Looking for a supplement that reduces glucose levels, improves mood, sleep and is safe? Could that actually exist?
Years ago, I was part of a group of functional medicine psychiatrists who were trying to help their patients in alternative ways to traditional medications. One supplement they frequently used in many of their patients was inositol. After being introduced to inositol, I looked in my PDR for supplements and there it was -around and available for many years. Although Inositol was discovered well over 100 years ago, it was largely ignored till the last 10 years despite its many surprising benefits for health.
What is inositol? Let’s break it down- it is a naturally occurring vitamin-like substance (once called Vitamin B8) found in many plants, and although there are 9 different forms of it, two forms (myo and d-chiro) have been studied for their health benefits.
One of the benefits of inositol is reducing insulin resistance, and therefore has been used with women with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) to help with sensitizing insulin and facilitating weight loss. However, it can also assist with hormone balance both in women and men. Because it helps with reducing insulin resistance there can be added benefits of lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides.
Studies in women with gestational diabetes shows it lowers glucose levels during pregnancy, thereby reducing need for medication. Pubmed (the largest medical database for studies) details 1700 clinical trials showing the study of the effectiveness of inositol for treatment of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. A few studies compare the benefits of inositol to metformin.
Besides its effectiveness with glucose metabolism, inositol can be used for anxiety, mood disorders and mild depression, since it facilitates serotonin and neurotransmitters in the brain. Research shows that those with severe anxiety have low concentrations of inositol within their spinal fluid. The exact mechanism for how it improves anxiety is not clear. Finally inositol has been shown to reduce insomnia for some individuals and improve sleep quality in others.
It virtually has no side effects or known complications and is considered extremely safe. Since inositol ticks quite a few of health boxes – calming anxiety, reducing insulin resistance and improving sleep – this supplement may be one to consider adding to your regimen, especially if you are trying to avoid taking medications (but please check with your health-care professional first). Although inositol may be 100 plus years old its benefits are very timely for our generation today.