LCHF and Bipolar Disorder

 

bipolar

A strict LCHF diet has successfully been used as treatment for epilepsy (particularly in children, but also in adults). There are no doubts about the positive effect, that has been proven in study after study.

A similar ketogenic diet may possibly have positive effects when it comes to other diseases of the brain. This is something that is discussed and studied concerning, among others, Alzheimer’s disease. Many people also experience a significant improvement in their migraine symptoms. There are even a few case reports of dramatic effects on schizophrenia!

A reader e-mailed me an exciting story about her bipolar disorder: 

The e-mail

Hi!

I have previously written to you about bipolar disorder and a potential effect from an LCHF diet. I am bipolar and have actually been able to stop taking lithium, Lamictal, Seroquel, sleeping pills, oxazepam etc. since I put myself (doctor upset and angry) on an LCHF diet, Vitamin D, magnesium (attaches to the same receptors as lithium), omega-3 supplements (there are studies on bipolar patients showing very good results with omega-3 supplementation). Strictly gluten free, as there are studies on this too. OK – I know I can’t find out exactly what, or which combination, is successful when I do them all at the same time, but as bad as I felt on all the medications, and as many relapses that I suffered, I don’t care.

I am now completely healthy! No drugs and no relapses for more than six months (my relapses used to be very frequent, almost continuous). I haven’t felt this good in ten years!!!

I adopted an LCHF diet (despite having studied medicine and nutrition), because of the fact that epileptics are helped by ketones and bipolar patients by antiepileptic drugs.
And look what I found today!!!!!

Neurocase: The ketogenic diet for type II bipolar disorder

All the best! Happy, healthy greetings from
Åsa

Commentary

Congratulations on your success, Åsa!

Similar stories of course have to be taken with a big grain of salt. We can’t know with certainty that an LCHF diet had anything to do with the improvement, and we certainly don’t know if the same thing would happen to others.

That said, I think the argument is logical. An LCHF diet helps with epilepsy, and people with bipolar disorder are often successfully treated with antiepileptic drugs.

The new scientific paper, that Åsa refers to, discusses the ideas behind this in more detail, and presents case reports on two additional patients that have successfully treated their bipolar disorder with a strict LCHF diet.

As medications for bipolar disorder often come with nasty side effects (such as weight gain and reduced mental clarity) it would be fantastic if some patients could manage with a diet intervention. Or at least decrease their need for medication in this way.

What do you think?

More

LCHF for Beginners

More on health problems and diet

19 comments

  1. Doc, do you know if this community of epileptics on ketoenic diets have been studied for other conditions such as obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer's, MS, depression, etc? I know it's a skewed group, but the results would be real interesting.
  2. jen
    Sadly, I've been suffering from migraines since i was 8 years old. My migraines have not improved since I've been low carbings since June of last year.
    Reply: #12
  3. nutri
    I was hoping it would help with migraine too but it is not as effective as helping with other things like insulin resistance, PCOS, weight loss.... for me.
  4. Valerie
    I am bipolar type II and notice a great improvement in my symptoms when following a LCHF diet. Thanks for posting this!
  5. Bev
    I can tell you that since I stopped eating all grains (initially gluten for celiac disease but eventually all because I got so tired of eating what passed for gluten-free food) I have had emotional stability unlike anything I've experienced in my life. No med combination has accomplished this. I'm seeing the effects of my meds clearly for the first time as I learn more about what other foods I can and cannot eat. Eggs, for example, are not my friend! Dairy makes me itchy all over. I eat way more fat now than I ever did before but it's in the form of coconut oil, nuts and seeds. No vegetable oil at all, only olive oil if I need anything.

    Added bonus is that I've lost 30 lbs with zero effort... imagine what I can do if I can correct this insane fatigue. Moving meds around has stopped some of it. Also have zero support or interest from both my GP and Pdoc.

  6. sten b
    To jen and nutri at #2 and #3,
    LCHF can be a ketogenic diet, but usually only very strict LCHF would become ketogenic.
    Way to tell is to borrow or buy a blood ketone meter and check a few times, and reduce carbs and if not enough reduce proteins too.

    The ketogenic diet used to treat epilepsy and glioblastoma is very high in fat and very low in carbs. I would not expect any effect on migrains unless in some ketosis, like at least 2 on the common scale mmol/l. The outline Bev just above gives is an easy and safe way to get up the fat and easy to follow. Jeanne Calment sprinkled lots and lots of olive oil on everything she ate, so I doubt there are any bad side effects!

  7. Galina L.
    I use a ketogenic diet to manage my migraines. Fortunately, I know when my migraines are more possible, so during stress times, travel, at the very end of a menstrual period, I follow a very strict ketogenic diet - mostly fat, limited protein, no carbohydrates. The rest of the time it is a LC diet.
  8. I had the only migraine of my life after drinking quite a bit of almond milk. A little digging showed that carrageenan, a thickener in almond milk and many other foods, is an inflammatory and has actually been used in migraine research. It's often used to produce inflammation in rodent studies. Sadly, this substance is allowed in foods, toothpaste, personal products, besides being used to de-ice airplanes.
  9. Marcus
    I think it might be the 'high fat' that helps remission in bi-polar conditions, not the 'low carb'.

