Note: Do consult a specialist for proper diagnosis and treatment of this condition. Use home remedies just as an adjunct treatment.
Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive disorder, is a mental illness in which a person experiences frequent mood swings.
Within a short time period, a person can experience mood swings from extreme high to extreme low. The frequent mood swings can be awful for the person going through them along with those who live with him or her.
The exact cause of bipolar disorder is still not known. Some of the possible causes and risk factors for this mental disorder are a genetic predisposition, stress, hormonal imbalance, an imbalance in brain chemicals, physical changes in the brain, drug or alcohol abuse, and some traumatic experience.
Once diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a person needs extensive and long-term treatment.
Generally medications are prescribed by doctors, but those who are interested in natural treatment, can also consider herbal remedies. Make sure to consult a qualified naturopath or medical herbalist for proper guidance.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for bipolar disorder.
1. Fish Oil
Being rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil can help in the treatment of bipolar disorder. Its EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) content is essential for hormone production and nerve tissue health. Fish oil improves the functionality of brain and helps overcome depression.
So, take fish oil supplements. For proper dosage, consult your doctor. Also, you can regularly eat fatty fish such as albacore tuna, mackerel, salmon, herring and trout which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Brahmi, also known as bacopa, is another useful herb for bipolar disorder because it works as a mild stimulant as well as sedative. It also helps enhance memory and relieves mental strain.
- Drink a few teaspoons of juice extracted from brahmi leaves daily for several weeks. Another option is consume brahmi ghee prepared by frying brahmi leaves in clarified butter (ghee).
- Alternatively, take this herb in supplement form. For proper dosage, consult your doctor.
- An invigorating head massage with brahmi oil is also beneficial.
Ashwagandha works as a nervine tonic to improve the symptoms of bipolar disorder. A 2013 study by the University of Pittsburgh found that sensorial, an ingredient in ashwagandha can improve 3 separate cognitive functions in those suffering from bipolar disorder as it can help with auditory-verbal working memory, reaction time and social cognition.
Take 500 mg standardized extract of Ashwagandha root and leaves daily for several weeks.
4. Valerian Root
Valerian root is known for its strong sedative properties which can help calm the nervous system. It is often used as an alternative medicine for anxiety, sleep problems and mood disorders.
Valerian promotes feelings of calmness and reduces nervous tension and stress along with anxiety, restlessness and mild to moderate mood changes.
This herb is easily available in the market in various forms such as dried valerian root, tea bags, capsules, and liquid extract.
5. Passion Flower
Passion flower has sedative properties that can reduce anxiety and excitability experienced during the manic episodes of bipolar disorder. It also helps treat insomnia.
Although this herb has no side effects, yet at times it may cause stomach upset. However, before taking this herb it is advisable to discuss with your doctor.
- Add 1 teaspoon of this herb to a cup of hot water.
- Let it steep for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Strain and drink this tea a few times a day.
Magnesium works in a way similar to lithium but with fewer health risks. It works as a mood balancer and reduces the symptoms of mania.
It also promotes good sleep. In fact, magnesium deficiency often leads to insomnia and anxiety. Magnesium levels are naturally depleted during periods of stress and hard work.
- Take oral magnesium supplements.
- You can also include magnesium-rich foods such as spinach, Swiss chard, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews, soybeans, and black beans in your diet.
7. B Vitamins
B vitamins can be beneficial for those suffering from bipolar disorder because they help regulate the mood. Vitamins B1, B6, B9 and B12 are particularly important as they can help decrease symptoms like anxiety, irritability, depression, mood swings and fatigue.
Vitamin B1, also called thiamin, improves blood circulation in the brain and body. Vitamin B6, also called pyridoxine, combats irritability. Vitamin B9, popularly known as folic acid, is critical for maintaining proper brain function and synthesis of key brain chemicals.
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is required for manufacturing certain neurotransmitters and its deficiency is linked to symptoms of mania, irritability, psychosis, depression and fatigue.
- As B vitamins work together, it is best to take a vitamin B-complex supplement that has the proper the proper proportion of the different B vitamins.
- You can also eat more B vitamin rich foods like milk, eggs, fortified cereals, whole grains, leafy greens and soy products.
8. St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort is a popular herbal antidepressant as it helps treat mild to moderate depression. It also affects various brain chemicals.
However, those suffering from bipolar disorder should take this herb only after consulting a doctor as it can trigger mania. Plus, it tends to interact with a large number of prescription medications.
Licorice, too, can help with bipolar disorder as it acts as antidepressant. It also seems to affect hormone production. Those suffering from bipolar disorder can drink licorice tea on a regular basis.
- Add 1 teaspoon of dried licorice root to a cup of hot water.
- Allow it to steep for 10 minutes.
- Strain the solution and your tea is ready.
10. Massage Therapy
Massage therapy promotes relaxation and relieves anxiety, stress and depression, thus helping in the treatment of bipolar disorder. It also affects hormones and neurotransmitters.
Gently massage the body regularly, using the traditional massage techniques. It is best to get your massage by a professional masseur.
You can also consider acupuncture or Ayurvedic procedures like shirodhara (oil stream therapy) and panchakarma treatment performed by an expert for a calming and relaxing effect.
Note: Massage therapy is not recommended for bipolar disorder patients who are unstable.
Although the above mentioned natural remedies can help in dealing with bipolar disorder, it is important to seek your doctor’s advice and even consult a medical herbalist before trying any of these remedies as they may interfere with certain medications or may not be suitable for some cases.
- Do not skip your medications as it may precipitate a relapse.
- Keep a regular routine such as eating and sleeping at the same time every day.
- Get proper sleep. Lack of sleep is an important trigger for mania.
- Avoid skipping your meals as it may worsen your mood.
- Exercise regularly as it is beneficial for your physical as well as mental health. You could engage in activities like walking, gardening, and swimming to relax the mind.
- Try meditation, yoga and breathing exercises to help break negative thinking patterns.
- Steer clear of stimulants like alcohol and caffeine.
- Join a support group.
- Maintain a mood journal to help identify the warning signs that signal a shift into depression or mania.
- Bipolar disorder can be difficult for the patient’s family members, spouse, friends and other caregivers as well. They, too, need to find support and take care of themselves to reduce stress.