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.