Depression is an increasingly common problem that many either face themselves or have a loved one dealing with at some point in time. In short, depression is a result of systemic inflammation on an individual and societal scale. Yet at our fingertips we were given access to an array of natural remedies for whatever it is that might ail us, including depression. As is true for addressing any illness or disease, the first priority is getting to the root cause. Instead of trying to mask health challenges by treating symptoms, one must address what started the problem in the first place. Then, it becomes possible to heal from the inside out, allowing for the possibility to feel even better than before!
Like other neurological issues, depression stems from excessive amounts of inflammation. Being that so many of us are inundated with an increasing amount of Wi-Fi signals, pollutants, and negative news stories, we need to support our health now more actively and purposefully than ever. If we want to truly support our health, it’s necessary to understand our physiological process. Many of us learned components of this as early as elementary school, like myself. Yet somehow, the vast majority of medical doctors don’t acknowledge these systems and even oppose the most basic processes in practice. This is made evident by some of the most common protocols. For instance, proton pump inhibitors are handed out like candy despite the fact that the stomach needs to be acidic in order to digest– this allows for the valve connecting the esophagus to the stomach to shut– this is a built in mechanism that protects us from acid reflux and can be easily supported when we know the cause. A lack of acknowledgement for the root cause is why our population is so mentally and physically unwell.
One of the most vital ways we can take our health into our own hands and fight depression and strengthen the entire system is through supporting digestion and addressing whatever is messing it up. When digestion is less than optimal, it’s very often due to some kind of underlying infection. This ranges from parasites, to candida overgrowth, or some kind of bacterial infection like staph. SIBO is also common, a bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine, where bacteria shouldn’t be (the only reason this happens is due to LOW stomach acid). SIBO sufferers notice that flare-ups very much line up with mental complaints like depression, brain fog, and other more complex psychological issues like OCD (R), I’ve heard of others still mention symptoms as extreme as intrusive thoughts with severe symptoms. This makes sense, when there’s an unwelcome guest inhabiting us long-term, and hindering our most basic functions like breaking down nutrients, this can wreak absolute havoc in our body and brain. This is why it’s so important when addressing depression that we control any underlying infection.
When there’s an infection in the body, stomach lining cells turn off their proton pumps and stop producing acid. This is not good. As a result, food is left to sit and putrefy in the gut, literally rotting– this leads to all kinds of systemic disruption ranging from acid reflux to depression. And not everyone with low stomach acid experiences known digestive symptoms. Some people just get occasional gas, burping or bloating and consider that to be normal. However, little do they know, the low stomach acid they’re ignoring could be a major causative factor in their depression! This allows more depressive pathogens to proliferate because Hydrochloric acid (HCl) is our body’s first defense against potentially harmful microbes that we inevitably consume in food and water. These critters then steal the nutrients which are necessary to make us feel good. When there isn’t enough of the raw material we need to create proteins for tissue repair and restoration, as well as energy and mood, we won’t be feeling so well. It’s also been shown that these invaders actually have the ability to control the mind (R). This is made evident in the case of toxoplasmosis gondii, parasites in rodents that can drive them to go near a cat rather than running away like they would do if they were in their right mind (uninhabited by parasites). It’s evident then, that ensuring optimal digestion and eliminating unwelcome guests are undoubtedly the first steps that we must take toward making better decisions that will leave us in better situation to address depression.
So it’s necessary not only to address pathogens with herbal remedies like clove, garlic oregano oil and pumpkin seeds, but also to support our digestive organs so they can heal and work properly to support our mood. This means using things like HCl or something to heal the gut lining first, as well as nutrients for the liver and gallbladder like choline, sulfur or lecithin. The liver is a critical component to healing. When we have depression, this indicates that the liver is burdened with excess waste and chemicals that it needs to get rid of. The liver is responsible for making our feel-good hormones, so it’s important to take care of it to achieve sustained happiness. One way to help this precious organ is supplying the body with enough molybdenum. This is necessary especially when doing a detox like trying to get rid of a pathogen. It’s also important to get plenty of protein, particularly that rich in glycine, sulfur and cysteine, as they’re needed for detoxification and can enhance the mood in doing so (R). This is because they compose a necessary antioxidant for renewal and detoxification called glutathione. It’s also vital that you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables,and make sure you get plenty of those that are rich in magnesium. Often this is the deep green leafy veggies. Chlorophyll, what makes vegetables green, has a molecular structure similar to our own blood but instead of there being iron in the center, magnesium replaces it. This makes for an ideal way to detoxify and in turn help assist the mind in functioning like it should.
Magnesium is one of the most deficient nutrients in the U.S. and is required by the liver in order to detoxify, so it’s no wonder that mental illness has become so prevalent here in the states, especially with soil depleted like it is! Magnesium has been shown to benefit those with mild to moderate depression (R). Sour and bitter foods like lemons, sauerkraut, dandelion, burdock, artichoke, and leafy greens can also help the liver function properly so it can process the chemicals that the brain needs to feel good. These foods work by helping to open up the bile ducts to release toxins. Beets are especially beneficial for liver and gallbladder and in turn a much better functioning and happier brain, as they help thin the bile which allows us to better get rid of inflammatory and depressive toxins. Despite the medical field’s separation of the two, there’s a very strong interdependence between the liver, gallbladder and the head. In fact, oftentimes when a person has a headache or migraine, this indicates liver and gallbladder congestion.
