February is the shortest month of the annum, even with a leap year day this year. It’s also arguably the dreariest month, buried deep within the throes of winter. Outside of Valentine’s Day, there is little to attract fans to the second month.
You’re probably aware of Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is depression related to the change in seasons — usually winter, when the days grow shorter taking the daylight with them. Those afflicted with SAD may be prone to sleeping too much, have little energy and may feel depressed. Other symptoms include overeating, pessimism, withdrawal from friends and family, feelings of hopelessness, weight gain or loss, irritability and more.
Did you know that specific natural herbs, vitamins and supplements can ease your depression, bipolar disease, anxiety and other mental doldrums? Increasingly, people are looking for drug alternatives in the forms of capsules, tablets, liquid extracts and teas (yes, teas!).
One of the most recommended herbs for mood boosters is St. John’s Wort, which contains various chemical compounds that may have medicinal effects. Often, antidepressant prescription medicines stop working or have too many side effects. As such, one of the most recommended herbs to try is St. John’s Wort—also used for sleep disorders, anxiety and mild depression. Some data also suggests the herb may potentially reduce PMS.
Another product known to improve the mood is an amino acid derivative (in tablet form) called SAMe (S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine). Please note, SAMe should be used with caution if one has diabetes or low blood sugar. The most common side effects are gastrointestinal problems, headache, fatigue and skin rashes. Below is a partial list of additional mood enhancers, as well as what they are known for:
Valerian — dried roots herbal remedy, used for insomnia and sometimes for anxiety.
Lavender — an aromatherapy used by essential oils and teas to promote relaxation and depression, and potentially anxiety as well.
Vitamin D — the sunshine vitamin of which at least one study reported benefits in treating SAD.
Omega-3 fatty acids — from coldwater fish and some vegetable oils, where a dose of 2,000 to 4,000 mg or more is recommended for mood issues.
According to Gregg Russell, Pharm.D., CNN, M.S., MTM of Fort Wayne Custom & Wellness Pharmacy (www.fwcustomrx.com), his focus is on rebuilding brain neurotransmitters (brain transmitters).
“We give amino acids such as tryptophan, tyrosine, 5-HTP, GABA, melatonin, and L-theanine,” said Russell, “and B vitamins which are vital for helping the body convert these amino acids to ‘brain chemicals.’ Also, it’s important for the patient to consult with a knowledgeable pharmacist when using vitamins or herbal therapy to screen for potential health issues.
“Most vitamins and herbs are fairly safe if they are used appropriately and under the care of an educated pharmacist. They certainly have fewer side effects than most prescription drugs.”
Want more information beyond the Internet? Ask your doctor or pharmacist for his or her patients’ feedback on these supplements.
And here’s a bright spot: as of a visit from the winter solstice last December, the days are now getting longer!
Ft. Wayne Custom RX, Fort Wayne, 260.490.3447, fwcustomrx.com