Science is continually on the quest for solutions to chronic health conditions. Though some answers are developed by laboratories in the belly of a petri dish, others—such as Inositol—are discovered within the foods we eat and within our own bodies themselves, such as myo-inositol.
Individuals with diseases such as gestational diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), sleep disorders and more. This includes mental health issues such as panic disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorders, sufferers of these conditions may find inositol, and its common form myo-inositol, a viable therapy in the treatment of these conditions. For purposes of our website, we’ll refer mainly to myo-inositol and inositol. Myo-inositol is a very useful health supplement, effective by itself and also when blended with other helpful supplements.
What is Myo-Inositol?
Let’s start with the basics, inositol is a naturally occurring substance which is gaining ground as a treatment for both metabolic and mental health conditions. Myo-inositol is sometimes referred to as Vitamin B8, however, it isn’t technically a vitamin at all. It’s actually classified as an isomer, or stereoisomer, because it appears in different forms, each of which function quite similarly, but have slight variations to their makeup. Myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol, another common form, are both isomers of inositol.
Inositol is found in foods such as beans, fruits, grains and nuts. Our bodies derive some myo-inositol from these foods. The human body can also manufacture its own myo-inositol through carbohydrates in the diet. Myo-inositol occurs in the body as a form of sugar—a beneficial sugar. It plays a key role in the structure of our cells and acts as a chemical messenger allowing our bodies to function correctly—the way they were designed.
Frequently Asked Question about Myo-Inositol:
Myo-Inositol vs. Inositol
Those new to the world of inositol may feel confused by the terminology. Inositol or Myo-inositol or Isomer. Is myo-inositol and inositol the same thing? What does it all mean? As stated above, myo-inositol is an isomer of inositol, as is D-chiro-inositol.
These are different forms of the same compound, but the differences are slight. Your body utilizes a combination of these isomers, all under the umbrella of inositol. If you are embarking on a therapeutic program involving inositol, it is likely you will receive myo-inositol, though D-chiro-inositol may also be recommended.
Your body can produce D-chiro-inositol from myo-inositol, but either form is attainable in supplement form as well. Think of it as therapeutic fish oil. Fish oil comes in a combination of EPA and DHA. Both are omega-3 fatty acids, but each has its own makeup and each fills a need within the body.
Natural Sources of My-Inositol
If your diet consists of oatmeal, brown rice and whole wheat, rest assured you are supplying your body with at least some of its daily myo-inositol needs. Add in some fresh fruits and vegetables as icing on the cake.
Meat-eaters might obtain myo-inositol from the heart or liver of an animal. It also occurs in the brain of an animal, but most diets don’t consist of this organ. Even though your diet might be rich in foods containing forms of inositol, you still may not be getting enough. You’re doing your part, but you need a boost. That’s where supplements play a crucial role.
Yes, myo-inositol is a naturally occurring substance, but it is one which can be reproduced in the laboratory and manufactured as a supplement. Myo-inositol supplements are sold as a powder or in capsules or tablets. It also comes in pre-made packets in combination with other active ingredients such as folic acid, depending on the need. Myo-inositol bulk powder is also offered as an economic option for higher-dose therapies. Myo-inositol powder is very fine and can be easily mixed with water or juice. Most products have a slightly sweet taste which makes it more palatable.
Inositol Supplements in the Treatment of Metabolic Conditions
Women struggling with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) experience a hormonal imbalance which affects not only their menstrual cycle, but also fertility. This imbalance promotes weight gain and elevated levels of sugars, cholesterol and triglycerides, all leading to a higher risk of diabetes, stroke or heart attack. Myo-inositol therapy for PCOS offers encouraging results for many suffering with this condition. Clinical studies show daily use of the supplement reduced triglycerides, lowered blood pressure and increased insulin function. All this myo-inositol benefit in a supplement which is better tolerated than standard pharmaceuticals. Perhaps that’s why inositol supplements are becoming more and more common in the treatment of PCOS.
