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Home > Living Well > Health Library > Tardive Dyskinesia (Holistic)
Reduce the severity of TD by taking 1,600 IU of vitamin E every day under a doctor's supervision
Improve symptoms by taking 25 grams of this nutritional supplement twice a day, providing 35 grams of phosphatidyl choline per day
Prevent onset by taking 15 mg of manganese a day, or help reverse the condition by taking up to 60 mg per day under a doctor's supervision
With the supervision of a knowledgeable doctor, take 10 mg of this natural hormone each night to help reduce abnormal movements
Tardive Dyskinesia (TD) is a condition of abnormal, repetitive, uncontrollable movements that develop
after a long-term use of so-called antipsychotic medications used to treat schizophrenia and related psychiatric disorders. The term
"tardive" (which means "late") is used because the condition appears only after long-term
use of these drugs, which include chlorpromazine (Thorazine), thioridazine (Mellaril), and trifluoperazine (Stelazine). Dyskinesia means "abnormal
The uncontrollable movements of TD can interfere greatly with a person's quality of life. TD may
gradually diminish in severity after the medication is discontinued, but all too often the problem is
permanent, persisting after withdrawal from the drugs that caused the condition. Conventional treatment for
TD is unsatisfactory, so prevention is considered crucial. It is important that people requiring
antipsychotic drugs be given the lowest effective dose and that treatment be discontinued as soon as it is
Symptoms of TD include repetitive and involuntary movements (tics), most often of the facial muscles and tongue (such as lip smacking), although any muscle in the body can be affected (e.g., moving legs back and forth). Symptoms may be mild or severe and can interfere with eating and walking.
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Vitamin E has been found in a number of studies to reduce the severity of TD. In a double-blind trial, people with TD were randomly assigned to receive vitamin E (800 IU per day for two weeks and 1,600 IU per day thereafter) or a placebo. Vitamin E was significantly more effective than placebo in reducing involuntary movements. An uncontrolled study of 20 people with TD reported that 1,600 IU of vitamin E per day may be the optimal amount; this large amount should be supervised by a healthcare practitioner. Other studies have also found that vitamin E supplements reduce the severity of TD. Two studies failed to show a beneficial effect of vitamin E. However, the people in those studies had been receiving neuroleptics for at least ten years, and research has shown that vitamin E is most effective when started within the first five years of neuroleptic treatment.
Choline and lecithin have both been used for people with TD. While some studies have shown a beneficial effect, others have reported variable improvement or no improvement. In a small, two-week, double-blind trial, people with TD were given 25 grams of lecithin twice a day (providing 35 grams of phosphatidyl choline per day), or a matching placebo. All participants experienced significant improvement of symptoms.
One doctor has found that administering the trace mineral manganese (15 mg per day) can prevent the development of TD and that higher amounts (up to 60 mg per day) can reverse TD that has already developed. Other researchers have reported similar improvements with manganese.
In a double-blind trial, supplementation with 10 mg of melatonin each night for six weeks reduced abnormal movements by 23.8% in patients with TD, compared with 8.4% in the placebo group, a statistically significant difference.
Preliminary research has linked TD to the inability of the body to metabolize the amino acid phenylalanine. Supplementing with branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), including valine, isoleucine, and leucine, could reduce excess phenylalanine in people with this disorder. In one trial, researchers examined the effects of BCAA supplementation in people with TD (from 150 mg per 2.2 pounds body weight, up to 209 mg per 2.2 pounds body weight) after breakfast and one hour before lunch and dinner for two weeks. The BCAA mixture included equal parts valine and isoleucine plus 33% more leucine than either of the other two amino acids. Of nine people treated, six experienced at least a 58% reduction in symptoms, and all nine had a least a 38% decrease.
Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE) is a natural choline precursor. Although some preliminary data suggested that DMAE could decrease TD symptoms, most studies show that DMAE is no more effective than placebo for TD.
Several people have experienced an improvement in TD while taking evening primrose oil (EPO). In a double-blind study, however, supplementing with EPO (12 capsules per day) resulted only in a minor, clinically insignificant improvement.
Animal research and preliminary human reports suggest that L-tryptophan may be helpful for reducing the severity of tardive dyskinesia symptoms. Typical supplementation has begun with 2 grams per day of L-tryptophan, increasing to as much as eight grams per day, sometimes accompanied by a low-protein, high-carbohydrate diet and 25 mg/day of niacin (nicotinic acid).
During a ten-year period, doctors at the North Nassau Mental Health Center in New York treated approximately 11,000 people with schizophrenia with a megavitamin regimen that included vitamin C (up to 4 grams per day), vitamin B3—either as niacin or niacinamide—(up to 4 grams per day), vitamin B6 (up to 800 mg per day), and vitamin E (up to 1,200 IU per day). During that time, not a single new case of TD was seen, even though many of the people were taking neuroleptic drugs. Another psychiatrist who routinely used niacinamide, vitamin C, and vitamin B-complex over a 28-year period rarely saw TD develop in her patients. Further research is needed to determine which nutrients or combinations of nutrients were most important for preventing TD. The amounts of niacinamide and vitamin B6 used in this research may cause significant side effects and may require monitoring by a doctor.
Last Review: 06-08-2015
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The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2021.
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