Inositol powder is a substance with a shady history that may well not be deserved. While proponents of inositol powder as a healing agent cite the fact that it is found in many foods and has been shown to have positive effects when used to treat certain mental illnesses, inositol powder has a very bad reputation to overcome, a reputation as what is called a “cutting agent” for illegal drugs.
Inositol, which inositol powder is made up of, is a chemical compound made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. It occurs in nature and the human body, and makes up an important part of many of the body’s vital cells. It also occurs in nature in the form of foods. Foods heavy in inositol include bran cereals, nuts, beans, cantaloupes and melons, oranges, and other fruits. For awhile, scientists classified inositol as a vitamin, but if you ever see it advertised as a vitamin, know that it has now been proven that the body can process inositol by itself, meaning that this substance does not fall into the category of a vitamin.
So what did inositol in powder form do to deserve such a bad reputation? Some nefarious characters who process and sell illegal narcotics used discovered that inositol powder has the same properties and characteristics of drugs. Because of this, they began to use inositol powder as what is known as a “cutting agent.” When using a cutting agent, these narcotics traffickers and producers mix inositol powder (and other agents, including baking soda, flour, silica gel and even rat poison!) in with the drugs, thus diluting their strength but making the original drug seem weightier and more substantial. As the drug passes from hand to hand – from the processers, though the complex chain of command, down to street level, each person that touches it dilutes it more and more with powders such as inositol powder. This way, each makes a profit, as they sell the drug by weight. But, luckily for inositol powder, which did not do anything to deserve such a nefarious reputation, this powder made from a chemical compound has other, more benign uses.
Scientists have found that the chemical compound inositol serves a number of important functions in the body. It helps with insulin, nerves, cell growth, building strong bones, breaking down fat and cholesterol, and modulating the level of serotonin in the body. The serotonin connection is especially interesting, because scientists have found that patients who suffer from the condition known as clinical depression actually show decreased levels of inositol in their cerebrospinal fluid. This led scientists to study the effects of inositol on people with clinical depression, and find that high dose inositol supplements may very well assist in the recovery of chronic depression. Taking the findings of that study, scientists then began testing the effects of inositol and inositol powder on other mental conditions, including bulimia, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), agoraphobia, and bipolar disorder.
The findings concerning obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) have been especially significant. A small double blind study conducted on thirteen patients showed that inositol supplements significantly reduced the symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder in the patients. This included reducing their number of panic attacks. In other good news, unlike some medications prescribed for depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, inositol supplements were not shown to damage the liver. This could mean that mental patients may one day have a new type of drug that is less dangerous to their bodies while healing their minds. Inositol powder doesn’t stop at the mental symptoms, though. It has also been shown to aid with many of the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome!
This much maligned powder may be much more important than we have ever known. Only time, and science, will tell.