In a new study presented at 2016 International Early Psychosis Association Meeting in Milan, research shows that supplementation with taurine (well known as an additive found in drinks such as Red Bull) improves symptoms of a first episode of psychosis.
The study is led by Donegal Mental Health Service in Ireland and The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health in Australia.
Psychosis is a severe mental disorder in which thoughts and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality.
Taurine is an amino acid naturally occurring in the body that has various functions, including aiding the function of the cardiovascular system.
It exhibits an inhibitory neuro-modulatory effect in the nervous system and also functions as a neuroprotective agent. It is also involved in development of the nervous system.
For all these reasons, it was chosen as an interesting substance to study for potential treatment of psychosis.
In this new study, the researchers analyzed the efficacy of taurine supplementation in improving both symptoms and cognition in patients with psychosis.
A total of 121 patients (aged 18-25 years) with psychosis from an intervention service in Melbourne agreed to take part in the study.
Patients received taurine 4 grams or placebo once daily. A scoring system called Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale was used to assess symptoms, and a psychological test was used to assess cognition.
A total of 86 patients (47 receiving taurine and 39 placebo) were included in the final analysis. Taurine was found to be both safe and well tolerated.
Taurine significantly improved symptoms of psychosis. There were also improvements in depression symptoms and general overall functioning.
However, there was no difference between groups regarding cognition.
The researchers suggest that although taurine supplementation did not improve cognition, it appears to improve core symptoms and depression in patients with psychosis.
They are planning further studies to examine the potential benefits of taurine both alone and in conjunction with other supplements in the treatment of psychosis.
News source: 2016 International Early Psychosis Association.
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