Among some natural health advocates, apple cider vinegar has earned a reputation as a panacea. On the PreventDisease.com website, alternative health author John Summerly writes: "The question is not what apple cider vinegar can do, but what it can't do."
He continues to cite research that suggests how the common cooking seasoning can help fight diabetes, heart disease, allergies, high cholesterol, cancer and weight gain. Some evidence suggests that it could reduce the inflammation associated with psoriasis.
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Some sources, such as an article titled Schizophrenia & Natural Remedies on the Jung Circle website, list cider vinegar as an ingredient that can be used in a formula to calm the body when you are stopping psychiatric medications.
Other online articles, such as one on Psycom, highlight evidence that suggests that what happens in the intestine may be connected to what happens in the brain.
An investigation published in February 2019 in Scientific advances suggests that the intestinal microbiome (the ecosystem of bacteria and microbes that live in the digestive tract) may be related to schizophrenia (a chronic and severe neurological brain disorder). According to stool samples, the researchers observed that people with schizophrenia have less diverse microbiomes than people without schizophrenia.
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Some alternative health advocates argue that apple cider vinegar can improve overall intestinal health, and if the gut-mind connection is true, then this natural fermented acidic liquid has the potential to help relieve the symptoms of schizophrenia. .
Drew Ramsey, MD, a nutritional psychiatrist who incorporates evidence-based nutrition into his treatments, believes that what we eat can affect mental health. He makes dietary recommendations designed to help people with depression, anxiety and emotional well-being problems.
"What we are really looking for is how we help people eat a nutrient-rich diet with nutrients and nutrients related to brain health," says Dr. Ramsey, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University In New York.
Their eating plans include green leafy vegetables, colorful vegetables, B vitamins, minerals such as zinc and magnesium, and fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Ramsey bases his dietary orientation on studies as one published in October 2019 in the magazine Plus one, which showed a fall in depression among young adults who followed a Mediterranean-style diet for three weeks.
However, when it comes to apple cider vinegar and the brain, the proof of a relationship is simply not there, according to Ramsey.
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"Apple cider vinegar really has no role in nutritional psychiatry and mental health disorders and suggest that that is really speaking without any evidence," he says. "I probably prescribe more food to mental health patients than anyone else in the United States, and I have never prescribed apple cider vinegar."
Ramsey is concerned that some people think that cider vinegar is a "magic bullet" solution.
"There is an idea behind this that drinking apple cider vinegar will improve the diversity of microbiomes, but there is still no science behind," he says. "We want to guide people with evidence and not exaggeration on the Internet."
Ken Duckworth, MD, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), also warns against apple cider vinegar as a treatment for schizophrenia.
"There is no evidence that it is useful," he says. "No rational person would recommend it."
That said, Dr. Duckworth does not rule out the value of some natural remedies that can improve aspects of mental health. He points to research that demonstrates a brain benefit of omega-3s, blueberries and spice turmeric.
For complete information on evidence-based natural health solutions, Duckworth directs people to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the leading federal government agency to investigate complementary and alternative medicine.
"I remain open to research that would help (establish) that there is an alternative remedy that demonstrates the efficacy of schizophrenia," he says. "The absence of proof is not proof of absence, but a significant proof is needed before you can make claims."
When it comes specifically to schizophrenia, Dr. Ramsey highlights the research published in the journal. Nature Communications Discover that long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) in fatty fish such as salmon reduce the risk of psychotic disorders.
"The study showed a significant decrease in the progression to schizophrenia in individuals who received omega-3," he says.
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About 1.1 percent of the population in 2014 or about 2.6 million Americans 18 and older live with schizophrenia, according to the Center for Treatment Defense. It is estimated that 40 percent of people with the condition do not receive treatment in a given year.
Common symptoms include delusions and hallucinations; alterations of the senses; inability to classify and interpret incoming sensations and, therefore, inability to respond appropriately; an altered sense of self; and changes in emotions, movements and behavior.
The American Psychiatric Association publishes guidelines for the treatment of schizophrenia, which presents information on antipsychotic medications and therapy. Duckworth points out that these medications for schizophrenia include Clozaril (clozapine), which is the only FDA-approved medication for reducing the risk of suicide in patients with schizophrenia.
Ramsey emphasizes that the treatments should be multimodal, with a combination of responsible medication management, a supportive care team (involving a counselor, a psychiatrist and a case manager) and employment.
"Working is good for mental health," he says. "For people with psychotic disorders, it provides self-esteem, structure and income."
"For people with schizophrenia, getting access to adequate mental health and psychiatric care and support employment is much more important than apple cider vinegar," Ramsey adds.
To find resources and help for the treatment of schizophrenia, Duckworth recommends contacting the National Alliance for Mental Illnesses (NAMI).