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Is it Safe to Take Inositol With an SSRI?

By Janet Renee, MS, RD ; Updated August 14, 2017

Inositol is a vitamin-like nutrient and naturally occurring isomer of glucose that studies indicate can help relieve depression. Studies combining inositol with serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, did not report adverse health effects, but the combination did not yield added benefits for depression. Though inositol is a natural substance, it is important to consult your doctor about the safety and efficacy of taking it while on SSRIs.

Inositol Function

Inositol is a B vitamin produced by your body and is found in small amounts in your diet. Dietary sources include liver, milk, kidney and lima beans and certain fruits like cantaloupe, grapefruit and orange. It serves many purposes in the body, including proper brain, nerve and muscle function. It also helps transport fat for fuel use and works together with other B vitamins as a co-factor to mediate enzymatic actions in the body.

Inositol in Psychiatry

Serotonin is a chemical associated with mood regulation. Inositol is a key intermediate of serotonin receptors, cells that receive serotonin signaling. Since low levels of inositol are associated with depression, clinical studies have examined the effects of inositol on mood. A double-blind, controlled trial published in the May 1995, "American Journal of Psychiatry," found that supplementing 12 g of inositol, by itself for 4 weeks significantly improved depressive symptoms over placebo.

Inositol Combined with SSRIs

The success of inositol usage for depression in clinical trials prompted studies on possible benefits of combining inositol with SSRIs. One such study, published in the February, 1999 journal, "Biological Psychiatry," examined the effects of combining inositol with SSRIs during a 4 week trial, conducting assessments each week. One group was given an SSRI plus a placebo, while another group had an SSRI, plus inositol. The study found no difference between the two groups, concluding inositol exhibited no additive benefit.

Precautions

According to Drugs.com, inositol has no known drug interactions, but this does not mean interactions do not exist. It is important to consult your doctor before taking any supplement. Possible side effects of taking inositol include nausea, flushing, loss of appetite, upset stomach and diarrhea.

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