Category: Natural chemicals



Introduction and description

Inositol is a carbohydrate, though not a classical sugar. It has a taste which has been assayed at half the sweetness of table sugar (sucrose). myo-Inositol plays an important role as the structural basis for a number of secondary messengers in eukaryotic cells, the various inositol phosphates. Inositol and some of its mono and polyphosphates are involved in a number of biological processes, including:

  • Insulin signal transduction

  • Cytoskeleton assembly

  • Nerve guidance (Epsin)

  • Intracellular calcium (Ca2+) concentration control

  • Cell membrane potential maintenance

  • Breakdown of fats and reducing blood cholesterol

  • Gene expression 

Inositol and health

Some preliminary results of studies on high-dose inositol supplementation show promising results for people suffering from problems such as bulimia, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), agoraphobia, and unipolar and bipolar depression.[Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 1997 May;7(2):147-55.]

In a single double-blind study on 13 patients, myo-inositol (18 grams daily) was found to reduce the symptoms of OCD significantly, with effectiveness equal to SSRIs and virtually without side-effects. In a double-blind, controlled trial, myo-inositol (18 grams daily) was superior to fluvoxamine for decreasing the number of panic attacks and other side-effects.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of depressed patients showed that a high dose of inositol (12 grams daily) resulted in significant improvement of symptoms, with no changes noted in liver, kidney, or hematological function. A meta-analysis of randomized trials of inositol for depression was not able to determine if inositol is of benefit.

The implication here may thus be that these patients had a diet that was too low in myo-inositol. The next question is thus what are the natural sources of myo-inositol?

Food sources

Inositol or its phosphates and associated lipids are found in

  • Fruit, especially cantaloupe and oranges.
  • Nuts
  • Wholegrains
  • Beans
  • Seeds [some] including sprouted seeds

Fresh vegetables and fruits were found to contain more myo-inositol than did frozen, canned, or salt-free products

Related observations