Superoxide Dismutase and Bipolar Disorder

By Dr. Nicole Cain ND, MA

If you’re tired of being stuck in the endless cycle of mood swings and medication upon medication, this is the article for you.

If you are looking for integrative support for bipolar disorder, then this article is for you, too.

If you’re ready to make just one small change to move towards greater health, than read on, because in this article I’m going to give you a tip that could change your life.


Bipolar disorder is a cluster of symptoms that result in alternating states of depression and mania or hypomania. Identification of root causes of the disorder is necessary in formulating a plan for treatment.

In this article we’re going to discuss the relationship between superoxide dismutase (SOD) and bipolar disorder. We will expand on the following topics:

What is superoxide dismutase (SOD) and how does superoxide dismutase (SOD) work?

SOD is an enzyme that is found in your cells; an enzyme is a substance that makes things happen. SOD enzymes are supremely effective at breaking down oxygen molecules in the cells and they protect your body from reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROSs are incredibly harmful molecules–they accumulate in high oxidative states and damage your cells, your DNA and wreak havoc in your mind and body (Web MD, 2019).

SOD is one of the most powerful antioxidants and it is is so effective at managing ROS levels that researchers measure SOD levels in a person’s body, in order to determine ROS levels as a marker for oxidative damage (Selek, S. Et al, 2008).

While the research on bipolar disorder is limited, studies have revealed that oxidative damage is one of the causes of bipolar disorder. Individuals who have bipolar disorder typically have lower levels of SOD and higher levels of oxidative stress as measured by nitric oxide (NO) (Selek, S. Et al, 2008).

In low concentrations, NO is protective against oxidative stress, but in high amounts NO is a pro-oxidant– meaning it causes oxidative damage (Joshi MS, Ponthier JL, and Lancaster JR Jr, 1999). Elevated NO levels are associated with many psychological disorders, especially and including mania in bipolar disorder. In fact, studies have shown that individuals with bipolar disorder have overall significantly higher levels of NO as compared to control subjects, and NO is considered a valuable marker for mania risk in bipolar disorder (Haluk Asuman Savas, et al, 2006).

Reducing NO levels with appropriate levels of SOD will protect the brain from damage caused by oxidative stress, stabilize bipolar-disorder-related mood instability and reduce overall oxidative damage in the brain and body.

What medications affect superoxide dismutase (SOD)?

Studies have shown that the efficacy of certain medications may be due to their antioxidant benefit and with greater antioxidant support, the body is able to down-regulate SOD production. Examples of this are medications: Risperidone, amitriptyline, and venlafaxine.

Reisperdone is a medication used for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and it has a secondary antioxidant benefit. In patients given risperidone, levels of glutathione, and vitamins E and C significantly increased, (Fatema  Zerin Khan, 2018), and SOD levels dropped (Zhang et al., 2003).

Amitriptyline, and venlafaxine are antidepressants and while they have no impact on SOD at therapeutic dosages, if taken in higher doses they increase the activity of SOD, and then SOD eradicates ROS and symptoms of depression and mania may improve (Savas et al., 2006).

What foods and supplements increase superoxide dismutase (SOD)?

While there are many foods that contain SOD, for example, cabbage, barley grass and broccoli, unfortunately the SOD molecule is generally too large to be absorbed from food. Your body can make its own SOD when given the appropriate building blocks, for example zinc, manganese and copper (Donnelly J.K, McLellan K.M, Walker J.L, and Robinson D.S., 1989) and getting ample amounts of these minerals is important in bipolar treatment.

Because some people are unable to naturally produce ample amounts of their own ROS-protective-SOD, researchers are looking for the best way to supplement SOD. Some options are supplements, creams, and injectables. The injectables offer the greatest promise as SOD injections have proven to be helpful in bipolar disorder (Gergerlioglu, HS et al, 2007), and other inflammatory conditions like joint pain, interstitial cystitis and crohn’s disease (Heffley J., 2006).

There is a broad market of supplements containing SOD and many consumers rave that it has been life-changing for them. While it is unlikely that your body will absorb all of the components of the SOD, it definitely doesn’t hurt to give it a try!

How do I take superoxide dismutase for bipolar disorder?

SOD is often taken from bovine or the fruit Cucumis melo aka Muskmelon. Typical dosages range from 300-600 mg, and you will achieve greater efficacy if the SOD source is combined with the SOD building blocks we discussed in this article in addition to other antioxidants. Some of my favorite free radical scavengers are liposomal glutathione, polyphenols found in brightly colored veggies and berries and turmeric/ curry.

Identifying the root cause will help you to get to the bottom of your symptoms. The Natural Solutions for Bipolar Disorder course is your opportunity to learn more integrative methods to get your life back. Check out the course now!


This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Whenever considering changing your protocol whether it includes a change of medications, supplements, diet or lifestyle, always speak with your primary care physician first.

Dr. Nicole Cain is an advocate for empowering people around the world to help themselves via her educational free resources, online courses, and membership group. You can receive the tools you need to find the root cause of your symptoms and feel healthy again.