Vitamin E Effective Treatment for Abnormal Movement Disorder
People with schizophrenia or related mental disorder who develop involuntary movements of the arms, legs, or mouth (called tardive dyskinesia [TD]) after taking anti-psychotic medications may experience a reduction in these movements by taking supplemental vitamin E, reports the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology (2004;24:83–6). This is encouraging news for the millions of people around the world who suffer from this condition.
People with TD suffer from repetitive and uncontrollable movements—puckering of the lips or mouth, writhing of the arms or legs—that can interfere greatly with their quality of life. TD is most often associated with long-term use of anti-psychotic medications, such as chlorpromazine (Thorazine®), thioridazine (Mellaril®), or trifluoperazine (Stelazine®). It is believed that these medications increase free radicals in the body, which in turn injure the neurological system. Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant and may help protect the body against free-radical damage.
In the new study, 41 Chinese adults with schizophrenia between the ages of 30 and 60 years were randomly assigned to receive 1,200 IU per day of vitamin E or placebo for 12 weeks. The degree of TD was measured using the Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale (AIMS) initially and after 6 and 12 weeks of treatment. Blood levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD), a critical enzyme involved with elimination of free radicals, were measured before and after treatment. People with TD have been shown to have lower levels of SOD than those without TD.
The degree of TD decreased by 46% in those taking vitamin E, compared with only 4% in those taking placebo. SOD levels increased by 30% in the vitamin E treatment group, while no significant increase in SOD was observed in the placebo group. In addition to the reduction of TD with vitamin E treatment, these findings suggest vitamin E also boosts SOD levels in the blood, which may offer additional protection against free-radical damage.
Studies suggest that other nutrients may be useful in treating TD. Choline, lecithin, and evening primrose oil may reduce the severity of TD, although large amounts are often necessary to achieve desirable results. One group of researchers treated approximately 11,000 schizophrenics with a megavitamin regimen that included vitamin C (up to 4 grams per day); vitamin B3, either as niacin or niacinamide (up to 4 grams per day); vitamin B6 (up to 800 mg per day); and vitamin E (up to 1,200 IU per day). During that time, not a single new case of TD was seen, even though many of the people were taking anti-psychotic drugs. Further research is needed to determine which nutrients or combinations of nutrients were most important for preventing TD. The amounts of niacinamide and vitamin B6 used in this research may cause significant side effects and should only be taken under the supervision of a physician.
Darin Ingels, ND, MT (ASCP), received his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and his Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA. Dr. Ingels is the author of The Natural Pharmacist: Lowering Cholesterol (Prima, 1999) and Natural Treatments for High Cholesterol (Prima, 2000). He currently is in private practice at New England Family Health Associates located in Southport, CT, where he specializes in environmental medicine and allergies. Dr. Ingels is a regular contributor to Healthnotes and Healthnotes Newswire.
Copyright © 2004 Healthnotes, Inc. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of the Healthnotes® content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Healthnotes, Inc. Healthnotes Newswire is for educational or informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose or provide treatment for any condition. If you have any concerns about your own health, you should always consult with a healthcare professional. Healthnotes, Inc. shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. Healthnotes and the Healthnotes logo are registered trademarks of Healthnotes, Inc.