Taurine supplementation improves symptoms for young people suffering first episode psychosis

By Gary Scattergood contact

- Last updated on GMT

Taurine significantly improved symptoms on the BPRS scale. ©iStock
Taurine significantly improved symptoms on the BPRS scale. ©iStock
Research appears to show that supplementation with taurine - an additive commonly found in energy drinks - improves symptoms in young people suffering a first episode of psychosis (FEP).

Taurine is an amino acid naturally occurring in the body that has various functions, including aiding the cardiovascular system. It exhibits an inhibitory neuro-modulatory effect in the nervous system and also functions as a neuroprotective agent. 

Authors Professor Patrick McGorry and Dr Kelly Allott, from The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health in Australia, and Dr Colin O’Donnell, from Donegal Mental Health Service, Ireland, said these factors prompted them to assess the additive for the potential treatment of psychosis.

The study was presented at this week’s International Early Psychosis Association (IEPA) meeting in Milan, is currently awaiting journal publication.

A total of 121 patients (aged 18-25 years) with FEP, taking low dose antipsychotic medication, and attending early intervention services in Melbourne agreed to take part in the study. Patients received taurine 4 grams or placebo once daily.  

Well-tolerated

A scoring system called BPRS (Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale) was used to assess symptoms, and a different tool called MCCB (MATRICS consensus cognitive battery) 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 on the BPRS scale, both in overall score and the part specifically analysing psychosis.

There were also improvements in depression symptoms (rated by the Calgary Depression Scale for Schizophrenia)​ and general overall functioning (including social and workplace functioning). However, there was no difference between groups regarding cognition.

The authors conclude: “Although taurine supplementation did not improve cognition, it appears to improve core symptoms and depression in patients with FEP. The use of taurine warrants further investigation in larger randomised studies, particularly early in the course of psychosis.”

They are now planning further studies to examine the potential benefits of taurine both alone and in conjunction with other supplements in the treatment of psychosis.

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