Depression

Top 5 Lavender Oil Benefits For Healing

Lavender BenefitsAncient texts tell us that lavender essential oil has been used for medicinal and religious purposes for over 2,500 years. The Egyptians used it for mummification and as a perfume. The Romans used it for bathing, cooking and for scenting the air.

And, quite possibly the most famous usage of all, Mary used it to anoint Jesus with her hair and and some believe spikenard was made from lavender essential oil.

“Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” ~ John 12:3

Many researchers claim that 2,000 year ago lavender was referred to as spikenard or simply nard from the Greek name for lavender, naardus, after the Syrian city Naarda. This really puts the power of lavender into perspective doesn’t it?

Today, lavender oil benefits your body in the following ways: 

  • Reduces anxiety and emotional stress
  • Heals burns and wounds
  • Improves sleep
  • Restores skin complexion and reduces acne
  • Slows aging with powerful antioxidants
  • Improves eczema and psoriasis
  • Alleviates headaches

Lavender benefits infographic 3

So, How Far-Reaching Are Lavender’s Health Properties?

The truth is, we don’t know. In comparison to its rich history, science has only recently started to evaluate the range of health benefits that lavender essential oil contains.

To give you a feel of how potent this ancient plant is, we put together what we believe are the Top 5 health benefits of lavender oil and the reasons you should consider using it.

1. Antioxidant Protection

Arguably the most dangerous and most common risk factor for every disease that affects Americans, free radicals (toxins, chemicals, pollutants, etc.) are responsible for shutting down your immune system and can cause unbelievable damage to your body.

So, what’s the solution?

Antioxidants!

The body’s natural response is to create antioxidant enzymes – especially glutathione, catalase, and superoxide dismutase (SOD) – which prevent these free radicals from doing their damage.

Unfortunately, your body can actually become deficient in antioxidants if the free radical burden is great enough. Sadly, this has become relatively common in the U.S. because of poor diet and high exposure to toxins.

Thankfully, natural options abound, such as lavender essential oil, which has been proven to be nature’s antioxidant super hero.

For instance, researchers from China have recently discovered that lavender essential oil helps your body produce three of your bodies most powerful antioxidants, glutathione, catalase, and SOD within 22 hours of using lavender essential oil!

Also, Romanian scientists have seen similar results after just seven days of inhaling lavender essential oil vapor for 60 minutes a day.  They found that diffusing lavender oil protected cells from damage that can lead to cancer.

*I have many of my patients use a diffuser with their essential oils for health benefits.  I personally have one going on the desk of my office and then we have the diffuser going in the living room during the day.

2. Diabetes Treatment

Possibly the most exciting of all research concerning lavender came out in 2014. Scientists from Tunisia set out to complete a fascinating task: to test the effects of lavender essential oil on blood sugar to see if it can help diabetes.

During the 15-day study, the results observed by researchers were absolutely amazing. In a nutshell, lavender essential oil treatment protected the body from the following symptoms of diabetes: 

  • Increase in blood glucose (the hallmark of diabetes)
  • Metabolic disorders (especially fat metabolism)
  • Weight gain (ever wonder why as diabetes continues to rise, so do our waistbands!)
  • Liver and kidney antioxidant depletion (one of the reasons diabetes is lethal)
  • Liver and kidney dysfunction (ditto)
  • Liver and kidney lipoperoxidation (when free radicals “steal” necessary fat molecules from cell membranes)

Surprisingly, the radical-scavenging antioxidant activity of lavender was actually more robust than ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)!

Does this tell us that lavender essential oil should be used as a treatment option for diabetics? Maybe.

It’s just one study, but a powerful study nonetheless! We look forward to more research on this topic as natural approaches to diabetics continue to fill the scientific literature.

*You can apply lavender essential oil topically on your neck and chest, diffuse it in the air, or supplement with it for the health benefits.  

3. Improves Mood And Supports Brain

In addition to the groundbreaking diabetes research we just saw, 2013 was the year lavender was put on the pedestal for its unique ability to protect against neurological damage.

