How To Stimulate The Vagus Nerve To Improve Your Health

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Are you feeling a little out of control? Like you don’t know how to calm yourself down? Have you ever felt stress so deeply that it feels overbearing and like you might be swallowed up into a black hole at any given moment? 

You try so many practices to calm the mind or lessen the grip of that stress, but it still feels like a black cloud hanging over your head. 

So, you turn on some music — sometimes your favorite song and other times a song that feels emotionally strong — and you start to hum. You start to sing. And then it happens…

A break in that black cloud. A lessened grip. You know the stress is still there, but something feels different and a level of relief fills you. 

That relief might be minimal or it might be gigantic. All you know is that there is a shift in how you were feeling.

You are not imagining your relief! The lessening of the stress is all so real and that is because of what you have physically stimulated. What you activated. 

What you might not know is that a simple humming or a singing of your favorite song stimulated a nerve that is critical to help you not only manage your stress, but to also help you boost your immune system, optimize your gut health, balance your blood sugar — along with a slew of other health benefits. 

The Vagus Nerve

Your sympathetic nervous system is the part of your nervous system that moves you into action. It is your fight or flight system and if it detects a threat, real or perceived, it will trigger your fight or flight response. If there isn’t a real threat, and you do not need to activate the sympathetic nervous system, then you lean in and recruit the parasympathetic nervous system, which is the part that calms you down. 

The vagus nerve is the most influential nerve in your parasympathetic nervous system. It functions like your body’s natural reset button — playing heavily on both your emotional and physical body. The vagus nerve extends from the brainstem down into your stomach and intestines, through your heart and lungs, and connecting your throat and facial muscles. Movement or recruitment of these areas help to stimulate the vagus nerve so it can learn how to be more flexible (vagal tone). Healthy vagal tone can be thought of as an optimal balance of parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system actions that allows you to respond with resilience to the ups and downs of life. Learning how to stimulate your vagus nerve allows you to bring the calm and feel more collected.

Vagal Tone

Chronic stress and unresolved trauma can be a real bummer! Not only do they impact your life deeply, but it can also create a great imbalance between your sympathetic and parasympathetic functions of your nervous system. Because we live in a world that is over-stimulating and activating for the sympathetic nervous system, many of us need access to tools that help us engage the parasympathetic nervous system on a daily basis. 

Like I mentioned, the vagus nerve has a calming effect on the sympathetic nervous system activity. But, it is also important to recognize that individuals with unresolved PTSD or trauma often resort to a primitive expression of the parasympathetic nervous system which can lead to symptoms of fatigue or depression. When left untreated, chronic stress and unresolved PTSD can disrupt your physical, mental, and emotional health. The good news is that practices that focus on stimulating the vagus nerve can help regain balance if you are either keyed up with anxiety or shut down with fatigue.

This is why the tone of the vagus nerve is so significant.  Higher vagal tone is associated with better general health — better blood sugar regulation, reduced risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, improved digestion and a reduction in migraines. Most importantly though, it is associated with increased emotional stability, resiliency and longevity, that which helps to balance out every other area of your life. 

Curious what your vagal tone looks like? You can easily measure it at home! Heart rate variability is a way to measure vagal tone. Your heart-rate speeds up a little when you breathe in, and slows down a little when you breathe out. The bigger the difference between your inhalation heart-rate and your exhalation heart-rate, the higher your vagal tone. The higher the tone, the more efficient you are at relaxing. 

An increase in vagal tone is linked to a reduction in overall inflammation and an increase in emotional health and well-being. Lower vagal tone is associated with mood instability, depression, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, cognitive impairment, chronic inflammation, and cardiovascular disease. 