Get your blood sugar under control: Many people might feel tired, depressed and anxious due to blood sugar instability. Thankfully, this can be handled quite simply. Some symptoms to identify sugar handling problems are: shakiness as a result of not eating for a few hours, irritability, or still being hungry and craving sweets after meals. If this is the case for you, you might be deficient in chromium. Chromium is the ultimate blood sugar mineral. It’s what allows insulin to “unlock the door” and allow blood sugar into the cell, making you feel satisfied and happy. Gymnema is another wonderful option to consider in order to help balance blood sugar. Amazingly, this herb can combat sugar cravings. In fact, by tasting this plant, your taste buds will actually start to dislike the taste of sugar! Amazing, right? B vitamins are also important to stabilize blood sugar as well as adequate (not excessive) amounts of protein. The majority of one’s carbs should come from nutrient , slow burning foods like vegetables. Some notice an enhanced mood when the majority of these are non-starchy vegetables. At the same time, others do well with properly prepared grains and foods like potatoes for larger portions of their meals. Normally thinner body types tend to do a bit better with more carbs than bulkier body types. To find out the perfect macronutrient ratio for you, though, you can take a body type quiz. This will tell you what diet is best for you and your mood. The premise of the quiz though, is that you listen to your body– eat what makes you feel best over time. One of the most important factors for getting your blood sugar and mood optimized is getting more fat into your diet. This helps you burn calories more like a log on a fire than like kindling, meaning you have more sustained energy and a better mood hours after eating. Quality sources of this slow burning, mood-boosting fuel include olive oil (which Is best to eat raw), coconut oil, flax seed or flax oil (also best raw), chia seeds, hemp seeds, and let’s not forget grass-fed butter, ghee, tallow, chicken schmaltz, and even lard if you eat pork. Fat is largely what our brains are made up of, so it’s very important that we get plenty of it and digest it well. I’ve written a blog that explains all the hows and whys entitled why you need fat for optimal health, parts 1 and 2.
As you can see, diet and digestion mean everything for mood and wellbeing. It doesn’t help to have chronic maldigestion or you consistently eat GMO food, which is modified specifically to cause the organs of the animals that eat it to rupture. Understandably, this can cause the lining of the digestive tract to become hindered. This causes tight junctions in between the cells of the GI tract to grow unnaturally farther apart, letting food in where it shouldn’t be– the bloodstream. This causes an inflammatory and eventually an autoimmune response as the body attempts to attack these particles as if they’re invaders. This can lead to systemic, chronic inflammation which has been repeatedly linked to depression (R), (R). Its important to know that these tight junctions surround the brain and act as it’s protective mechanism as well. So not only can then any pathogen have access to your brain and nervous system, but even just the prolonged exposure to small food particles that register as foreign invaders can lead a serious problem. Don’t worry, we’ll get to solutions. When the brain gets inflamed like this, it activates cells called microglia. These are like soldiers in the brain capable of killing off cells that become compromised by a foreign invader such as a virus that’s trying to take over. When this system is unnecessarily activated repeatedly, though, these microglia end up getting too excited and end up actually killing cells that we need, all because the gut was leaky and food seeped into the blood stream (R). This can actually cause the cells that produce the chemicals which make us feel good to die! In fact, every cell in the brain produces one specific kind of neurotransmitter (or feel- good molecule) so when these cells “go rogue” and begin firing off at any sight of inflammation, this can jeopardize the cells we depend on to produce hormones we need to feel good (R). This is incredibly important to understand if we want to treat depression.
Fortunately, and contrary to common knowledge, our bodies are actually capable of growing new brain cells. That’s right, it’s called neurogenesis. This process has shown to help heal and normalize the brain! Lithium orotate is neuro-regenerative due to it’s unique ability to cause production of BDNF– brain derived neurotrophic factor (R). This is basically a tonic that the brain can produce itself if given the right ingredients and/ or circumstances. It also reduces the damaging effects of cortisol and glutamate, which can wear out the adrenals and excite brain cells to death if went unchecked (R). Lithium Orotate is different than what would be prescribed by a doctor, known as lithium carbonate which is toxic. This is because it’s unable to cross the blood brain barrier. Therefore doctors have to prescribe amounts large enough to flood the body and lead to toxicity, adding to 1000+ milligrams daily. Conversely, the orotate form is needed in only a fraction of the dose, often in the tens or more rarely in hundreds of mg’s. These doses have found to have negligible side effects (unless you have a hypothyroid condition or lithium toxicity– in which case, do not supplement with this before talking with your doctor). Orotic acid, what lithium orotate is made with, is found in abundance naturally in fruits and vegetables. Lithium can be found in mineral springs where people used to go to heal an array of diseases and came out feeling giddy and overjoyed.
It’s important to note that lithium is a simple mineral found in the earth just like sodium, boron, or iodine. As with anything, it’s best to have a functional practitioner who can LNT (lingual-neuro test) or use kinesiology to find out what works for you. This substance can protect the brain, enhancing sleep and dramatically decreasing ones’ chance of suicide (R). Lithium orotate has actually helped veterans recover from PTSD and can drastically reduce the risk of suicide in addition to many other psychiatric disorders (R),(R). This makes perfect sense since it can enable neuroplasticity and brain regeneration. Lithium can even help the two sides of the brain communicate better, which has shown to increase IQ (R). Contrary to popular knowledge, lithium an important natural mineral that can simultaneously prevent the brain from degenerating and stabilize the neurotransmitters. This means a better, more optimal and regulated mood. This mechanism can even help people heal from alcoholism or past drug abuse (R). Lithium orotate has been found to drastically reduce incidence of suicide as well as a host of other psychiatric complaints, even psychosis and schizophrenia! All of these likely have to do with the fact that the mineral can lower cortisol which is our main hormone that stresses us out and can slowly deteriorate one’s whole body from hormones to blood sugar metabolism– leading to overexhaustion, depression and anxiety. By clicking the following link, you can purchase Lithium Orotate. As stated before, do not take lithium orotate if you have a hypothyroid condition or a lithium toxicity as this could make matters worse. This is where it comes in handy to have a nutritional practitioner of functional medicine specialist see exactly what your body uniquely needs. I use a method called CRA or muscle testing as well as LNT (lingual-neuro testing or taste testing) which is actually able to ask the intuition itself— which we were brilliantly gifted with for healing— what it wants.
