Baby aspirin as a possible treatment for schizophrenia

I’ve said it many times. I’m a slow learner. For several years I have read the news and reports about the latest theory that conditions like schizophrenia, bipolar, and depression are linked to the body’s autoimmune system producing a low grade inflammation of the gut and brain. I set this theory aside, figuring that by the time pharma produces a new medication with side effects, another theory will have taken hold.

Last night I was wide awake at 2 a.m., my thoughts pinballing their way as usual around my brain. I was trying to get back to sleep by practicing mindfulness techniques, when suddenly I had a eureka moment. Baby aspirin! Why not baby aspirin for schizophrenia? It’s an anti-inflammatory. I’ve been taking baby aspirin for the past three years to reduce the risk of inflammation leading to heart attack and stroke, but it never occurred to  me to think that it might also be considered a possible treatment for schizophrenia.

This morning I did a bit of google research and discovered that, indeed, researchers have been on to this possibility for several years. If you “do the research” like I did (lol) you’ll see that some articles are quick to say that baby aspirin appears to be an effective “add on” to your normal intake of antipsychotics or antidepressants. Just an add on, not taken on its own. But it you dig a bit further, you’ll come across a different story – that some scientists hope that anti-inflammatory agents such as baby aspirin may eventually  replace the need for prescription drugs.

From the website of a for-profit treatment center: “A number of studies in recent years have drawn connections between schizophrenia and the immune system and have suggested that anti-inflammatory medications may improve treatment of this illness. The immune system has been linked to various psychiatric disorders, and research has associated the HLA gene system in particular (a system that plays a controlling role in various aspects of the immune system) with schizophrenia.

The Dutch study looked at a range of the best of these studies—all double-blind, randomized controlled trials—in order to determine if there was strong evidence in favor of the use of anti-inflammatory medications in combination with antipsychotic drugs. They found that a number of anti-inflammatory agents improved the results of antipsychotic drugs for schizophrenic patients.”

From an article in The Daily Mail:

“As soon as the word depression is mentioned, we tend to think of a mental problem that may need treatment with antidepressant drugs, with all their risk of side-effects such as weight gain and loss of libido.

But what if it actually has a physical cause that could be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen, or even antibiotics?

This is the fascinating possibility being explored by scientists at Cambridge University.”

“The Cambridge team’s hope is that by teasing out the link between inflammation and depression, they may be able to help prevent thousands of deaths among those who suffer from the mood disorder — and prevent people needlessly being on antidepressant drugs.

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19 thoughts on “Baby aspirin as a possible treatment for schizophrenia”

  1. Rossa

    can you give me a ‘marketing name’ for the baby aspirin. Not sure we have anything like that down here in Australia.

    1. Hi, Anthony,
      Baby aspirins are aspirins usually prescribed for babies that come in 81 mg or 100 mg doses They are increasingly recommended for people over 50 to prevent heart attacks and strokes. I’m sure that all the regular aspirin manufacturers in Australia also sell baby aspirins. Do keep in mind that I’m just passing along the information and not offering medical advice. It is important to seek medical advice first, as aspirins are not recommended for teenagers because of Reyes Syndrome, a fatal condition.

      1. Thanks Rossa………my son Tom is almost med free and is supposed to stop all medication come July. Just looking at some possibilties to help him with this transition.


        1. Hi, Anthony,
          My son has been taking a baby aspirin once a day for less than a week. He stopped his meds about 5 weeks ago (for complex reasons that I won’t go into here). He has had a lot of very disturbing symptoms beginning many months ago that I attributed to long term use of the drugs. But, his symptoms had grown worse in the past five weeks, and I was casting around to find something that might help. For whatever reason, and I don’t know the reason, his symptoms seem to be getting better. I thought the baby aspirin might help but the jury is still out on why he seems to be getting better.

  2. Hi Rossa,
    I’m not arguing but was genuinely wondering if a plant-based anti-inflammatory like ‘Zyflamend’ (for example) wouldn’t be preferable to aspirin, which can carry significant side effects? (Though I appreciate that Zyflamend is much more expensive than baby aspirin.) But the idea that an anti-inflammatory could help in schizophrenia is very exciting (!).

    Liz Sydney

    1. Wow, thanks, Liz. I’ll check this out. Didn’t know about it. Thanks so much! I’m not sure the baby aspirin has significant side effect if taken once a day, although I spoke with an 88 year old friend recently who said he cut his intake back to only 3 times a week because of bleeding. But, heck, he’s 88. Still, one must be cautious with aspirin, so thanks again for recommending a possible alternative.

  3. My son was prescribed low-dose aspirin to alleviate niacin flush, so he used it for a while. After a few bouts with nose bleeds, I had him stop taking it as aspirin is also a blood thinner. I can’t say I saw any benefit while he was using it (certainly not for the flush) nor did I see any negative changes after taking him off it. I will say, however, that I take baby aspirin in the middle of the night when I can’t get back to sleep and it works like a charm (honestly)!

