The ketogenic diet may have mood-stabilizing properties

Med Hypotheses. 2001 Dec;57(6):724-6. doi: 10.1054/mehy.2001.1446.


The ketogenic diet, originally introduced in the 1920s, has been undergoing a recent resurgence as an adjunctive treatment for refractory epilepsy, particularly in children. In this difficult-to-treat population, the diet exhibits remarkable efficacy with two-thirds showing significant reduction in seizure frequency and one-third becoming nearly seizure-free. There are several reasons to suspect that the ketogenic diet may also have utility as a mood stabilizer in bipolar illness. These include the observation that several anticonvulsant interventions may improve outcome in mood disorders. Furthermore, beneficial changes in brain-energy profile are noted in subjects on the ketogenic diet. This is important since global cerebral hypometabolism is a characteristic of the brains of depressed or manic individuals. Finally, the extracellular changes that occur in ketosis would be expected to decrease intracellular sodium concentrations, a common property of all effective mood stabilizers. Trials of the ketogenic diet in relapse prevention of bipolar mood episodes are warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bipolar Disorder / diet therapy
  • Diet Fads*
  • Epilepsy / diet therapy
  • Humans
  • Ketones / metabolism*
  • Ketosis / psychology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Mood Disorders / diet therapy*


  • Ketones