Monthly Archives: July 2010

NATURAL ALTERNATIVES TO ANTI-DEPRESSANTS

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weight, Rebecca Lazar - NATURAL ALTERNATIVES TO ANTI-DEPRESSANTSI was watching TV last night when a commercial for an anti-depressant pharmaceutical drug came on. The commercial started off with the usual “Do you or a loved one suffer from depression? Well, the drug [fill in popular anti-depressant drug here] can help”. Not only can it help, but you will feel sooo good that from now on peaceful happy music will be playing in the background of your life while your once forlorn and tearful self will be dancing in slow motion with a loved one in a beautiful meadow.

Ah, but wait, there’s more. In addition to all this fantastic uber-happiness, you may also experience, according to the very low and super-fast voice of the naarator, the joys of “drowsines, urine difficulites, sexual dysfunction, breathing difficulties, ringing in your ears, dry mouth, constipation, sore muscles, heart palpitations…….or thoughts of suicide.”

Wait……. HUH?? If I wasn’t suffering from depression before, let me tell you after watching this commercial, I was feeling not only depressed, but anxious over the possibility of having to take this medication for my new-found depression!! Why would anyone want to take this stuff when there are natural alternatives that have proven to work for many years just as well as, if not better than these drugs with little or no side effects? Good question. Educate yourselves, people, that’s all I’m saying. Know your options before you decide what’s right for you, and don’t be “sold” on those commercials.

So, what are the options? Well, first and foremost, I can’t stress enough the importance of a healthy diet, taking vitamins and minerals that you may be lacking, and to find ways to decrease your stress. These factors are important in ANY ailment as the first step to recovery, and are especially important for mood disorders. That being said, here are 2  excellent alternatives to pharmaceutical anti-depressants:

(1) 5-HTP: Tryptophan, an amino acid, first converts into 5-HTP, which then converts directly to serotonin. Simply speaking, serotonin is the chemical in your brain that keeps you from being depressed. Typical anti-depressant drugs such as Prozac, are SSRI’s, otherwise known as Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors. SSRI’s work by keeping the little amount of serotonin you have in your brain in a sort of recycling program but never actually increases the amount you have. So as long as you take your SSRI’s you’ll feel better, but good luck after you stop. Tryptophan, on the other hand, gives you more Serotonin and builds it up over time until you no longer need to take it because your brain will have enough to keep you from being depressed. OK, so why not just eat more protein foods that contain tryptophan? You should, and it will help, but the problem is that protein foods such as turkey, beef, chicken and eggs, etc, have much less tryptophan than other amino acids, partly because of the low-tryptophan feeds like corn that these animals are being fed. Since protein foods contain much lower amounts of tryptophan than they did years ago, it kind of gets lost in the shuffle as the other amino acids make it to your brain. By the way, tryptophan was used to treat depression sucessfully for years, even by mainstream medicine, but due to an unscrupulous Japanese supplement manufacturing company, a tainted batch was distributed in the US in 1990 which resulted in a widespread ban of the sale of tryptophan supplements. Thankfully, along came 5-HTP which has proven to work just as well, if not better in some cases. (Always make sure you get any of your supplements from a reputable brand).

(2) St. John’s Wort: This is an ancient herbal remedy that is a really effective natural serotonin booster. Much of the research on this herb has been done in Germany, where it outsells Prozac as an anti-depressant because it is just as effective but without the side effects. So aside from its name which makes people mistakenly think it’s a treatment for warts, it is extremely helpful especially for those people who don’t have success with 5-HTP.

There are other options of herbal remedies & supplements, depending on your particular symptoms, as well as taking into account other health issues that may be present; it’s best to consult with a natural health practitioner.

Cue background music and meadow-dancing, please…..

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MY PERSONAL REVIEW OF P90X

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weight, Rebecca Lazar - MY PERSONAL REVIEW OF P90X

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, if you’re any sort of fitness enthusiast, you have definitely heard of (or tried) [easyazon_link asin=”B000TG8D6I” locale=”CA” new_window=”default” tag=”reaheafit0c-20″ add_to_cart=”no” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” nofollow=”default” popups=”no”]P90X: Tony Horton’s 90-Day Extreme Home Fitness Workout DVD Program[/easyazon_link]. But for those of you who haven’t, its a super-intense home exercise program created by fitness guru Tony Horton. It consists of 12 intense workout DVDs and includes the use of heavy free weights (you have the option of using light weights or resistance bands), and incorporates a tremendous amount of pushups and pullups, plyometrics, and some yoga. The DVDs are designed to be done in a specific routine that you follow 6-7 days/week approx an hour and 20 min a day for 90 days. The program also includes a Nutritional guideline and supplement recommendations to enhance your workout.

I did P90x about a year ago and loved it. I followed the program to the letter of the law: the workouts, the nutrition program, and the supplements. I loved the program (and the results) so much in fact that I did P90x-plus almost immediately after, which is another 5 DVDs and 90 days of more torture. I enjoyed that too, although not as much as the regular P90x, since the workouts were shorter and not as fun or intense. I decided to do a 3rd round (did I mention I am a little crazy?) by combining the 2 programs and rotating all the DVDs. I stopped doing the program halfway through the 3rd round when I realized I was doing more harm to my body than good. You see along the way, most people who do this program will experience pain, some of it pretty significant. And at some point, the line between muscle soreness and muscle and joint pain becomes a little blurred.

So why didn’t I just stop after the first round? Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. In my defense, aside from the aforementioned fact that I’m a little crazy, the only way I can explain it is that Tony is addictive. I mean, as a personal trainer I always exercised about 4-5 days a week, an hour each day. But training yourself, as most people can attest to, is or becomes boring, no matter how great your exercise routine is. Tony makes you feel like he’s there in the room with you along with his friends. He cracks corny jokes and motivates you, plus he kicks it up a notch in a way I would never have done on my own. What can I say?………He had me at “Bring It!” and I was hooked. Most people who have done this program will agree that it’s highly addictive, and unfortunately, addiction of any kind is not a good thing!

So, as much as I love high-intesity exercise, and P90X in particular, I’d like to caution those of you out there thinking of doing this program, especially you women who may not be used to doing pushups and pullups. Do it with proper form, first and foremost. Do it ONCE and take a break before going for round 2. Don’t push yourself past the point of failure even if you feel strong, because it is guaranteed to get you injured. Tony does a lot of innovative twisting moves that put a lot of strain on the back and neck, especially in P90X+. Take it from me, I was in the best shape of my life and after P90X I had 2 herniated discs in my neck along with significant back pain. I had to take a break from any kind of weight training for quite some time, and get numerous chiropractic, active release technique, and massage treatments for my neck and back. Now I’m not saying the P90X program is to blame:  In my particular case, my form was never the greatest on those last few reps – it’s nearly impossible when youre pushing yourself past the point of muscle failure to maintain perfect form. Being 5’10”, I also don’t have the best posture which puts a lot of force and pressure on all the vertebrae of the spine, especially the neck, while doing these types of exercises.   Thank G-d, I’m okay today and back to doing strenuous forms of exercise, although I shy away from too many pushups or pullups because they tend to cause me aggravation.

Would I do P90X again? I still do some of the workouts, such as “Shoulders and Arms”, “Legs and Back,” and “Kempo Cardio Plus” in rotation with my regular routine. Would I recommend it? Yes, if you’re fit and you lift just enough weight or do enough reps to maintain proper form.  Daily stretching, proper supplementation and adequate rest are also extremely important when doing the program.

P.S. I’d love to hear your feedback on P90X if you have done (or attempted to do) the program. happy

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