Bipolar Treatment Without Drugs - Introduction -


Bipolar syndrome responds well to treatment and as long as some form of treatment is continuously maintained it’s possible to live well with bipolar syndrome and keep it in more or less permanent remission. In these pages I’ll discuss the techniques I use in my clinic and my personal life (I have bipolar syndrome) to treat bipolar.

The holy grail of any treatment is a permanent fix-it-and-forget-about-it cure and I’d love to be able to say you will find that here, unfortunately however for bipolar syndrome such a thing doesn’t exist, at least not yet; but this doesn’t mean that you can’t live well with bipolar syndrome and have a positive and healthy life free from debilitating mental health problems. Until a permanent cure for bipolar syndrome does come along the next best solution is a mood stabilising treatment that can effectively switch off and prevent both mania and depression and to do it without side-effects, without causing weight gain, poisoning our kidneys or switching off feelings or libido.  I believe such a treatment does already exist, but it’s not just one thing, there’s no single new magical herb or drug I’m going to reveal on these pages that has universal mood stabilising effects for all people and all varieties of bipolar syndrome.

If you think about that for a moment it’s unlikely that a one-size-fits-all treatment could ever exist because bipolar syndrome can manifest in so many different ways in different people and to make treatment even more challenging the condition is often tremendously variable within a single person. For some people bipolar syndrome can include extreme hyper mania with delusional thoughts and little or no depression, for other people it may be less extreme mania followed by severe clinical depressions, relapses may be infrequent or cycle rapidly or the condition may manifest in mixed states. To cope with this tremendous variability an effective mood stabilising treatment must also be flexible and variable allowing you to change the treatment to suit the current state of the condition.  Ideally you should to be able to change the strength of the different sides of the treatment i.e. when your condition is heading in a manic direction you should be able to increase the strength of the anti-mania side of the treatment and decrease the antidepressant aspects of the treatment because antidepressant treatments can cause mania, and vice versa so that when your condition is heading in a depressive direction you should be able to increase the strength of the antidepressant treatments and decrease the strength of the anti-mania treatments to maintain long-term balance despite the variability of your condition.

When untreated bipolar mania can hijack your brain and make you behave a bit crazy, it can lead you into reckless behaviour that destroy your life and untreated bipolar depression which usually follows the mania can hijack your brain and incapacitate your mind with such painful feelings that it may end your life; but bipolar syndrome is not untreatable and usually responds well to treatment and when it’s switched off and kept in remission it doesn’t negatively impact on your life so you’re free to do whatever you want with your life.  

Bipolar Treatment Overview

Step 1 Making Your Brain Healthy
I believe to treat bipolar syndrome effectively involves much more than simply manipulating the levels of neurotransmitters in our synapses, to be successful we must first improve the overall health of the brain itself. There may be health issues in the brain which may be directly contributing to making our bipolar syndrome worse or even prevent any treatment aimed at balancing neurotransmitter levels from working effectively.  