A fundamental aspect of healing depression that benefits the entire body is supporting the Vagus Nerve. This nerve is incredible in that it’s the only one of 12 cranial nerves (in the brain) which connects the brain to every single other organ the body! This finding can aid in our healing immensely. As has been recently discovered, there are actually ways you can help exercise this nerve to help heal depression. Some of these include talking, gargling and singing. Another preferred method is using essential oils which are known for being able to strengthen and support the vagus nerve. This method alone has proven helpful through kinesiological demonstration for anything from detoxification to digestive support or head aches. This essential oil method can even lessen the incredibly common need for exogenous HCl in order to digest properly. I have a feeling the vagus nerve is the physiological process behind the saying “gut feeling”, as the vagus nerve is also known as the gut-brain axis. Using a particular essential oil blend consisting of peppermint, cardamom, roman chamomile and ginger, I can say from experience it’s been incredibly helpful for mood and digestion. Because of all the functions this nerve is so deeply intertwined with, increasing vagal tone has been shown to help benefit those with PTSD (R). The strengthening and stimulation of this nerve has also shown in studies to benefit even treatment-resistant depression (R). This comes as no surprise because these two conditions can often be related, especially in the not- so- well- known but increasingly common case of cptsd. This afflicts us on a surprising scale as familial and societal trauma has grown with increasing rates of narcissism and decreasing rates of empathy, as both are perpetuated by the main stream while profit takes priority.
Vitamin C: Helpful for boosting energy levels at a sustained rate as well as fighting off infection, it’s no wonder Vitamin C can offer a mood- boosting effect. Vitamin C is required to make the adrenals function, which allow us to feel good with energy and endurance. Equally if not more important, Vitamin C is a necessary ingredient for making stomach acid. Furthermore, C complex is a cofactor in helping the body produce glutathione which helps neutralize free radicals (R), this means getting rid of just about any assaults that are wrought on the body, this nutrient can be functionally supportive any time you’re feeling low. My favorite kind is Alive brand by Nature’s Way. You can get it in a fully food- based capsule or Nature’s Way Alive! Vitamin C powder form, both of which are rich in the natural bioflavonoids that work synergistically with Vitamin C to optimize health (R), (R) and get to the root cause of depression which is free radicals, adrenal exhaustion, over-excitation, and infection.
An herb that seems to have been made specifically for countering depression, is St Johns Wort. This herb has gained infamy for increasing serotonin and even battling Seasonal Affective Disorder (aka no sun blues). A nervine tropho-restorative, this herb is uplifting and nourishing to the nervous system. The nervous system is not only where the depression is manifesting, but also the vital root aspect of the functionality of every centimeter of the body. St John’s wort contains a compound called Chrysin which can fit perfectly into the GABA receptor in the brain (the same mechanism which Xanax, valium, klonopin and other benzodiazapines work on) like a key in a lock. This function is really quite incredible, especially for anyone suffering with anxiety, too! St John’s wort has shown to be as effective as the prescription antidepressants (R), known as SSRI’s, such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Celexa which can come with serious side effects like “brain- zaps” later down the road. So why not turn to the simple, effective and non-toxic methods that nature has beautifully presented for us? (No brightly packaging or bold commercials necessary– they catch attention on their own.) However if you are already on an SSRI or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), avoid this plant until you are off of the drug, because the combination could cause serotonin syndrome. Another precaution to take is realize that some of the population become more sensitive to sunlight upon ingestion of St. John’s Wort, therefore caution should be exercised. Conveniently, his may not be much of an issue especially for those dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder because this condition is specifically isolated to the Winter months and those wherein the sun appears the least, and specifically in the more northern areas. It’s amazing how that which nature produces seems to address our needs precisely. This herb has shown to be helpful with nerve pain as well as being antiviral. I watched one account from a practitioner explaining the benefits he experienced from the herb after stepping on a rusty nail. Amazingly, all signs of the infection that were there had disappeared after simply taking a St. John’s Wort homeopathic for just a few days!
Ginger: Fresh ginger tea is a reparative tonic which can really lift one’s spirits and get the digestive fire going. This makes it easier to break down mood-lifting amino acids for proper utilization in the brain. I would opt for organic ginger root and slice 1-2 inches and boil for about 20 minutes uncovered or until the water is reduced to half. This can be immensely supportive to overall energy and well-being. This makes sense due to the helpful effects it has on inflammation and digestion (R). For instance, ginger’s been shown capable of reducing free radicals and increasing energy production (R). I can certainly attest to the gentle and sustainable upliftment that ginger beings, in addition to a host of other health benefits. It’s an especially great way to start your day as an alternative to coffee even, as it is a stimulant, albeit much more supportive to the nervous system and nourishing as opposed to potentially depleting like caffeine.
