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Natural Treatments for Depression

Amino Acids

Amino acids act as building blocks of protein that is essential for life.  It is made from carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen and sometimes sulphur.  Protein is found in all our body’s cells and is needed to make up the structure and function of these cells.  Skin, hair nails, muscles, hormones, organs, antibodies, blood cells, bones and enzymes are all made of protein.
  The antidepressant amino acids, Tryptophan, Phenylalanine and Tyrosine, make the neurotransmitters, serotonin, dopamine, noradrenaline and adrenaline, which are brain chemicals important for:  balanced mood and blood pressure, motivation, concentration, alertness and stress management, that are lacking in the brain of a depressed person.
  The amino acid L-tryptophan or 5HTP and SAMe are used to treat depression related to serotonin deficiency.  They can even be taken simultaneously (SAMe morning and 5HTP night)
  L-tryosine or L-phenylalanine is used to boost noradrenaline for balanced mood and motivation, concentration and stress management.
  Amino acids are usually given the letter ‘L’ in front of their names.  The ‘L’ shows that they are found in nature.  Tryptophan is plentiful in: chocolate with high cocoa content, oats, mangoes, dried dates, milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese, poultry, red meat, fish, eggs, sesame, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, spirulina and peanuts.
  Do they work?
  Remember that using amino acids to boost levels of neurotransmitters in the brain also depends on there being adequate levels of the appropriate vitamins and minerals.
  What are the side effects?
  Most of the substances used are from natural sources and there are no major side effects reported.  It is important to find reputable sources of amino acids because illness has been caused in the past when contaminated L-tryptophan supplements were sold over the counter.  These are truly nutritional treatments for depression, and rather than having side effects, they enhance general health.

Homeopathy

Homeopathy is an ancient healing system whose origins can be traced to the Sanskrit writings of ancient India to Hippocrates in Greece.
  Homeopathy is based on the principle: Treat Like with Like.
  Examples of the homeopathic principle in orthodox medicine are numerous and include
  immunisation and allergy desensitisation.
  Homeopathy is NOT just the giving of small doses. It is the administration of a regulating signal to the body, to trigger a healing response. The nearest analogy may be that of a DVD or CD. While all such discs look much the same, they differ in the information stored. When this information is read by an appropriate decoder, it results in a specific pattern of sound etc becoming revealed. It is believed that the information is stored in clusters of water molecules. This homeopathic signal can be corrupted by heat or ionising radiation, as can be expected.  If someone is interested in homeopathy it is recommended that they first have an appointment with a homeopath before self administering. This is because in homeopathy they treat the "constitution" - the whole person, so you and I could present with exactly the same symptoms, but if we had a different constitutional type we could be prescribed different remedies.
  Does it work?
  Depression, minor anxiety, immune and allergic diseases, coughs and colds, teething, acute diarrhoea all respond well to homeopathy.
  What are the Side Effects?
  It is safe and economical. Side effects are rare and usually indicate only a need to tune the treatment more specifically to the individual. Allergy to Homeopathy does not occur.

Herbal Medicine

There are several groups of herbal medicines that can be helpful in treating depression. A professional herbalist will be able to help you with the best treatment for your depression.

Herbs for Anxiety

Valerian (from which the name Valium derives) and German chamomile are helpful in treating anxiety.  One of the best treatment is oats either in the form of herbal extract (Avena sativa) or in the form of a good old fashioned bowl of porridge.

Herbs for stress

Adaptogens are used mainly to help cope in times of stress.  The adaptogens include Rhodiola rosea, Eleutherococcus (Sigerian ginseng) and Sutherlandia (See Filisa below).
  Do they work?
  These are thought to help us move through the usual emotional cycle that we go through if we receive a major setback, and gain acceptance.
  What are the Side Effects?
  Some of these can have adverse health effects (if taken by people with hypertension) and it is recommended that you consult a doctor or herbalist before you use them.
  Herbs for depression
  St John’s Wort – is one of Germany’s leading antidepressant drugs and accounts for a large percentage of the market there.  The active ingredient is hyperforin that is thought to act on depression by raising the neurotransmitters noradrenaline, serotonin and dopamine in the brain. It is also said to have sedative properties and be helpful in calming anxiety and excitability.
  Does it work?
  An evaluation in the late 1990s of a number of studies into St John’s Wort’s antidepressant qualities seemed to show that it was more effective than a placebo in treating mild or moderate depression.  More trials are underway but many millions of people seem to have been helped by this remedy over the years in dealing with their depression.
  What are the Side Effects?
  Because St John’s Wort is a herbal remedy, many assume that it is automatically safe to take.  And, taken alone and in the recommended doses, it does seem to be safe.  The worry about side effects is focused on the herb’s reaction with other medication.  Studies have shown that it should not be taken in conjunction with other depression drugs, as it might cause an allergic reaction in some people.  It can interfere with the absorption of the contraceptive pill.
  Self medication with St John’s Wort is safe if you take the above contraindications into account but it is important to check with your doctor that you are really suffering from depression before commencing treatment.

Filisa

  Filisa is the plant Sutherlandia Frutescens and is a traditional South African remedy that has long been used to support anyone suffering from extreme emotional distress, especially grief.  The ancient Zulu name is Insiswa, which translates as ‘the one which dispels the darkness’.  The wives of slain Zulu warriors used to take Sutherlandia to ease their grief.  The warriors who survived also took it to help calm them after their experiences.
Click here to learn more about Filisa

Does it work?
The Sutherlandia plant is rich in the natural inhibitory neuro-transmitter GABA, which relieves depression, anxiety, stress, improves the mood and gives a general sense of wellbeing.  Filisa helps with stress, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, SAD, PMT and Menopausal symptoms.
What are the Side Effects?
Filisa can be taken alongside your prescribed medication. It should not be taken during pregnancy or whilst breastfeeding.  It is not generally suitable for children under 14. Take 2x200mg capsules twice daily with food, to reduce any risk of nausea or dizziness (these are the only two rare side effects reported among already weakened patients).
 
Summary
It is worth investigating the foods you are eating and considering supplements alongside your anti-depressants, to speed up your recovery and ensure you remain in good physical and mental health.  Please always check with your GP or Mental Health Specialist before taking any of these supplements.

 

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