Activating Your Vagus Nerve

  • Do yoga, but specifically any yoga practice that stimulates the path of the vagus nerve can have a profound influence on the tone of the vagus nerve.
  • Meditation — especially loving-kindness meditation, mindfulness meditation, and Om chanting increased heart rate variability
  • Slow, rhythmic, diaphragmatic breathing. In studies, ujjayi breathing showed quite effective. This type of slow breathing involved 6 breaths per minute, which would be about 5 seconds per inhale, 5 seconds per exhale.
  • Humming, chanting, or singing — especially emphasizing the long, slow exhalation to stimulate the vocal cords.
  • Thinking positive thoughts of others and increasing social connection — this stimulates the heart center of the vagus nerve.
  • Using cold water. Take a cold shower or splash cold water on your face. You can also achieve the same effect by holding a ziplock bag filled with ice cubes against your face and holding your breath. Or submerge your tongue in cold liquid.
  • Laugh more and laugh out loud!
  • Practice the Valsalva Maneuver — Exhale against a closed airway by keeping your mouth closed and pinching your nose while trying to breathe out. It increases the pressure inside of your chest cavity thereby stimulating your vagus nerve.
  • Take your probiotic. Cultivating healthy intestinal bacteria improves the mind-gut connection and your vagal tone.
  • Get some mild exercise in — it stimulates gut flow and vagus nerve activation needed to initiate this response.
  • Do some gargling. It activates the vagus nerve by activating the muscles in the back of the throat while exhaling slowly.
  • Get a massage. Neck, foot, and pressure massages may stimulate the vagus nerve, as can gently massaging around the carotid sinus located on the sides of your neck.
  • Get enough zinc. This was shown to increase vagus stimulation and is a common mineral that some people don’t get enough of.
  • Eat more seafood — According to several scientific reviews, omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA increase heart rate variability (HRV) and lower heart rate. HRV is directly linked to vagus nerve stimulation.
  • Engage in prayer and pray out loud.
  • Spend time in nature. Nature is soothing and calms the nervous system, but some studies link sunlight to increasing vagal tone.

Stimulating the vagus nerve stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which in turns reduces your neurophysiological experience of stress — super important for optimal health and wellness. It reduces your heart rate and blood pressure, influences the limbic system in your brain (where emotions are processed), and stimulates digestion so your body can absorb the nutrients you are giving it. Start practicing the art of stimulating your vagus nerve to relieve anxiety, depression, tension and the general sense of unease when stress builds up. 

Try to practice daily as a preventive measure to ensure greater emotional resilience and improved health!

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8 Ways To Relieve Seasonal Affect Disorder And Depression

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Winter used to be synonymous with feeling sad and not like myself.

The holidays would come and go. And so would my spirits — feeling like I was constantly in a state of doom and gloom. 

I truly dreaded winter time because of this. As I got older, I started to realize that I was not alone. Others felt the stranglehold of winter’s grip around their hearts and I started to feel something new…

Normalcy.

And for many years, I lived in normalcy where I would curse the winter and grump my way through my day. That was until I learned about what it really meant to be SAD. 

Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) is a form of seasonal depression triggered by the change in seasons that occurs primarily in winter. The shorter the days are, the more you might be prone to this phenomenon. I felt massive relief in knowing that there was a reason I felt not like myself. I wasn’t broken. But then that left me questioning…

Why do some people get SAD? I found that experts aren’t certain, but some think that seasonal changes disrupt the circadian rhythm — the 24-hour clock that regulates how we function during sleeping and waking hours, causing us to feel energized and alert sometimes and drowsy at other times.

Yet, another theory is that the changing seasons disrupt hormones such as serotonin and melatonin. These hormones regulate your sleep, mood, and feelings of well-being. It also turns out that women and young people are more likely to experience SAD, as are those who live farther away from the equator. People with a family history or diagnosis of depression or bipolar disorder are also more susceptible.

What does SAD look like? According to valleyrecovery.com, common symptoms include:

  • Feelings of extreme hopelessness, depression, sadness
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  • Withdrawing from social activities and/or hobbies
  • Inability to tolerate stress
  • Difficulty focusing or procrastination
  • Cravings for sugar and carbohydrates

The light started to turn on and I quickly realized two things:

  1. SAD can be treated and managed.
  2. SAD needs to be treated and managed — all forms of depression limit people’s ability to live their lives to the fullest, to enjoy their families, and to function well at work.

Here are 8 things you can do to start releasing SAD’s grip on you:

 1. Tidy Up Your Nutrition

Nutrition is the first place to look. Yes, there are specific foods and nutrients that will help you feel better, but I think the real power is in looking at what you are already taking in. Keeping your blood sugar balanced is key to stable mood and hormone balancing. Limit the amount of sugar that you consume because sugar is directly linked to brain health. A sugar high may have you feeling good momentarily, but will knock your blood sugar out of whack. Once the sugar high wears out, your blood sugar will drop and increase lethargic feelings and irritability. 

You also want to look at the amount of processed foods and gluten that you have in your diet. Eliminating gluten from your diet can heal your gut health, balance your blood sugar, clear up brain fog, and balance your hormones. 

