What is it?
Inositol is a sugar related to glucose. It is found naturally in the body. It is in many foods such as meat, fruits and whole-grain cereals.
How does it work?
Some people with depression have lower levels of inositol in their brain and spinal fluid. It is suggested that increased inositol may improve mood.
Inositol may help depression by helping brain cells communicate better. It increases a natural chemical messenger (serotonin) in the brain. It is thought that increasing serotonin is helpful in depression.
Is it effective?
There is very little scientific evidence on inositol for the treatment of depression. More studies of better quality are needed.
Are there any disadvantages?
No side effects have been reported in the studies of inositol and depression. However, these studies may not have looked for negative effects.
Where do you get it?
Inositol is available as a dietary supplement. It can be purchased at some health food shops or over the internet.
Given the lack of evidence on inositol for depression, it cannot be recommended.
- Mukai T, Kishi T, Matsuda Y, Iwata N. A meta-analysis of inositol for depression and anxiety disorders. Human Psychopharmacology. 2014; 29(1):55-63.
- Taylor MJ, Wilder H, Bhagwagar Z, Geddes J. Inositol for depressive disorders. (Cochrane Review). In: The Cochrane Library, Issue 1, 2004. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Last reviewed and updated: 16 March 2015