There are growing lists of natural compounds that reduce depression. Almost all have anti-inflammatory or anti-excitotoxic effects. A number also suppress microglia activation and stimulate the release of a brain repair chemical called brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which has been shown to have powerful antidepressant activity. (For a detailed discussion of how to overcome depression, ready my special report "Overcome Depression and Its Deadly Effects." These natural substances have been found to fight depression and anxiety:
• Methlycobalamin and folate. This is a natural form of vitamin B12 that has been shown to reduce depression. It suppresses excitotoxicity and inflammation and plays a major role in reducing homocysteine. Homocysteic acid, a metabolite of homocysteine, is a powerful excitotoxin.
• Zinc. Several studies have shown that low zinc levels are associated with depression, and that supplementation can improve symptoms. Severe deficiencies may require a dose of 300 mg a day for a week followed by 50 mg a day for three weeks. The maintenance dose is 25 mg a day.
• Phytochemicals. Recent studies have shown that a number of plant phytochemicals have antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties. These include hesperidin, quercetin, curcumin, resveratrol, berberine, luteolin, and several others. Ginkgo biloba has been shown to improve brain dopamine function. Several of the flavonoids increase BDNF.
• Mixed tocopherols/tocotrienols. These are vitamin E forms and can be taken together. The dose for mixed tocopherols is 400 to 800 IU a day and mixed tocotrienols is 50 to 100 mg a day. The high gamma-E containing mixed tocopherols is best, as the gamma-E is a powerful anti-inflammatory and protects against excitotoxicity.
• St. John’s Wort. Extracts of this plant contain high levels of a chemical called hypercium, which has been shown to be as beneficial or better than prescription antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds. Unlike the prescription drugs, hypercium inhibits excitotoxicity and increases the number of serotonin receptors rather than raising serotonin levels — an important distinction. In Germany, it is the most commonly prescribed antidepressant. A number of studies have shown it to be as effective as many prescribed antidepressants, but with far fewer side effects, most of which are minor.
• Omega-3 fatty acids. A great number of studies have shown that low levels of omega-3 fats in the diet significantly increase one’s risk of developing depression and anxiety. The most effective component is DHA, which is used almost exclusively by the brain. EPA has also been shown to reduce depression, but high levels can cause mania. I prefer high-dose DHA or pure DHA. The mechanism of action involves reduction in brain inflammation and reduced microglial activation. To learn more, read my special report "Omega-3: Nature's Miracle Panacea."
• Coconut Oil. While not an omega-3 oil, coconut oil has been shown to reduce brain inflammation and reduce microglial activation. You can cook in it and add it to your foods.
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