Brain health issues we should address before we tried to adjust our neurotransmitters include:-
1/ Detoxifying heavy metals which interfere with neurotransmitter production.
2/ Inflammation in the brain can negatively affect the health of our synapses (synapses are where neurotransmitters are passed from one nerve cell to the next). Inflammation can come from a variety of sources including:- 
  • An imbalance in the amount of omega 6 versus omega-3 oils it diet,
  • A leaky gut and/or leaky blood brain barrier allowing half digestive food molecules particularly gluten to enter the brain and triggered the brains defensive immune and inflammatory responses, 
  • Allergies and sensitivities that resulted inflammation in the brain,
  • Stealth infections
  • Smoking, 
  • The consumption of fried food and the inadequate intake of antioxidants in our diet etc etc.
3/ Autoimmunity.
4 / Deficiency of essential omega-3 oils and imbalances between omega 3 and 6 can negatively affect the health of our  brain and synapses.
6/ Manufacturing neurotransmitters requires a lot of energy and to maintain a healthy balanced production of neurotransmitters in the brain requires a continuous balanced supply of fuel, principally glucose; therefore the brain health we must have stable blood sugar and eliminate big fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Besides stabilising our blood sugar we can also supplement our diet with alternative fuel sources for the brain.
7/ Another fundamental requirement our brain needs to make neurotransmitters and function properly is an adequate supply of oxygen to make energy the energy needs from fuel.
8/ Stress and the hormones it produces affect the health of our brain, a consistent findings in brain scans of people with bipolar syndrome is that our HPA axis tissues are enlarged; the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis is the pathway whereby stress in our mind produces the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol throughout our body including the brain. There are training programs we can do that permanently altered the way we produce stress responses within 3 months and I believe everyone with bipolar syndrome, chronic anxiety and recurrent clinical depressions should undergo this training program to eliminate the negative impact of stress on the health of the brain. 
Imagine how incredibly inefficient it is to try and increase the amount of activity in the serotonin pathways of the brain to alleviate depression simply by taking a drug or natural remedy that increases the level of serotonin in the synapses when the synapses themselves may periodically be starved of the glucose and fuel they need to manufacture serotonin in the first place, when the brain is chronically starved of the oxygen needed to extract the energy from the fuel, when the membranes of the synapses are damage from chronic inflammation, damage from chronic stress, or hardened from deficiency of essential omega-3 oils, or if our neurones are poisoned by the presence of mercury or cadmium.
Improving the health of the brain is so important each one of these is discussed in a separate chapter see the section Making Your Brain Healthy. Natural remedies tend to be quite gentle in their effects and so I believe that it is only possible to use natural remedies as a viable alternative to drugs in the treatment of serious mental health problems if you have sufficiently improved the health of your brain. Let me restate that another way improve the health of your brain to make it more susceptible to the gentle therapeutic effects of natural remedies. E.g. ultra low-dose lithium####################
Ideally I suppose you work on the health of the brain first and then attempt to increase or adjust the levels of neurotransmitters and synapses but that would take too long and we can’t wait so in practice what happens is you start eliminating the brain health issues above and adjusting your neurotransmitter levels at the same time.
For example did you ever get the giggles from eating too much sugar or have you ever seen this phenomenon in children, what’s happening is elevated blood sugar increases the rate at which neurotransmitter is synthesised flooding us with extra serotonin and dopamine inducing a feeling of euphoria and have you ever experienced the opposite when you’ve gone too long without eating and your brain is starved of the sugar it needs for fuel inducing feelings of depression and irritability because of the decreased rate at which we can synthesise neurotransmitters; these phenomena show just how significantly our neurotransmitter balance and mood are strongly affected by the flow of fuel to the brain and consequently it is totally unacceptable to have unstable blood sugar so that our brain is periodically flooded or deprived of the fuel it needs to manufacture a balanced amount of neurotransmitters. 
Besides stabilising our blood sugar and brain fuel levels other brain health issues that we need to eliminate because they can potentially prevent us from being able to recover balanced mental health include:-
Heavy metal toxicity such as mercury, lead or cadmium.
Lack of blood flow and oxygen to the brain.
I’ll discuss how to eliminate these potential brain health issues to make the brain amenable to successful treatment elsewhere, see Making Your Brain Healthy (under construction 2014). 
Other Universal Helpers: Exercising and Remodelling our Brains
Step 2 Mood Charting
Step 3 Mastering Mania and Sleep to Keep a Lid on Things
Step 4 Adding Natural Antidepressants
Step 5 Using Combination Treatments to Create a Mood-Stabilising Effect 
To live well with bipolar syndrome one of the most useful things you can learn how to do is to manage the neurotransmitter dopamine in your brain. (Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that transfer and control signals from one nerve cell to another, in the brain dopamine is an excitatory or stimulating neurotransmitter)

Understanding Bipolar Neurotransmitters

When you think of depression the neurotransmitter you think of first is serotonin but in bipolar syndrome it seems that the primary imbalanced neurotransmitters are dopamine and glutamate.

See Bipolar Neurotransmitters

Exactly what is going on in the brain to cause bipolar is complicated and far from fully understood but a useful working model is that in the manic phase dopamine and glutamate levels become excessively high and drive the reckless, risk-taking, hedonistic and destructive behaviours people engage in during phases of hyper-mania along with the speeded up thinking and hyperactivity observed in both hyper and hypo-mania. Conversely during phases of bipolar-depression dopamine activity appears to be inadequate and depleted. The bipolar brain either speed up and runs too fast or slows down and runs to slow. Later on I’ll talk more about how you can use this concept of mental speed to monitor your condition so that you can make adjustments to your treatment/maintenance protocol including increasing or decreasing dopamine with natural remedies to maintain your balance and prevent your bipolar syndrome ruling life.  Like I said so far we do not know how to permanently cure bipolar syndrome and it does not go away on its own, it's the way your brain works so it's always going to be part of you for life; either you can take control of it with drugs or natural therapies or you can do nothing and let it control your behaviouroften in very destructive ways. 

As you probably already know our body regulates and maintains many things at constant levels, for example we maintain an even body temperature, blood pressure, sugar levels in the blood and neurotransmitter levels in the brain this is called homeostasis. The way this works is when something, say dopamine levels in the brain, exceeds normal levels the body brings it down and when the levels fall the body brings it back up.  We are all familiar with this effect in the real world for example it’s how the thermostat in your home or oven maintain an even temperature. Your thermostat is supposed to respond quickly and constantly making fine adjustments so that when the temperature overshoots even just a little in either direction the overshoot is quickly corrected; however if the thermostat gets stuck in one position for any length of time it continues driving the temperature up or down to extremes before switching into the opposite direction; you can think of the bipolar brain doing something like this with dopamine.
Dopamine levels like many other things in the body naturally rise and fall a little, a healthy non-bipolar brain is able to efficiently self-regulate the levels adjusting them up or down to keep dopamine within the normal range. In the bipolar brain however when dopamine levels start to rise they keep going and rise all the way up to the ceiling intoxicating the brain, hijacking the mind and causing manic behaviour, then they crash down into bipolar depression.