As with PCOS, metabolic syndrome carries the same risks and some similar symptoms. Those suffering with metabolic syndrome carry excess weight in the midsection, have elevated triglycerides, blood pressure and blood sugars as well as low levels of the “good” cholesterol (HDL). Risk of heart attack and stroke are increased as well as risk for diabetes. Studies show positive results with the daily administration of myo-inositol. Triglyceride levels were reduced as well as total cholesterol. Blood sugar was improved as well as blood pressure.
Type 2 Diabetes
You might know Type 2 diabetes as “adult-onset diabetes,” but it affects more than adults these days. Children are developing the disease at a rapid pace, perhaps because of the increase of obesity in our society. Type 2 diabetes is a condition of insulin resistance or insufficient insulin production. Your glucose, or sugar levels, rise. Just as with PCOS and metabolic syndrome, the use of inositol supplements may prove helpful in the management of blood sugar. In a pilot study, inositol, in particular D-chiro-inositol in conjunction with folic acid, showed that it may initiate cell action to improve glucose levels in the blood.
Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM)
Diabetes which occurs during pregnancy, GDM, affects some 10 percent of women in this country annually. Preliminary studies show that a combination of myo-inositol and folic acid may reduce the risk of high blood sugar during pregnancy. Further studies are necessary, though inositol may be an option to consider if you are pregnant and concerned about your blood sugar levels. Remember, as with all medications taken during pregnancy, speak with your doctor first.
Myo-inositol in the Treatment of Mental Health Disorders
Panic disorder has traditionally been treated with pharmaceuticals to which only about 70 out of 100 patients respond. These medications not only fail a large portion of the population, but they also come with a host of concerns including risk of dependency and a laundry list of side effects. Myo-inositol—a naturally occuring substance—is showing promise in the treatment of panic disorder. It is a key molecular component in the brain which binds with neurotransmitters such as serotonin, interfering with panic-inducing molecules and restoring a more healthy balance to natural brain chemistry. In a controlled study published by the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, patients showed a greater reduction in weekly instances of panic compared with those taking the pharmaceutical fluvoxamine.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive compulsive disorder comes in all varieties. One might obsess about dirt, germs or even pieces of lint which leads them to extraordinary measures of avoidance or cleaning. Others might be compelled to perform rituals such as counting or repeating a phrase over and over. In whichever way OCD presents itself, the condition may become overwhelming and eventually prohibit an individual from leading a normal life. As with panic disorder, pharmaceuticals have been the go-to in helping to alleviate symptoms, but with limited success. If you’re struggling with OCD, inositol supplementation may help reduce symptoms by its molecular interaction with neurotransmitters within the brain.
Studies have shown myo-inositol to be beneficial in the treatment of mental health disorders such as generalized anxiety and depression. Those who suffer from anxiety may have low levels of serotonin. As with panic disorder and OCD, myo-inositol may help regulate serotonin levels within the brain. If you suffer from anxiety, ask your doctor about an inositol supplement in conjunction with a B-complex formula that includes folic acid. This combination may work to improve the dopamine and serotonin levels in your brain.
Bipolar disorder is a complex condition involving episodes of both depression and mania. Medications work to level out the changing chemistry within the brain, and many of these medications have strong side effects which make them undesirable necessities for many individuals. Myo-inositol as a therapy for bipolar disorder is under study, particularly as it relates to the molecular interaction with neurotransmitters at therapeutic levels and the limited side effects associated with its use. Be sure to speak with your doctor before making any changes to your medications or adding any therapeutic supplement for bipolar disorder.
Myo-Inositol in the Treatment of Other Health Conditions
Clinical research shows myo-inositol may increase fertility in women struggling to become pregnant. Those with PCOS or anovulatory disorder may find inositol as a supplement to be helpful in regaining a regular menstrual cycle, as well as in ovulation. Among its many beneficial roles, inositol helps regulate secretion of certain exocrine glands within the body, including that of the ovaries. Higher levels of myo-inositol are also key in signaling the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), in ovum development, and in the quality of the embryo. An article published online by Medicine (Baltimore) in December 2017, analyzed the results of research on myo-inositol on assisted reproduction such as in vitro fertilization. Results showed an increase in the success rate of procedures. It concluded that use of myo-inositol may also reduce the amount of stimulation drugs required in assisted reproduction.