Raw apple cider vinegar: Especially if your depression comes with fatigue, this substance can help immensely. I really learned to love it some time ago when I stopped drinking coffee for awhile. Even when I was doing demanding work in the early hours of the morning as a restaurant employee, I was able to enjoy perfect energy levels despite it being my first day without coffee. Always dilute your ACV with water, about 8 ounces water to 1 or 2 teaspoons of the apple cider vinegar, potentially working up to a tablespoon once you get more used to the taste. I like to enhance this drink by adding, cinnamon which can also help stabilize the blood sugar, or adding a bit of honey or stevia. Another idea is to add fresh, unsweetened cranberry juice. This creates an even more healing elixir which can fight parasites, move the lymphatic system and support the liver– all actions that are supportive for those with depression, depressive symptoms, or even just impaired digestion or sluggish metabolism. This cocktail can even help to reduce cellulite by encouraging lymphatic flow! Raw apple cider vinegar is known for helping the body fight an incredible array of ailments by increasing acidity in the gut, thus creating a proper pH throughout the body as a result.
5-HTP: This amino acid is necessary to create serotonin, the serene neurotransmitter.. Surprisingly, more Americans than you would think are deficient in some of the most important amino acids for supporting the mood. This is often due to poor digestion as well as poor nutrition, often despite caloric excess which is true especially here in the United States. If you’re a vegan, it may be helpful to keep track of the amounts of amino acids in foods at least temporarily to make sure you’re getting enough for proper mood support on a daily basis. If you believe you’re low in serotonin, it can be helpful to take 5HTP away from other proteins. Natural forms of the serotonin precursor tryptophan, which turns into 5htp, are chicken, eggs, turkey, peanuts, turnips, organic soy and collard greens. The most important thing though, is to make sure you’re digesting well enough to break down and absorb it!
Rhodiola and other adaptogens: This herb is an adaptogen. It’s known for the ability to regulate and optimize neurotransmitters like dopamine, which has an uplifting, motivating effect. Adaptogens can help support energy and mood. Rhodiola has shown in studies to be effective for patients suffering from depression, anxiety and fatigue syndrome. It is neuro-protective, and cardio-protective (R), meaning it can protect the brain and heart. Even before reaching for an adaptogen to enhance the adrenals, I like the idea of allow addressing and restoring the nervous system itself, since it is relaying messages to our entire body, telling it what neuronal and hormonal messages to send out. So, if you do try an adaptogen, at the very least I would recommend taking at least one nervine tropho -restorative with it. Some examples of this would be St. John’s Wort, lavender, lion’s mane or milky oat seed. This addition to adaptogenic herbs like rhodiola can replenish the nervous system while optimizing energy. One product that combines both adaptogenic rhodiola and nervine tropho-restorative herbs that has worked well for me in the past is called Serenity Formula. You can find it here. Other adaptogenic herbs include eletheuro (Siberian ginseng), ashwaganda, which doubles as a nervine tropho-restorative, as well as holy basil, cordycep mushrooms, and one of my favorites, goji berries.
Goji berries are a simple whole food you can enjoy as a snack, part of a dessert, or even in an immune boosting soup. In an area of China where the most centenarians are, which means those that live to or past 100, they just happened to eat the highest amounts of goji berries. It makes sense for these berries to be adaptogenic considering the extreme conditions they grow in. In Chinese medicine, Goji berries are said to help with skin, immune system and liver support.
B-Vitamins: B vitamins are required for the nerves, adrenals, digestive system and brain. Vitamin B1 is known to have healing effects on the nerves. I’ve witnessed this clinically that it can heal brachial plexal neuropathy (pain and tingling in the arm, this particular case was after surgery). B12 is also highly supportive and protective to the nerves. B12 deficiency can even lead to similar symptoms to MS, or more commonly depression. Some people have even been sentenced to a wheelchair without knowing the causative factor was a simple b12 deficiency! The best form to take is methyl- or hydroxocobalamin. This can help the liver due to the methyl group which supports the detoxification process of methylation. Methylation correlates with both mood and motivation (R). Most grocery stores only offer cyanocobalamin which is in fact made with cyanide. You can get some professional-grade methylcobalamin here in sublingual form which doesn’t have to be digested and is therefore more rapidly and effectively absorbed.. Vitamin B5 is required for adrenal health and thus energy and motivation, which is commonly lacking in depressed individuals. B6 is also essential for mood and livelihood as it’s a necessary co-factor for making serotonin and other feel good neurotransmitters as well as a vast number of essential chemical reactions in the body (R). For this reason, this vitamin can help with feeling content and as though you have “enough”. B6 can provide help with dream recollection (R). I believe this is helpful in its own way for depression as often our dreams consist of messages to us from our sub-conscious mind which we wouldn’t otherwise be able to glean. B6 can also help with waking up from sleep if you have trouble getting out of bed in the morning. This is due to it’s ability, especially in combination with L-tryptophan and sunlight (R), to regulate circadian rhythm– known as the sleep-wake cycle, inherent in every human and animal with major regulatory effects on overall health and especially mental health. Also when combined with B5 and taken in the Pyroxidal-5-phosphate form (phosphorus is more of a wakeful type mineral), B6 can really help one to wake up and get into the swing of things without some exogenous stimulant dependency. There are some great food sources containing significant amounts of most of these B Vitamins. If you’re vegan, nutritional yeast is an abundant source of many B vitamins including B12. Just make sure to get the unfortified version since many fortified versions use the depleting form of B12 (the Cyano-form, that’s made with cyanide). If you’re not vegan, various animal products can help like preferably raw, grass fed dairy, pastured eggs and meat, particularly red or darker meats. Even better, I’ve come to enjoy supplementing with a liver glandular for a boost of energy in the morning or any time of day. This supplies many of the B vitamins as that we simply just can’t find in most foods especially if you happen to be going gluten or grain free for the time being. I also love that liver glandulars can also supply minerals like iron and zinc which are also supportive for Coq10 If you do take a supplement form of B Vitamins, I recommend getting them in as early in the day as possible, for reasons aforementioned, and because of that they might otherwise interfere with sleep in sensitive individuals.