I think a helpful way to think of the homeostatic control of dopamine in the bipolar brain is it's like the flow of gas to the engine of a car; to maintain the same speed you have to increase or decrease the flow of gas, in some cars this can be done automatically by switching on cruise control, without automatic cruise control you have to constantly adjust your foot on the gas pedal to stop the car going too fast or too slow.  People with non-bipolar brains are driving cars in which the cruise control works well and is always switched on, so their brains automatically adjust their dopamine levels and they maintain a more or less constant speed without them having to do anything; in the bipolar brain however sometimes the cruise control stops working and we speed up becoming manic or slow down becoming depressed. 

My solution to this problem is to accept that the bipolar brain lacks a reliable cruise control and to live well with bipolar syndrome you have to learn how to keep eye on your speed and adjust it manually with remedies. When we are in a manic state everything our thinking, movements and actions speed up, this can range from the hypo-manic state in which this extra speed can enable us to get a lot done through to the hyper-manic state in which we can have racing chaotic thoughts. [See monitoring your bipolar condition under construction during 2017]

You can learn to pay attention to the speed of your thoughts, your body movements and actions and use it. When your speed increases just slightly into a hypo-manic condition you could simply decrease the dosage of the remedies that increased dopamine, if your speed increases dramatically causing racing thoughts and reckless impulsive behaviour you lift your foot off the gas completely and apply the brakes by eliminating the remedies that increase dopamine completely and take formulations that actually deplete dopamine activity in the brain [see remedies that increase and decrease dopamine levels page under construction during 2014].
Adjusting your own your dopamine levels by increasing or decreasing the natural remedies that affect dopamine is one of the central method I use to treat bipolar syndrome in myself and my clinic. 
Caffeine, amphetamine and especially cocaine cause dopamine levels to surge in the brain, if you gave a cocktail of these drugs to a non-bipolar person and watched how they behaved over the next few hours they’d look remarkably similar to a person with bipolar mania. If a doctor was called to assess a person behaving manically high one of the first things the doctor would do is screen their blood and urine for the presence of narcotics, if no drugs were found the diagnosis would probably be diagnosed with bipolar syndrome. I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere about the good thing with bipolar is at lease the cocaine’s free. 
As just mentioned cocaine, caffeine and amphetamine cause dopamine levels to surge in the brain and if you gave a cocktail of these drugs to a “normal” person and watched how they behaved over the next few hours they’d look pretty manic. If a doctor became involved one of the first things they would do is screen the person’s blood and urine for the presence of narcotics; if no drugs were found the person would probably be judged to be manic and diagnosed with bipolar syndrome. I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere about the good thing with bipolar is at lease the cocaine’s free. 

Bipolar syndrome is acknowledged to be one of the most difficult mental health conditions to treat. What makes treating bipolar syndrome so challenging is when you treat the mania with drugs or natural remedies the bipolar brain can tend to overshoot and instead of coming back down to normal it may swing to far ending up in a low dopamine depression; similarly antidepressant medicines used to treat bipolar depression can cause an overshoot in the opposite direction pushing dopamine levels up too high into bipolar mania. 
Heavy-handed anti-mania drugs (called mood stabilisers) may prevent bouts of hyper-mania from ruining a person’s life in crazy hyper-manic episodes but can leave the person with unresolved depression that ruins a person’s quality life in another way; this can make some people want to come off their mood stabilisers. For some people combining serotonin based antidepressants SSRIs with the mood stabilisers is sufficient to remedy this problem but when it isn’t my recommendation is to turn to dopamine stimulating antidepressant techniques to alleviate bipolar depression. In addition to unresolved depression many people find that powerful mood stabiliser drugs leave them feeling emotionally flat and oppressed.  

My personal experience is anything above a very small dose of lithium makes me feel completely empty and totally devoid of any feelings, happy or sad, like an emotionless nonhuman automaton robot performing human activities. At very low doses however, at least for me lithium does not cause any unwanted side-effects and improves the quality of my sleep cycles and life; the only problem I have is explaining how this is possible because according to conventional medical research the dosages I use wouldn’t have any therapeutic effects at all. See Lithium Friend or Foe (under construction)

Of course I understand there are cases of bipolar syndrome where the hyper-mania is so extreme it needs to be controlled at all costs by continuously taking strong mood stabilisers and living with the side effects, there are also situations when spending a year or more on strong mood stabilisers is obviously the sensible thing to do, for example for someone in their teens who’s just recently been diagnosed with bipolar syndrome because of a severe hyper-manic episode. Over time however many people  develop better coping skills and learn to recognise the early warning signs so that they could achieve a better quality of life by learning how to take control of their own prescription and adjust it as needed to manage their bipolar syndrome. The goal in the work I do is to help people better manage the biochemical side of bipolar syndrome, with this site my practice and forthcoming book. In addition to innovations in our understanding of the biochemistry of bipolar syndrome are also noticing more people with bipolar syndrome developing and publishing psychological techniques to help you live with the condition such as Bipolar in Order by Tom Wootton. It
As I said conventional psychiatry would generally caution against the use of anything that would increase dopamine levels with bipolar syndrome for concern that it could induce a manic state and this concern is not without foundation.  But bipolar syndrome is often not just hyper-mania and excess dopamine it is can also be debilitating depression due to dopamine deficiency. Just to make the debate about whether or not to use dopamine stimulating antidepressant remedies even more complicated is the fact that for many people with bipolar their depression follows mania like night follows day and so preventing the manic phases is one of the best ways to prevent the depression phases. To a large extent the decision as to whether or not to use dopamine stimulating antidepressant remedies depends upon the type of bipolar syndrome you have.

