Could An Ingredient In Red Bull Have Mental-Health Benefits?

Despite the fact that many of us cling to them for dear life the morning after a night out, we all pretty much know that Red Bull, Monster, and the like are Not Good For Us. But new research suggests that there may be something medicinal in these products after all. According to a new study, the ingredient taurine, which is found in many energy drinks (including Red Bull), may have some benefits for people going through their first episode of psychosis. Researchers recruited 86 participants who had been diagnosed as suffering from the first episode of a mental disorder that included psychosis as a symptom (e.g. schizophrenia). Then, every day for 12 weeks, half of those participants got 4 grams of taurine (which is actually just an amino acid that can act as an energizing ingredient) while the other half got a placebo. The results, which will be presented this week at the annual meeting of the International Early Psychosis Association, showed that the participants getting taurine over those 12 weeks showed more significant improvements in their symptoms and overall functioning compared to those who got the placebo. Although we're still quite a ways away from anyone prescribing taurine to help with psychosis, these results do suggest the compound might be worth a deeper look. The dose used in the study (4 grams) was relatively large — supplements usually come in 500 mg to 1,000 mg strengths, and a can of Red Bull only contains 1 gram. So you're unlikely to see the same effects from your normal diet. But if you want a little taurine boost to your life now, you should know that you definitely don't have to suck down a Red Bull to get it (and there really are pretty good reasons why you might not want to do that too often, anyways). It's actually already naturally present in your body, and you can also get it from nutritious sources such as fish and eggs. Also: It really is nice to know that your bleary-eyed Monday-morning energy drink might not be all awful.

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