Natural Solutions For Depression
It is heartbreaking how many people take anti-depressants to feel right and require sleeping pills to get a good night’s rest. There are many natural substances that can boost serotonin and melatonin levels without the side effects of medication. In this article, I’ll share some of the more common remedies and herbs that can naturally shift imbalances that cause depression, anxiety and sleeplessness. When treating patients, I use a unique form of kinesiology that I have developed to determine which of the following remedies work best for each individual and what are their optimal dosages.
5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophane) is derived from L-tryprophan and comes from the seeds of a woody shrub native to West Africa called the Griffonia simplicifolia plant. 5-HTP is the biochemical precursor to neurotransmitters Serotonin and Melatonin with the help of vitamin B6. It is commonly used to treat obesity, depression, anxiety, insomnia, PMS, migraines, and addictive behavior. 5-HTP therefore increases Serotonin in the brain and is responsible for feelings of well being, satisfaction and normal sleep patterns. Serotonin is not found in large amounts in most diets so the body has to manufacture it from foods which contain L-tryptophan, such as chocolate, oats, bananas, dried dates, meat, fish, turkey, chicken, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, chickpeas, sesame and peanuts. Many people, therefore, crave the aforementioned foods (fats and carbohydrates), especially when under stress, causing weight gain, depression, headaches, and muscle aches. Clinical studies have shown that supplementing with 5-HTP produces beneficial results in weight loss, anxiety and depression. It improves sleep patterns and reduces sugar and carbohydrate cravings. Research shows that 5-HTP is effective and safe at dosages under 100 mg per day.
Rhodiola Rosea is next on my list of natural remedies for the blues. It is a remarkable herb with a wide and varied history of uses. It is known to strengthen the nervous system, fight depression, enhance immunity, elevate the capacity for exercise, enhance memory, aid weight reduction, increase libido and improve energy levels. It has long been used as a potent adaptogen, which is a natural plant substance that increases the body’s resistance and normalizes the functions of the body. For depression, Rhodiola seems to work by enhancing the transport of serotonin precursors, tryptophan and 5-HTP, into the brain.
Rhodiola has a legendary history dating back thousands of years. In 77 A.D., the Greek physician Dioscorides documented the applications of the plant in his classic text De Materia Medica. The Vikings depended on the herb to enhance their strength and endurance, while Chinese emperors sent expeditions to Siberia to bring back “the golden root”. The people of central Asia considered a tea brewed from Rhodiola to be the best treatment for colds and flus. Mongolian physicians prescribed it for tuberculosis and cancer.
Next on my highly abbreviated list of natural blues-busters is the well known herb St. John’s Wort. SJW contains several chemicals, including hypericin, which are thought to be the main sources of antidepressant activity. In several studies on animals and humans, one or more of the chemicals in St. John’s Wort appears to delay the re-absorption of the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, thus leaving more of these anti-depressant chemicals in circulation. SJW is also used for anxiety, OCD, hypothyroid, and is being investigated for its potent anti-viral activity in high doses.
The final supplement that I will review is called GABA, which is a potent “inhibitory” neurotransmitter. GABA is essential to normal brain function because it stops excess brain activity. Without it, the brain would be like an electrical storm, firing away without anything to stop it. Supplemental GABA is used to help with anxiety and excessive worrying or thinking.
As chiropractors, we have access to powerful supplements not available to the general public, that combine all these remedies, plus a few others, in one formula. When a patient takes these in combination with Omega 3 essential fatty acids and receives chiropractic adjustments, we have been able to help stabilize moods, restore normal sleep cycles and prevent many from having to use medical anti-depressants and sleep aids.
In my next article I will discuss natural remedies for improving low energy levels (chronic fatigue) and low libido. As always I invite you to pass these articles along and come in for an assessment if you have any health concerns.
Enjoy your health,
Hesu Whitten DC