Neurological disorders are among the most difficult to deal with for both patients and their families, as changes in personality can often be dramatic. Recent studies center on two natural substances that may improve symptoms in age-related mental decline and bipolar depressive disorder.
Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a brain nutrient needed for the storage, release and activity of neurotransmitters as well as cell-to-cell communication. PS stimulates the release of dopamine, which helps control movement, and increases production of acetylcholine, which aids memory and learning. PS also lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study from Italy, 425 patients, aged 65-93 years with moderate to severe cognitive decline, were given 300 mg of PS daily or a placebo for six months. Researchers reported statistically significant behavioural and cognitive improvements in the PS group compared to placebo.
A nutrient related to PS called inositol was the subject of another study at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine. Researchers there found that inositol was effective in treatment of bipolar depression. In this double-blind study, adults with bipolar depression were given either 12 g of inositol or a placebo for six weeks while remaining on their pharmaceutical medications.
Six of 12 patients in the inositol group showed a 50% or greater decrease in symptoms of bipolar depression, compared to only 4 of 12 patients in the placebo group. Furthermore, 8 of 12 inositol-treated subjects had a 50% or greater decrease in depression scores compared to only 4 of 12 placebo subjects.
Sources: Aging (Milano) 1993 Apr;5(2):123-33; Bipolar Disord 2000 Mar;2(1):47-55