If your condition is and is predominantly dominated by depression and not much mania i.e. bipolar type II and the depression is not adequately alleviated with serotonin based therapy (SSRI’s) then the decision is pretty straightforward, you should try boosting dopamine and manage the hypomania as it arises. The decision becomes more complicated the more pronounced and severe the manic side of your condition is; and before you begin to experiment with boosting dopamine to overcome bipolar depression you must fulfil some minimal requirements: you absolutely must have your totally dark bedroom and virtual darkness set up, you must have developed sufficient self-awareness skills and understanding of the condition to sense when you are becoming manic, remember it will feel good perhaps seductive but like a cocaine high you will have a comedown depression  and it can harm your life, job, relationships etc. if you have not have the condition very long you may need more time to develop these skills, you must also have a fully stocked medicine chest ready for immediate use and have already had some experience of using anti-mania remedies to bring down hyper-mania episodes. To be blunt and emphasise my point if all this this sounds a bit over the top to you I recommend you shouldn’t even try self-medicating remedies that can increase dopamine. To live well with bipolar syndrome it’s so important to know yourself and be honest with yourself about your limitations, perhaps you do not possess the necessary awareness of the need for safety to use these self- medicating techniques. Remember these remedies can speed up your brain and precipitate a relapse into mania. 
It is acknowledged with in medical circles that treating bipolar syndrome can be very challenging because there are the two different sides (manic/depressive) and these can cycle slowly, rapidly or manifest together in mixed states; then there’s different types (type I, type II, NOS: not otherwise specified). So take your time be safe and see if these techniques help you. I believe the more you learn about the cycles and management of your condition the better your outcome will be, there is no permanent fix and forget cure for bipolar syndrome but many people can learn how to control their bipolar syndrome rather than have it controlling them.  
Draw your own mood chart to help you visualise the profile of your condition. 

Bipolar can manifest in very different forms in different people.
Make a sketch of your own pattern over the past 12 months and the profile of your typical episodes.  Today you can get apps to plot your mood or make your own on Excel. Keeping a record of your mood, your sleep pattern, the medication you are using and noting any redcurrant patterns of thinking or behaviour like grandiosity/superiority, social withdrawal, paranoia, aggressiveness, obsessing about buying something, gambling etc. can help you to devise an individual prescription and to recognise the all-important early warning signs that enable you to nip a bout of relapse in the bud.

As I’ve emphasised elsewhere it’s imperative that you learn how to master your bipolar mania before you consider taking dopamine precursors and other natural therapies that have a propensity to initiate mania.
Another problem with developing your own healthy prescription is that the manic feelings can be so enjoyable that you may crave the manic high like a cocaine addict craves the cocaine high, especially when the alternative is not feeling OK but feeling depressed. KUNDALINI PATIENT AND BP II ESPECIALLY MAY BEIEVE THE HYPO STATE IS THE NORMAL BUT ITS NOT  feels good and depression doesn’t so poorly designed treatments that stop the mania and don’t fully stop the depression are often not complied with and people stop taking their meds. This lack of compliance is a major problem among bipolar patients on pharmaceutical mood stabilisers drugs such as lithium.
Let me be upfront with you using my method is to treat your own bipolar syndrome is very hands-on, if you’re looking for new simple prescription of nondrug remedies and you just want to take the same thing every day so you can more or less forget about your bipolar syndrome and get on with the rest of your life you not can find it here; but to be honest adult you can find anywhere even if you don’t have rapid cycling like I often do the bipolar brain rarely stays completely stable for years and sooner or later the majority of people find they need to change the prescription because it’s no longer suited to the current state of the brain chemistry. 

If on the other hand you:
Possess the self-awareness (emotional intelligence and cognitive skills) to recognise the early warning signs that your condition is heading off the reservation and
You’re sufficiently motivated to learn through self-experimentation how the many different remedies and treatments affect you and 
You are prepared to regularly adjust your prescription.
Then you can probably significantly improve the quality of your life and keep your bipolar syndrome effectively in remission for long periods of time if not permanently.  
The need to constantly be changing ones prescription is not uncommon even with conventional pharmaceuticals, because of the inherently unstable nature of bipolar syndrome many people find continuously staying on the same prescription only gives temporary stability. Some people may only need to change their medication every few years but for other more unstable (rapid cycling) people their bipolar brain can quickly overcome the latest combination of drugs and re-establish out of balance bipolar syndrome after say a couple of months. 

