Some natural remedies may help provide relief from bipolar disorder symptoms when used with traditional treatments.

Some people with bipolar disorder have reported that using alternative treatments provides relief from symptoms. Scientific evidence supports many of the benefits in treating depression, but the effectiveness in treating bipolar disorder requires more research.

Always check with a doctor before starting any alternative treatments. Supplements and therapies may interact with your medication and cause unintended side effects.

Alternative treatments shouldn’t replace traditional treatments or medications. Some people have reported feeling increased benefits when combining the two.

Fish oil and fish are common sources of two of the three main types of omega-3 fatty acids:

  • eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
  • docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

These fatty acids may affect the chemicals in your brain associated with mood disorders.

Bipolar disorder seems less common in countries where people consume fish and fish oil. People with depression also tend to have lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood. Omega-3 fatty acids may help:

  • reduce irritability and aggression
  • maintain mood stability
  • reduce depression symptoms
  • improve brain function

You can take fish oil supplements or consume more fish, such as salmon, to help reach this amount. However, fish oil supplements may have side effects that include:

  • nausea
  • heartburn
  • stomach pain
  • bloating
  • belching
  • diarrhea

Not all researchers agree that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce symptoms of bipolar disorder. According to a review published in 2019, it may not have an effect on people with bipolar disorder. However, it is unlikely to cause harm if people with bipolar disorder increase their intake of omega-3 fatty acids as long as they still take other prescribed medications.

Rhodiola rosea (arctic root or golden root) may help treat mild to moderate depression. R. rosea is a mild stimulant and may cause some side effects, including:

  • insomnia
  • vivid dreaming
  • nausea

Talk with a doctor before taking R. rosea, especially if you are taking other medications for mood disorders, as it can cause drug interactions.

Some people believe that the supplement form of a substance that naturally occurs in the body, S-adenosylmethionine, may be beneficial for depression. This amino acid supplement may also be effective for bipolar disorder under the supervision of a healthcare professional.

But some dosages of these supplements can cause serious side effects, such as triggering manic episodes. S-adenosylmethionine may also interact with medications you may be taking. As a result, this supplement may not be safe or recommended for people with bipolar disorder. Talk with a doctor before taking this supplement.

This antioxidant helps reduce oxidative stress. Additionally, a review of the literature reported that in one randomized controlled trial of people with bipolar disorder, adding 2,000 to 2,400 milligrams (mg) of N-acetylcysteine per day to traditional medication for mood disorders, including bipolar disorder, led to significant improvement in depression, mania, and quality of life.

This water-soluble vitamin may be effective for symptoms of mania in people with bipolar disorder. A 2014 review of older studies suggests that choline supplements (in addition to other treatments) may improve symptoms of mania. But the review’s author notes that additional research is needed.

Inositol is a synthetic vitamin that may help with mood disorders, particularly in people using lithium therapy. A 2021 review of research suggests that a dosage of up to 6 grams per day of inositols may reduce the side effects of lithium therapy without affecting its positive role on mood.

Though people commonly use this herb to treat depression, the effectiveness of St. John’s wort for mood disorders is mixed. One problem seems to be that the forms and dosages of St. John’s wort used have not been the same among studies.

However, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) notes that it may increase psychotic episodes in people with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. It can also weaken the effectiveness of certain medications.

Stress can complicate bipolar disorder. Several alternative therapies aim to reduce anxiety and stress in addition to doctor-prescribed treatment. These therapies can include:

Calming techniques cannot cure bipolar disorder. But they may help you manage your symptoms as a valuable part of your treatment plan.

Erratic patterns and sleep deprivation may worsen symptoms of bipolar disorder. IPSRT is a type of psychotherapy. It aims to help people with bipolar disorder to:

  • manage stressful life events
  • maintain a routine
  • adopt good sleep habits
  • learn how to solve problems that interrupt their routine

IPSRT, in addition to prescribed medications for bipolar disorder, may help to reduce the number of manic and depressive episodes you have.

Although lifestyle measures won’t treat bipolar disorder, certain practices may enhance your treatment and help to stabilize your mood. These can include:

Regular exercise

Exercise can also help stabilize moods. It can also help ease depression and increase sleep.

Adequate sleep

Adequate sleep can help stabilize your mood and reduce irritability. Tips to improve sleep can include:

  • establishing a routine
  • creating a calm bedroom environment
  • limiting screen use before bed

Nutritious foods

Including fish and omega-3 fatty acids in your diet is good. However, consider reducing your intake of saturated and trans fats, which may cause brain chemical imbalances.

Research indicates that alternative treatments may be helpful for bipolar disorder when they are used with traditional treatments. However, very little research about these treatments has been done. Alternative treatments shouldn’t replace your current treatment or medication for bipolar disorder.

Always talk with a doctor before starting an alternative treatment. Certain supplements may cause side effects with any medications you may be taking or may affect other conditions that you have.