Natural Remedies for Bipolar Disorder
There are safe, powerful, and effective approaches to natural treatment for bipolar disorder.
Dr. Cain, ND MA is the only integrative bipolar doctor in the country who has a master’s degree in clinical psychology and a naturopathic medical degree. She is licensed as a physician in the state of Arizona and has training in diagnosis, medication management, and treatment of bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety.
“My health has improved, my relationships are stronger, and I’m full of energy and hope. This differs entirely from my previous 31 years of unsuccessful medications, therapies, and useless testing. I wish I’d started naturopathic treatment with Dr. Cain, ND MA years ago!” – A Satisfied Client
What is Bipolar Disorder, Manic Depression, or Manic-Depressive Disorder?
Bipolar disorder, previously called manic depression or manic-depressive disorder, is a psychiatric condition characterized by extreme shifts in moods. These mood swings tend to cycle from depressive symptoms (or major depression) to manic episodes (or hypomania). Patterns tend to be well demarcated and cyclical.
What are the Different Types of Bipolar Disorder?
There are four main types of bipolar disorder: Bipolar Disorder Type I (or Bipolar I Disorder), Bipolar Disorder Type II (or Bipolar II Disorder), Cyclothymic Disorder (or Cyclothymia), and “other” types of bipolar disorder.
Let’s deconstruct each of these a little bit more:
Bipolar 1 Disorder
- Bipolar I Disorder is characterized by true mania alternating (sometimes) with depression. I say sometimes because some cases of bipolar disorder do not present with any depression until much later in the disease. Mania is on the opposite pole of depression and may be characterized by high energy, sleeplessness, grandiosity, risk-taking-behaviors, talkativeness, agitation, excitability, and extreme mania may present with psychosis or a loss of reality. Mania lasts for over a week and may go on for months in more severe cases. The most severe aspect of bipolar type I is mania which can be debilitating and frightening for the sufferer and their loved ones.
- Bipolar II Disorder differs from type I in that the depression predominates and the mania is less extreme. People with Bipolar Disorder type II tend to suffer from extreme depression, otherwise known as Major Depression, and hypomania. Hypomania differs from mania in that it is of shorter duration (often under 4 days). Depressive episodes can last from weeks to months.
- Cyclothymia is defined as mood cycles that last for at least two years, that alternate back and forth similar to bipolar disorder type I and II. However, depression and hypomania do not meet the full criteria for hypomania and major depression.
What Causes Bipolar Disorder?
There are many genetic, environmental, and neurochemical factors that impact the development of bipolar disorder.
In this section, we will talk about the high yield differentials that should be considered in identifying the root cause of your symptoms of bipolar disorder. It is important to emphasize that this is not a complete or exhaustive list and it will be extremely important for you to establish care with a highly trained integrative bipolar doctor.
In bipolar disorder, we see changes in the frontal lobe, amygdala, and hippocampus of the brain. These changes differ depending on if the person is in a state of depression or mania. The frontal lobe acts as breaks for the brain and In depression, we see more activity in the frontal lobe which results in suppression of behaviors. The amygdala is the emotional center of the brain and in depression, the amygdala is turned down to cause lethargy lack of motivation and sadness. Contrastingly, in mania, the frontal lobe is turned down resulting in impulsivity while the amygdala is turned up and the person experiences intense emotions like elation, paranoia, irritability, and fear. The Hippocampus is involved in memory, in bipolar disorder we see changes in hippocampal tissue and this is why sometimes we see forgetfulness in mania and depression. Brain scans can give us information on your brain’s health and level of activity during different mood states to identify causes of your feelings and behaviors.
We see an increased risk of developing bipolar disorder if there is a first-degree relation affected by bipolar disorder. Research has identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with an increased risk of developing bipolar disorder. Examples of these SNPs can be found in the genes CACNA1C, ODZ4, AND NCAN. I typically recommend my clients do genetic testing and Organic Acid Testing so that we can identify risk factors create epigenetically tailored treatment plans.
Neurotransmitters are cells that send chemical messages and drive thought, emotions, and behavior. The primary neurotransmitters are serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, GABA, and glutamate. Your neurotransmitters are greatly impacted by your genetic makeup, environment, gut-health, and even traumas (whether emotional or physical).
Pharmaceutical treatments aim to manipulate neurotransmitters in an attempt to regulate mood and behavior. My recommendation is to look at neurotransmitter breakdown products and combine this data with amino-acid function, detoxification, genetics, and epigenetic testing in order to first determine what is happening in the brain chemistry and create uniquely tailored protocols to balance the neurochemistry. My favorite test is the Mental Health Panel in conjunction with genetic testing conducted by your primary care doctor.
When referring to toxicity the research has shown a link between different types of environmental chemicals and damage to our brains, organs, cells, even our DNA. Identifying the root cause of your symptoms must involve looking at environmental toxicity.
Here are examples of different toxins and the impact they can have on mental/emotional functioning;
Dr. Nicole Cain’s Top Bipolar Disorder Solutions: Integrative & Natural Treatment for Bipolar Disorder
Identify the root cause of your symptoms and address them directly
Dr. Cain’s, ND MA natural remedy for bipolar disorder depends on identifying what is out of balance in the body. Once we treat the root cause of the symptoms they will fade away. Here is the typical battery of tests I order for my new clients presenting with depression and/or bipolar disorder:
- OAT testing: The OAT test is an extremely comprehensive urine test in assessing the multivariable causes and modifying factors in the development and maintenance of bipolar disorder. The OAT test tells us about how your body is reacting to your DNA in its environment. It achieves this by examining over 70 health markers. It provides information about mood-regulating neurotransmitters, oxidative stress levels, mineral and vitamin levels. It also provides individualized data regarding gut health and recommendations pertaining to diet and your genetic individuality and speaks to optimal supplementation and dietary changes that actually impact your unique microbiology.
