Healing Bipolar Part One: From Medication to Micronutrients, What I Wish I’d Known

When I was first diagnosed, I was told that bipolar disorder was chronic and incurable and required psychotropic medications to treat. 

After following that treatment plan for over a decade and getting progressively worse I finally discovered that there was another way to treat bipolar. Utilizing an integrated, research-based method that included micronutrients as part of the treatment plan I began to heal. There are a few lessons I learned along the way that I wish I’d understood beforehand.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional, and I am not offering medical advice. I am sharing what I have learned about healing bipolar through my personal experience and research.

The Difference Between Psychotropic Drugs and Micronutrients

Psychotropic drugs and micronutrients do not serve the same purpose in treating bipolar disorder. Medication is designed to address the symptoms, not the underlying causes. They also cause a chemical imbalance in the brain and often cause uncomfortable or even damaging side-effects. 

Micronutrients, on the other hand, are designed to treat one of the underlying causes of bipolar symptoms—micronutrient insufficiency. This occurs when the brain is not getting a sufficient level of micronutrients to function in a healthy, balanced way which leads to symptoms of mental illness. Micronutrients are not foreign substances to the body and brain and therefore do not produce the damaging side-effects that the drugs often cause. 

Not All Micronutrient Supplements Are Effective for Treating Bipolar

In the book The Better Brain Dr. Bonnie Kaplan and Dr. Julia Rucklidge shared that while the best source of essential nutrients is through a natural, whole food diet, there are some people who need higher levels of micronutrients than they can get through food alone.

When I first switched from medication to micronutrients, I used EMPowerPlus by Truehope. Over the following years I tried two alternate treatments and discovered quickly that although the ingredient lists looked similar, they did not provide the same benefits as EMPowerPlus.

I later learned that just because a bottle lists certain vitamins and minerals doesn’t mean that it is all being metabolized into your body. In The Better Brain Kaplan and Rucklidge state that “99 percent of [over the counter] supplements have never been tested at all for health benefits! Even fewer have been evaluated by independent scientists—people not biased by any affiliation with the manufacturer.”

Truehope developed EMPowerPlus in the 1990s as a treatment for bipolar disorder and has been refining and improving the formulation continuously over the past two decades. They have had thirty-five separate independent clinical trials done providing proof of their efficacy.

NOTE: I have never and will never receive any compensation for recommending EMPowerPlus. I recommend that treatment because it has been independently verified as effective and it helped me heal.

Work with an Expert!

When I first decided to switch from medication to micronutrients, I learned how important it was to work with an expert who understood how to help me safely through the cross-titration (cross-tapering) process. Cross-titration involves very slowly, carefully decreasing the dose of medications while increasing the dose of micronutrients. In my case I worked with Truehope’s customer support department very closely throughout the entire process.

There are three main challenges created by psychotropic drugs in cross-titration: withdrawals, overmedication and med-releases.

Withdrawals

Psychotropic drugs don’t fix a chemical imbalance in the brain, they create one. The problem this causes is that when you stop taking the drug you go through withdrawals which can range from uncomfortable to dangerous–even life-threatening–if not done properly. You should never attempt this process without guidance from someone who understands how to safely navigate drug titration and withdrawal.

Overmedication

As your brain begins to heal on the micronutrients it doesn’t need the medication anymore and you can become overmedicated. As in the case of withdrawals, it is necessary to work with an expert to recognize and safely address overmedication symptoms.

Med-release

One of the most frustrating discoveries I made was that psychotropic medication builds up in your soft tissues and can stay there for years. Extreme stress can cause what’s known as a med-release and push that medication back out into your system. When you don’t need it, that leftover drug can cause uncomfortable symptoms—for me it caused depression.

Thankfully each time I was able to work with Truehope customer support to treat the problem and get it out of my body safely and quickly. 

WARNING: Popular over the counter detox cleanses can be extremely harmful for those who have been on psychotropic medications—especially for those on them for years. Cleanses can trigger med-release and severe symptoms.

Be Consistent and Patient

To be successful with healing your brain using micronutrients you need to be consistent with taking your supplements, tracking your symptoms and communicating regularly with your expert. 

You also need to be patient and persistent because healing takes time. In The Better Brain Kaplan and Rucklidge recommend that if you aren’t taking medications, it can take about three months for you to feel the effect of the micronutrients on your brain. If you are taking medication, it can take six months to a year due to the cross-titration process. It can be challenging but the result is worth it! 

One of the best resources for me during this process was developing a Mood Cycle Survival Guide to help me proactively manage my symptoms when they occurred and to become more self-aware. 

There’s No “Magic Bullet”

As I mentioned earlier, micronutrients treat only one of the underlying causes of bipolar symptoms. An unfortunate misconception created by the “bipolar disorder” diagnosis is that everyone is suffering from the same illness. The reality is the underlying causes vary from person to person. The good news is that it is possible to use an integrated, research-based approach that will help you identify and treat the underlying sources of your bipolar symptoms so you can heal!

To learn more, see The Mindset Shift to Heal Bipolar Part Three: The Steps to Heal Your Disorder.

For part two in this series go to: Healing Bipolar Part Two: Therapy and Trauma Healing, What I Wish I’d Known

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