Inositol is a very important but much lesser known B vitamin that is often no longer included in supplemental formulations. Physiologically, it helps with nerve transmission and aids in getting signals of neurotransmitters across the cell. Therefore, without inositol, you’re not going to feel too happy. Many cases have been reported where simply adding inositol into one’s diet has removed or significantly improved one’s state of depression, stress and anxiety, or sleep problems. So often, many of these issues are intertwined and seem to show up together. Inositol is so great because it also helps to get to a main root issue of all of these problems by helping feed the liver just what it needs. The liver is what actually creates our feel- good hormones therefore it is very important that we’re supporting our liver nutritionally if we want to address It is best to find a food-based B complex with all of these, if possible. One great brand is Mykind, which is kind of expensive but usually only needs to be used for a shorter period of healing and restoring the body of it’s depleted stores which can then be replaced with something more sustainable long-term such as nutritional yeast along with a good healthy diet. An alternative, nutrient dense food source of B-vitamins would be in the form of grass-fed liver. This is also known to play an essential role in the citric acid cycle of the body and can have huge health benefits for the same reason that Gerson therapy (or a vegan diet) and a ketogenic diet can be so helpful (R). Here is a video by a doctor I really like that goes further into this concept if you like.
Vitamin D: This vitamin is actually more like a hormone that the skin is capable of making. Vitamin D helps regulate the immune system, balancing opposing sides of one’s immunity (TH1 vs TH2) and in turn allows the nervous system to function properly by way of not allowing it to attack itself. This way, unnecessary inflammation is kept in check and microglia in the brain are prevented from activating and leading to subsequent unnecessary destruction. This unnecessary destruction is also at the root of Alzheimer’s disease so it makes sense that vitamin D has been shown to reverse Alzheimer’s symptoms (R) along with many other methods listed here like using turmeric, DHA and coconut oil. Vitamin D is so important for mood and overall health because it actually regulates the bacteria in the gut which produce the aforementioned B vitamins that we need to feel good (R). Vitamin D is also necessary for proper calcium utilization which is very important for brain and nerve impulse function. Furthermore, without Vitamin D it becomes possible for areas to become calcified that aren’t supposed to, like the pineal gland which controls hormones, and sleep which is easily one of the most important aspects of healing from depression.
Saffron: The most expensive spice, literally worth its weight in gold, a little goes a long way and saffron can be added to cooking in dishes like curries or rice for a great mood-boosting effect. This herb can be helpful for healing external wounds as well. Saffron has shown to be as effective as the standard treatment for depression at decreasing symptoms (R).
Saffron isn’t toxic and therefore wont lead to things like rebound depression, addiction or dulled empathy, but rather an array of other benefits due to its composition of flavonols and nutrients. In fact, it’s hypothesized that saffron is so effective due to it’s nutrient density– being high in some of the most important nutrients listed in this post such as calcium, magnesium, B6 and iron.
Turmeric: Speaking of gold, this vibrant spice is known to increase dopamine and serotonin (R), and has been shown to be just as effective as Prozac in treating depression (R). It’s fascinating to understand the probable mechanism by which this actually works in the body. Turmeric’s supportive anti-inflammatory action and detoxification in the liver explains how this can be made possible because when the liver is not congested and not causing inflammation, it’s able to create neurotransmitters (feel good chemicals to be sent to the brain) efficiently and effectively, leading to you feeling good!
Turmeric has also been known for helping with arthritis. Interestingly, the inhabitants of India have the highest rate of consumption of turmeric in the world, so much so that their brains are even orange! Furthermore, India also has the lowest rates of Alzheimer’s in the world! Think there’s a correlation there? Again, it makes perfect sense for this powerful free radical quencher and anti-inflammatory to chemically inhibit neurodegenerative disorders, including depression and Alzheimer’s (R).
Calcium: Calcium is needed to conduct nerve transmissions that make you feel good. Many people get plenty of calcium but have leaky gut, leaky cells (due to an increase of EMF’s) or simply just don’t absorb their nutrients well due to poor digestion. Calcium can be especially helpful before bed for a relaxing effect. This explains the ritual of a warm cup of milk, especially with spices like cinnamon and cardamom, before bed for optimum sleep. Dr. Mercola explains an Arizona State study that demonstrates the benefits experienced from pairing cheese with raw organic apple cider vinegar for blood sugar regulation (R). Always source your cheese from a pasture raised, preferably organic and raw source.
Iron: Deficiency in iron can lead to a host of psychiatric disorders (R), This makes sense because we need iron to transport oxygen to the brain and the rest of the body. Some deficiency symptoms you can look out for are restless legs, coldness in hands and feet, dizziness, fatigue and head aches, brittle nails and frequent infections. Severe deficiency leads to arrhythmias, an enlarged spleen (R). Often many of us, especially the meat eaters, get plenty of iron but don’t absorb it well enough due to low HCl. Some sources though, especially if you’re vegan, are moringa, sprouted chia and pumpkin seeds, or a cast iron skillet for cooking! Combining your iron with a Vitamin C- rich food can drastically help with absorption. This makes sense because you need to produce HCl or stomach acid, in order to digest properly. If you eat animal products, enjoying red or dark meats like steak or chicken thighs, as well as taking something like a spleen glandular can be very helpful at addressing an iron deficiency and in turn get you feeling like yourself again.