Eat consistent meals to keep your body fueled and and your energy high. Not eating consistently can cause dips in your blood sugar and you might notice higher levels of feeling “hangry.”

2. Listen To Music That Makes You Feel Good

One of the most immediate ways to alter your mood is to listen to music. You can probably remember a time you put on a song to elevate your mood or to even trigger sadness. Music therapy has been used as a medicinal alternative for a wide range of health problems from autism to healing from a surgery. Remember the power of music — it can increase sadness so choose music that is lighter and not tied to painful memories.

3. Get More Vitamin D 

Vitamin D has many health benefits. It is also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” because your body produces it when your skin is exposed to UV light. Unfortunately, you may not be able to head outdoors once the temperature drops, which greatly decreases your daily dose of vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D are linked to SAD in research reported in 2014 in the journal Medical Hypotheses. Adding in a supplemental vitamin D may be helpful to release the depression.

4. Keep A Gratitude Journal (Or, Any Journal) 

Writing down your thoughts can have a positive effect on your mood because it can help to get your negative feelings out of your system. What is even more powerful for depression is keeping a gratitude journal to help you see what is good and bright in your life. 

Having trouble knowing where to start in your journaling journey? Click here to get you started.

5. Stick To A Schedule

Sleeping at night can really feel like a chore with those dealing with SAD. And if you can’t sleep at night, getting up in the morning may be even harder. Maintaining a regular schedule improves sleep, which can help alleviate symptoms of SAD.

Keeping a regular schedule will also expose you to light at consistent and predictable times. And eating at regular intervals can help you watch your diet and not overeat. Many people who live with SAD find they gain weight in the winter because of this, especially if you are prone to emotional eating.

6. Add Aromatherapy 

If you like essential oils and smelly stuff, then you are in luck — Aromatherapy may also help those with seasonal disorder. Essential oils can influence the area of the brain that’s responsible for controlling moods and the body’s internal clock that influences sleep and appetite. 

You can simply add a few drops of essential oils to your bath at night to help you relax or plug your diffuser in and left the smell waft through the air. Click here to read more ways you can use specific oils for symptoms of SAD. 

7. Let The Sunshine In

Getting outside as much as you can during the day and take advantage of what sunlight there is can dramatically improve SAD or any kind of depression. If you live where it’s cold, be sure to bundle up, but take a stroll around the block at noon or soon after — that’s when the sun is brightest.

Also, when you’re indoors, keep your blinds open to let as much natural light in as you can. You want to be in bright environments whenever possible to stimulate the brain.

8. Use A Light Therapy Box

Light Therapy Boxes give off light that mimics sunshine and can help in the recovery from SAD. The light from the therapy boxes is significantly brighter than that of regular light bulbs, and it’s provided in different wavelengths.

Try sitting in front of a light box for about 30 minutes a day. This will stimulate your body’s circadian rhythms and suppress its natural release of melatonin. Research shows that most people find light therapy to be most effective if used when they first get up in the morning. 

Seasonal Affect Disorder does not have to be something that you suffer with. You can take back control of your life. Remember, exercise and socialization and having something to look forward to are just as important as any of these other tips above. But if you feel like you do those things and you are still feeling stuck, give the tips above a try and see how you can begin lifting the heavy cloud of winter blues!

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10 Anti-Inflammatory Foods: Slash Body Pain, Improve Digestion, and Lose Weight

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My grandma used to say “My knees are talking to me.”

I never fully understood what that meant until I got older. My workouts hurt a little bit more. High humidity days would swell my knees up like balloons. I would wake up hurting and left in a perplexing state wondering how I hurt myself sleeping.

And for so long I blamed it on the aging process, convinced that it was a natural sign of aging and something that I had to deal with. Or maybe it was genetic and I was destined to have my grandma’s talking knees.

I learned that it doesn’t have to be that way!

Inflammation 

Inflammation comes in many forms and can be super sneaky. You might feel it as muscle soreness or joint pain.

Or, maybe you are dealing with depression or emotional imbalances.

Perhaps you have digestive issues or a disease, autoimmune disorder, or cancer has creeped into your life. All of these (and more) are directly connected to an inflammation imbalance.

When Inflammation Is Good

The body’s inflammation response is an essential part of the healing process. Injuries, surgeries, and other traumas need to have inflammation acutely in order to help the body heal and bounce back quickly. This is a good thing!

