Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Niacin: The Depression Cure

Niacin (or vitamin B-3) has been a long-standing known cure for chronic depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, most of us have never heard of the potential emotional benefits to Niacin. Though the reason for secrecy surrounding vitamin therapy has a complicated and deep-rooted past, a simple explanation is that natural remedies are not supported by the U.S. medical field.

A Brief Niacin History

One of the most publicized cases of Niacin used as a cure for depression surrounded Bill Wilson (the founder of AA). Bill struggled with chronic depression much of his life, and after being introduced to psychiatrists Humphrey Osmond and Abram Hoffer in the late fifties, he began participating in a study including the use of Niacin for depression.

Bill supported Niacin so strongly, that he attempted to introduce its use to the AA organization, but the idea was fully rejected by the fellowship. Bill published several articles, and detailed his experiences with depression and his cure, in the book, “Pass It On.”

Since the research in the fifties, various nutritionists (and very few enlightened doctors) have prescribed high doses of Niacin for chronic depression. Unfortunately, treatment of serious illnesses with vitamin therapy has become dangerous ground for most doctors to walk on. In fact, in the United States, it is against the law to prescribe nutrition or vitamins to treat cancer patients (promoting natural cures landed Juice Master, Jason Vale in prison).

The Myth That Vitamins Are Dangerous

OK, so this may not be completely a myth… In the “Annals of Emergency Medicine” there were 2 documented cases of serious reactions to high doses of Niacin. These patients had taken the Niacin to clear their system of Cocaine in order to pass drug tests. So how does this compare to conventional medicine? Over 783,936 people die EVERY YEAR from medical mistakes and approximately 100,000+ of those deaths are people taking prescription drugs as directed.

Treating Depression and Anxiety Naturally

First and foremost, it is important to recognize that depression and anxiety can actually be enhanced by poor diet and stress. Niacin itself should not be the first option to treatment if nutrition, exercise and stress are not being addressed. Simply improving your diet, exercising regularly and taking time to meditate or relax, could greatly improve problems with depression and anxiety.

It is also important to note that many prescription medications for emotional illness have their own side effects. Taking these drugs can actually enhance emotional distress, or have other adverse effects.

If depression and anxiety are severe enough however, you should probably seek out medical care from a doctor who is familiar with natural remedies and treatments. Niacin has not been known to cause death, but should be taken in carefully managed doses and supplemented with other vitamins (especially the other B vitamins).

Most doctors will prescribe Niacin in small frequent doses, and slowly increase these doses daily. Large amounts of Niacin will cause your skin to flush, but a slight niacin flush should end in about ten minutes or so and is considered normal. A doctor will most likely suggest that Niacin be taken after each meal in a small dose (such as 25 mg), and may increase that dose each day (such as 50mg at breakfast, then 25mg for lunch and dinner). These doses will not usually exceed 3,000 to 9,000 mg a day, and will be reduced if the patient’s skin continues to flush.

Niacin not only treats depression, but has also been shown to aid with sleeping problems, alcoholism, schizophrenia, and high cholesterol.

Choosing the Right Type of Niacin

Sufficient research has not been performed on the effectiveness of No-Flush and Flush-Free varieties of Niacin for depression, however research has shown that they have no impact on patients with high cholesterol. We suggest taking pure nicotinic acid (if you cannot find this at the grocer, try your local organic store or purchase it online).

Natural Sources of Niacin

Some foods Niacin can be found in, include almonds and seeds, wheat products, beans, rice bran, green leafy vegetables, carrots, turnips, celery, lean red meat, fish, organ meats (kidney, liver), prawns, and pork.


Annals of Emergency Medicine
Pass It on: The Story of Bill Wilson and How the A. A. Message Reached the World by Alcoholics Anonymous
Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Revised Second Edition by Michael Murray and Joseph Pizzorno