    1. Interesting, Mary. Niacin is also an anti-inflammatory, so I’m thinking that your son’s bleeding might have been because he was taking an “overdose” of anti-inflammatory agents. It seems odd to me otherwise, as most young people (I’m guessing) would tolerate a baby aspirin, although not to be given to teenagers, I have heard, as it can cause Reyes Syndrome, a fatal condition.

    2. Hi, again, Mary. My son also took niacin for quite a while. To be precise, “nicotinimide” which is as effective as straight niacin, if not more so, but doesn’t give you a flush. I noticed an immediate improvement in his skin color and attitude, but it didn’t “cure” him. He was also taking antipsychotics at the time and the effects were masked. I’ll never know how effective it could have been. I’m a bit skeptical of Dr. Hoffer’s claims, as much as I am a fan of his work. It seemed like all of his patients got right back to university, jobs, etc. and that result strikes me as rather simplified. There is a huge psychological/spiritual component to the condition that Hoffer didn’t address, nor do I think he believe that this could be the case.

      1. Hi on a parallel I have been focusing on the new research about the gut-brain relationship and how reestablishing a healthy microbiome will reduce imflamation. There is evidence There is evidence of link between out of whack microbiome and many brain diseases including depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Now I am trying mightily to introduce anti- inflammatory foods and eliminate inflammatory foods from my sons diet. My inspiration came from a friend who is treating immflamation in her vagus nerve this way. The vagus nerve is how the gut and the brain communicate. I am really interested to hear how a low dose aspirin might impact depression or schizophrenia. My son became very anxious as I introduced probiotics and cut back on sugars. I read that this can happen when the microbiome is in flux. Unfortunately he became wary of the food and probiotics because he feels they made him anxious – which is a sign that they may have had an impact. He would need to ride out the anxiety for a few weeks until his intestinal flora had a chance to transition. I will keep trying! Maybe we will also try a low dose aspirin if he is willing. FYI I am assuming his microbiome is pretty unhealthily due to a long period of antibiotic treatments when he was an child and adolescent.

  4. Rossa, I’ve been following your journey for quite awhile and from your above statement about your son stopping meds, are you familiar with William Walsh, phd and his work that continues and expands on the work of Hoffner and Carl Pfieffer? And did your son ever get tested using pyroluria; copper, zinc, ceruloplasm levels, histamine levels? And yes, the antidotal stories do seem rather simplified and our experience has not been similar or that easy with my son who has been going through his journey for seven years now. Look forward to read your book.

    1. Hi, Denise,
      My son worked with a holistic psychiatrist for three years, who prescribed all kinds of supplements and dietary changes for him based on her muscle testing techniques. The results of her muscle testing (not laboratory testing) pointed to the usual culprits (candidiasis, gut inflammation, etc.) He got off the drugs with her help, was doing very well for about six months, and then relapsed, even though he was still adhering to her program. I believe that some people will recover this way, but many will be like my son. So far, he’s doing okay without the meds (it’s been at least three months) and he’s not taking any supplements. Go figure.

      1. I’m the one …I’m the mother who don’t believe in those medical crap. I have my son who is mentally ill. I’m caring on my shoulders all the suffering that goes with it…I mean SUFFERING with a physical and emotional pain, and I’m not giving up until I live. My story is long ….I need advice I need help and I’m ready to fight for all those poor “mentally ill” sent for life sentence with those nasty drugs which give them more problems and psychotics symptoms they would never had without it .

        Please help Help me to help my son and together we should help the suffering others.

        1. I feel your pain. There is something about aspirin that makes you feel better. Speak to your doctor and slowly lower the dose of medication and take aspirin as prescribed on the packet. Schizophrenia causes inflammation in the brain and aspirin stops it. Just aim for lowest dose of antipsychotic possible. Your family member deserves the best quality of life, my friend. Maybe the pharmaceutical companies aren’t doing their research on this as there is no money to be made on aspirin and schizophrenia? Big bucks are their new drugs, when all along it could have been more simple. Something right in front of our noses. I’m on your journey, I understand you through your post.

      2. Thanks Rossa. I am trying to figure this all out for sure. Have you changed anything regarding diet to address the candida and inflammation?

        1. Hi, Denise, I haven’t bothered with his diet for years, other than to make sure the he and the rest of the family don’t eat junk food. And, I actually don’t believe that candida and inflammation is as prevalent a problem as we are all led to believe. I realize that it’s just about all that nutritionists talk about, but I don’t believe that good health has to be so complicated and is so terribly “nuanced”. I ended up spending a lot of money on the latest supplements, and guess, what? My son was still “schizophrenic” after rigorously following the protocol. (I use quotation marks around “schizophrenic” because I even question the validity of the label. There is nothing these days that I’m not skeptical of.) The holistic psychiatrist used muscle testing to determine that he had these problems, but that’s putting a lot of faith in one’s ability to diagnose an unseen medical condition by muscle testing.

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