In acute healing phases, inflammation is essential. It helps the body fight foreign invaders and also has a role in repairing damage. Without inflammation, pathogens like bacteria could easily take over our bodies and kill us. Yay, inflammation!

When Inflammation Is Not So Good

When the body starts to heal and the effects of trauma are resolving, inflammation should begin to resolve too, right? Not necessarily.

When there was no trauma involved, the body should naturally feel free of pain and discomfort, right? Again, not necessarily.

Chronic inflammation is like a silent fire smoldering beneath the surface. Because you can’t see or actually feel this type of inflammation, it’s often referred to as the body’s “silent fire”—which makes perfect sense, because the word “inflammation” derives from the Latin word for “to set on fire.”

When the body’s immune system doesn’t communicate to shut off, it can be like a fire that is not extinguished easily. It is not entirely known why the body will not communicate the shut off. It just keeps producing immune cells, leaving your body in a constant state of alert. And the body remains in a constant state of stress.

When the immune cells can’t find an injury or illness to repair, they eventually attack healthy cells, damaging your tissues and organs. This is when you start to have noticeable problems! This damage has been linked to a slew of diseases and disorders, including asthma, ulcers, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, ulcerative colitis, allergies, some types of cancer and even Alzheimer’s.

Unfortunately, you can’t see low-grade, chronic inflammation and squash the silent fire ahead of time. This is why it is so easy to think that having sore joints and a painful body is how you are SUPPOSED to feel. It isn’t until the damage is done that you really start to step back and notice; even then you may not immediately link it to chronic inflammation.

Using Digestion To Silence The Fire

Your body is incredibly wise and does give you clues to inflammatory cues for concern.

Excess inflammation in the body can cause weight gain (especially in the belly), mental fog, and an overall ‘blah’ feeling. It can also lead to fatigue, digestive issues, depression, sleep issues, and random aches and pains. This is only to name a few!

When making changes, it is important to start at the root cause. Digestion is one of the first places to begin because the digestive tract is the most condensed area of immune cells— 80% of the immune system is located within the gut, and gut microbes can drive inflammation.

There are four main goals of an anti-inflammatory nutrition plan:

  1. Keep blood sugars balanced. Excess glucose stresses the body and causes a systemic inflammatory response.
  2. Eat the right types of fats. Fats are super important for hormonal balancing and decreasing stress placed on the body.
  3. Consume anti-inflammatory phytochemicals. Some foods have natural inflammation fighting powers.
  4. Promote healthy gut flora. You got to keep the gut strong so that it can absorb all the beneficial nutrients you are feeding it.

It may sound complicated, but don’t let that frighten you. If you make a few small changes, for even a few minutes each day, you can drastically lower inflammation levels in the body.