Traditionally, lavender has been used to treat neurological issues like headaches, stress, anxiety, and depression so it’s exciting to see that the research is finally catching up to history.

Just last November, for instance, an evidence-based study was published by the International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice.  

The study found that supplementing with 80 mg capsules of lavender essential oil alleviates anxiety, sleep disturbance and depression.

Additionally, in the study there were no adverse side effects from using lavender oil to treat anxiety, insomnia and depression.  Whereas we know pharmaceutical drugs like prozac have dangerous side effects.

And according to research, lavender essential oil benefits don’t stop there, it has also been shown to reduce symptoms and development of Alzheimer’s disease!

Last year, the journal Phytomedicine published a study which highlighted that inhaling lavender essential oil vapor for 60 minutes a day was shown to prevent brain oxidative stress in rats with dementia.

Another study published in 2012 took 28 high-risk postpartum women and found that by diffusing lavender in their home they had a significant reduction of postnatal depression and reduced anxiety disorder after a four-week treatment plan of lavender aromatherapy.

Also in 2012, the Swiss journal Molecules printed the results of a study that shockingly proved that lavender is a viable treatment option for stroke. Yes stroke!

Another study proving that lavender aromatherapy improves mood was done on people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The results revealed that just 80 mg of lavender oil per day helped decreased depression by 32.7% and dramatically decreased sleep disturbances, moodiness, and overall health status in 47 people suffering from PTSD.

*To relieve stress and improve sleep, put a diffuser by your bed and diffuse oils while you sleep at night or in the family room while you’re reading or winding down in the evening.  Also, can be rubbed topically behind your ears for the same benefits.

4. Lavender Heals Burns and Cuts

Widely known for its antimicrobial properties, lavender has a rich history of being used to prevent various infections and combat bacterial/fungal disorders. In fact, almost 100 studies have been conducted establishing this truth over and over again.

Also, we have found that lavender oil speeds the healing of burns, cuts, scrapes and wounds and a big part of this is because of it’s anti-microbial properties.

For example, in a study evaluating how lavender’s antimicrobial ability is enhanced when blended with other essential oils like clove, cinnamon and tea tree oil. Specifically, a 1:1 ratio of these oils was found to be the most effective in fighting against Candida albicans and Staph aureus, which are both common causes for many fungal and bacterial infections that lead to respiratory pneumonia and skin funguses.

*For burns or eczema, mix lavender oil with coconut oil in 1:5 ratio for rapid healing.

5. Lavender Oil Benefits Skin 

Most likely due to its antimicrobial and antioxidant characteristics, lavender essential mixed with aloe or coconut oil has profound benefits on your skin.

Just 10 drops per 1 ounce of aloe vera or oil will sooth the worst sunburn and bring rapid healing to dry skin, minor cuts and scraps.

Research has even proven its ability to speed recovery from canker sores and can prevent allergic reactions!

Want to reduce age spots?  Try mixing lavender oil with frankincense essential oil and put it on your skin first thing in the morning, right after you shower and right before bed.  Success stories of these two oils improving age and sunspots are numerous.

Do you want to smell good without using toxic perfumes?  Lavender oil is a great scent for women and for men, you may consider using cedar wood essential oil or frankincense essential oil.

As you can see, lavender essential oil benefits are incredible and it has many medicinal and therapeutic uses.

When buying lavender essential oil make sure you are buying from a high quality brand that is therapeutic grade and that is organic, so it hasn’t been sprayed with chemicals.

Are YOU excited to try lavender essential oil?

Update:

Learn more about my upcoming line of essential oils, click here and watch the video.