Quite often it is necessarily to combine treatments and remedies that reduce excessive dopamine and treatments that increase dopamine simultaneously. You might for example take the amino acid tyrosine or phenylalanine in the morning to give you an antidepressant lift and then find that later in the day you are becoming slightly manic so you take branched-chain amino acids to attenuate or reduce elevated dopamine levels and prevent the mania getting out of control. In some ways it’s just like driving a car you put before the gas to get going on your foot on the brake to slow you down, but the bipolar brain is very hands-on like driving high-performance sports car when you touch the gas it speeds off and you need to regularly apply hard breaking to keep it under control.
I know in reality the science explanation behind bipolar syndrome will turn out to be far more complex than simply too much or too little dopamine, but my job is finding practical workable solution for my patients and this model is useful. 
Do not suddenly stop taking your prescription medication on your own unless you are experienced and know what you are doing or have qualified supervision. Supplements that boost serotonin must not be taken at the same time as SSRIs without expert supervision. See [anti depressant washout time under construction].  I encourage you to learn about how to take control your own health problems but you must be careful when self-medicating the primary rule of medicine is first do no harm. Be honest with yourself, is this a bad time to be experimenting? Have you learnt enough about what you’re doing?  If not get qualified advice.
On the positive side you live with your own condition and potentially you can monitor your condition and prescription better than anyone else. Natural therapies have virtually no side effects and milder actions compared to pharmaceuticals, the gentle action of natural therapies enables you to vary your dosage and prescription in a way that is not advisable with powerful conventional drugs, the gentle nature of natural therapies tends to make them less likely to cause dangerous over-swings from one pole to the other. The downsides are because they are much milder in action than pharmaceuticals you will have to combine a lot of pills and therapies at the same time and constantly keep an eye on your symptoms, these remedies are also not available on prescription or insurance so you will have to pay for them out of your own pocket. Conventional medics tend to think of natural therapies being only suitable for mild to moderate depression, and when they are used individually I’d agree, but when combined it is possible to create very powerful treatment capable of treating quite serious conditions. 

The Nature of Dopamine

Dopamine gives us drive, energy, motivation, a switched on feeling and excitement about new ideas. The increased energy and talkativeness coffee and cocaine can cause is mainly due to the effect of increased dopamine levels. If you’ve ever felt sluggish first thing in the morning or mid-afternoon and found a coffee gave you mental energy, sharpness and renewed enthusiasm, that was a dopamine boost. (Coffee contains antioxidants by the way and 1-2 coffees a day actually gives you multiple health benefits). 

It used to be thought of dopamine was responsible for giving us feelings of euphoria and pleasure we obtain from exciting behaviours, however it is now understood that dopamine only gives us the drive towards pursuing those pleasures but strangely it appears that dopamine is not what causes the feelings of pleasure and euphoria. Anyway the important point is dopamine changes our behaviour and impulsively drives us towards thrill-seeking, hedonistic and pleasurable activities such as gambling, drug taking, sex (including risky casual sex), excessive spending, fast driving and other typical manic behaviours. Dopamine also drives the exchange of information from one brain area to another and is involved in generating new ideas, so when dopamine levels are in excess the manic mind may be flooded with new creative ideas, some but not necessarily all of which may be unrealistic and the sheer volume of new ideas may be greater than the person’s capacity to see them all through. In many ways this condition resembles the creative mind of a very excited child and it’s not uncommon for a person in a manic state to start lots of projects and then not see them through. All too often I’ve heard psychiatrists describes this manic dopamine induced flood of new ideas in a only a negative light, it’s a sign of bipolar mania and therefore it’s a sign of pathology or mental illness; however I rather think this misses the point that the creativity and sheer productivity that well managedbipolar syndrome can give you is potentially a gift and we should take advantage of whatever silver linings we have. See [LINK]
To little dopamine on the other hand can cause depression characterised by lassitude, significantly diminished energy levels bordering on being fatigued, maybe slowed thinking and moving, excessive sleeping, apathy and significantly diminished levels of motivation, the inability to feel enthusiastic about anything, the loss of the ability to feel pleasure from things that you previously found pleasurable, diminished libido and a diminished capacity to feel love or much at all. If you think about it this is basically the exact opposite in almost every regard of the bipolar manic condition. The demotivated, low energy depression caused by lack of dopamine is quite different to the intensely painful depression caused by lack of serotonin and taking the amino acids which make serotonin will not alleviate the depression caused by low dopamine and vice versa. It is unfortunately possible and even common to have both deficiencies and types at the same time.
A severely dopamine dependant depressed person may wish they were dead because “what’s the point of living”, but they may lack the motivation or energy to do anything about it; the tortured, antsy serotonin type depressed person on the other hand has more energy and may be at a greater risk of suicide. However suddenly increasing energy and motivation in a person with dopamine deficient depression by boosting dopamine can significantly increase the risk of suicide, at least initially; this side-effect of initially increasing suicide risk is also a observed with prescription antidepressants. It’s as if the treatment raises energy and motivation levels before it manages to antidote the pain and suffering of the depression, so one is still depressed but now you’ve got the energy to do something about it… The suicide rate is higher from bipolar syndrome than for any other mental illness (approximately 11%), I suspect this is due to the volatile nature of dopamine in the bipolar brain, suddenly injecting a surge dopamine into a depressed person giving them energy, impulsivity and poor risk assessment/judgement is a dangerous combination. Bipolar syndrome kills people, I would like to see a shift in attitude from thinking that when a mentally ill person commits suicide they killed themselves, to an understanding that they didn’t kill themselves the illness killed them just as cancer or liver failure kills people, if they didn’t have the mental illness they would not have died. I believe this shift in attitude would help us both understand how serious bipolar is and demystify mental illness and treat it in a more matter of fact way as we do illnesses in other parts of the body. 
Many people with bipolar syndrome type II are misdiagnosed as having unipolar (endogenous) depression because their hypo-mania is not severe enough to be recognised as a symptom of bipolar syndrome; they are then treated with selective serotonin reuptake antidepressants (SSRIs) in an attempt to treat their depression but find that SSRIs do not help because their bipolar depression is primarily a deficiency of dopamine and not serotonin. 
A study by Zarate et al 2004 demonstrated an effective antidepressant effect for patients with bipolar depression who were non-responsive to regular mood stabilisers and serotonin boosting antidepressants from a drug that increases dopamine activity and is normally used to treat Parkinson’s disease. 
It’s been my personal and clinical observation that people with bipolar depression often respond positively to both dopamine boosting tyrosine and serotonin boosting tryptophan, which implies that it’s possible for both neurotransmitters to become deficient and need supplementing in bipolar depression.
See treating bipolar depression later on but please learn how to control bipolar mania before you start treating bipolar depression by boosting dopamine levels; learn how to use the brake pedal so you can stop the car before you start using the gas pedal! All you have to do is read the section on treating bipolar mania, stock your medicine cabinet with anti-mania remedies and start using total and virtual darkness treatments which will take you about a month to set up before you can start boosting dopamine.

