I 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…..Read More