 

References:

  • Sebai H, et al. Lavender (Lavandula stoechas L.) essential oils attenuate hyperglycemia and protect against oxidative stress in alloxan-induced diab etic rats. Lipids Health Dis 2013; 12(1):189.
  • de Rapper S, et al. The In Vitro Antimicrobial Activity of Lavandula angustifolia Essential Oil in Combination with Other Aroma-Therapeutic Oils. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2013; 2013:852049.
  • Amorati R, et al. Antioxidant activity of essential oils. J Agric Food Chem 2013; 61(46): 10835-47.
  • Hancianu M, et al. Neuroprotective effects of inhaled lavender oil on scopolamine-induced dementia via anti-oxidative activities in rats. Phytomedicine 2013. 15; 20(5): 446-52.
  • Hichem Sebai, et al. Lavender (Lavandula stoechas L.) essential oils attenuate hyperglycemia and protect against oxidative stress in alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Lipids Health Dis 2013; 12:189.
  • Wang D, et al. Neuroprotective activity of lavender oil on transient focal cerebral ischemia in mice. Molecules 2012; 15; 17(8):9803-17.
  • Kasper S. An orally administered lavandula oil preparation (Silexan) for anxiety disorder and related conditions: an evidence based review. Int J Psychiatry Clin Pract 2013; 17 Suppl 1:15-22.
  • Conrad P, et al. The effects of clinical aromatherapy for anxiety and depression in the high risk postpartum woman – a pilot study. Complement Ther Clin Pract 2012 Aug; 18(3):164-8.
  • Uehleke B, et al. Phase II trial on the effects of Silexan in patients with neurasthenia, post-traumatic stress disorder or somatization disorder. Phytomedicine 2012; 19(8-9):665-71.
  • Altaei DT, Topical lavender oil for the treatment of recurrent aphthous ulceration. Am J Dent 2012; 25(1):39-43.
  • Kim HM, et al. Lavender oil inhibits immediate-type allergic reaction in mice and rats. J Pharm Pharmacol 1999; 51(2):221-6.
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Turmeric Proven Superior To 10 Medications At Reversing Disease

http://draxe.com/turmeric-benefits/Turmeric, the main spice in curry, is arguably the most powerful herb on the planet at fighting and reversing disease.  It has so many healing properties that currently there have been 6,235 peer-reviewed articles published proving the benefits of turmeric and one of it’s renowned healing compounds curcumin.

This puts turmeric on top of the list as one of the most frequently mentioned medicinal herbs in all of science and the next most popular studied herbs include garlic, cinnamon, ginseng, ginger and milk thistle.

Of the 6000+ studies referencing curcumin, the most interesting finding is that when turmeric is compared to conventional medicine it’s benefits equal that of the pharmaceutical medications.  In fact, a number of studies have even reported that using curcumin is more advantageous than prescription drugs.

Just look at these turmeric benefits:

Turmeric Benefits Infographic

 

When examining the research, turmeric benefits go beyond that of these 10 drugs:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Anti-depressants (Prozac)
  • Chemotherapy
  • Anti-coagulants (Aspirin)
  • Pain killers
  • Diabetes drugs (Metformin)
  • Arthritis medications
  • Inflammatory bowel disease drugs
  • Cholesterol drugs (Lipitor)
  • Steroids


Now let’s jump deeper into the research on turmeric benefits at reversing specific diseases.

10 Drugs That Cannot Compare to Turmeric Benefits

Although the list is much longer, we’ve selected 10 drugs that pale in comparison to turmeric in reversing disease. As you read this report, keep in mind that one of the most powerful advantages curcumin has over the traditional medical approach is the lack of side effects.

1. Anticoagulants/Antiplatelets

Medical intervention generally includes the following medications to slow and prevent blood clotting:

  • Aspirin
  • Clopidogrel (Plavix)
  • Diclofenac
  • Enoxaparin (Lovenox)
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others)
  • Naproxen
  • Warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

Unfortunately, for people with conditions that are treated by these drugs (i.e. deep-vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism), this approach may not always be the wisest decision. In addition to common side effects like excessive bleeding and hemorrhage, the risks associated with anticoagulants abound and include everything from back pain to headaches to difficulty breathing.

Turmeric, on the other hand, has relatively no known side effects unless taken in extremely excessive amounts.

Additionally, ever since several groundbreaking studies in the mid-1980s, the curcumin in turmeric has been suggested by researchers as actually being a better option for those with vascular thrombosis.

