Complementary medicines in pediatric bipolar disorder

Minerva Pediatr. 2008 Feb;60(1):103-14.


The increasing number and availability of various complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) has resulted in an exponentially growing utilization of these products for everything from minor aches and pains to the treatment of mental illness. Difficulties in treating mental illnesses in children, averseness to having children take psychiatric medications, and stigma all drive patients and their families to research alternative treatments. As a result, there has been an increased utilization of CAM in psychiatry, particularly for hard to treat conditions like pediatric BD. It is important for the health care providers to be aware of the alternative treatments by some of their patients. A review of studies investigating the utility of complementary and alternative medicines in bipolar patients was conducted and selected studies were included. Omega-3 fatty acids and lecithin/ choline have preliminary data indicating potential utility in the CAM treatment for bipolar disorder while S-adenosyl methionine (SAM-e) and inositol have some data supporting their efficacy in the treatment of depressive symptoms. Some data for CAM suggest they may be useful adjunctive treatments but only little data are available to support their use as stand-alone therapy. Thus, the conventional medicines remain the first choice in pediatric bipolar management. Healthcare providers need to routinely inquire about the utilization of these treatments by their patients and become familiar with the risks and benefits involved with their use in children.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bipolar Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Child
  • Choline / therapeutic use
  • Complementary Therapies*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Inositol / therapeutic use
  • Lecithins / therapeutic use
  • Nootropic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Quality of Life
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • S-Adenosylmethionine / therapeutic use
  • Surface-Active Agents / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vitamin B Complex / therapeutic use


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Lecithins
  • Nootropic Agents
  • Surface-Active Agents
  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Inositol
  • S-Adenosylmethionine
  • Choline