One of the most prevalent conditions that people seek medical attention for world-wide, is depression. Although a lot of conventional allopathic medicine relies on anti-depressant medications such as the selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, monoamine oxidase inhibitors and tricyclics, there are some natural alternatives that deserve some air-time as well.
Generally recognized causes of depression appear due to psychosocial events such as persistent stress, trauma and bereavement as well as biochemical and genetic factors. All of these causes can result in imbalanced or decreased activity in neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. In addition, lowered levels of amino acids such as tryptophan and tyrosine, vitamins such as Vitamin B1, B3, B6, B12, folic acid, C and D, as well as the trace minerals such as magnesium, chromium, iron, iodine, selenium and zinc also contribute.
While this may seem like a lot to talk about, a surprising number of these deficiencies can be addressed by lowering the processed carbohydrates in the diet. This is because excess glucose and fructose require a lion’s share of these vitamins and minerals to metabolize. It is also important to mention that these vitamins and minerals are necessary in order to allow tryptophan to convert to serotonin (for mood) and melatonin (for sleep), and tyrosine to convert to both dopamine (for pleasure) and thyroid hormone (for metabolism). Basically, a good multivitamin and B complex in the right doses, coupled with a lower carbohydrate dietary regime would be an easy first step.
Another easy intervention would be in the form of the herb known as St. John’s Wort (Hypericum Perforatum). One of the constituents of this herb causes it to behave as a mild re-uptake inhibitor of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, which were mentioned above. Typical doses of St. John’s Wort for depression range from 500-1000mg in divided doses throughout the day.
Refraining from alcohol, aspartame and monosodium glutamate (MSG) during depression also helps as these substances tend to deplete B vitamins, which then adversely affects mood. While these interventions are not exhaustive, they are a good step in self-care as far as mental health maintenance goes.
That concludes season 2 of the 2 Minute Health Intervention podcast. Join me again in January for season 3, where we’ll continue to explore those interventions that empower you in health in under 2 minutes.
Be Well and Be Zen
Atkins R C, (1998), Dr. Atkins’ Vita-Nutrient Solution, Nature’s answer to drugs., p. 337, Fireside Publishing, NY, ISBN: 0-684-81849-3.
Alternative Medicine Review, Monographs Vol. 1, (2002), Hypericum Perforatum, p.216-22., ISBN: 0-9725815-0-2.
Gaby A R, (2011), Nutritional Medicine., Ch. 287, Depression, p. 1045-61, Fritz Perlberg Publishing, Concord, NH., ISBN 13: 978-0-9828850-0-0.