2. Anti-depressants 

Although few studies have been conducted on humans, dozens of research trials have proven that turmeric is especially effective in correcting depression symptoms in laboratory animals.

To address this issue, the journal Phytotherapy Research published the results of an amazing, innovative study this past year.  The study took 60 volunteers diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) and split the group to determine how patients treated by curcumin fared against fluoxetine (Prozac) and a combination of the two. 

Not only was it discovered that all patients tolerated curcumin well, but they discovered curcumin was as effective as Prozac in managing depression.

According to the authors, “This study provides first clinical evidence that curcumin may be used as an effective and safe therapy for treatment in patients with Mild Depression.”

3. Anti-inflammatories

Arguably, the most powerful aspect of curcumin is its ability to control inflammation. 

The journal Oncogene published the results of a study that evaluated several anti-inflammatory compounds and found that aspirin and ibuprofen are least effective, while curcumin, is among the most effective anti-inflammatory compounds in the world

This news should have reached every household in the world after the study was conducted because inflammation puts people at risk for almost every disease process known to man.

Diseases today such as cancer, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, high cholesterol and chronic pain can be the result of inflammation.

As you will see below in several other articles related to chronic illness, keep this in the back of your mind: Turmeric’s key to disease reversal may be its ability to keep inflammation at bay. 

4. Arthritis management 

Because curcumin is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory and pain reducing characteristics, a study was conducted on 45 rheumatoid arthritis patients to compare the benefits of curcumin in turmeric to arthritis drugs (diclofenac sodium), that put people at risk of developing leaky gut and heart disease.

The study split these volunteers into three groups: curcumin treatment alone, diclofenac sodium alone, and a combination of the two. The results of the trial were eye-opening:

The curcumin group showed the highest percentage of improvement in overall [Disease Activity Score] scores and these scores were significantly better than the patients in the diclofenac sodium group. More importantly, curcumin treatment was found to be safe and did not relate with any adverse events. Our study provides the first evidence for the safety and superiority of curcumin treatment in patients with active RA, and highlights the need for future large-scale trials to validate these findings in patients with RA and other arthritic conditions.

Published by Phytotherapy Research in 2012, the results of this study has encouraged more human research to evaluate the amazing effects curcumin-rich plants like turmeric has on people suffering from various different types of arthritis.

5. Cancer treatment 

Of all the various topics scientists have tackled in regards to the curcumin and disease reversal, cancer (of various types) is one of the most thoroughly researched topics. In the words of global authorities like Cancer Research UK,

A number of laboratory studies on cancer cells have shown that curcumin does have anticancer effects. It seems to be able to kill cancer cells and prevent more from growing. It has the best effects on breast cancer, bowel cancer, stomach cancer and skin cancer cells. 

A 2007 American study that combined curcumin with chemotherapy to treat bowel cancer cells in a laboratory showed that the combined treatment killed more cancer cells than the chemotherapy alone. 

States-side, the American Cancer Society states,

Laboratory studies have also shown that curcumin interferes with cancer development, growth, and spread. Researchers have reported that curcumin blocked the formation of cancer-causing enzymes in rodents.

Recently, curcumin has received a great deal of focus because of it’s ability to reduce tumor size and kill cancer cells.

Bottom line: Turmeric works incredibly well to help stop cancer in its tracks and is especially effective at treating breast cancer, colon cancer and skin cancer.

6. Diabetes management 

For lowering blood sugar and reversing insulin resistance there’s arguably no better natural treatment than adding turmeric into your diet.

In 2009, Biochemistry and Biophysical Research Communications published a study out of Auburn University that explored how supplementing with turmeric can help reverse diabetes.

The study discovered that curcumin in turmeric is literally 400 times more potent than Metformin (a common diabetes drug) in activating AMPK which improves insulin sensitivity which can help reverse Type 2 Diabetes.

In addition to correcting the causes of diabetes, curcumin has also been proven to help reverse many of the issues related to insulin resistance and hyperglycemia.

