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D-chiro-inositol is one of nine forms of a substance in cell membranes useful to transport fat from the liver. It also signals the body’s molecules to release serotonin in the brain, which might promote a sense of well-being and regulate appetite. D-chiro-inositol occurs naturally in various foods and might be used to treat polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and depression.
Researchers found a connection between D-chiro-inositol and insulin resistance in several studies. Women suffering from PCOS who were insulin resistant showed improvement in both conditions after D-chiro-inositol supplements. Insulin levels improved in some study participants, and some women began ovulating.
PCOS represents a common disorder in women when numerous small cysts grow under the surface of the ovaries. Doctors believe cysts form when egg follicles fail to develop correctly because of hormonal imbalances. This disorder tends to run in families and might lead to infertility problems. Irregular menstrual cycles represent a common sign of this condition.
Patients who suffer insulin resistance experience trouble digesting carbohydrates and sugar at the normal rate, causing blood sugar levels to spike. Scientists found deficiencies of D-chiro-inositol in patients diagnosed with type two diabetes. One study using supplements of the agent improved insulin levels.
A form of inositol called myo-inositol is used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. D-chiro-inositol uses myo-inositol as its base and might also help treat anxiety disorders and depression. Experts caution about mixing these supplements with prescribed medication used to treat these disorders, which might increase episodes of manic behavior in bipolar patients and increase the effects of prescription drugs.
D-chiro-inositol occurs in certain foods, including brown rice, wheat germ, liver, and legumes. It is also present in lesser quantities in buckwheat, oats, oranges, peanuts, and whole wheat flour. Those who prefer obtaining the substance via natural or synthetic supplements generally take between 200 milligrams and 500 milligrams per day.
Supplements of the metabolite are considered expensive by some people, who choose to substitute another form of inositol. Studies using other forms showed some promise in treating PCOS by increasing ovulation slightly. Some women participating in this research gained weight, while others lost. A combination of diet and supplements might be effective for some patients.
Side effects of the substance in high doses include gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhea and nausea. Safety information on long-term effects of using these supplements has been scant. Patients with insulin resistance and PCOS should check with their doctors before using inositol.