Respiratory Distress Syndrome in Preterm Infants
Though research is ongoing, doctors at Foothills Medical Center in Calgary, Canada, determined through data collection and analysis of controlled trials, that myo-inositol supplementation significantly improves outcomes for preterm infants with breathing difficulties.
Inositol and Hair Growth
There are countless reasons why we as humans experience hair loss. There are also countless therapies on the market claiming to help you regain a full head of hair. Though no method can guarantee hair growth, there is one you might want to take a closer look at: myo-inositol. Myo-inositol, when taken with choline (another essential nutrient), may help increase hair growth and give follicles the phospholipids needed to produce stronger strands. Myo-inositol may strengthen the hair follicle to maximize hair’s moisture retention ability for longer strand growth. The addition of choline to myo-inositol promotes the liver’s delivery of vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy hair growth.
Myo-Inositol may also help with thinning hair by promoting healthier, natural hair at the molecular level. Hormonal imbalances, such as those experienced with PCOS—where there is an overabundance of the production of testosterone—may bring about thinning hair due to the chain reaction throughout the body. An increase in testosterone may trigger hyperandrogenism in women. Testosterone converts to DHT, which in turn binds with receptors in the hair follicle, causing them to shrink. Shrinking follicles fail to produce hair strands.
Additionally, those whose diets lack inositol may also find themselves developing baldness. It may be possible, however, to reverse this condition by introducing an inositol supplement into the diet. In increase in inositol may signal the body to produce the proper chemistry to stimulate the hair follicles.
Myo-Inositol and Weight Loss
Though unhealthy diets and lack of exercise certainly contribute to weight gain, insulin resistance may also play a factor. If you are overweight and out of ideas for weight loss, myo-inositol may help you lose weight by reversing symptoms related to insulin resistance. Speak with your physician about whether inositol as a supplement may by right for you.
Inositol and Sleep Issues
Inositol or Myo-Inositol has also been shown to be very beneficial in helping with Sleep Issues. Studies have been very promising, Insomnia and helping with effects of Sleep Apnea, Hypersomnia and especially Jet Lag.
Myo-Inositol and Lung Cancer
Though the population of traditional cigarette smokers is shrinking, lung cancer caused by cigarette smoke is still part of the landscape. According to a study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention, myo-inositol used in the treatment of pre-malignant bronchial lesions presented positive results in lesion regression, as well as proved to be a safe and well tolerated therapy. Further studies are ongoing.
In addition to the possibilities as a treatment of lung cancer, myo-inositol may prevent and treat various types of cancer including breast and colon cancer. Laboratory studies on mice have demonstrated cancerous tumor regression in the liver with myo-inositol therapy. These studies show that inositol may also restrain carcinogenic tumors in the lungs of mice. In addition, the substance demonstrates minimal toxicity on its subjects, and may reduce the unwanted negative effects caused by radiation and chemotherapy treatments.
More Common Questions about Inositol
Does a Lack of Inositol Cause Constipation?
It is rare that an inositol deficiency would occur since the substance is naturally produced in the body. However, excessive use of antibiotics can affect inositol levels. The drug lithium can also decrease levels by inhibiting the enzymes responsible for the synthesis of inositol. That said, symptoms of serious inositol deficiencies may include:
● Memory loss
● Fatty liver
● Vision abnormalities
● High LDL cholesterol levels
What Is the Relationship between Inositol and Caffeine?
Caffeine, a compound found in coffee, has been relied upon for generations to help increase energy levels and heighten alertness. Along with these benefits, caffeine comes with some negative effects to your body as well including anxiety, headaches, and an effect on blood pressure. Additionally, caffeine has been found to change the way your brain responds to inositol.
A small amount of caffeine—even 5mg—can minimize the activity of inositol receptors by up to three times the norm. Caffeine has also shown to deplete inositol within the body by affecting the way the body absorbs it through the diet. If you’re taking inositol supplements, particularly for therapeutic purposes, try to limit your caffeine intake as much as possible to gain the most benefit from the supplement.
