Complementary and Alternative Medicines

      According to the World Health Organization  depression is the leading cause of disability in the  world with more than 300 million people affected 

 globally.  While psychotropics are one of the main  staples of treatment in the battle against depression  and other mental health maladies, there is evidence  that many complementary and alternative medicines  (CAMs) can be very useful in augmenting the  effectiveness of traditional medications.  Pre and  probiotics, omega 3 fish oil, vitamin D3, and L-  methylfolate are just a few CAMs that are helpful  in combating mood disorders, particularly when used  in combination with traditional psychotropics.  These  CAMs aid in optimizing your total body health so  that traditional medications can work more efficiently  and effectively, sometimes necessitating the use of less  medication, which ultimately means a potentially

 lower side effect burden.  Non-pharmacological  adjunctive treatments offer clinicians and patients  viable options when other treatment approaches  have yielded less than optimal results.  It is always  recommended that you speak to your prescribing  provider to determine if enhancing your current  medication regimen with a supplement is right for  you.

      The following supplements are not intended to  be taken without the direct advise of or in  contradiction with the advise of your prescribing  provider.  The following content is for informational  purposes only and is not intended to replace direct  consultation with a licensed professional regarding your  individual needs.

 

Pre and probiotics:

      Research has shown that pre and probiotics have  the ability to reduce levels of inflammation in the  body, which are often associated with increased levels  anxiety and depression.  Additionally, they help to  reduce the production of hormones that can cause an  increased stress response in the body, as well as  reduce HPA axis hyperactivity, which is also  associated with increased levels of depression and  anxiety.  Pre and probiotics have also been shown to  increase levels of brain derived neurotropic factor  (BDNF), which is a protein that increases brain  neuroplasticity in the hippocampus, helping to improve  memory, cognitive functioning and impulse control.  Pre and probiotics have also demonstrated the  ability to increase levels of tryptophan, a precursor to  serotonin, which is a key neurotransmitter in the  depression.  They also have anti-oxidation properties  and the ability to remove free radicals, which are  associated with destruction of cells throughout the body  and brain.  Lastly, pre and probiotic use increases  the neurotransmitter Gamma-aminobutyric acid  (GABA), which has a calming effect on the nervous  system, thereby reducing anxiety.

 

Omega 3 fatty oil:

      In additional to having an abundance of  benefits on physical health, omega 3 fish oils have  been shown to improve symptom expression in  schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, primary depression,  menopausal depression, postpartum- depression and  depression during pregnancy.  Research has also  demonstrated that low omega 3 levels were found to  have a correlation with increased suicidality and self-  harming behaviors.

      BDNF is a protein found in the brain that  plays a crucial role in the survival of neurons, which  are nerve cells that are important in many nervous  system functions.  There are many ways to increase  BDNF including exercise, omega 3 fish oil intake,  exposure to sunlight, mental stimulation, social contact,  and avoidance of sugar, processed foods and high  fructose corn syrup, often found in soft drinks, juice,  candy bars and canned fruit to name a few.

 

Vitamin D3: Cholecalciferol

      Vitamin D3 deficiency has long been linked with  many physical ailments as well as psychiatric  disorders such as depression, seasonal affective  disorder, and schizophrenia.  Lack of exposure  to sunlight can cause vitamin D3 deficiency, however  supplementation with 2,000 to 5,000 IUs daily can  significantly improve your vitamin D3 levels and yield  positive benefits on your mental as well as your  physical health.  Vitamin D3 aids your body in the  production of tryptophan, an important building block  of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that plays an  important role in the development of depression,  anxiety and impulse control.    

Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase (MTHFR):

      Low levels of folate, also known as folic acid or  vitamin B9 are associated with depression, dementia  and cognitive impairment.  Leafy green vegetables,  beans, enriched grains and orange juice are natural  sources of folic acid.  Some individuals may have a  gene mutation that prevents their body from properly  synthesizing folic acid and converting it to its usable  form, L-methylfolate.  For those individuals, it then  becomes necessary for them to take the supplement L-  methylfolate to ensure adequate levels of folic acid  absorption in the body to optimize mental health.    Your provider can test you to see if you carry this  genetic mutation.

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