. View abstract.
Machado-Vieira R, Viale CI, Kapczinski F. Mania associated with an energy drink: the possible role of caffeine, taurine, and inositol. Can J Psychiatry 2001;46:454-5. View abstract.
Matarrelli B, Vitacolonna E, D'Angelo M, et al. Effect of dietary myo-inositol supplementation in pregnancy on the incidence of maternal gestational diabetes mellitus and fetal outcomes: a randomized controlled trial. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med 2013;26(10):967-72. View abstract.
Maurizi AR, Menduni M, Del Toro R, et al. A pilot study of D-chiro-inositol plus folic acid in overweight patients with type 1 diabetes. Acta Diabetol. 2017;54(4):361-65. View abstract.
Mendoza N, Diaz-Ropero MP, Aragon M, et al. Comparison of the effect of two combinations of myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol in women with polycystic ovary syndrome undergoing ICSI: a randomized controlled trial. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2019 Aug;35(8):695-700. View abstract.
Mukai T, Kishi T, Matsuda Y, Iwata N. A meta-analysis of inositol for depression and anxiety disorders. Hum Psychopharmacol 2014;29(1):55-63. View abstract.
Nazari L, Salehpour S, Hosseini S, et al. Effect of myo-inositol supplementation on ICSI outcomes among poor ovarian responder patients: A randomized controlled trial. J Gynecol Obstet Hum Reprod. 2020;49(5):101698. View abstract.
Nemets B, Mishory A, Levine J, Belmaker RH. Inositol addition does not improve depression in SSRI treatment failures. J Neural Transm 1999;106:795-8. View abstract.
Nestler JE, Jakubowicz DJ, Reamer P, et al. Ovulatory and metabolic effects of D-chiro-inositol in the polycystic ovary syndrome. N Engl J Med 1999;340:1314-20. View abstract.
Nomenclature of Cyclitols. IUPAC Commission on the Nomenclature of Organic Chemistry (CNOC) and IUPAC-IUB Commission on Biochemical Nomenclature (CBN). Available at: https://www.chem.qmw.ac.uk/iupac/cyclitol/ (Accessed 23 January 2004).
Nordio M, Proietti E. The combined therapy with myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol reduces the risk of metabolic disease in PCOS overweight patients compared to myo-inositol supplementation alone. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci 2012;16(5):575-81. View abstract.
Palatnik A, Frolov K, Fux M, Benjamin J. Double-blind, controlled, crossover trial of inositol versus fluvoxamine for the treatment of panic disorder. J Clin Psychopharmacol 2001;21:335-9.. View abstract.
Phelps DL, Ward RM, Williams RL, et al. Pharmacokinetics and safety of a single intravenous dose of myo-inositol in preterm infants of 23-29 wk. Pediatr Res 2013;74(6):721-9. View abstract.
Phelps DL, Ward RM, Williams RL, et al. Safety and pharmacokinetics of multiple dose myo-inositol in preterm infants. Pediatr Res. 2016;80(2):209-17. View abstract.
Phelps DL, Watterberg KL, Nolen TL, et al. Effects of Myo-inositol on Type 1 Retinopathy of Prematurity Among Preterm Infants <28 Weeks' Gestational Age: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2018;320(16):1649-1658. View abstract.
Pizzo A, Laganà AS, Barbaro L. Comparison between effects of myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol on ovarian function and metabolic factors in women with PCOS. Gynecol Endocrinol 2014;30(3):205-8. View abstract.
Sacchinelli A, Venturella R, Lico D, et al. The efficacy of inositol and N-acetyl cysteine administration (Ovaric HP) in improving the ovarian function in infertile women with PCOS with or without insulin resistance. Obstet Gynecol Int 2014;2014:141020. View abstract.
Salway JG, Whitehead L, Finnegan JA. Effect of myo-inositol on peripheral-nerve function in diabetes. Lancet 1978;2:1282-4. View abstract.
Santamaria A, Giordano D, Corrado F, et al. One-year effects of myo-inositol supplementation in postmenopausal women with metabolic syndrome. Climacteric 2012;15(5):490-5. View abstract.
Shaldubina A, Stahl Z, Furszpan M, et al. Inositol deficiency diet and lithium effects. Bipolar Disord 2006;8:152-9. View abstract.
Shaltiel G, Shamir A, Shapiro J, et al. Valproate decreases inositol biosynthesis. Biol Psychiatry 2004;56:868-74. View abstract.
Souza FG, Mander AJ, Foggo M, et al. The effects of lithium discontinuation and the non-effect of oral inositol upon thyroid hormones and cortisol in patients with bipolar affective disorder. J Affect Disord 1991;22:165-70. View abstract.
Tagliaferri V, Romualdi D, Immediata V, et al. Metformin vs myoinositol: which is better in obese polycystic ovary syndrome patients? A randomized controlled crossover study. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2017;86(5):725-30. View abstract.
Williams RS, Cheng L, Mudge AW, Harwood AJ. A common mechanism of action for three mood-stabilizing drugs. Nature 2002;417:292-5. View abstract.
Wozniak J, Faraone SV, Chan J, et al. A randomized clinical trial of high eicosapentaenoic acid omega-3 fatty acids and inositol as monotherapy and in combination in the treatment of pediatric bipolar spectrum disorders: a pilot study. J Clin Psychiatry. 2015;76(11):1548-55. View abstract.
Zhang H, Lv Y, Li Z, Sun L, Guo W. The efficacy of myo-inositol supplementation to prevent gestational diabetes onset: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med 2019;32(13):2249-55. View abstract.
Zheng X, Liu Z, Zhang Y, et al. Relationship Between Myo-Inositol Supplementary and Gestational Diabetes Mellitus: A Meta-Analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2015;94(42):e1604. View abstract.
Select a condition to view a list of vitamins
You Might Also Like
CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.
This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version.
© Therapeutic Research Faculty 2020.