Herbology: Health & depression

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Herbology: Health & depression

Good health comes easily to some. The rest of us have to work for it. We don't smoke, we exercise regularly, and avoid stress. We try to eat fresh vegetables and fruit, avoid sugars, fats and junk. We don't drink with meals and do a cleanse regularly.

Some of the most troubling problems -- and sometimes the most difficult to deal with -- are depression, fatigue and exhaustion. More than 15 million Americans suffer from true clinical depression each year.

Early treatment needed

Before the actual signs point to "clinical depression" as it is defined by the American Psychiatric Association, help should be sought. The first sign of fatigue, exhaustion or mild depression is the time to seek help and to use natural remedies.

The importance of sleep can't be emphasized enough. But, not just any kind of sleep. Sound sleep provides the opportunity for the brain to release toxins and recover from stress.

Sleep must be deep. Rapid eye movement (REM) or dreaming is a good indicator of a deep sleep. While many drugs force sleep and reduce deep, REM (dream state) sleep, natural substances such as herbs actually promote it.

Natural depression supplements

Recently on ABC's "20/20," they pointed out some of the problems with the depression drug, Prozac. They also pointed out the success of treating mild-to-moderate depression with alternative therapies, stating. "The herb, St. John's Wort, could revolutionize the way we treat depression in this country."

Dr. Harold Bloomfield, a Yale-educated psychologist, stated that St. John' Wort is his "treatment of choke" for this grade of depression. In Europe St. John's Wort outsells Prozac 20-to-1.

A four-week study of 205 patients with mild depression was conducted. More than 67% of participants experienced good response with no adverse effects. The patients took St. John's Wort, containing hypericin .3% extract.

Although St. John's Wort is getting a great deal of attention because of its apparent success with depression, other herbs and nutritional support can be of help.

Along with St. John's Wort (standardized to .3% hypericin), gingko biloba (standardized to 24%) is the most frequently recommended herb for depression. What use would taking supplements be if they were unable to get to the brain cells where needed? Gingko biloba increases circulation to the brain and thus improves thought processes.

Then, there's gotu kola, an herb that is commonly used for brain-related problems, depression, ADD, etc.

A global "rediscover" of herbs seems to be taking place. Much of the data is coming from Europe where the government supports research involving herbs. It is to be hoped that Americans will take note of this development and look to alternatives more often.

Correcting deficiencies

Several common factors keep appearing in cases of depression. Correcting these deficiencies could he the key to overcoming depression for many people. The common factors are tyrosine, B-6, folic acid, glutamine and EFA (essential fatty acids).

Eating properly is always a key factor in maintaining health -- including mental health. Our diet should primarily consist of fruits, vegetables and grains, and less fat. Caffeine, refined sugar and other stimulants should be avoided.

Supplements of L-tyrosine, folic acid and B-6 (preferably pyro-5-phos form) should be taken. Consumption of good EFA sources (spirulina contains EFA) is important. An L-glutamine supplement is vital as well.

Except for glutamine, many of the nutrients critical to good mental health can be found in food sources. Glutamine, an amino acid, is found in meat. When meat is cooked, this renders the glutamine unusable by the body.

Since glutamine is produced in the muscle mass of the body, exercise is a key to the supply. But, if a real deficiency exists, taking supplements may be the only guarantee we are getting enough.

There are many who feel than an overdose of glutamine is a potential problem when supplements are taken. According to Dr. Judy Shabert, M.D., doses of eight grams daily are no problem. Dr. Shabert also points out that the body converts glutamine (the transporter form) to glutamic acid (the usable form) on an "as needed" basis.

The Chiropractic Journal.

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By A.C. "Chuck" Millet

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