The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has defined schizophrenia as,
“A chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves”
One percent of Americans are diagnosed with schizophrenia, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Diagnosis and treatment options
Schizophrenia can occur at any age. The first “psychotic break” occurs between the early 20s and 30s. It is very rare to diagnose it before the age of 12 years or after the age of 40 years. This psychotic break leads to a schizophrenia diagnosis.
There are possibilities for people diagnosed with schizophrenia to live a healthy and fulfilling life. The individuals with schizophrenia require a support system around them. They need a support system which can help them in recovery.
Symptoms of Schizophrenia
- Thought disorders: illogical and disorganized, speech patterns are one of the symptoms of thought disorder. It is also characterized by dysfunctional thinking patterns.
- Hallucinations: these involve a sensory perception of something that isn’t present.
- Delusions: delusions are the false beliefs a person has about something which are contrary to reality. These are often confused with hallucinations but are different from it. These symptoms are also present in patients of “obsessive-compulsive disorder”.
Natural Diets to Reduce the Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Medication is important for the treatment of schizophrenia. Along with medication, natural ways can also help in reducing the symptoms of schizophrenia.
Natural ways can be used after taking the recommendations from the doctor. Some of the natural ways to reduce schizophrenia are the following:
Studies explain that people with schizophrenia have low levels of vitamin B9 or folic acid.
Researchers have found a positive correlation between the negative symptoms of schizophrenia and superoxide generation. Studies indicate the possible role of oxidative stress in the development of the disease.
Pinkhas Sirota (Tel Aviv University, Israel) said that,
“There are several lines of evidence to support the contribution of oxygen free radicals in schizophrenia, including increased lipid peroxidation, fatty acids, and alterations in blood levels of antioxidant enzymes,” Folic Acid: there are studies which suggest that the consumption of folic acid supplements can reduce its symptoms.
Vitamin B: Research published in 2014 suggests that other B vitamins, including vitamins B6 and B12, should be used to reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia. A combination of various vitamins has been used in many studies.
Vitamin C, E, and D: the research also suggests that the use of vitamins C and E can also be beneficial. Some studies have linked schizophrenia with vitamin D deficiency especially in early life. Anecdotal evidence suggests 5% to 10% improvement in patients after the use of supplements of high antioxidant vitamins like Vitamin E and Vitamin C.
Therefore, it is assumed that the use of antioxidants can reduce the risk of schizophrenia.
Diet Rich in Antioxidants: food containing a high number of antioxidants are blueberries, dried plums, spinach, strawberries.
2- Fish oil supplements
The high amount of omega-3 fatty acids is present in fish oil. These fatty acids help in the reduction of inflammation in your body.
Inflammation is linked to many mental illnesses, including schizophrenia.
Therefore, fish oil can be effective in this condition.
In a study, 81 young people at high risk of schizophrenia were given fish oil supplements. The results were promising, but more research is required.
National Alliance on Mental Illness has explained that the people with schizophrenia are at higher risk of metabolic syndrome as compared to others which increases the risk of heart disease. The use of fish oil can help in the Improvement of heart health.
Glycine is an important amino acid. It works with glutamine and helps in the proper functioning of the brain. Some experts suggest that consumption of glycine can boost the efficacy of antipsychotic drugs used for schizophrenia treatment.
The use of glycine can also reduce the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, like depression. More studies are required to determine other potential benefits associated with glycine.
Glycine has been studied for over 15 years as a treatment for the negative symptoms of schizophrenia. These studies have shown quite positive results.
Is it effective?
The studies have shown that Glycine wasn’t found effective for people who are taking Clozapine, while it reduced the symptoms of schizophrenia in people who were taking olanzapine (Zyprexa) and risperidone (Risperdal).
The clinical studies have suggested that 30 grams to 60 grams glycine a day is the optimal dosage in case of schizophrenia. Its use can include a few side effects like upset stomach and nausea.
4- Ketogenic Diets
Some studies suggest that a gluten-free diet should be used as it has been found to reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia. Gluten is the component of certain grains like wheat.
Studies on ketogenic diets have been proved beneficial for schizophrenia.
In 1920, this diet was first developed for the treatment of epilepsy. The ketogenic food contains high-fats dietary regimen, high-protein, and low-carbohydrates. Any change in diet should be discussed with the doctor to avoid future complications.
Many studies suggest that a ketogenic diet can a natural treatment for schizophrenia.
During the intake of a ketogenic diet, a bodily process occurs which is known as “Ketosis”. In this process, glucose is no longer used as an energy source. Instead, the body relies on ketones from the liver. Then, the brain starts using ketones. The use of ketones affects the way brain works.
A 2017 review has discussed the use of the ketogenic diet for the treatment of schizophrenia.
This review has explained the small and uncontrolled study conducted on 10 women. In this study, a “statistically significant decrease in symptomatology” in woman on the ketogenic diet was observed. Positive results were obtained after the use of diet for two weeks.
Some healthy ketogenic ingredients are as followings.
- Nuts and seeds
- Full-fat cheeses
- Coconut oil, olive oil, and butter
- High-quality proteins like tuna, chicken, turkey, eggs, and salmon
- veggies (Non-starchy) like kale, broccoli, spinach, Brussels, cauliflower sprouts and tomatoes
- unsweetened coffee
- Full-fat cow’s/goat’s milk