There are probably many causes of bipolar disorder including genetic, neurobiological, and immunologic factors. One recently proposed theory suggests that a problem that takes place at the level of RNA may lead to dysfunction of mitochondria, the ‘power houses’ of cells, resulting in dysregulation of brain energy metabolism and increased free radical damage in the brain which in turn increase the risk of developing bipolar disorder. There is emerging evidence that N-acetyl-cysteine and other supplements address this problem and may prove to be effective non-pharmacologic treatments of bipolar disorder. Acute symptoms of mania may be associated with abnormal immune activation as evidenced by abnormal high levels of several molecules that play a role in inflammation such as TNF-?, and the production of antibodies to certain foods and brain proteins. Advances in understanding of the relationships between immune function and bipolar disorder may lead to a new class of medications preventing and treating bipolar disorder by regulating the immune system.
To read more about safe and effective uses of natural supplements and other complementary and alternative treatments of bipolar disorder read “Bipolar Disorder: The Integrative Mental Health Solution,” by James Lake M.D.