Inositol As a Supplement: Proper Dosage?
● Those taking a myo-inositol supplement for symptoms of metabolic syndrome have seen improvement with 2 grams of myo-inositol taken twice daily for one year. The control group consisted of postmenopausal women. Consult your physician to determine the proper dosage for your age and condition.
● For symptoms of PCOS and associated infertility, clinical studies have utilized up to 2000 mg of myo-inositol plus 200 mcg of folic acid twice daily for six months according to an article published in the International Journal of Endocrinology in August 2016. As with any supplement, consult your primary care physician or OB-GYN to determine the correct dosage for your condition as well as duration of treatment.
● For mental health conditions including panic and depression studies have utilized dosages in the range of 12-18 grams per day for up to six weeks. Consultation with your mental health professional is necessary to determine the dosage appropriate for your condition and the duration of therapy. Some individuals may require no more than 500 milligrams (mg) taken twice daily while others might need 18 grams daily. Dosage is relative to the severity of symptoms.
● Those embarking on inositol therapy for obsessive compulsive disorder should first consult with their mental health professional to obtain proper dosage instructions for their condition. Research has shown through controlled trials that 18 grams of inositol per day for six weeks reduced symptoms of OCD compared with placebo.
Myo-Inositol Side Effects: 10 Things You Should Know
Even though myo-inositol is a natural substance and generally tolerated very well, some may experience negative side effects when using the supplement. It is possible too, that inositol as a supplement may not be right for you if you have certain conditions. If you are considering inositol in any form, be aware of the following possible adverse effects:
1. High doses of inositol are not recommended if you have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. The supplement may lower your blood sugar level and induce hypoglycemia.
2. Myo-inositol supplements may cause a feeling of fogginess when taken in high dosages. This sensation usually fades after your body becomes accustomed to the supplement. Lower the dosage to see if the symptom improves. Consult with your physician if the problem persists.
3. High doses of myo-inositol taken on a daily basis may cause severe cramps in your abdomen. You may also experience loose stools. Do not take inositol if these conditions persist.
4. Discontinue taking inositol if you are experiencing dizziness, which may be temporary or permanent.
5. Inositol may effect your sleep patterns. The supplement may be helpful if you suffer from insomnia, but oddly enough, inositol may also induce insomnia. Lower your dosage if you experience this negative side effect.
6. Myo-inositol may cause your skin to itch. Take a lower dose or discontinue inositol if the problem persists.
7. Inositol may cause mild sexual dysfunction including a lowered libido. Inositol should not cause serious dysfunction, however, and the effect varies with each individual.
8. Pregnant and lactating mothers should NOT take inositol supplements without first consulting their OB-GYN or other medical practitioner. Doctors do not recommend supplements to pregnant women or those who are breastfeeding except under certain circumstances.
9. If you take high doses of inositol, you may experience nausea, which is the most common side effect of the supplement. This may be remedied by taking smaller doses initially until your body grows accustomed to it.
10. If mixed with other substances, you may see side effects, but when used on its own, it is generally a safe supplement.
Myo-Inositol: The Future of Health
In short, science may have at last found a solid answer: natural is beneficial. With this precept in mind, the medical community leans more and more toward the inclusion of such substances in healthcare. To satisfy this trend, researchers continue their studies in this field. From treating women with infertility problems, to helping people who suffer from mental disorders, one natural substance—myo-inositol—appears to be leading the charge into the future. No, myo-inositol isn’t new to the market. It isn’t a fad. It isn’t hype. Myo-inositol has a proven track record, steady growth in applications and a promising future. If your prescription medications are not relieving your symptoms, or if the side effects of your medications are intolerable, maybe it’s time to try something different. Maybe it’s time for myo-inositol, the future of health.
Our accredited content contributor is:
Dr Afzaal is a Researcher, Microbiologist and Medical Writer. He holds a Ph.D. degree in clinical microbiology and a Master’s degree in psychology. Member of American Society for Microbiology and Australian Red Cross Blood Service. Dr Afzaal is published in various medical journals.
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