Brain Health

Easing Mild to Moderate Depression

Today, the World Health Organization recognizes depression as one of the top four disabling diseases in the world! Clinical depression is much more than a case of the blues. Depression is both a mental and emotional state, a feeling of being in a box that you can’t escape. It’s closely tied to illness; over 80% of terminal cancer patients have a history of chronic depression. Mood disorders affect 30 million Americans (women more than men) and we spend over $20 billion on treatment. Americans take more antidepressants than any other generation in history! But are we really any happier? Prescription drugs for depression produce a myriad of side effects from low libido and fatigue to agitation and weight gain. Even more frightening, new research shows some SSRI anti-depressants like Paxil tamper with delicate brain chemistry and may even increase suicide risk in young adults (18-30).

Non-toxic avenues of healing can help relieve some types of depression and should be actively explored first. However, if you’re already taking antidepressants and would like to try a more natural approach, consult with your doctor first.  Going off antidepressant drugs “cold turkey” can cause withdrawal symptoms that may need to be monitored professionally.

Are you depressed? If you answer yes to three or more of the following questions, then you may be suffering from mild to moderate depression.

Do you sleep excessively, and feel lethargic, sad, or pessimistic when you’re awake? Have you lost your appetite with marked weight loss, or do you eat a lot with new weight gain? Have you lost interest or pleasure in regular activities that you used to like? Has your sex drive decreased? Has your energy been exceptionally low? Do you have symptoms like mood swings, energy slumps, and irritability? Do you drink more alcohol than you used to? Do you often feel self-reproach or guilt?

Note: If depression is long lasting, severe or is accompanied with suicidal thoughts, seek professional help right away. Major depression can be serious.

4 Tips for Depression Relief

1: Get plenty of healthy protein (about 15% of total calorie intake) to minimize depression. Include protein from seafoods, sea plants, rice, sprouts, soy foods, nuts, seeds, organic turkey and chicken, eggs and low fat cheeses to control depression-related tissue destruction. Amino acids in protein foods help build healthy neurotransmitters for coping with depression. Add foods rich in the amino acid L-tryptophan (soy, cheeses and turkey) to help build serotonin, essential for overcoming depression and insomnia. Add green superfoods daily for “extra strength” nutrition. A few superfoods to choose from are chlorella, spirulina, barley grass, or wheat grass.

2: Have an adrenal tonic 2 to 3x a week to prevent stress reactions that precipitate major depression: a glass of carrot juice with a pinch of sage and 1 tsp. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos .

3: Add Omega-3 rich foods to your diet from cold water fish or flax seed. At least four studies show Omega 3 fatty acids can benefit the symptoms of depression. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to brain health, helping the brain neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin perform their mood stabilizing functions. I’m a big believer in eating from the sea for mild to moderate depression. Omega 3-rich salmon or tuna sushi rolls are especially beneficial.

4. Exercise anxiety and depression away. Exercise is natural antidepressant that stimulates the secretion of “feel good” chemical endorphins. Also, get some daily sunlight on the body for vitamin D, a natural serotonin boost.

To Life-long health,

Sarah Abernathy

Do You Need a Brain Boost?

Most of us feel like we need a brain boost, especially as we grow older. Yet, aging is not synonymous with mental decline. We all know seniors who are just as sharp (if not sharper) as younger people. Factors that contribute to memory loss... • depression, lack of sleep or low neurotransmitter levels • chronic stress causes elevated cortisol (kills off cells in the brain’s hippocampus and shrinks it) • poor circulation to the brain; narrow blood vessels (arteriosclerosis) • mini strokes, or brain disease (Alzheimer’s, tumors) • free radical damage from chemotherapy, alcohol or drugs

Brain nutrition is the real key. Nutrient fluctuations and deficiencies can send the brain into major decline.  Take a look at your diet if you have trouble concentrating or if your memory has deteriorated.

1. Brain cells are almost 60% EFAs. Keep your brain nourished with EFAs from foods like seaweeds, spinach and other leafy greens; fish, sprouts, eggs; olive, perilla and flax oils; avocado, nuts and seeds, and wheat germ. 2. Drink plenty of water for brain health. An Italian study shows that even a 2% loss of body fluid affects short term memory! 3. Avoid saturated fats and trans fats. Meals high in saturated fats make you sluggish. Trans fat chemicals replace natural DHA in brain cell membranes and disrupt neuron communication. . 4. Add antioxidants to boost brain activity: have 1 cup green or white tea each morning; include plenty of cranberries, raspberries, blueberries.

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To Life-long health,

Linda Page

December Herb of the Month- Rosemary

Rosemary- Rosmarinus officinalis According to folk legend, smelling rosemary on Christmas eve will bring happiness for the coming year. Rosemary is a symbol of remembrance, friendship and fidelity, still used in European weddings and funerals. Rosemary branches were burned to purify the air, ward off evil, illness and the Plague since ancient times. Its aromatic, needle-like leaves are a culinary favorite in Mediterranean dishes and Herbes de Provence seasoning.

Today’s common uses: Rosemary is one of nature’s best antioxidant sources to fight free radical damage; great for cardiac health, with anti-inflammatory and anti-cholesterol activity. Its antioxidants can provide a shield against carcinogens, preventing cancer causing chemicals from binding to DNA. Its antioxidants help prevent free radical damage to delicate brain tissue. Rosemary is a powerful nerve and brain stimulant. It uplifts your spirits, boosts energy, and sharpens mental focus. It specifically improves memory lapses and menopausal “brain fog,” and counteracts the effects of aging. Rosemary stimulates hair follicle growth and strengthens hair. Rosemary rinses especially add luster, retain hair color, reduce hair loss.

Traditional Herbal Medicine uses: Rosemary has been used for centuries to enhance memory and soothe digestive problems. In ancient Greece and Rome, students dabbed oil on their foreheads or wore rosemary garlands or sprigs in their hair to strengthen memory and boost energy during exams. Shakespeare’ Hamlet refers to “rosemary for remembrance.” Used in many folk remedies for colds, coughs, headaches, heart problems, rheumatic pain, indigestion, gas, muscle and back pain.

Key compounds: Flavonoids, rosmarinic acid, volatile oil, calcium, borneol, camphor, eucalyptol. Gentle, non-invasive, rich antioxidant proanthocyanidins promote healthy veins, arteries and capillaries. Modern research reveals its antioxidants and other compounds help prevent breakdown of acetylcholine in the brain, a key brain chemical for memory.

Common doses: You don’t have to heap on the rosemary. Less than a teaspoon, even added to food or wine, has powerful benefits. For dandruff massage a strong rosemary and nettle tea into hair nightly. Wrap hair in a cap and rinse out in the morning. Hair will look and feel squeaky clean. For a conditioning hair rinse, simmer 2 to 3 tbsp. rosemary sprigs in a small pot of hot water until fragrant, let cool and pour through hair.

Safety precautions: Do not take essential rosemary oil internally, it can be toxic, even small doses. Do not take medicinal doses if pregnant or breastfeeding. Test for skin sensitivity for topical application.

Works in synergy with: 1) Depress-Ex uses rosemary with St.John’s wort, kava, lady slipper, American ginseng, ashwagandha, eleuthero rt. to ease mild depression. 2) Muscle Relaxer uses rosemary with cramp brk.,Jamaican dogwood, black haw, kava, St. john’s wort, passionflower to ease headaches, back spasms, cramps, and muscle pain. 3) Beautiful Hair & Nails uses rosemary with seaweeds, nettles, sage, horsetail, oatstraw, alfalfa for healthy hair and nails.