By Michael Biamonte, C.C.N.
Depression can occur for several physical reasons. Anyone experiencing depression should see a nutritionist to rule out the possibility that a hormonal or nutritional factor is the cause. Many times physical factors will worsen the actual depression. Elevated levels of the mineral copper have been known to cause depression. Copper has a suppressive effect on both the adrenal and thyroid glands. Copper levels also rise with estrogen. This accounts for the depression women experience when the are premenstrual.
Postpartum depression occurs due to increased copper levels that occur during pregnancy. Estrogen and copper levels normally increase during pregnancy. After delivery estrogen levels should return to normal, however copper levels may remain elevated. The excess copper has been implicated in post partum depression When pregnancy’s are close together copper levels rise and remain elevated . This increases the chance of post partum depression. Zinc, vitamin B6 and other nutrients can be of benefit in reversing this. Zinc deficiency can give rise to copper excess. It has been noted that supplemental zinc if often helpful in PMS related depression. Progesterone works very closely with zinc. It has been observed that progesterone creams or supplemental progesterone can be very effective in eliminating depression . This works based on the same mechanism as zinc.
Calcium has been reported by several doctors to cause depression in some of their female patients. The theory is that the calcium reduces there thyroid function. Depression has been associated with low thyroid. All of the patients experienced a relief in symptoms when calcium was discontinued.
On the other hand however, depression can be caused by magnesium deficiency. The exact mechanism is not yet know. Magnesium plays and important role in cellular energy production which may be its involvement. Tryptothan is an amino acid naturally occuring in foods.It is found in very high amounts in milk and turkey. It increases serrotonin levels in the brain. This is a natural process. It has been used for several years as a way to increase serrotinin and was used by millions for years for depression. Drugs like Prozac produce alleged benefit by increasing the uptake of serrotonin to the brain. Prozac has been very controversial and is said to have very dangerous side effects. The amino acid trypothan was taken off the market in 1989 by the FDA. This was due to a serious illness that was caused by a bad batch from 1 Japanese producer. Eight years later the FDA shows no signs of allowing back on the market even though manufactures have proven that they can make it safely. Prozac came out on the market shortly after tryptophan was removed. Millions and millions of dollars were invested in Prozac by the drug companies Pop culture like .books have been written about Prozac that give it a cultish persona.
There are 2 natural alternatives to Prozac at this time:
- St. Johns Wart is an herb which acts as a natural booster to serrotonin. It has been used successfully by many people to increase serrotonin levels and treat depression. It also has anti-viral properties. It has been shown to be effective in combating influenza and herpes simplex.
- 5-HTP is a type of tryptophan now available as a nutritional supplement. It works more directly at increasing serrotinin than tryptophan. Controversy regarding its safety has recently erupted. After a review of 30 years of literature no where have any of these claims been proved. The College of Pharmacy in Colorado has been selling it by prescription since 1990 without a single reported problem. An Italian study in 1992 found it perfectly safe. My research indicates that when used with other antidepressant drugs it may intensify their side effects. Due to the controversy, I feel it is best to use it only under medical supervision. If you have a history of cardiovascular disease or cancer it is best to avoid the product.
Kava-kava is an herb that has been used by people in the south pacific for thousands of years. It is a member of the pepper family. It is reported free of side effects and addictive properties. Kava has been found very useful in the treatment of anxiety. It is also a muscle relaxant, analgesic, anesthetic and anti fungal. Many studies report other benefits which include increased mental alertness, improved memory etc. Kava should not be taken with alcohol or other drugs. It should be used sparingly and under a doctors supervision it has a similar effect as valium. In fact in Europe Kava is a popular alternative to valium.
Both Parkinsons disease and Alzhiemers have responded to a nutrient known as NADH. This is also known as co-enzyme 1. NADH is a stored form of energy that occurs in our cells. NADH has been shown to increase the bodies natural levels of DOPAMINE. Dopamine is given in a drug form called L-Dopa to treat Parkinsons disease. L-Dopa therapy becomes less effective as time passes and can even damage the brain.Experts say this is not the case with NADH. NADH has helped people with Alzheimer’s disease by increasing dopamine. This increases the levels of Nor adrenaline. Nor adrenaline prevents further damage to the brain and protects the neural pathways.
PS(Phosphodtlyserine) is a naturally occurring substance found in every cell of the body. It is found in high amounts in the brain. It has been shown to slow and in some cases halt the progression of Alzheimer’s. PS is one of the few substances that has been scientifically proven to produce a dramatic increase in memory and cognitive abilities. PS is found naturally in lecithin although it is not found in high enough amounts to produce the reported benefits of taking PS supplements.
Excessive levels of aluminum have been found in people with Alzheimer’s and has been implicated in the development of this disease. High aluminum has been found to occur in people receiving dialysis. These people experience mental deterioration. Low thyroid activity can often allow aluminum to build up in accumulate in our bodies. Antiperspirants, antacids, aluminum cookware and baking powder can contribute to excess levels in our bodies. Sometimes drinking water can contain excess aluminum. Iron supplements or iron rich foods can help remove excess aluminum from the body.
Another common cause of depression , poor memory and other cognitive problems is hypogylcemia. This term means low blood sugar. It does not mean that we need to eat sugar. It means that our body is not properly controlling the sugar that is in our blood. Almost all foods are broken down into sugar called glucose. This includes meat, fish, chicken, eggs, breads, starches etc. Some foods are converted to sugar very quickly and others slowly. Eating too much of the foods that covert to sugar quickly results in hypoglycemia. This causes the body to compensate and release a hormone called insulin which lowers the sugar. In hypoglycemia the sugar controlling mechanism becomes worn out and our sugar levels often drop too low. This causes fatigue, depression and other symptoms. The traditional treatment for this is to eat six small meals with adequate protein in each meal as protein converts to glucose slowly. Caffeine works with an amino acid called phenalanine. Phenalanine acts as a natural mood elevator. Excessive use of caffeine can lower phenalanine and cause depression. This becomes evident when drinking coffee makes us tired or depressed instead of energized. Caffeine can also cause hypoglycemic symptoms to occur.