Take, for instance, diabetic neuropathy and retinopathy.  One of the most common complications of diabetes is damaged blood vessels which cause blindness.

A study found that supplementing with curcumin can delay this horrible complication of diabetes because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

7. Gastrointestinal treatments 

Oftentimes, people with digestive and stomach complaints become intolerant to medical interventions because the stomach flora is already compromised and drugs can literally tear up the mucosal lining.

An in-depth analysis of all the studies evaluating curcumin’s ability to manage inflammatory bowel disease (IBS, Crohn’s disease, and Ulcerative Colitis) found that many patients were able to stop taking their prescribed corticosteroids because their condition improved so dramatically by taking curcumin! 

For many patients with IBD (inflammatory bowel disease) corticosteroids reduce their pain symptoms, but damage the intestinal lining over time actually making the condition worse.

However, supplementing with curcumin did not have these side effects and, because of it’s anti-inflammatory properties, actually helped heal the gut and supported the growth of good bacteria (probiotics).

8. Cholesterol regulators 

One of the reasons heart disease is such a problem in the U.S. is that people are developing pre-diabetes (excessive blood sugar) at an alarming rate.

In turn, diabetics and non-diabetics alike are suffering from a common complication called oxidative stress, which damages the inside of blood vessels.  Because of this damage to the arteries, cholesterol begins to build up to patch up the damaged areas which leads to high levels of LDL cholesterol. 

Traditionally, statin drugs (like Lipitor) are widely known to harm the kidneys and liver and cause a number of deadly side effects.  They do bring cholesterol down but never address that actual cause which is oxidative stress that is caused by high blood sugar levels and inflammation.

Thankfully, medical doctors are becoming more and more aware of the dangerous side effects of statin-drugs and prescribing natural alternatives like curcumin and fish oil instead!

A study done by Drugs in R & D found that curcumin was equal or more effective than diabetes medications at reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the treatment of high cholesterol.

Studies like these are causing pharmaceutical companies to try and design a synthetic form of curcumin that unfortunately, will not work as well as the real thing.

9. Painkillers 

One of the more widely accepted properties of curcumin in scientific communities is its ability to manage pain.

Just this past year the European Journal of Pharmacology published research that discovered curcumin naturally activates the opioid system in diabetic rats. Typically manipulated by drugs, this natural process serves as the body’s inherent pain-relieving response. 

Not being limited to diabetic pain conditions, an interesting study also published late last year gives us a clue as to the wide array of pain conditions that can be treated by curcumin.

Take, for instance, severe burns. Typically, burn victims are treated by dangerous opioids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories. However, because of its anti-inflammatory benefits, U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research suggests that, curcumin should be used to treat burns instead of these conventional medications.

The trend should becoming clear at this point. Therapeutic use of turmeric and other curcumin-rich plants are displacing conventional medical treatments.

10. Steroids 

Lastly, we’ll take a look at how turmeric affects the many conditions normally treated by corticosteroids such as:

  • Psoriasis
  • Lupus
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Scleroderma
  • Chronic pain                                                                                                                                                                                  

In a 1999 breakthrough clinical study, it was found that curcumin has the ability to cure chronic inflammation of the eye.  Typically this condition was only treated with steroids but today it’s common for medical doctors who practice functional medicine to prescribe curcumin instead.

What cannot be overstated, however, is that although statistically “comparable” to steroids in managing and reversing chronic disease, “The lack of side effects with curcumin is its greatest advantage compared with corticosteroids,” as stated by the authors in the above study out of K.G. Medical College.

To give you a sense of the amount of suffering alleviated by curcumin, the following is a sample of steroid side effects listed by the UK’s National Health Services (NHS):

  • Acne
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Cataracts
  • Delayed wound healing
  • Diabetes onset
  • Glaucoma
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Increased appetite (oftentimes leading to increased weight)
  • Indigestion
  • Insomnia
  • Kidney and thyroid issues
  • Mood disturbances (including aggression, irritability, short temperament and rapid mood swings mimicking bipolar disorder)
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea
  • Risk of infection
  • Stunted growth in children
  • Tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)
  • Thinning skin (leading to easy bruising)

Ultimately, when taking into account the large amount of deadly complications these 10 drugs puts your body at risk for, it is easy to see how taking therapeutic curcumin is superior to most medicines. If you have any of the diseases above, you will want to consider this natural approach first. For those of you who aren’t sick, taking turmeric will serve you well as a preventative measure.