See    Treating Bipolar Mania

There’s no doubt that the hyper-manic condition is potentially very destructive to a person’s life and because of this psychiatric treatment is very focused on preventing the manic phases but people living with bipolar are often more concerned with the depression of bipolar. I can understand conventional psychiatrists position about wanting to stay away from dopamine enhancing medications out of fear it will cause hyper-mania, however to do so may consign the person to a lifetime of bipolar dopamine deficient depression, which from the patient’s perspective leaves them with a quality of life not worth having. Some people with bipolar syndrome find that they can adequately treat bipolar depression was serotonin-based antidepressant drugs or natural remedies however if you find that your bipolar depression does not respond to serotonin boosting antidepressant treatments you may find you respond to dopamine-based antidepressant treatments.

A Personal Anecdote:
When my bipolar depression was un-medicated it nearly killed me on numerous occasions as soon as I began supplementing my brain with the building blocks of serotonin (and other remedies) I remained suicidal depression free for almost 15 years except for two occasions in my early 30s when I decided to stop all my remedies because I thought I’d had enough psychotherapy to cure me and the other time following a personal family tragedy. For reasons I cannot explain in my early 40s boosting serotonin alone gradually ceased to be enough to prevent depression and I slowly began to relapse into mental illness. My condition was dominated by relentless depression with four or five very brief episodes of hypo bordering on hyper-mania per year; bipolar Type II with rapid cycling if you’re into labels. Previously I had been so successful for so long at keeping my mental illness in remission by manipulating serotonin that I continued to believe that my primary problem was a serotonin imbalance and simply carried on for several years trying to fix that problem. At that time my practice was not particularly focused on mental health and so I had was not sufficiently up-to-date with the dopamine hypothesis of depression and bipolar syndrome to recognise it in myself. Furthermore it also never occurred to me that my brain could seemingly spontaneously switch and develop a problem with a different neurotransmitter when I was middle-aged. What I thought was happening was that somehow my body had gotten used to the serotonin boosting remedies I relied on and if I could just find a new way to elevate my serotonin levels I’d get well again. After several years of unsuccessful treatment my mental health had progressively worsened and my illness had once again become life threatening.

