NATURAL REMEDIES FOR SCHIZOPHRENIA

    • Go for the glycine

      With a healthcare professional’s
      supervision, help improve symptoms such as depression with daily use of this
      nutritional supplement; take 0.8 grams for every 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of body
      weight

    • Rest easy with melatonin
      Improve sleep quality and
      duration with this natural hormone; take 2 mg of a controlled-release
      preparation before bedtime
    • Try megadose vitamin therapy

      Work with a healthcare
      professional knowledgeable in nutritional treatment of schizophrenia to find out
      whether large amounts of vitamin B3, B6, or C improves symptoms

    • Find a fix for low folic acid levels
      Visit your
      healthcare provider to determine if your blood is low in folic acid, and if 10
      to 20 mg a day of this vitamin might help improve symptoms
    • Uncover food sensitivities

      Work with a nutritionist to
      follow a gluten-free, dairy-free diet that may help improve responses to
      medication

    These recommendations are not comprehensive and are not intended to replace
    the advice of your doctor or pharmacist. Continue reading the full schizophrenia
    article for more in-depth, fully-referenced information on medicines, vitamins,
    herbs, and dietary and lifestyle changes that may be helpful.

    Dietary changes that may be
    helpful

    For many years there has been speculation that
    certain dietary proteins may contribute to the symptoms of schizophrenia.1 2 3
    Gluten, a protein from wheat and some other grains, and to a lesser extent
    casein, a dairy protein, have been the targets of research on food sensitivities
    as contributors to schizophrenia.4 People with schizophrenia have been shown to
    be more likely to have immune reactions to these proteins, than the general
    population.5 A preliminary trial of a gluten-free/dairy-free diet found that
    patients with schizophrenia improved on the diet and had shorter hospital stays
    than those eating normal diets.6 The results of double-blind trials, however,
    have been inconsistent. The gluten-free/dairy-free diet improved responses to
    medications in one controlled trial.7 These improvements were lost and symptoms
    of schizophrenia were aggravated when gluten was re-introduced in a “blinded”
    fashion. Another clinical trial found similar positive responses in only 8% of
    patients.8 Other controlled trials have found no improvement when gluten and
    dairy were removed from the diet.9 10 In one clinical trial, blinded
    reintroduction of gluten appeared to cause improvement of symptoms.11 These
    results suggest that some, but not all, people with schizophrenia may benefit
    from a gluten-free/dairy-free diet.

    Lifestyle changes that may be helpful

    Exercise has long been recognized
    for its benefits in treating mild to moderate depression and there is some
    evidence that it may also be helpful in reducing anxiety.12 In one reported
    case, physical activity improved the functioning of a man diagnosed with
    schizophrenia.13 In another reported case, aggressive outbursts in a
    schizophrenic patient were reduced after he began exercising.14 A preliminary
    trial of an exercise program for hospitalized psychiatric patients with varying
    diagnoses resulted in significantly reduced symptoms of depression and an
    insignificant trend towards reduced anxiety.15 Additional research is needed to
    determine the specific benefits of exercise in people with schizophrenia.

    Other therapies
    Psychological
    counseling or electroconvulsive therapy (electrical current applied to the
    brain) may also be recommended.

    Vitamins that may be
    helpful
    People with schizophrenia may have a greater tendency
    to be deficient in folic acid, than the general population16 and they may show
    improvement when given supplements. A preliminary trial found that, among
    schizophrenic patients with folic acid deficiency, those given folic acid
    supplements had more improvement, and shorter hospital stays than those not
    given supplements.17 In a double-blind trial, a very high amount of folic acid
    (15 mg daily) was given to schizophrenic patients being treated with psychiatric
    medications who had low or borderline folic acid levels. The patients receiving
    the folic acid supplements had significant improvement, which became more
    significant over the six-month course of the trial.18 The symptoms of folic acid
    deficiency can be similar to those of schizophrenia, and two cases of wrong
    “schizophrenia” diagnoses have been reported.19 20 In one of these cases, an
    initial supplement of 20 mg daily of folic acid and a maintenance supplemental
    intake of 10 mg daily, led to resolution of symptoms.21

    In another double-blind study, daily supplementation with folic acid (2 mg),
    vitamin B6 (25 mg), and vitamin B12 (400 mcg) for three months improved symptoms
    of schizophrenia compared with a placebo.22 All of the participants in this
    study had elevated blood levels of homocysteine, which can be decreased by
    taking these three B vitamins. Based on this study, it would seem reasonable to
    measure homocysteine levels in people with schizophrenia and, if they are
    elevated, to supplement with folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12.

    There have been several reports of glycine reducing the symptoms of people
    with schizophrenia who were unresponsive to drug therapy.23 Large amounts of
    glycine (0.8 gram per 2.2 pounds of body weight per day) have been shown to
    reduce negative symptoms of schizophrenia and improve psychiatric rating scores
    in one preliminary trial;24 however, these results have not been repeated in
    later trials using similar (very high) amounts.25 26 Earlier double-blind trials
    found significant improvements in depression and mental symptoms in people with
    schizophrenia who took glycine for six weeks.27 28 Most trials demonstrated a
    moderate improvement in schizophrenia symptoms in those taking glycine
    supplements.29 Long-term supplementation with high amounts of glycine may be
    toxic to nerve tissue, however. Some preliminary successes have been reported
    using smaller amounts of glycine, such as 10 grams per day.30 Long-term studies
    on the safety of glycine therapy are needed.

    The term “orthomolecular psychiatry” was coined by Linus Pauling in 1968 to
    refer to the treatment of psychiatric illnesses with substances (such as
    vitamins) that are normally present in the body. In orthomolecular psychiatry,
    high amounts of vitamins are sometimes used, not to correct a deficiency per se,
    but to create a more optimal biochemical environment. The mainstay of the
    orthomolecular approach to schizophrenia is niacin or niacinamide (vitamin B3)
    in high amounts. In early double-blind trials, 3 grams of niacin daily resulted
    in a doubling of the recovery rate, a 50% reduction in hospitalization rates,
    and a dramatic reduction in suicide rates.31 In a preliminary trial, some
    schizophrenic patients continued a course of vitamins (4 to 10 grams of niacin
    or niacinamide, 4 grams of vitamin C, and 50 mg or more of vitamin B6) after
    being discharged from the hospital, while another group of patients discontinued
    the vitamins upon discharge. Both groups continued to take their psychiatric
    medications. Those who continued to take the vitamins had a 50% lower
    re-admission rate compared with those who did not.32 Several later double-blind
    trials, including trials undertaken by the Canadian Me

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