Have you used inositol for anxiety and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) or even obsessive thinking or behaviors? Have you used it alone or with tryptophan or 5-HTP? I’d like to share an interesting discussion on a recent blog I wrote: Amino acids for anxiety – which ones and for how long? to illustrate how we are all unique and how some nutrients work well and some not so well.
I received this question on the blog regarding the use of amino acids tryptophan or 5-HTP and OCD/anxiety:
I was wondering if this will help with OCD? I did not see any mention of OCD in your articles. Do you feel it can be treated the same way you would treat other anxieties? I was told that since I take serotonin medication that I should not take 5-HTP because it may cause too much serotonin. What are your thoughts?
My answer was as follows (I’ve added a few links because I like to share the research):
OCD can often be related to low serotonin so yes tryptophan and/or 5-HTP can help and is often very effective. If you take an SSRI then tryptophan and/or 5-HTP should only be taken under a doctor’s supervision and at least 6 hours from the SSRI. I would suggest working with a practitioner who knows the amino acids too. And talk to your doctor about doing a taper if that’s what you’d like to do
The other nutrient that helps with OCD is inositol and this is fine to take with an SSRI. I start my clients on 2g/day and go up to 18g/day. Here is one of the older papers on inositol, showing benefits for depression, panic attacks and OCD and a more recent paper discussing OCD and inositol and other nutrients such as NAC and glycine.
With OCD I’d always also look into past strep infections and PANDAs as this could be a factor too.
One of my blog readers, Tracy, responded to the question with some encouragement (how lovely!) and gave us a great example of how we are all different and there is no one size fits all:
Chiming in with a bit of encouragement here – a bit late perhaps, but wanted to let you know that my teenage son suffers from OCD and anxiety. A number of years ago I found Trudy’s website while trying to find some natural ways to help him. We tried 5-HTP with good success (it also helped lessen the frequency and intensity of his migraines) but it caused stomach upset with him, even when taken with food, so be aware that it may have this effect on you if you try it. After about 9 months of 5-HTP we kind of “forgot” to give it to him and he continued to feel good.
Once my son started high school he started having more stress in his life and his OCD, anxiety and migraines returned. I started him on inositol about 8 months ago. It has had an even greater effect on the OCD than the 5-HTP (remember everyone is different tho!).
I’d highly recommend you try the inositol since 5HTP/tryptophan is not an option for you at this time. My son has had no side effects from inositol at all. Good luck!!
I was pleased to hear that the 5-HTP helped when Tracy’s son was younger. Some people do have digestive issues with 5-HTP. It’s usually in the first week and then typically resolves. This was obviously not the case with this young man.
I was also thrilled to hear that the inositol is helping so much now and wanted to know how much helps so I asked her. Tracy shared how much her son needs (not much at all) and the symptoms it helps with:
My son takes 500mg (NOW brand) daily in the mornings, usually with breakfast. That amount works well for him most days.
When stress is higher and he starts experiencing “breakthrough anxiety” or obsessions, I have him take another 500mg in the evenings as well, just for a couple days or until the stress has diminished.
I should mention that his OCD tends to be primarily obsessive in nature with very little compulsion. His father was actually diagnosed with mild OCD before I met him and he learned to deal with his through counseling and behavior modification. I read about tryptophan (Julia Ross) and asked him to try it. It works well for him when his anxiety acts up (which interestingly tends to have a seasonal component!) It has been an education living with these two!
You can take up to 18g a day of inositol but I suggest starting with 2g a day and building up as needed. But as you can see above, even 500mg to 1000mg (which is 1 g – I grew up in South Africa and love the metric system!) may be enough.
I happen to use the DFH Inositol powder (pictured above). It has a pleasant slightly sweet taste and is easy to increase the amount based on how much you find helpful. You can find this on the supplements blog here.
As I mentioned above, tryptophan or 5-HTP can help with anxiety, OCD, obsessive thoughts and behaviors (and panic disorders and depression). Adding inositol is an option when the tryptophan/5-HTP isn’t quite enough, or simply use inositol alone.
I also think inositol makes a great addition for mixing into the nasty tasting tryptophan if you find you get better benefits with the tryptophan capsules opened. I suggest starting with 2g inositol per 500mg tryptophan.
I appreciate Tracy giving me permission to share her son’s success with these nutrients. We can all learn so much from stories like this. If you’ve been using any of the amino acids and/or inositol, I hope this has been helpful for you.
Please share how you’re doing in the comments and feel free to ask additional questions.
If this sounds intriguing and you’d like guidance with using the amino acids and other nutrients like inositol, stay tuned for the launch of The Amazing Aminos for Anxiety homestudy group program. This homestudy group program will provide guidance with using each of the targeted individual amino acids, including nutrients like inositol. You can also add your name in the comments if you’d like to be notified when it launches. You’re also welcome to sign up here to be notified when we have more details about the start date.