Fish oil is fairly well established as a complementary therapy that actually works for controlling some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Since 1996, over 80 studies have supported the idea that:
- Decreasing bloodstream levels of arachidonic acid (the fatty acid found in abundance in egg yolks, beef, and cured meats) along with
- Increasing bloodstream levels of EPA (one of the fatty acids found in fish oil)
reduces the severity of the manic phase of bipolar disorder. Fish oil isn't a miracle cure for bipolar disorder, but it usually helps.
Last year, psychiatrists at the University of Rochester in the state of New York in the USA reported their experience with flaxseed oil as an alternative to fish oil in treating bipolar disorder in adolescents.
The bottom line of the research was that when taking flaxseed oil results in higher bloodstream levels of the omega-3 essential fatty acid EPA, both depression and mania are improved. This is important news for vegans and vegetarians, and for potential users who are allergic to fish or shellfish. If for some reason you can't take fish oil, chances are you can take flaxseed oil.
Most teens would need to take about 12 grams (12 one-gram capsules) of 55% ALA flaxseed oil every day to get relief from depression. It's important to take the flaxseed oil on a regular basis, as the benefits take a few weeks to "kick in." Adding high-ALA to salad dressings, cereals, and smoothies would also work if capsules can't be taken.
Adding flaxseed oil to your diet is just half of the equation.
It's important to remember that adding flaxseed oil to the diet is just half of the equation.
It's also necessary to reduce consumption of foods that are high in arachidonic acid. And not everyone has the enzymes that convert the ALA in flaxseed oil to the EPA that the brain needs.
But for some young people with bipolar disorder, flaxseed oil can be as valuable as some medications in reducing both mania and depression. (More about omega-3 and depression).
You can access the original research online, Randomized, placebo-controlled trial of flax oil in pediatric bipolar disorder.