Healthy_fats_food

10 Anti-Inflammatory Foods To Silence The Fire

  1. Dark leafy greens: Think kale, spinach, swiss chard, broccoli— these powerhouse foods are not only high in antioxidants and healing flavonoids, but they also contain a compound called “quercetin,” which acts much like anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, aspirin). Toss a handful of spinach in your morning smoothie or throw together some chopped up kale, carrots, and raisins for a delicious kale salad. You can also toss a handful of spinach into your morning omelette and cook until leaves are wilted.
  2. Turmeric:  Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric and it is a very powerful antioxidant and has incredible anti-inflammatory properties. They are so powerful that even studies have shown that curcumin is more powerful in decreasing inflammation than anti-inflammatory drugs. Add some turmeric to your morning egg scrabble, season your roasted veggies, toss some into your smoothie (be careful how much you put in because the taste can be overpowering), or drink a turmeric tea.
  3. Blueberries: An antioxidant powerhouse, blueberries are high in phytonutrients that are buzzing with anti-inflammatory protection. They protect against many diseases, such as cancer and dementia. Add them to your salad, use them for your morning smoothie, freeze them and eat them as a cold treat, or top your favorite healthy dessert with a handful of them.
  4. Wild-caught salmon: Wild-caught salmon is an excellent source of two omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, that are known for their inflammation slashing. The benefits of omega-3 have been backed over and over by studies. They are shown to reducing symptoms of psychological disorders, preventing heart disease, and reducing your risk of cancer. No farmed salmon here! Two times a week, add salmon to your diet. Salmon fillets with lemon juice are a great choice! If getting in salmon is pretty challenging, opt for supplementation by a liquid or a capsule most days a week.
  5. Coconut oil: This is by far my favorite! And for good reason— Coconut oil is not only anti-inflammatory, but it also boosts metabolism, helps balance hormones, and has anti-microbial properties. It is truly a healing powerhouse. Try adding it to your morning shakes, sauté your leafy greens in it, roast your turmeric root vegetables in it, or use it as a spread on your sprouted grain bread. Remember, the skin is an absorbable organ. You can use coconut oil externally too. Use coconut oil as a moisturizer instead of the expensive, paraben-laden cosmetics from the beauty counter.
  6. Tomatoes: Tomatoes are a powerhouse of nutrients. Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, an antioxidant that protects your brain, decreasing inflammation that can cause depression and other brain health issues. Throw some in your salads or eat some sauce, just make sure that you are getting the skins of the tomatoes, where lycopene lives.
  7. Avocados: Not only are avocados a healthy fat that improves digestion and supports heart health, but they are good for inflammation too. They also contain carotenoids, which are linked to reduced cancer risk. You can throw some in your smoothie, on your salad, or top your scrambled eggs with them.
  8. Cherries: Cherries are so delicious and remind me of summertime. But, they are also rich in antioxidants, such as anthocyanins and catechins, which fight inflammation. Although the health-promoting properties of tart cherries have been studied more than other varieties, sweet cherries also provide benefits. You can drink a tart cherry juice or buy a bunch of sweet cherries to munch on as a snack.
  9. Red Bell Peppers: I love red bell peppers for a hefty dose of anti-inflammatory power—but go red to reap the most benefits. According to Journal of Food Science, out of the three colors of bell pepper, red have the highest amount of inflammatory-biomarker-reducing vitamin C along with the bioflavonoids beta-carotene, quercetin, and luteolin. Luteolin has been found to neutralize free radicals and reduce inflammation. Beta-carotene is a carotenoid, fat-soluble compounds that are associated with a reduction in a wide range of cancers, as well as reduced risk and severity of inflammatory conditions such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Quercetin acts as a mast-cell stabilizer, decreasing the number of cells reacting to an allergen. Make a stir-fry or slice them up for a delicious dip in your hummus.
  10. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: Olive oil is fabulous for fighting inflammation and research believes it is because of the olecanthal, found only in olive oil. It has been found to have significant impact on inflammation and helps reduce joint cartilage damage, working similarly to ibuprofen. You can sprinkle olive oil on anything — your sandwich, in your smoothie, on your eggs, and of course on your salad.

Even though nutrition is only one piece of the lifestyle puzzle for calming inflammation and silencing the fire, it is an easy one to start with. Slowly start adding some of these foods into your daily nutrition plan to take back control of your body!

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4 Natural Supplements To Chase The Winter Blues

Gray skies and cold breezes rain down on you. As you zip up your heaviest jacket and brave the chilling air, thoughts of heaviness and warm sunshine rays penetrate your thoughts until…

SLAM!

Another cold breeze whips through the trees, runs up your back, and spins your hair out of control— paralyzing you with a face blast of cold air.

It’s Winter time or, at the very least, a colder than expected day where you live.

Some people love this cold weather and thrive joyously all season long. Others, like yourself, feel a stranglehold of heaviness and repressed happiness. Let’s face it, — you feel downright miserable. You ask yourself, “what is wrong with me?” and “why can’t I just be happy?”.

You even swear that THIS year is going to be different. But it isn’t. And you feel worse than ever.

Not only is it cold and damp and you haven’t seen the sunshine in, what feels like months, but now you feel self-defeated because you haven’t stuck to your proverbial guns and just pushed through with a smile and a delusion.

Between seasonal affect disorder (the struggle is real!), sunless days, cold weather putting a kabash on your activity levels, the holiday shopping chaos, the bellringers around every corner, the sugar rush from the fanciest candy canes, and the extra tight hugs from your Aunt Flo — it is enough to rock you to your core.

You are not alone!

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in ten Americans (women and people ages 40 to 59 in particular) suffer from depression at one point or another. That is an alarming statistic that shows just how prevalent it truly is.

In a world filled with so many stressors, seeking emotional balance is priority, or a least a healthy first step. Nor should it be ignored.

But for people with persistent mild depression, are prescription antidepressants the answer?