    Years ago I read a fascinating book about bi-polar spectrum disorders; 'The madness of Adam & Eve'. The author had much to say about the condition, the causes and the consequences to individuals and society of manic-depressive episodes.

    One curious anecdote was that some sufferers experienced temporary remission when they had a fever. One experimental treatment was deliberately infecting patients with malaria to induce a fever.

    The speculation was that the elevated body/brain temperature 'softened' some of the cerebral fats in the brain, somehow allowing them to flow and fully insulate individual brain cells so they could communicate properly.

    Alternately, it may be that a healthy supply of dietary saturated fat and a good balance of micronutrients provides that material that the brain needs to maintain brain cell myelin sheath.

    All the more interesting is the attention being paid to Alzheimer's (which may be party of the bi-polar spectrum) lately and long term use of statins.

    If (this is speculation) brain cells need saturated fats to properly function, and (more guessing) cholesterol is vitally important for cell function and cell repair (including brain cells), then a modern fat phobic diet reduces the proportion of these healthy fats available to an individual and this deficit can only be compounded by any medication designed to reduce or control cholesterol.

    So, embracing dietary fat might just be the single most important part of a LCHF/Paleo/Primal lifestyle.

  10. I'm not bipolar, but I do notice a powerful sense of calm after I eat a really satisfying high fat meal. Something I try to do on a daily basis!
  11. p
    My family members and I have no doubt that our mental health disorders, including ADHD, insomnia, bulimia, depression, "chronic fatigue" and anxiety have been miraculously eliminated or at least easily managed with LCHF.
  12. Probably still avoiding & so not enough salt/sodium, fats & deficiency of essential fatty acids COLD PRESSED omega-6 linoleic acid as in Evening Primrose oil & omega-3 Flax, dehydration, magnesium & potassium deficiency, potassium is required to release muscle contractions including relaxation & vasodilation of blood vessels as is magnesium, auto immune & allergic responses to still eating too much wheat & grains, etc. Keep looking, you'll find the answer.

    LCHF is most definitely the first step in normalizing brain chemistry and does so by providing omega-6 linoleic acid as the substrate for the body's formation of O-6 derivatives Gamma Linoleic Acid, PGI1 prostaglandin as the body's most powerful anti-inflammatory. Both are more important than O-3 & derivatives EPA & DHA, schizophrenia & bipolar have been resolved in as little as two weeks with O-6, google 'David Horrobin' and 'EFAMOL' & 'evening primrose oil and Linoleic Acid for schizophrenia & bipolar'.

  13. nonegiven
    This is not the first time I've heard a similar story.
  14. Ghislain
    I am bipolar myself and following a LCHF diet - permanent ketosis. I read a lot of comments about how 'LCHF cures everything stories' and that makes me suspicious. Subjective stories about ones experience should always be viewed with skepticism. We loose credibility when we start asserting things without proper scientific rigor.
  15. HP
    I've Lost a Lot of weight with LCHF. My wife, who is getting overweight with the start of her medication, didn't loose a single kg in six weeks. She's trying to eat less than 30g of carbs, and she is eating a lot a fat like butter.

    2 days before she Starts with LCHF, her medication of seroquel was doubled from 200mg to 400mg.

    Some experiences or tipps how to deal with this situation? She's very frustrated, and thinks it is better to get started with weight watchers.

  16. Sonia
    Hi
    I have been diagnosed with bipolar disease. I get excellent results with 3 Tablespoons of Omega 3 oil and 1/2 cup of melted coconut oil per day (in smoothie with fruit). Add scoop of Ultra Clear Renew for fibromyalgia and mercury toxicity. Not taking anything else. Amazing energy, no depression, no sleeping problems, pain much less. Google research on bipolar and omega and coconut oil and Alzheimers and thyroid problems/fibromyalgia/mercury toxicity/multiple sclerosis (same thing). Diet must be Atkins or banting. No sugar or grains.
  17. Rizan
    Hi Doctor

    I'm bi-polar and have just started the diet. I have lost 6kgs already ... this is due to not eating carbs. :-) . I am feeling terrific and all my stomach problems have just disappeared. Amazing.

  18. nasser
    i will start today ... hope it will works
  19. Michael
    Correlation does not imply causation. I think that people who have suffered from brain disorders such as BP disorder, which I have for more than 20 years and have tried everything pharmacology has to offer, might be more enthusiastic about finding a natural "cure" for their illness. As has already been mentioned, most antipsychotics, especially 2nd and 3rd generation meds like Olanzapine, Seroquel, Abilify, cause excessive weight gain and type 2 diabetes. Seroquel really does a number on the pancreas. These life changing side effects, in a bad way, are often unfortunate necessities of treatment. Much like chemotherapy with cancer. I am cautiously optimistic that diet and lifestyle change partnering with my medications, will help me manage, certainly not "cure", my mental health issues.

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