Selenium: Selenium is needed to help recycle antioxidants in the body which protect the brain and make us feel good and also to chelate metals like mercury and protect the brain from resultant damage. Selenium is supportive to the mood boosting master antioxidant called glutathione. This molecule protects us from the ravages of our current day and therefore must be supported in every way possible. Selenium is one essential and underutilized way to go about that. A great source of selenium is brazil nuts as one serving supplies the full daily value required! You can find selenium in seafood, as well. Selenium is also necessary to help the thyroid work properly; this matters because hypothyroid can frequently lead to depression (R). Other symptoms to know that you may be hypothyroid include thinning hair, cold hands and feet, constipation and low energy. In many cases though, it is not the thyroid itself that is the main issue but is actually a nutrient deficiency.
Iodine: Speaking of the thyroid, iodine is necessary to create thyroid hormone. This is what we need to keep the metabolism running and hence make the brain feel good from the generated energy that results when we’re properly supplied with the right nutrients. My favorite form to take is Sea Kelp because it’s abundant in other minerals for optimal synergism. Minerals are often best taken together, this is why food sources such as this one are ideal.
Other benefits of iodine include an increased IQ and lower likelihood of things like breast cancer, obesity and PCOS (R). Amazingly, it has been shown that those with mental retardation are consistently very low in iodine (R). Be aware that iodine can be contraindicated with severe hyperthyroid disorders like hashimoto’s so if that is the case for you, please talk to your doctor before deciding whether to add this mineral.
Mucuna Pruriens can be especially supportive for those low in dopamine. This “velvet bean” also contains a number of mood lifting phytochemicals and precursors including 5HT which turns into serotonin. Mucuna pruriens is also an antioxidant which has shown to have positive effects on aging as well as fighting free radicals. This bean is one of the best ways to help the body naturally produce HGH (human growth hormone) which allows testosterone and other sex hormones to be increased. This can have surprisingly beneficial efects on menstrual and reproductive issues. This medicinal bean has also been shown to be able to completely neutralize the deadly effects of cobra venom! (R) Of course, no supplement is for everyone and it best to be tested functionally or energetically by an NTP (nutritional therapy practitioner) or a kinesiologist, for instance. There are other ways to get a good idea of which neurotransmitters you are low in. This includes looking at symptoms and how you feel. In general, those who are low in dopamine will feel a lot less motivated and energetic, not necessarily as successful as those with sufficient or high dopamine levels. On the other hand, too much dopamine can be associated with issues like sociopathy and even schizophrenia. For those with dopamine deficiency, though, especially in more extreme cases like Parkinsons, Mucuna Pruriens can be a powerful wonder-herb. John Gray attests to this himself as he healed his own parkinson’s symptoms by using extracts of this bean as part of his regime in addition to other nutrients and pre-cursors which are inherently deficient in this disease. You can read about it here. Don’t combine mucuna with MAOI’s as this can lead to undesirable psychiatric effects.
Bacopa: Bacopa monnieri, otherwise known as water hyssop, has some amazing mood- supporting properties. One reason is that it’s known to be able to regenerate neural tissue. This can be extremely helpful for our purpose as this was demonstrated in a study with depressed rats (R). This can make it greatly effective for those that have suffered from strokes or dementia or even Alzheimer’s, which can often come with some of the most severe depressive symptoms. Bacopa is incredibly special in that it’s able to create a balancing, regulatory and healing effect on the neurotransmitters (R). This means the herb is smart enough on its own to be able to recognize which brain hormones you are low in, which you are high in, and fix it accordingly! It is truly incredible that all this can be done by one herb provided to you in nature!
Amazingly, bacopa is also an adaptogen, meaning it supports the adrenals, yet effects the brain and mood simultaneously in a way that adapts itself to each individual that uses it. Yet the masses still consult doctors, who receive pharmaceutical company kickbacks, on which drug they “should” take in order to unnaturally increase specific neurotransmitters without even knowing what they are truly deficient in. Your body and nature know what is best for you much more than any man-made chemical does. As an added bonus, nature isn’t corrupted by greed.
Magnesium: This mineral is vital for those with depression to consider. Magnesium is what makes our muscles relax. It’s the 2nd most commonly deficient nutrient in the industrialized world, behind Vitamin D. It’s also been found that those who are lowest in magnesium are 81% more likely to suffer from depression than those highest in it (R). As with anything else, the source matters. You can find significant amounts in leafy greans, avocado, dark chocolate, fish and sprouted grains, nuts and seeds. I always have a supplemental form on hand since having a deficit is so common. The kind I’m currently using is magnesium glycinate lysinate. It got my attention because the glycine can help to heal the gut, allow the liver to detoxify, and act as a precursor to glutathione which neutralizes that lead to the free radicals which can cause depression. Lysine is an amino acid that helps support the immune system. So much so that people even take it for cold sores (a form of herpes). This is especially helpful since the most common cause of depression I’ve seen clinically is in fact an underlying infection. Magnesium taurate is another great option to consider as it supplies taurine which can help calm the nervous system and supports the gall bladder in elimination of toxins which can make us depressed by occupying the liver with detoxification rather than allowing it to synthesize neurotransmitters that make us happy. Taurine has shown in studies to help with seizures by sensitizing GABA receptors to produce an effect similar to potentially deadly benzodiazapines without the toxic and addictive side effects. At the same time, taurine works to make dopamine more effective in the brain, leading to a more cheerful, upbeat mood. These actions can lead to a calm serenity that could greatly benefit those with depression. It’s no wonder taurine was able to reverse depressive symptoms. (R). Beets and eggs are rich sources of taurine. It’s amazing that a simple mineral compound can be so supportive to one’s health, yet so millions who are unaware resort to such addictive and damaging drugs instead (R). Taurine on its own is incredibly supportive to the nervous system and thus the mood, so I always find it helpful like to have some on hand. It can support a variety of processes including sleep, gallbladder function which aids in fat emulsification for use as hormones and cell membranes which facilitate for cell to cell communication (so they can signal for you to feel good), cardiovascular health, as well as eye sight. You can access professional-grade taurine and other supplements through me here. For chelated, absorbable magnesium glycinate that doesn’t require you to swallow a horse pill, you can click the picture below to buy from Amazon.
