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Alternative Medicine for Bipolar

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson briefly defines bipolar disorder. Then it discusses some of the herbs, supplements and aromatherapy oils that might help people with bipolar disorder. Other alternative therapies are discussed as well.

Bipolar Disorder

All of us have our ups and downs in life. But these cannot compare to the ups and downs people with bipolar disorder unfortunately experience. Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness, is a mental disorder with two fundamental characteristics:

  • Long periods of deep depression
  • Alternating with periods of an extremely elevated or irritable mood called mania

Some people believe various alternative therapies can help them with this disorder. Because almost none of them have any credible scientific backing, please make sure to consult a doctor about them first. That, and some of these therapies might help with depression but trigger mania, or vice versa, if not used correctly.

Dietary Therapy & Aromatherapy.

First, it's important that you make sure you're eating a healthy diet. Eat high-fiber foods, like flax and chia. Stick to lean protein foods, like wild fish. Don't forget your fruits and vegetables for those important antioxidants. And try to use healthy fats, like avocado oil.

A long time ago that's all people had to cure themselves of some problems; there was no such thing as prescription medicine. In addition to diet, people relied on herbs and other supplements they might find in nature to treat their disorders. If you're more into this kind of 'natural' route of therapy, then you might want to consider talking to your doctor about taking:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids - especially those that come from fish oil. If you're a vegetarian or vegan, flaxseed oil can be considered as an alternative.
  • SAMe, or S-adenosylmethionine. This molecule is made with yeast cell cultures.
  • Herbs like St. John's wort, rhodiola, ginseng and holy basil.

The essential oils from some plants and herbs can also be used to help with bipolar disorder during aromatherapy. You might consider lavender and chamomile for this.

Non-dietary Therapy

Bipolar disorder can cause stress, and stress might worsen bipolar disorder. This is why it's so important to manage your stress if you have this condition. There are numerous non-pharmacological therapies that could help with this, they include meditation, yoga and massage therapy. Some will turn to acupuncture for this instead. Acupuncture places specialized needles at various points of the body to help you destress.

Don't forget to get regular exercise, preferably outdoors. Exercise can lower stress and help you sleep better. And that is very important because getting plenty of sleep is critical to helping a person stabilize their mood. A form of psychotherapy, called interpersonal and social rhythm therapy, can help you get into a good sleep routine as well.

Other types of therapies that might help some aspects of bipolar disorder include:

  • Light therapy, for the depression. However, this might trigger mania.
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, a technique that might help person deal with traumatic events that might affect people with bipolar disorder.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy, a type of psychotherapy that might help manage thoughts that lead to mood swings.

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