Combining conventional drugs like olanzapine with alternatives?
by Geoff Hyde
My wife is going to try conventional drugs again like olanzapine and sodium valpro (Epilum) here in Sydney in Australia as she is presently so depressed (doc says she won't be happy for quite a while during the treatment which has no end date at all) for her bipolar. She is 32 and had her first manic episode in November 2009 after 4 days and nights no sleep.
Is it good to combine the omega 3 oil pill and st John's Wort and what I have seen on your website with Vit D3 and other alternative treatments (which I - my wife doesn't want to know any different - would focus on totally if ever I were a sufferer as I am an admirer of alternative medicine generally) with any mood stabilizers et al?
Please also recommend vitamins etc that we can buy off you and tell me why the conventional medical world would say it probably doesn't work really - what can I expect when we tell the doc about our ideas to get my wife well whatever way it takes.
If your wife's diagnosis is accurate - Bipolar Disorder - you have to exercise extreme caution with any antidepressant meds. St. John's Wort is an antidepressant, comparable in effect to the SSRI class of medication. It is known to have very few if any side effects, unlike most synthetic pharmaceuticals, and it works in a more multidimensional way on the brain (as most natural substances are apt to do). Medications are synthesized, unnatural to the body, and even if derived from nature-made substances, they are broken down and, for lack of better explanation - "have no soul." Indigenous cultures recognize the soul, the consciousness that exists in plant medicines and have tremendous reverence and respect for that power. Pharmaceuticals are dead substances, chemical compounds that did not evolve alongside human beings through history. So they tend to often have wildly unpredictable and sometimes dangerous side effects. (But the main point is that any antidepressant - Rx or natural - can induce mania in a person with Bipolar Disorder).
Sorry for the long rant. I can get rather stirred up about that subject. It's not that medication are of no use. I've seen many people's lives saved by medication and many who accept medication as a necessary part of staying balanced. It's a personal choice.
By the way, I don't personally sell vitamins or supplements. I recommend that all my Bipolar clients take daily fish oil or krill oil, a good vitamin B12 supplement - oral spray or subligual (the vitamin is poorly absorbed in the stomach), and 5,000 IU's per day of Vitamin D3 (recommended by the Vitamin D Council). The other B vitamins are also important. This is a simplified but important group of supplements to take.
Another supplement - an Essential Fatty Acid - that some find very helpful is phosphatidylcholine; others tolerate phosphatidylserine better.
To answer your question about why the conventional medical world does not recommend or recognize these things: I will put it bluntly - the medical world is owned and funded by Big Pharmaceutical Industry money. Billions and billions. The street drug trade is child's play compared to the massive money interests in the pharmaceutical industry. They influence drug "studies" to appear in their favor; they fund the training of doctors and they fund continuing education of doctor's, essentially training physicians to sell their products. They give free samples to doctors so that they can easily give them away to patients and introduce them to new and "better" drugs, which they eventually become dependent on and become excellent repeat buyers. Don't bother discussing this with your doctor unless you don't mind offending him.
Of course there are plenty of well intentioned doctors. But it is a rare doctor who will have an open mind about alternative/complimentary medicine and stick with you while you try non-drug approaches to healing. I've seen it though. I've seen psychiatrists change their opinion when they see these things working better than Rx drugs.
You also have to be cautious in combining pharmaceutical with natural/alternative medicines. You can't always predict the interactions between them. Generally, with vitamins, and fish oil, you have nothing to be concerned about.
I suggest you also take a look at www.TrueHope.com - a company that sells a supplement for Bipolar Disorder. I've seen this work very well for everyone that has tried it and followed the specific advise of their trained staff.
Hope that helps.
Ben Schwarcz, MFT
Santa Rosa Psychotherapist
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