What If I Have To Take Drugs?

If you’re in the position where you must be on prescription medications, don’t discount the need to include ample amounts of fresh, organic turmeric into your diets because it will help reduce the adverse affects of the medicine.

A study that was published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology describes how combing curcumin with prednisolone (a steroid) effectively reduces the side effects of this dangerous medication.

One of my favorite recipes for including turmeric benefits into your diet is turmeric tea “liquid gold”.

Amazingly, anti-arthritic activity and a marked reduction in steroid toxicity was seen when supplementing with curcumin.

At the end of the day, the research speaks for itself and we cannot think of one reason why EVERYONE shouldn’t be taking some form of turmeric every day.   Whether as a supplement or a spice to flavor your food, you will certainly be satisfied with turmeric benefits for your body!

References:

American Cancer Society. Turmeric. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/herbsvitaminsandminerals/turmeric.

Banafshe HR, et al. Effect of curcumin on diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain: Possible involvement of opioid system. Eur J Pharmacol 2013; [Epub ahead of print].

Cancer Research UK. Can turmeric prevent or treat cancer? Available at: http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-help/about-cancer/cancer-questions/can-turmeric-prevent-bowel-cancer.

Cheppudira B, et al.  Curcumin: a novel therapeutic for burn pain and wound healing. Expert Opin Investig Drugs 2013; 22(10): 1295-303.

Kuncha M, et al. Curcumin potentiates the anti-arthritic effect of prednisolone in Freund’s complete adjuvant-induced arthritic rats. J Pharm Pharmacol 2014; 66(1): 133-44.

Lal B, et al. Efficacy of curcumin in the management of chronic anterior uveitis. Phytother Res 1999; 13(4): 318-22.

NHS. Anticoagulant medicine – side effects. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Anticoagulant-medicines/Pages/Side-effects.aspx.

NHS. Side effects of corticosteroids. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Corticosteroid-(drugs)/Pages/Sideeffects.aspx.

Ng SC, et al. Therapeutic strategies for the management of ulcerative colitis. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2009; 15(6): 935-50.

R Srivastava, et al. Effect of curcumin on platelet aggregation and vascular prostacyclin synthesis. Arzneimittelforschung 1986; 36(4): 715-7.

Sanmukhani J, et al. Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Phytother Res 2013; [Epub ahead of print].

Sun J, et al. Preventive effects of curcumin and dexamethasone on lung transplantation-associated lung injury in rats. Crit Care Med 2008; 36(4): 1205-13.

Taylor RA, et al. Curcumin for inflammatory bowel disease: a review of human studies. Altern Med Rev 2011; 16(2): 152-6.

Teayoun K, et al. Curcumin activates AMPK and suppresses gluconeogenic gene expression in hepatoma cells. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2009; 388(2): 377-82.

Usharani P, et al. Effect of NCB-02, atorvastatin and placebo on endothelial function, oxidative stress and inflammatory markers in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized, parallel-group, placebo-controlled, 8-week study. Drugs R D. 2008; 9(4): 243-50.

Yasunari Takada, et al. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents differ in their ability to suppress NF-kappaB activation, inhibition of expression of cyclooxygenase-2 and cyclin D1, and abrogation of tumor cell proliferation. Oncogene 2004; 23(57): 9247-58.

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How to Fight Depression and Anxiety with Nutrition

If you want to improve your mood, lower feelings of stress, reduce cravings and addictions then one of the best ways to see these benefits is to improve your diet.

Food cravings are common and I’ve written before about how food choices can have a significant impact on your mood. It’s estimated that 97% of women and 68% of men battle with food cravings, especially for foods high in sugar, fat, or carbohydrates.