Epsom salt baths are also an exceptional way to get in your magnesium that doesn’t even need to be digested. Epsom baths also supply sulfur which is needed or liver detoxification and is a precursor for the wonder- antioxidant glutathione. Those with digestive issues, especially severe ones like Crohn’s have a harder time absorbing magnesium taken internally (R), therefore it may be most effective for it to be absorbed through the skin while the gut is healed. Epsom baths make a relaxing addition to one’s routine. I find that it can help immensely with winding down a the end of the day as well as with soothing any aches and pains, including soreness, bruising and muscle strains. They can also help with restless legs.
Magnesium Threonate is specifically beneficial for the brain as it’s capable of crossing the blood brain barrier and therefore might be the best option for treating isolates brain issues specifically (although for most depression is a total body issue, not just one that’s isolated to the brain). However, magnesium threonate can be especially supportive in cases like traumatic brain injury or encephalitis (brain inflammation). This form is more recently discovered substance that’s recommended by Dr. Mercola. You can be purchase some here.
Movement: Hebbian Plasticity is a crucial aspect to understand if you’re intent on fix the root cause of depression and other neurological dysfunction. This matters because all illness can be pointed back to the neurological system. Every signal that is sent to make us make any single move, or have any thought, is generated by the nervous system. This is why the system must be supported and why neurogenesis and excitotoxicity are such vital topics for healing.
Hebbian Plasticity or neuroplasticity can be defined as the ability of the brain and neurons to adapt and heal based on poor life or environmental circumstances. These “poor circumstances” are something I’m sure we can all relate to in some way or another. Incredibly, we have an ability built right into our brains to actually grow new neurons– new brain cells– when proper action, or in this case, activity, is taken. One of the most important factors in restoring the brain to the right state before environmental abuses (i.e. EMF radiation, the effects of smart meters and wifi, trauma, inflammation, infection) is movement. That’s right, rewiring the brain back to the way that it’s intended to be is as simple as proper movement (R). John Bergman talks about this in one of his great talks about the brain. This is a new discovery of his and I believe it to be more important than ever given our current societal circumstances. He defines proper movement as simply having the right alignment of the upper or cervical vertebrae, the part of the spine that holds the neck in place. As you might have noticed, many are hunched forward and have a thing called “military neck”, that has been linked to severe neurological diseases like Parkinson’s and MS. This is demonstrated in a study that confirms a causal link between cervical vertebral misalignment and the two diseases. In fact, alignment of these vertebrae was even found to have corrective effects on the state of the patient and even reversal of the diseases (R). This can be corrected by finding a qualified chiropractor in your area. There are even some self adjustment methods provided by licensed chiropractors available on youtube.
Boron is a little-known mineral that can protect the brain by helping the body to fight infection that might make you depressed like candida or yeast as well as parasites and bacterial infection. This is the same reason it has been found to be effective in treating infection ranging from yeast and athlete’s foot even when conventional treatment failed(R),(R) to bacterial infection such as pink eye or even acne (R),(R). Boron can also help regulate hormones and decalcify the pineal gland, in large part by binding to fluoride (R), which can lead to better sleep and enhance overall functioning as a result (R). Boron has shown in scientific, peer reviewed studies to enhance brain function, especially those that correlate with malnutrition and heavy metal toxic load (R). It also states that boron is an essential nutrient that everyone needs to have for proper functioning. This study even states that plenty of boron is needed to complete the life cycle! In short, boron is a lot more important to overall functioning than many realize! This fact could improve an array of unnecessary suffering, from arthritis to osteoporosis. Ladies, it can even help with painful periods (R). Boron is incredibly inexpensive get it in supplement form. This can be taken in capsules(just make sure it does not include any compound ending in aspartate, because that has shown to be dangerously over-excitatory (R) to the nervous system– I liked a kind for you that I like. Boron is also well utilized in the form of boric acid, aka Borax by using it in baths where it can easily be absorbed through the skin. I recommend combining it with Epsom salt this way, or combined with a magnesium supplement because the two work synergistically together. Ideally, boron is found quite easily in a whole-food organic diet consisting of things like potatoes, apples, raisins, almonds, dates, bananas, apricots, cashews and hazelnuts (R).