Quite by chance whilst revising dopamine for another project I began to recognised that my symptoms appeared to have more to do with the deficiency of dopamine than a deficiency of serotonin, so the very next day I set out a prescription of dopamine boosting remedies and supportive cofactors by my bedside ready for use the following morning. The dopamine-based antidepressant prescription began to work on the first day dramatically ant-doting the life wrecking demotivated depression and lassitude I’d had for over five years by that point in time. Within days however I had flipped into a manic condition so I simply stop the prescription and antidoted the mania with low dose lithium sedative amino acids and forced myself to sleep for as much as 14 hours a day several days before resuming the dopamine boosting prescription at a modified dosage. Initially each time I tried to restart my brain it would go into hyper-drive and I would shut it down, it felt like when you over load a computer and it gets stuck so all you can do is force it to shut down and reboot then starting again. It took me six weeks of experimentation and quite a rollercoaster ride before I established the correct dosage and learning how to simultaneously stimulate and attenuate my dopamine levels to recover my mental health. That was October 2010 I’ve been in full remission since then.
It was that experience of personal illness and recovery centred around an imbalance in dopamine that led me to understand the need to consider and treat other neurotransmitters apart from just serotonin. Serotonin deficiency not only dominated my own personal thinking but has also come to dominate conventional psychiatric medicine especially with regards to depression for the past 20 years since the discovery and widespread adoption of serotonin reuptake inhibiting antidepressants SSRIs. This experience motivated me develop practical ways of affecting the balance of our neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, GABA, PEA and acetylcholine) using natural therapies which are both side-effect free and incredibly flexible allowing people to individualise their own prescription. Another area I focussed on was methods to bring down and manage dopamine and hyper-mania, you can find a lot in books and online on remedies for depression but much less on bipolar type I and mania. In fact most websites books I read insist drugs are the only answer and one must not experiment and try alternatives, but I would argue and it is my belief that for many people becoming more engaged with their illness, learning how to manage it for themselves and regulate their own prescription will lead to better outcomes. 
I now offer these therapeutic methods in my practice for patients with chemical imbalances causing depression, bipolar syndrome, anxiety and addiction. These techniques may be of some limited benefit for people with OCD but as yet I am unable to assist anyone with psychotic or schizophrenic disorders.
My first book on balancingbrainchemistry is due for publication 2014 it will be on balancingbrainchemistry for bipolar syndrome with books on depression and anxiety to follow.
People with bipolar type II are almost never dillusional and do not know they need to take some meds, and even for people with bipolar type I amount of time a person spends in extreme mania which crosses the border into psychotic delusions such that they can’t even recognise they need meds may be minimal and more common the first one or two times it happens. Eventually even people with this extreme form of bipolar syndrome can learn to recognise when they’ve gone crazy and self-medicate, more impotnaly people can learn to read the early warning sighns and prevent things getting out of contrl in the firest pelace. Plese don’t misunderstand what im saying and accuse me of suggesting drugs are always wrong and natural therapies are some universally brillienat panaciea that works for everone, im not selling snake oil here, im mearly explaining alternative opotions for that for some people may provide better solutions to mental health problems. If you are happy with your drug regime and it works for you why bother with my methods; also if you are not good at taking lots of remedies, eating well, learning aboutuy your condition, learning about new remedies and recognise the ealrly warning sighs of relaps then I would not reccmend experimenting with my methods. But ##############
Amino acid remedies are among the most powerful remedies in my repertoire and despite the lack of interest by conventional psychiatry in using amino acids to increase dopamine levels for bipolar depression I’m extremely excited to see mainstream medical research investigating amino acid treatment of mental health problems in any regard.

If you have bipolar syndrome and you want to successfully self-medicate what you need to know is how to lower excess dopamine and manage your mania before you start boosting dopamine to treat bipolar depression.
It turns out that there are several remedies available to us to reduce or attenuate dopamine activity in the brain when it becomes excessive and causes unhealthy manic behaviour. Elsewhere I talk about how I believe it’s a mistake to define all manic behaviour as unhealthy; if the behaviour is unknown symptom of a mental illness but it isn’t causing any harm I believe it’s better to accept it rather than trying to medicate it away, see About Bipolar Syndrome. 

When manic behaviour begins to harm your life you can take amino acids thatcompete with the absorption of the amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine thereby reducing the availability of the building blocks of dopamine within the brain we can do this with what are called branched-chain amino acids.
Then there’s a more recently developed technique of consuming a protein mixture consisting of all the amino acids except for dopamine and phenylalanine thereby creating arelative shortage of the building blocks of dopamine. Actually this is a technique I have not yet been able to try out for myself but I can’t wait to as I’m sure it will be a valuable option for some people in some situations. The potential of this technique is that a person could have a tyrosine and phenylalanine deficient protein drink that they could simply consume as and when they observed their manic symptoms developing.

What I really like about using nutritional remedies like amino acids is that they are completely naturally occurring molecules that are part of the normal “economy” of the body’s metabolism and for this reason they very rarely if ever produced toxic and unwanted side-effects; natural remedies also offer tremendous flexibility allowing the self-medicater to vary their own prescription in a way that is not possible with conventional drug treatments.
On the next page Managing Bipolar Mania we’ll go into more detail on how to apply the remedies above that reduces the body’s ability to manufacture dopamine along with several other remedies and techniques you can use to control your bipolar mania. 
I believe that you can live well with bipolar syndrome but to do so you must first understand that central to the bipolar condition is the tendency for dopamine levels to be unstable and swing from too high to low, then you must learn how to recognise not just that you’re having the condition but learn to recognise the early warning signs that tell you your dopamine levels are heading off the reservation in one direction or the other.  Eventually if you learn how to manipulate your own dopamine and to a lesser extent serotonin levels with self-medication you can start to live well with bipolar syndrome and start to cash in on some of its potential gifts. you should year you shouldto ask questions especially when you're talking to someone is just a lot more