- Basic blood work: CBC, CMP, Thyroid (FT3, FT4, TSH, RT3), Iron Panel (Ferritin, TIBC, Serum Iron, HFE gene), Lipids (ideally a vertical auto profile (VAP) test), Urinalysis, GGT, HGA1C, Homocysteine, HSCRP, Fibrinogen, MMA, Serum B12, MTHFR, COMT, APOE, Cortisol x3
- Hormone testing: FSH, LH, Fractionated Estrogens, Progesterone, Pregnenolone, Prolactin, DHEA-S, Testosterone (Free & Total), & SHBG.
Toxins & Bipolar Disorder
To read the latest research on bipolar disorder and toxicity, click on each of the articles below:
- Methamphetamine‐Induced Changes in Antioxidant Enzymes and Lipid Peroxidation in Copper/Zinc‐Superoxide Dismutase Transgenic Mice
- Metals and the Mind
- Copper Toxicity: A Common Cause of Psychiatric Symptoms
- Bipolar disorders and Wilson’s disease
To see if toxicity is causing or contributing to your bipolar disorder, the GLP Tox and Hair Toxic Metals Analysis would be a great start!
There is an extensive amount of research linking bipolar disorder and oxidative build up. Oxidative stress damages your DNA, is harmful to your brain and organs, and causes symptoms of bipolar disorder. If your symptoms of bipolar disorder are associated with oxidative stress build-up, proper identification and treatment is absolutely necessary.
To read the latest research on bipolar disorder and oxidative stress, click on each of the articles below:
- J Affect Disord. 2008 Dec;111(2-3):135-44. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2008.04.013. Epub 2008 Jun 9.
Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18539338
- Psychiatry Res. 2014 Aug 15;218(1-2):61-8. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2014.04.005. Epub 2014 Apr 13.
Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24794031
Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3964745/
Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5378213/
- Published Online:5 Oct 2007 | https://doi.org/10.1176/pn.42.19.0018a.
Retrieved from: https://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/pn.42.19.0018a
To see if oxidative stress is causing or contributing to your bipolar disorder, the DNA Oxidative Damage Assay would be great.
Food Allergy Testing for Bipolar Disorder & Candida Testing for Bipolar Disorder
The health of the gut impact how your body makes its mood-altering neurotransmitters. In fact, 95% of your serotonin is made in the gut, and medications that primarily focus on modifying serotonin, have high side effect profiles in the gut. If you have bipolar disorder, it is likely that your diet is playing a role. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to diet. Finding out your unique needs will give you direction on a way you can eat to feel like yourself again.
Top 4 Bipolar Diet Tips
- Reduce inflammation by eating Chia seeds, ginger, cashew nuts, broccoli, blueberries, spinach, and broth (especially organic bone broth). Avoid sugar, carbohydrates, fried foods, food dyes, soda/pop, preservatives.
- Feed your brain with lean protein, wild/ Alaskan fish, and healthy oils (avocado, coconut, walnut). Avoid alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, pork, excess red meat.
- Detox by consuming lots of water, minerals, vegetables from the brassica family (broccoli, brussel sprouts), high fiber foods (legumes, beans)
- Heal your gut by taking supplements such as GI Revive, Therbiotic, and Similase. To learn more about the gut/brain axis, check out Dr. Nicole’s Gut Psychology Program.
According to research, contemplative and spiritual practices may have remarkable benefits to your emotional and physical health. These types of practices can vary dramatically and the more that they are tailored to you, the better they will serve you. Here are some ideas for contemplative practices that have been shown to offer benefits to your health: Meditation, prayer, yoga, journaling, and attending services with a spiritual community. Read the book Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges by Dr. Steven Southwick to learn more about how spirituality can help you overcome trauma and live a life on purpose, with purpose.
How Natural Remedies for Bipolar Disorder Work
At your first visit, Dr. Cain, ND MA will make sure you are accurately diagnosed. There are other conditions that have symptoms that overlap with bipolar disorder, for example, post-traumatic stress disorder, trauma, and borderline personality disorder. Having an accurate diagnosis can help you find the right treatment.
Dr. Cain, ND MA seeks to get to the root cause of your symptoms. At your initial visit, she will look at your records and may order laboratory work to rule out other potential causes of your symptoms. At the end of your first visit or at your second visit Dr. Cain, ND MA will prescribe you a homeopathic natural remedy for bipolar disorder. Homeopathic medicines are natural medicines that are safe, effective, and approved by the FDA for the treatment of many illnesses. Homeopathic medicines will not interact with your prescription drugs and they can work fast. Your homeopathic prescription may consist of natural mood stabilizers for bipolar disorder as well as remedies that counteract the root causes of your mood disorders.
Homeopathy can be incredibly effective in helping clients lower the doses of their medications, and Dr. Cain, ND MA has even successfully helped many clients completely wean off their medications.
The Benefits of Homeopathic Treatment for Bipolar Disorder:
- Homeopathy is 100% safe.
- Homeopathy is a natural treatment.
- Homeopathy is FDA approved to be sold at grocery stores.
- Homeopathic remedies are affordable with the average remedy costing between $7-15.
- There are no side effects.
- Homeopathy can be used with your medications.
- Homeopathic remedies help your body heal so that your symptoms naturally go away.
Homeopathy will not only treat your mood but it can help with your other concerns as well and help you recover as a whole person.