In terms of alternative and complimentary medicine 5-MTHF, alpha lipoic acid, folate and N acetyl cysteine are mainline treatments for depression.
There are lots of grounds to think these supplements could be very unsafe. Lipoic acid shares the same transporter with biotin and pantothentic acid. Lipoate inhibits the transport of pantothenic acid and biotin. The body uses miniscule quantities of biotin. 300 milligrams of lipoic acid twice a day could have a large negative affect on biotin transport. Lipoic acid does not work in bipolar depression which is not suprising, See the page on Bipolar Depression.
N-acetyl cysteine is associated with musculoskeletal adverse side effects. These musculoskeletal adverse side effects are almost totally impossible to get rid of and can be horrendous. Clincal trials are usually about 6 weeks long but musculoskeletal effects accumulate over time and can persist long after N-acetyl cysteine is stopped.
There are no grounds whatsover to hold than S-adenosyl methionine taken long term would not affect DNA methylation and histone methylation. Abberrant DNA methylation is associated with cancer, aging and mental illnesses. Minimally an explantion as to why greatly increasing S-adenosyl-l-methionine levels does not affect DNA and histone methylation long term has to be given but no explanatiton is provided.
5-methyltetrahydrofolate inhibts glycine-N-methyltransferase which degrades S-adenosyl methionine. With 5-methyltetrahydrofolate supplementation S-adenosyl methionine levels would again be expected to greatly increase with again unknown consequences to DNA methylation and histone methylation. No consequences would be very surprising. Despite great early enthusiasm folic acid supplementation has been a bust in the prevention of a range of illnesses associated with high homocysteine levels.
What is it about these supplements that makes them so attractive? One very definitely notices these supplements when one takes them.
First of all I clearly do not think all supplements are placebos but frequently responses to supplements are placebo responses. A fact about supplements is that when supplements are taken there are very frequently noticable effects. When ill, change is viewed as a positive and the perception, which can be an illusion, is that one is moving away from being ill hence a placebo response.
The difficulty with supplements as placebos is that frequently change is not for the better or even biologically neutral and can even be for the worse which I think is all too frequently the case with supplements. Supplements are a minefield.
Individuals are biologically programmed to try to improve their health. Most people have a strategy for staying healthy. A non fad diet strategy, excercise, and continous learning are right now by far the safest way to go.
That Silicon Valley is full of individuals who take lots of nootropics and lots of supplements does not bode well for Silicon Valley’s future. I think one day supplements can be a key part of a healthy way of living.
Almost always clinical trials of supplements are run for short periods of time and moreover only certain side-effects are examined. Supplements programs though very frequently modified are usually started with the intention of being on the supplement for life. I think, for example that acetyl-L-cysteine and lipoic acid can have terrible long term effects though there could be postive effects on some dimensions in the short term. With prescription drugs doctors report side-effects that develop over the long term but that is not the case with supplements as usually doctors do not prescribe supplements.
Carnitine is frequently bound to fumarate in carnitine supplements and mineral supplements are very, very frequently bound to glycine. Fumarate can inhibit enzymes that demethylate DNA and histones. Leiomyomatosis and renal cell cancer can be caused by mutations of fumarate hydratase which metabolizes fumarate. Carnitine fumarate suppplements could be making wild epigenetic changes which could be highly undesirable. My opinion which must now be deeemed a personal opinion is that minerals bound to glycine are not bioavalable in the gastrointestinal tract whereby gylicnated minerals can have many negative effects. On many systematic measures glycinated minerals are very effective though I personally hold there can be higly unforeseen negative effects when supplementing with glycinated minerals.
There is mounting evidence that both sugar sweented and diet drinks have negative effects on cardiovascular health over the long term. What if it is not the artificial sweeteners in diet drinks that raise the difficulties but rather the citric acid and polyphenols and perhaps phosphoric acid are what is raising the difficulties? Many calcium supplements contain citrate. Could calicum citrate have the same adverse effects on cardiovascular health as do diet soft drinks and for the same reasons? I think citric acid based soft drinks can befuddle indivduals. There could be truth in advertising with Mountain Dew. Women under 65 who are on calcium citrate are not going to tell their doctors that they feel befudded and besides increasisng citric intake can lead to lots of fun.
Linus Pauling, who viewed orthormolecular medicine as the practice of delivering ‘the right molecules in the right amounts’, was correct in his view that mental illnesses are orthomolecular in nature and that supplements are required in the treatment of mental illnesses. That is not to say that supplements are not a minefield now.