These cravings are usually a reaction to stress, anxiety, or depression and generally have little to do with actual hunger. The good news is that you can actually better control your moods, cravings, and be happier by eating certain foods.    

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Taking Fish Oil for Depression

Fish oils contain two types of omega-3 fatty acids: DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid). Both DHA and EPA play important roles in brain function. There’s a great deal of research linking low levels of both to mental and emotional disorders, including depression.

Omega-3 and omega-6 are essential fatty acids. Our bodies cannot naturally produce them, so we must seek them out in our diet. They’re both also classified as polyunsaturated fats even though they differ slightly in chemical structure. Approximately 20% of the dry weight of the human brain is made up of polyunsaturated fats, as is one in every three fatty acids in the central nervous system. Given the large presence of these fatty acids in our brain, it is not unreasonable for a deficiency to have neuropsychological consequences.

The AA/EPA ratio is a blood test that measures the amounts of omega-3 compared to the amounts of omega-6 in the blood. This test is used as a benchmark for determining silent inflammation in the body. The AA refers to arachidonic acid, which is an omega-6 that causes a pro-inflammatory hormonal response. EPA, found in omega-3’s, have the opposite response and cause an anti-inflammatory hormonal response. Often inflammation is associated with the obvious redness, swelling and pain one might incur from a sports injury. This is an example of classical inflammation. Silent inflammation is similar except there is no perceived pain associated. Since there is no physical pain, there is usually no action taken to manage the inflammation and it is left to linger for years or even decades.

Once diagnosed with depression, the most common drugs prescribed are lithium and valproate. Both of these drugs block the release of arachidonic acid in the brain. A safer, more natural alternative is to increase omega-3 intake to reduce inflammation and balance the AA/EPA ratio. Omega-3’s have also been shown to have a thinning effect on the blood, which may have an impact on depression as well. The blood flow of a typical brain is uniform. Patients with depression have blood flow filled with pockets of little or no blood flow. By thinning the blood and increasing the flow, critical nutrients such as oxygen and glucose can be better distributed.

Studies show that countries with higher consumption rates of fresh fish also have significantly lower depression rates.

The New Zealand diet has the lowest consumption rate of fish among industrialized countries, but has almost 50 times the rate of depression as Japan — a nation renowned for it’s fish consumption. Fish simply isn’t a regular part of the modern American diet. However, refined vegetable oils do make up a majority of our diets. Because of this, most Americans have alarmingly high levels of omega-6.

The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is 1:1

Before industrialized foods, we consumed an estimated 2:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats. Today the ratio is closer to 20:1 or even 50:1! This imbalance leaves the body inflamed and susceptible to chronic disorders that affect the brain, heart and immune system.

The obvious answer to increasing omega-3 intake appears to be eating more fish. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. In the wild, fish get their high omega-3 content from the algae and plankton they eat. Our waters are so contaminated that fish also ingest pollutants that are high in toxins like mercury and pesticides. Farm-raised fish are typically raised in tanks where they do not have access to the omega-3 enriching algae and plankton. Their feed is usually laden with antibiotics, artificial dyes and other filler to keep the cost down. Eating either of these in large quantities can introduce a whole new host of health concerns. If you do choose to add more fish to your diet, stick to wild caught salmon, sardines, mackerel or herring. They’re lower on the food chain and contain fewer toxins.

Choosing a fish oil supplement comes with it’s own concerns. Don’t be afraid to research the manufacturer. Read forums and comments from the Better Business Bureau to learn more about their reputation. Look for one that’s been in business for a number of years and has a reputation for quality. Read the product label and make sure it contains DHA and EPA. Ideally, it should also contain vitamin E to prevent oxidation during storage. It also replaces the vitamin E that regular intake of fish oils tend to deplete.

Diet for Combatting Depression

1. Remove all refined sugar from your diet. This includes sodas, candy, ice cream, and even hidden sources like cereal bars and white bread.

