Articles by natural health author Luella May

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Try Natural Alternatives for Bipolar Disorder

by Luella May

(The Best Years in Life) Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive disorder, is an illness characterized by two components: extreme highs and extreme lows. It is a disease that can incapacitate a person's life, leaving them with a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness. This disorder has become a household term, now affecting 5.7 million Americans. The cause is not completely understood, but it is thought that lack of proper nutrition may play a part in the growing number of people suffering from this condition. Therefore, supplying the body with the proper nutrients and supplements may provide important help in correcting this disorder.

Although we all experience ups and downs due to everyday stress, they are nothing compared to the ups and downs that a person with a bipolar disorder experiences. The "ups" is called the manic phase where the person experiences almost a wild ecstasy, sometimes causing them to behave irresponsibly while taking serious risks. Those undergoing the manic phase of the disease may experience a feeling of elation, coupled with over-inflated self-esteem. This is a time where they think that the world is at their feet and that nothing is impossible. Other symptoms consist of irritability, decreased need for sleep, rapid speech, increased libido, delusions, and the inability to focus on a specific task.

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The other side of the coin, the depressive phase, eventually surfaces. During this phase, the person can experience the deepest pit of depression. The depressive phase presents itself with loss of energy, sadness, loss of interest in activities, significant changes in appetite, difficulty in sleeping or oversleeping, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, and suicidal thoughts.

These highs and lows can range from mild to extreme. They may come on slowly over a period of time, or they can surface within a matter of hours. A bipolar disorder can cause behavior extreme enough that it may be impossible to function in society. It affects family, work, and social relationships. As a likely result of the depression and extreme mood swings, as many as one in five people with bipolar disorder commit suicide.

The cause of a bipolar disorder is thought to be both physical and emotional. Some studies suggest that high or low levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, or dopamine are among the chief causes. Another cause could be imbalanced hormones and stress triggers are thought to be a third cause.

In addressing a bipolar disorder, just as with any other health condition, diet is crucial. It is important to give the body the proper nutrients it needs. Oftentimes, poor nutrition is at least partly responsible for an impending condition. It is thought that the decreasing amounts of vitamins and minerals in our food supply and the SADs diet is responsible for the increasing numbers of people diagnosed as bipolar.

Removing unhealthy foods and stimulants that can aggravate symptoms should be a priority. Sugar, fatty foods, and caffeine are all irritants which contribute to manic episodes. On the other hand, alcohol, a depressant in its own right, will contribute to the depressive episodes. Removing these harmful ingredients from one's diet may improve, if not eliminate, these symptoms.

Processed foods should be eliminated. Not only have they been altered from their natural state, but they also contain harmful additives that aggravate manic depressive symptoms, together with contributing to poor health.

Oily fish containing Omega 3's are important dietary considerations for addressing bipolar disorder. Some good choices are salmon, herring, and mackerel.

L-tyrosine is an amino acid that the body uses for the production of neurotransmitter serotonin which has been found to lessen the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Low levels of l-tyrosine reduce serotonin levels causing depression. L-tyrosine levels can be increased by eating dairy products, fish, meats, wheat, and oats.

Carbohydrates are an essential energy source for the body. However, unhealthy carbohydrates will only result in too much sugar, causing those very mood swings we are trying so hard to prevent. Healthy carbohydrates can be found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Foods containing healthy carbs include apples, oranges, peaches, grapefruit, carrots, brussels sprouts, beans, and whole wheat bread. Exercise caution when buying products such as bread. Many that say they are whole wheat are nothing of the sort. Read the ingredients and make sure that it is 100% whole wheat and that it does not contain "enriched" or "bleached" flour.

Medications used to treat this disorder come with serious side effects. There are natural effective means that are also less costly. Here are some of the best ones:

* Lithium orotate, a natural alternative to the normally prescribed lithium carbonate or lithium citrate, helps to control manic symptoms. This type of lithium releases an orotate ion into the bloodstream and brain instead of a carbonated ion. It has the same benefits as the prescription lithium carbonate, without the side effects. Another advantage in taking lithium orotate is that lesser amounts are needed to create the higher blood levels needed to obtain the desired effect. The reason that lesser amounts are needed is because prescription lithium is poorly absorbed by cells, necessitating higher amounts for a satisfactory therapeutic effect. Unfortunately, these higher amounts cause blood levels to be so high that they border on toxic levels. Additionally, prescription lithium can affect thyroid and kidney function.

* Omega 3 fatty acids have shown to decrease the incidence of manic episodes while prolonging its intervals. Omega 3 fatty acids can be found in fish and over the counter supplements. Careful attention should be given in ensuring that these supplements are of a high quality, natural, and not synthetic and petroleum based. Another excellent source of Omega 3's is flaxseed and flaxseed oil.

* Supplementing with magnesium is very important. A magnesium deficiency can lead to emotional, mental, and nervous disorders. Additionally, it is estimated that as many as 90 to 95% of Americans are deficient in this important mineral. It is important to note that calcium and magnesium act synergistically in the body. When supplementing with calcium and magnesium one should do so at a ratio of 1:2 or 1:3.

* A deficiency in vitamin B12 has also been linked to bipolar disorder.

* Choline has been shown to be beneficial in addressing bipolar disease, particularly when taking lithium.

Other supplements effective in treating bipolar disorder are B-complex vitamins, folic acid, and vitamin C.

Proper nutrition together with key nutritional supplements can go a long way in helping someone suffering from a bipolar disorder.

See also:

 Beat and Treat ADD and ADHD without Drugs

Sources:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/bipolar-disorder/DS00356/DSECTION=causes
http://bipolar.about.com/cs/bpbasics/a/what_causes_bp.htm
http://www.webmd.com/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-disorder-lithium
http://www.tbyil.com/Bipolar.htm
http://www.naturalremediesbipolar.com/
http://www.webmd.com/bipolar-disorder/bipolar-disorder-lithium

About the author:

Luella Mayis a natural health advocate and author helping people to heal naturally.  Her articles appear in several online venues, including Natural News, AlignLife and CureZone.  Luella is in the midst of editing her eBook, "The 8 Invisible Stains of Our Souls" which will be available in the next few months. She partners with Tony Isaacs, who authors books and articles about natural health including "Cancer's Natural Enemy". Luella a partner and contributor of The Best Years in Life website for baby boomers and others wishing to avoid prescription drugs and mainstream managed illness and live longer, healthier and happier lives naturally. Luella co-moderates the CureZone "Ask Tony Isaacs featuring Luella May" forum as well as the Yahoo Health Group "Oleander Soup" and hosts her own yahoo group focusing on the natural wellbeing of pets.

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