Detox Heavy Metals and Excitotoxins: Heavy metals can wreak major havoc on the health. They can lead to an excessive amount of candida which is especially known for causing depression in men. Heavy metals are all around us. And the only way to heal and protect yourself is to address excito-toxicity by getting plenty of antioxidants, good fats and co-factors for digestion like lecithin and choline, as well as cutting out extra dietary toxins like aluminum, aspartame and msg. It’s vital that you get plenty of all the minerals you need to replace any harmful metals that would otherwise make their way into your brain and body. When metals enter the brain, via methods such as nano-particles from aerosol sprays which cause inflammation of the nervous system, this can lead to brain cell death from excitotoxicity. Each brain cell produces a different kind of neurotransmitter or feel good chemical– like serotonin, that’ll make you feel extremely peaceful and content, or GABA that enables relaxation, or dopamine which gets you moving. Unfortunatelt, when these brain cells are overstimulated and literally excite themselves to death, the neurotransmitters produced by them are lessened. Therefore, one may end up producing less of the feel good chemicals dopamine or serotonin and become more depressed, for instance. This is what can lead to the overall imbalance in the brain of neurotransmitters. This is what prompts doctors to prescribe drugs for, simply by flooding the brain with more of our feel-good hormones. Instead, we can use natural nutrients and plants to cool down these inflammatory processes and detoxing the body. This allows us to increase the feel-good chemicals with nature’s offerings while simultaneously addressing the root cause– inflammation and infection. Some natural detoxifiers include malic acid which can be found in raw apple cider vinegar, apples or apple juice, cilantro which encourages the gallbladder to contract to neutralize and excrete toxins, or alpha lipoic acid which works as an antioxidant to reduces cellular waste, helping to lessen the load on the liver. Supporting the liver allow you to feel happier because the liver makes the hormones that make you feel good. This may explain why other detoxifiers and antioxidant like turmeric, NAC, and glutathione have been known to help with depressive symptoms (R),(R), (R).
Fish oil and Omega 3’s, particularly DHA, is important because it can cross the blood brain barrier and actually calm down the overexcited damaging microglia cells that result from inflammation and cause brain damage and even brain cell death if prolonged. It’s no wonder that omega 3’s have been shown to be so helpful in fighting depression (R). DHA can be found in fish and even some algae. If you’re not vegetarian my best suggestion would be krill oil due to it’s high amounts of DHA (for the brain) and EPA (for the body) as well as the addition of the natural compound astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is naturally what makes flamingos pink! This results from their diet of shrimp. This can help improve your appearance too, believe it or not. Astaxanthin can protect the skin from harmful UVA radiation. It can also help assist the body in fighting against macular degeneration, or declining eyesight (R). Not only this, but astaxanthin in itself has also been shown to be capable of reversing depressive symptoms (R). It has even shown to have serotonergic effects (R). This makes good quality krill oil a perfect option for those struggling with depression. If I had to pick one supplement to help with this condition, this would likely be me first choice. If you would like to find a good quality krill oil but aren’t sure where you can get it, you can follow this link to sign in and purchase professional-grade krill oil from yours truly.
Cut ties with those who don’t seem to have your best interests at heart: It’s so important, if you plan to really get better, to make sure you’re not surrounding yourself with people that are harming you, whether blantant or subtly, physically or energetically. I know from experience that you can use food to heal as much as you want, with all the right nutrients and everything else, but if you’re allowing toxic people into your environment, none of the benefits will last. This is because health can be looked at as a “north to south” process. It all starts with the brain. The brain acts like the conductor to the orchestra of our health. Therefore, if someone or something is messing with your brain, everything downstream— from digestion to immunity—- moved into disarray. So if you’re feeling down, depressed and drained on a consistent basis, I find it very important to inform oneself on the nature of predators who unfortunately exist in our world. This app can be in your work environment, circle of friends or maybe even your family. Some of the nicest people seem to give every single person the benefit of the doubt, believing that no one— especially no one who they encounter on a daily basis— could possibly hurt someone intentionally. Unfortunately, this is quite far from the truth. I have a blog written all about this topic if you’d like to learn more. In essence, though, for us who want to do good in the world, protect and heal ourselves and others, we have to get away from main stressors in our life that can covertly harm us and inflict pain, ultimately distracting us from our mission and interfering with our health. This isn’t only limited to people who are obvious bullies. It also means getting rid of toxic people that lie, hold you back, or side with someone who is clearly out to harm you. It means that if you try to help someone over and over but they never seem to want to hear solutions to help themselves, you probably need to walk away and start healing yourself and others who will listen. Your time and energy is precious, and we need the best version of you present to be doing the work you were sent here to do. Which leads me to the final step and key to fighting your depression…
Discover and fulfill your life purpose: often, when our light is being either covered up or dimmed for a reason either outside of ourselves or from within, we get depressed. We become anxious and sad when we’re not doing what we’re meant to. This is, in actuality, an incredible gift instilled in us naturally built in to keep us on the right path. This is certainly not meant to be covered up with drugs or alcohol or even herbs that make you feel good for that matter. The most important thing we can do for our ultimate happiness is to work in conjunction with the reason we came here, towards fulfilling our purpose. There are many solutions readily available for us to do this if we feel lost, from taking online personality tests to taking a career development class! I know for myself doing this was one of the best choices I ever could’ve made. If it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t be here writing this today. So find your true calling, not the one that simply fulfills the lusts of life like developing some persona to attract particular types of people, to buy things with money, or to look cool. But rather, look within to what you are inherently good at. To make life even more livable and enjoyable on a larger scale, see how that matches up with what the planet needs. The world needs more people with this mentality and believe me, once you start doing what you love you can make a real tangible change simply by using your natural gifts. This will naturally allow you to overcome any sense of toil, dissatisfaction, depression, or boredom. This is my take on how to truly be happy.
*Disclaimer: This is not to be taken as a substitute for advice from a licensed healthcare practitioner. I do not claim to cure, treat, or diagnose any illness or disease. Rather, I offer supportive nutrients that the body needs to function optimally.
Amazon Affiliate Links: If you choose to purchase some of the products I recommend, I can make a small commission. I will never recommend anything I wouldn’t take myself or recommend that anyone suffering should use anyway, regardless of profit.