Inositol is a simple polyol precursor in a second messenger system important in the brain. Cerebrospinal fluid inositol has been reported as decreased in depression. A double-blind controlled trial of 12 g daily of inositol in 28 depressed patients for four weeks was performed. Significant overall benefit for inositol compared to placebo was found at week 4 on the Hamilton Depression Scale. No changes were noted in hematology, kidney or liver function. Since many antidepressants are effective in panic disorder, twenty-one patients with panic disorder with or without agoraphobia completed a double-blind, placebo-controlled, four week, random-assignment crossover treatment trial of inositol 12 g per day. Frequency and severity of panic attacks and severity of agoraphobia declined significantly with inositol compared to placebo. Side-effects were minimal. Since serotonin re-uptake inhibitors benefit obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and inositol is reported to reverse desensitization of serotonin receptors, thirteen patients with OCD completed a double-blind controlled crossover trial of 18 g inositol or placebo for six weeks each. Inositol significantly reduced scores of OCD symptoms compared with placebo. A controlled double-blind crossover trial of 12 g daily of inositol for a month in twelve anergic schizophrenic patients, did not show any beneficial effects. A double-blind controlled crossover trial of 6 g of inositol daily vs. glucose for one month each was carried out in eleven Alzheimer patients, with on clearly significant therapeutic effects. Antidepressant drugs have been reported to improve attention deficit disorder (ADDH) with hyperactivity symptomatology. We studied oral inositol in children with ADDH in a double-blind, crossover, placebo-controlled manner. Eleven children, mean age 8.9 +/- 3.6 years were enrolled in an eight week trial of inositol or placebo at a dose of 200 mg/kg body weight. Results show a trend for aggravation of the syndrome with myo-inositol as compared to placebo. Recent studies suggest that serotonin re-uptake inhibitors are helpful in at least some symptoms of autism. However a controlled double-blind crossover trial of inositol 200 mg/kg per day showed no benefit in nine children with autism. Cholinergic agonists have been reported to ameliorate electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)-induced memory impairment. Inositol metabolism is involved in the second messenger system for several muscarinic cholinergic receptors. Inositol 6 g daily was given in a crossover-double-blind manner for five days before the fifth or sixth ECT to a series of twelve patients, without effect. These results suggest that inositol has therapeutic effects in the spectrum of illness responsive to serotonin selective re-uptake inhibitors, including depression, panic and OCD, and is not beneficial in schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s ADDH, autism or ECT-induced cognitive impairment.
Levine, J. (1997). Controlled trials of inositol in psychiatry. European Neuropsychopharmacology. 7(2):147-55.