One of the biggest lies in modern psychiatry is that depressed people have Prozac deficiency syndrome. Despite physicial exam findings that can discover specific deficiencies/excesses in the brain and specific urine tests that can effectively evaluate neurotransmitter levels, the mainstays of modern psychiatry remain non-targeted antidepressant drugs. The New York Times recently broke a story showing that as often as studies showing a benefit from antidepressants are published, studies showing that they don't work are suppressed (read the article here.)
I always recommend having a neurotransmitter test done (I use a lab called NeuroScience) to pinpoint brain deficiencies and excesses in individuals with depression. An excellent physcial exam can also reveal relevant therapeutic strategies, whether they include lifestyle changes, psychotherapy, exercise, supplements, or somatic therapies like chiropractic care.
Two supplements are gaining attention in the treatment of depression that I would like to mention here; creatine monohydrate and whey protein. For those of you who have worked on becoming no-neck muscle heads, these will be familiar, as they are mainstays in the world of fitness.
Athletes use creatine monohydrate to re-energize muscle cells during workouts. What new research shows is that that creatine does the same thing in your brain! The study involved giving 3-5 grams of creatine monohydrate to people with "treatment resistant" depression for 4 weeks. Astoundingly, all the patients improved significantly! If this were a drug trial it would of headlined on every newspaper and television show in the world. Since creatine is a cheap, non-patentable supplement, the research was only seen by people who read the journal Bipolar Disorders (you can read the study here). One warning; the researchers gave the creatine to 2 people with bipolar disorder and they both developed hypomania/mania--people with bipolar should not use creatine.
Next, Whey protein has shown some promise in normalizing neurotransmitter levels in the brain. Disturbances in these chemical balances is associated with depression. One study (read it here) looked at serotonin levels and cognitive ability (memory, in this case) among people taking whey protein. They found increases in serotonin and improvements in memory. Another study again found increases in serotonin with use of a protein in whey protein, as well as better sleep, and "improved behavior patterns" in people who has poor sleep prior to supplementation (see the study here). Whey protein is a complete protein that both supplies the brain with precursors needed to create neurotransmitters, and increases the body's production of glutathione--your most potent antioxidant and detoxifier (see the whey protein page). I offer an excellent whey protein product in my store-- click here to view it.
Last, don't forget about omega-3's--you can read more about them in the treatment of depression in a separate article--click here.
Mothers-to-be can decrease their child's risk of asthma by simply taking fish oil. In 1990 researchers gave one group of expecting mothers 2.7 grams of omega-3's from fish oil, and gave another group olive oil. They began giving the oils when the mothers were at 30 weeks duration. The children were then followed until they were 16 in 2006. At that time, the rate of asthma was 63% less in the children of the mothers who took fish oil, and the rate of allergic asthma was 87% less!
Most American are deficient in omega-3's. These beneficial fats form a large part of the structure of our brains and nervous system, benefit out cardiovascular system, our immune system, and are a potent anti-inflammatory. It is crucial that we supply these necessary cellular component to children in the womb--fully 60% of the dry weight of an infant's brain should be omega-3 fat! Read more on omega's in this Article, read more on developing a healthy immune system here. Buy omega-3's for adults here, and for children here.
Read the study here.
A new study demonstrates powerful benefits of strength training in cancer patients after chemotherapy. The authors of the study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, concluded "High-intensity resistance training has persistent effects on muscle strength, cardiopulmonary function, quality of life, and fatigue. Rehabilitation programmes for patients treated with chemotherapy with a curative intention should include high-intensity resistance training in their programme."
Just having a diagnosis of cancer can prove both psychologically challenging and tiring. Chemotherapy itself, while sometimes necessary, is toxic to the body. This study demonstrates that high intensity strength training helps to rebuild the body after the trials of chemotherapy. I believe that this happens for three reasons; most obviously, strength training builds muscle--that alone is associated with a higher quality of life. Less obviously, the demands of strength training require your body to create more energy--that process requires your cells to produce more mitochondria. Mitochondria not only supply your muscles with more energy, but also your nervous system and immune system. Third, strength training produces lasting hormonal changes including higher levels of human growth hormone (HGH). You've probably read about HGH's role in antiaging medicine. The most healthful way to increase HGH is not going down a back alley and buying it off a guy named "Bubba" or going to a Beverly Hills antiaging specialist and paying thousands of dollars for a therapy that will probably shorten your life---the best way is to push heavy iron hard!
If you read that last paragraph again I hope that you'll agree that its not only cancer survivors that should be lifting weights--it's everyone!
Link to the research.