2. Read all ingredient labels and avoid anything that contains an artificial sweetener such as aspartame. Healthier, more natural sweeteners include stevia or raw honey in small amounts.

3. Remove alcohol. While all alcohol is not necessarily bad like red wine, many drinks contain added sugars and artificial ingredients. Try cutting alcohol out of your diet for a few months. Do the same with any caffeinated drinks, or limit yourself to 1-2 cups of green tea (which has a much lower amount of caffeine) only in the morning.

4. You may be looking for ways to prevent heart disease, cancer, depression, Alzheimer’s and a host of other diseases. You may just want to increase your overall health and energy level. Perhaps one of the most important things you can do for all of these is increase your intake of the omega-3 fats found in cod liver oil, and reduce your intake of omega-6 fats.

Fish Oil Supplements

If you choose to take a fish oil supplement for your depression, it’s best to work with your doctor to figure out an appropriate dosage. The standard recommendation is 1 gram of DHA and EPA (combined) daily. Pay special attention to the product label. Many people mistakenly take the incorrect dosage by confusing one gram of fish oil with one gram of active ingredient (DHA and EPA). Depending on the brand, you may have to take between 2-4 pills. To learn more about the fish oil I personally use, click here.

 

Sources:  American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry December 2006; 14(12): 1032-1040Time MagazineLipidworldMedical Hypotheses 2009; 72: 434-443

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7 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Are you one of the half a million Americans each year that suffer from the winter blues? More than just feeling a little down, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is now an accepted clinical condition brought on by a lack of natural daylight and vitamin D, which affects more women than men.

In the U.S. an estimated 4-6% of the population are seriously affected when the weather turns grey, cloudy and cold. The Cleveland Clinic estimates the figure could be as high as 20% of the population. The condition affects mostly women in their 20s, 30s and 40s but can affect men and adolescents too. Scientists are unsure why some people suffer from winter blues and others are unaffected by it. One theory is that some people have a biological disposition to it or that certain triggers need to be present. Symptoms of SAD include feeling down, losing interest in activities, insomnia and sinking into depression.

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Learn the Secret to Fight and Beat Depression

In today’s world of trial and tribulation many times the focus seems to be on what’s wrong with the world, how ‘depressed’ we all are, and the latest medical breakthrough that will relieve our miserable states of mind. And while the pharmaceutical industries continue to line their already deep pockets the individual members of society – that’s you and me – take more and more pills to ease our aching minds and souls.

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Celebrities like J.K. Rowling Battle Depression & Beat It

celebrity-depressionDepression not only hurts, it debilitates and kills many people day after day, year after year. Depression is not a myth or something we should tell those suffering with to ‘get over.’ In fact, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH,) major depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States for people between fifteen and forty-four years of age.

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Brainwashed by Psychotropic Drugs

brainwashedAbout 10 years ago, a woman I know visited her family practitioner who noted that she was struggling with depression. There were a lot of tough things going on in her life and it was a rocky period.

The physician offered to prescribe an antidepressant. When the woman hesitated, the doctor explained: “Everyone takes them now. Most of the people you walk past in the street are on antidepressants. They’re as common as vitamins.”

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7 Diet Choices that Combat Depression

DepressionFood is not just something that tastes good. What we eat and ingest really is our fuel for life. Food can also alter brain chemistry and physiology. Every system in the body is inter-related. The following 7 dietary choices can help combat depression.

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The ‘Depression Diet’

ContemplationThe World Health Organization has identified depression as the #1 cause of disability in America and the third leading cause of disability in Europe. Diet and it’s relation to depression is just beginning to become a topic of research, but it’s a topic that many people have been aware of for years.

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Depression Hurts. Can Fish Oil Help?

fish oil

By Alan C. Logan, ND, FRSH

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are considered essential because they cannot be synthesized by the human body. Dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids include plants (particularly flax, canola, walnuts and hemp) and fish (particularly ocean fish such as sardines, anchovies, salmon and mackerel). Plants contain the parent omega- 3, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which can be converted into eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA).

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* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using this product.