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Int J Psychiatry Med. 2016 Aug;51(6):479-485. doi: 10.1177/0091217417696733. Epub 2017 Mar 12.

Functional foods: How functional are they? A case report of supplement-induced psychosis.

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1 Department of Neurology, College of Medicine, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA.
2 College of Medicine, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA.
3 Department of Pharmacy, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA.
4 Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA.
5 Acute Care Program, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, ON, Canada.


There is rising evidence of patients' use of alternative and complementary medicine. The percentage of the U.S. population who used at least one dietary supplement increased from 42% in 1988-1994 to 53% in 2003-2006. We present a case of an Asian female in her 40s, with no previous psychiatric illness, who presented to the emergency room following a brief psychotic episode, during which she self-amputated the tips of her fingers, after using multivitamins and herbal supplements including ginseng, gui yuan rou (Chinese herb), astaxanthin, goji (Chinese fruit), selenium, saw palmetto, grape seed extract, citrus bioflavanoid, lutein (zeaxantin), resvexatrol, sun chlorella, spirulina powder, phytoceramides, phytoestrogen, glucosatrin, bromelain plus, and American bee pollen. Comprehensive laboratory workup, drug screening, and diagnostic imaging were negative. Vital signs were stable. Other than the amputated finger tips, the remainder of her physical examination was unremarkable. Her mental status improved significantly after treatment with risperidone 1 mg twice daily, during a five-day psychiatric hospitalization. This case draws attention to the fact that supplements have the potential of producing frank psychosis and require close monitoring and study by physicians.


adverse effects; functional foods; ginseng; herbal supplements; multivitamins; psychosis; self-mutilation; sun chlorella

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