In time you will learn to adapt these techniques so suit your own unique brand of bipolar syndrome, for example years ago when un-medicated my own bipolar syndrome was characterised by very long periods -several years- of depression followed by brief periods -a couple of weeks- of hypo-mania followed by a mini burst -hours to a day- of hyper mania then back down to several years of bipolar depression and so in my case what the depression is emphasised and not mania, so most of the time I want to boost dopamine levels and only gently moderate them. Occasionally especially while I was learning how to do this I would overshoot and end up precipitating a manic condition which I would then have to treat aggressively for a few days. Gradually with practice I learned how to avoid this most of the time and quickly fix it when I didn’t. Alternatively you may be more prone to prolonged or serious bouts of mania perhaps you even have phases of extreme hazardous hyper-mania in which case your treatment prescriptions should emphasise continuous dopamine attenuation and only include moderate dopamine stimulation just sufficient to keep you out of depression. 
It’s not uncommon for me to use remedies for dopamine stimulation in the morning and dopamine attenuation in the evening, I see it as little different to someone who has coffee in the mornings and soothing herbal tea in the evening.
Learning to do this for yourself will take time but will give you the ability to adjust your prescription on a day-to-day basis as opposed to being given a prescription by a psychiatrist that you are supposed to stick to without changing for months at a time, you may for example be expected to stay on lithium or other mood stabilisers with unpleasant side effects such as weight gain and a dulling down of your personality continuously all year around because once a year you have a manic episode. The alternative approach I’m proposing is you learn the cognitive skills to recognise the early warning signs that you are developing mania and then pre-emptively medicate it with natural therapies. By eating well including daily omega-3 fish oil and totally stabilising your blood sugar you should be able to extend the length of time that you spend in remission.  Learning to control your biological clock, sleep cycles and maintain copious amounts of good quality sleep is also a tremendous help, see my book Sleep Better with Natural Therapies published October 2013.  Last but by no means least it is almost inconceivable to me that someone would be able to proficiently self-medicate without well-honed cognitive and self-awareness skills and I suggest it may be essential to have at least a dozen or so sessions of some form of psychotherapy with a suitable therapist to develop that skill set. CBT or cognitive behavioural therapy is not the only suitable therapy but it is widely available and fairly consistently practised; even just three or four sessions would make a tremendous difference.
Okay let’s progress on to the actual treatments strategies:

Click here for managing bipolar mania.
Click here for managing bipolar depression.

Zarate, C. A.; Payne, J. L.; Singh, J. et al. (July 2004). "Pramipexole for bipolar II depression: a placebo-controlled proof of concept study". Biol. Psychiatry 56 (1): 54–60. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2004.03.013. PMID 15219473.
:-( :-)

Bipolar Treatment Main Menu:
Section 1  
Understanding Bipolar Neurotransmitters & Treatment
Section 2 
How to Monitor you Bipolar Phases to Adjust your Prescription
Section 3 
Treating Bipolar Mania
Section 4 
Treating Bipolar Depression
Section 5 
Putting It All Together
How to Combine Natural Therapies to Manage and Live Well with Bipolar Syndrome
Section 6 
Universal Bipolar Helpers:
Darkness Therapy for Bipolar Mania
Sleep Cycles & Bipolar Syndrome
Stabilising Blood Sugar
Omega-3 Fish Oils for Bipolar Depression
Lithium Friend or Foe
Vanadium Toxicity & Bipolar Syndrome
Detoxifying Heavy Metals
Bipolar Treatment Articles:
Lecithin & Choline Reduce Bipolar Mania
Bipolar Drugs
Drugs & Weight Gain
Addiction & Bipolar Syndrome
NAC-Cysteine Anti-oxidant & Antidepressant
Be Well

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Hi my name is Peter Smith I specialise in treating and coaching people how to live well with mental health problems, digestive health problems/IBS, sleep problems and type II diabetes using natural therapies.
I used these techniques to overcome and live well with my own bipolar disorder and IBS. I've been in practice as a natural medicine practitioner since 1988.

What I Treat

  • Brain Chemistry and Mental Health problems (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, addiction, OCD)
  • Digestive Health: IBS, bloating, SIBO (which can be the cause of  60% of IBS) and parasites (with external lab testing)
  • Mercury and Heavy Metal Detoxification (with external lab testing)
  • Addiction (by balancingbrainchemistry, supporting healthy dopamine levels etc.)
  • Meditation and Relaxation brain-training for mental health problems, and adrenal exhaustion (individual and small classes)
  • Cognitive hypnotherapy and NLP
  • Drug-Free better Sleep
  • Insulin resistance, pre- and early type II diabetes
If you’d like treatment for any of the issues discussed in this article I specialise in treating and coaching people how to obtain better mental health with natural remedies and self-help techniques. If you would like me to look into your individual case and develop a tailor-made programme of natural remedies, dietary advice and brain training exercises I’m available for private consultations and I’m available for private consultations at my London clinic and online for people that live too far away.
I also run regular meditation classes in London and online.
I’m passionate about treating mental health and I’d be very happy to work with you.
Click on the
bookings tab to make an appointment.
To Book an Appointment
At my London clinic please call the Hale clinic reception:
020 7631 0156
(online bookings will be made available soon on the Hale Clinic website**)

For a Skype coaching session email me letting me know where you are located/what time zone you are in:

For enquiries/further information:
Mobile: 07941 331 329

(please keep your email brief)

As a general rule improvements are seen within 2-3 appointments so you can quickly know if the treatments are helping you and you are making a good investment.
For a more information about me and what the conditions I treat click here: About About Peter Smith
Please help and support this site.  
I’m giving you the information first instead of selling the information as an e-book and then asking you to make a donation if you feel that the information has helped you and would have been happy if you had bought it as an e-book you could buy me a couple of coffees or more :) using the PayPal Donate below Button below
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