Drug side effect eased with vitamins

Many neurological disorders such as schizophrenia are treated with anti-psychotic medications. While these medications may help the symptoms of the disorder, long-term use has been known to cause tardive dyskinesia. Repeated involuntary movements throughout the body characterize this condition. Around the world, researchers have been investigating ways to lessen the severity of this side effect, and have had success with vitamins.

At the Department of Psychiatry at Keele University in England, researchers found that patients with tardive dyskinesia responded well to a high dose of vitamin E. In this double-blind study, researchers gave 20 patients either vitamin E or a placebo daily for seven months. The vitamin E dose began at 600 mg per day and was gradually increased to 1,600 mg per day by the study’s end. At this high dose, the researchers noted a “significant and sustained reduction in the severity” of the involuntary movements.

In a similar study, this one from the Faculty of Health Sciences at Ben-Gurion University in Israel, researchers noted that a daily dose of vitamin B-6 was also effective in reducing these involuntary movements. The researchers in this trial gave 15 schizophrenia patients either vitamin B-6 or a placebo for four weeks. The patients were evaluated on a weekly basis. By the third week of treatment, the B-6 patients scored significantly better in their symptom evaluations compared with the placebo group. Their findings led the researchers to conclude that vitamin B-6 was effective in reducing symptoms of tardive dyskinesia.

Sources: Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 1998 Jul;13(4):147-55; Am J Psychiatry. 2001 Sep;158(9):1511-4