Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Biochemical and brain differences in bipolar disorder--that nutrition might be able to help

These guys think like me. Instead of coming up with a pill that fixes what appears to be wrong on the outside...why not start on the inside and figure out what's really causing the problem?

This group of researchers started out looking at tissue samples of people who had had depression. What they discovered was that these individuals had low levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, if you read this blog you know that's fish oil and marine algae) in their red blood cells and their cortices. The cortex is the part of the brain that does logical, rational problem solving.

They decided to poke around some brains that had been under the influence of bipolar disorder in their time and discovered that there were several abnormalities. As with depressin, DHA levels were low. Arachidonic acid and stearic acid levels were also low. Brains of individuals who had been on mood stabilizing or antipsychotic medications were not as deficient. The deficiencies appeared to be more severe if alcohol abuse had been an issue.

It's not clear whether or not the issue is totally dietary, or if there is some kind of abnormal metabolic process that alters fatty acid ratios, but it does seem that researchers in this area are leaning toward the possibility that nutrition is extremely important to brain function--as well as to the management of psychiatric disorders.

It causes me to wonder why dietary controls are not a standard protocol in psychotropic drug studies, but that's a topic for another blog post. I'm sure you'll see that soon!

McNamara RK, Jandacek R, Rider T, Tso P, Stanford KE, Hahn CG, Richtand NM. Deficits in docosahexaenoic acid and associated elevations in the metabolism of arachidonic acid and saturated fatty acids in the postmortem orbitofrontal cortex of patients with bipolar disorder. Psychiatry Res. 2008 Sep 30;160(3):285-99. Epub 2008 Aug 20.

Oh! Why the graphic? Just some random thinking...all this writing about fish, and brains, and fish for brain health kind of has me wondering...if fish might not be more intelligent than we give them credit for, if fish ever get depressed...and if there is such a thing as a manic salmon?


Live Well said...

It makes you wonder why nutrition isn't looked at first when any disprder or illness develops. In my perfect world I supose it would. Love your blogs! Keep them comming!

hormonewoman said...

That's one of the goals of this blog, to encourage that way of thinking. Thanks for stopping by, it's nice to see you again!