According to Delicious Living, health practitioners such as Tieraona Low Dog, MD, at the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine in Tucson, questions the overuse of antidepressants, the most commonly prescribed medication for people ages 18 to 44. Antidepressants are now used for conditions that go beyond depression, such as anxiety disorders, pain, and menopausal symptoms, says Low Dog, who serves on Delicious Living’s advisory board. “Some are FDA-approved uses, some are off-label uses. But the number of antidepressant prescriptions for children and adolescents as well as adults is growing exponentially and is a little bit scary.”

omega-3s

Antidepressants can significantly help people with major depressive disorders. That is true. But they typically offer little relief to people with milder forms of depression, according to a 2010 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. They can also be riddled with unwanted side effects that could cause more long-term problems.  Researchers are finding that natural strategies can mitigate depression symptoms and boost mood over time —

  • Regular exercise
  • Eating a healthy diet rich in omega-3s
  • Meditation and stress relief
  • Practicing gratitude
  • Enjoying a strong community of family and friends

What if you need some immediate relief while you work on the natural strategies above? Here are 4 natural alternatives to help you get started —

  • St. John’s wort. According to a 2009 review published in Evidence-Based Mental Health, St. John’s wort extracts used in clinical trials were as effective as prescription antidepressants, had fewer side effects, and were superior to a placebo. St. John’s wort is appropriate if you’re not taking any other medications and you have mild depression, possibly with some anxiety, because it also reduces anxiety. However, it interacts with a lot of medications, including SSRI antidepressants and birth control pills, so only take under a doctor’s supervision.
  • S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe). SAMe has been called nature’s Wellbutrin. Very good studies show that SAMe, a naturally occurring compound in the body, can be as effective as antidepressants. This is for the person who is what we call dysthymic: melancholic, low energy, fatigued, not motivated. SAMe is considered a stimulating antidepressant, so you would never give this to someone who is anxious or agitated and certainly not to someone bipolar. It’s also highly effective for pain, so it’s the right supplement for people who have arthritis, fibromyalgia, and dysthymia with depression.  SAMe is available over-the-counter. Recommendations are to start by taking 200 mg once or twice a day; then increase by 200 mg every five to seven days until you reach about 1,000 mg daily. Older people may need less.
  • Rhodiola. Rhodiola has been shown to help people who are under a lot of stress or who have mild forms of depression, fatigue, and anxiety. Rhodiola was traditionally used to help prevent colds and flu, so when someone says, ‘I feel kind of depressed, and I’ve gotten sick five times this year,’ rhodiola may be a good choice. Recommendations start with 150–200 mg daily of extract standardized to 3 percent rosavin and about 1 percent salidroside, the active compounds; using that for five to seven days. Then you can increase the dose to 400–500 mg if necessary. Most people need between 300 mg and 500 mg per day of the standardized extract.
  • L-theanine. Some people have depression, but the anxiousness is what really bothers them. Green tea works wonders for that because of the L-theanine. You can use green, oolong, and black teas, but green and oolong have less caffeine. These teas help focus, calm, and quiet you because of the L-theanine amino acid. Or you can take L-theanine as a supplement. Recommendations are 100–200 mg two to three times per day. It’s nonsedating but it just calms you down.

stjohnswort

Nutrients that complement SSRIs

If you’re taking an SSRI antidepressant, you may want to consider working with a health care provider to supplement with nutrients that complement your medication. This is very important because medication interactions could cause serious problems and/or cause one medication to not work as efficiently.

  •  Omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil, which is rich in omega-3 essential fats, seems to help an antidepressant work better, but it doesn’t typically cause an interaction. Taking about 1,000 mg EPA per day is typically recommended. Make sure that you take your fish oil with one of your biggest meals and/or one that contains some fat. You need fat to absorb your fish oil.
  • B vitamins. Take a multivitamin with solid doses of B vitamins or B-complex stress formula with high-dose folic acid, B6, and B12, all of which are needed for the body to make neurotransmitters such as serotonin. B-vitamins are essential for the cells to make energy, so they need continually replenished, especially if you are under a lot of stress. While SSRIs keep neurotransmitters around longer, if you can’t make enough, you’re only going to get a modest effect from antidepressants. So if you’re taking an antidepressant and you’re not getting the full effect, make sure you talk to your health care provider about possibly supplementing with B vitamins.

Getting caught in a wild state of the blues is no fun for sure, but it is important to recognize when you are there (or when you are about to be there) and begin to treat the situation. Treatment with supplements, foods, and/or behavioral practices may not take away the cold wind or the layers of clothes, but it can better improve your health and your vitality!

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