Can Zinc Deficiency Cause Depression? How Food Can Trigger Major Depressive Episodes (and what to do about it)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 by Meg   •   Filed under Physical Health and Emotion

Zinc is an essential element for both physical and mental health, though it is often overlooked. Zinc builds proteins, encourages immune system health and assists with the creation of DNA.  It also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain, carrying messages to and from cells, a vitally important function for all internal processes. 

But not everyone gets enough of this nutrient. Zinc deficiency is thought to effect 20% of individuals worldwide, and more in less developed countries4. And being deficient in this element may trigger a number of physical symptoms as well as anxiety and depression....  continue reading

Herbs For Depression: Combating Sadness with Turmeric and Star Wars

Thursday, December 17, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under Physical Health and Emotion

Our dog's name, roughly translated into Latin, means "Star Wars". So I feel compelled to at least mention the fact that Star Wars VII IS ALMOST HERE, YOU GUYS! But because I do not have a sci-fi fangirl blog, I need to keep all this excitement in check and stick to the psychology (and making fun of Donald Trump, obviously). So let's get to it. 

There are a number of vitamins and minerals that are critical for emotional health, from magnesium, to zinc to vitamin B to vitamin D. Like the diverse forces of the Rebel Alliance, all of these contain properties that are required for appropriate functioning of the brain, often on a cellular level.

But did you know that there are certain herbs that may be useful in reducing mental health issues as well? 

Let’s talk about turmeric, an earthy, almost-bitter-but-not-quite herb often used with curry in Indian dishes. It’s not just for curry anymore.

Yoda would approve....  continue reading

Freak Outs and Ice Packs: Women, Autoimmune Conditions, Inflammation and Stress

Monday, March 09, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under Physical Health and Emotion

Stress and the immune system have a relationship as complicated as Common Core math (so I’ve heard). In the short term, acute stress — or the kind you get running from a tiger —  boosts immune function and improves our ability to fight off illness and infection. Escaping from a tiger only to die of an infection would have been a bad evolutionary move and would surely have pissed off even the most chill cave man. 

So, if you’re going to the jungle gym and want to make sure you don’t catch a cold from those germy, monkey-bar-climbing heathens, make sure to be in full-on panic mode by pretending there’s a tiger behind a tree. Plus, what a fun game for the kids!

“Dude…your mom is whack.”

It’s the long term, chronic stress that does us in. That initial immune burst after run for your life is great. But when we can’t come down after it, say because instead of a tiger it’s a pile of paperwork, our stress stays at a lower but ultimately constant level. When that happens, our body starts producing more than the chemicals needed for fight and flight and things go a little haywire.

Okay, okay, a lot haywire....  continue reading

To B Or Not To B: The Relationship Between B Vitamins, Depressive Symptoms and John Wayne Bobbitt

Friday, February 06, 2015 by Meg   •   Filed under Physical Health and Emotion

Folic Acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 are critical for physical and emotional health. Those with severe deficiencies in this class of vitamins may have striking symptoms such as easy bleeding and bruising, pale skin, sore tongue or rapid hearth rhythms.  When levels are not low enough to maintain these symptoms, subclinical B vitamin deficiencies are often overlooked or misdiagnosed as mood disorders since health practitioners may be unaware of the psychological implications of low vitamin B.  

It's kind of complicated because there is more than one B vitamin that is critical for mental health, but I'm game if you are. Let's do this. (That's what she said.)...  continue reading

Herbs for Sexual Dysfunction and Depression: The Benefits of Maca Root

Friday, November 07, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Physical Health and Emotion

Did you hear the one about the guy who made an appointment to treat his impotence? He had to cancel because something came up! 

Maybe he was taking maca root. (Genius transition, I know.)

Lepidium meyenii, also known as maca, is a starchy potato-like root with a high nutritional profile. It contains nineteen essential amino acids, fatty acids such as linoliec, oleic and palamitic, along with calcium, potassium, manganese, copper, iodine, iron and zinc. Maca is often touted as an adaptogen, or a compound that helps the body to adapt to stress by normalizing internal systems. 

But it is great for more than good overall health. Maca root may also reduce depression and menopausal symptoms while alleviating sexual dysfunction, including low libido. 

“Say what? More happiness and better sex drive? Please, continue.”...  continue reading

Herbs for Depression and Anxiety: Oregano and Brain Healing

Monday, October 06, 2014 by Meg   •   Filed under Physical Health and Emotion

Monoamine neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline, have long been known to be related to anxiety and depressive symptoms. While there is a great deal of research to support that increasing serotonin levels in the brain can reduce depression, there is also a more complete theory that cites serotonin as a chemical related to brain healing which in turn adjusts mood

So, more brain serotonin equals more neuron healing equals happier you. And oregano extract, complete with the chemical carvacrol, may act on the brain by preventing reuptake of serotonin, leading to higher levels floating around....  continue reading