Over the years, alternative health care practitioners have been advocating a variety of herbs and nutrients for the treatment of depression. One of the nutrients which is widely consumed by depressed individuals is inositol.
Inositol is a simple molecule and used by the body to make important components of the cell membrane. Products made from inositol are believed to play a vital role in signaling events in the body. Most individuals get adequate levels of inositol from food and no one has ever been identified as having inositol deficiency. Further, there is no relationship between depression and inositol levels in the body.
Inositol is readily available in most health food stores without a prescription and recommended for the treatment of a variety of mental disorders, including depression. Because many depressed patients take a number of health supplements and other products, it has been difficult to evaluate the role of inositol. Of course, as with all supplements, the vendors of inositol claim it is a miracle product. As far as consumers are concerned, there are a few anecdotal reports of inositol and depression. The majority of depressed individuals claim that the supplement does nothing.
In the past few years, four double blind trials have evaluated 141 depressed individuals who took inositol. Inositol was compared with an antidepressant or a placebo.
The results did not show any evidence that inositol had antidepressant activity. Even though most of these studies were of short duration and the sampling population was small, inositol turned out to be just another hyped-up supplement. The only good thing to come of the trials was that the supplement was safe and not associated with any side effects.
So where does the individual with depression stand?
Like many nutrients and herbs, inositol has failed to live up to expectations when it is properly evaluated in clinical studies. Nevertheless, the health supplement industry continues to market the product for many illnesses. A month’s supply of inositol is about $30.