Search Term: " Dayligh "
Is sunlight the health secret we all overlook?
December 07, 2016 06:59 AM
Are you getting enough sun? Sunlight is important for more than just a healthy tan. It can help with blood pressure, your immune system, even help ensure your long term mental health! There are many quick and easy ways to get more sunlight into your daily routine, and you owe it to yourself and your health to make sure you soak up some sun rays every day.
"Vitamin D is also important in activating the body's immune defences as it triggers the cells that seek out and destroy any bacteria and viruses and arms the system, too."
Daylight saving time could increase depression
November 09, 2016 02:49 PM
Setting our clocks back every winter can have its benefits, like gaining an extra hour of sleep. However, a recent study has revealed that gaining an extra hour could also lead to depression due to it getting dark an hour earlier in the evening. Psychiatric hospitals in Denmark reported over a 17-year period, 11 percent of new cases decreased after the time change. Dr. Oexman has recommended that we decrease how much alcohol or caffeine we drink this weekend in order to keep our circadian rhythms in check.
"Depression cases at psychiatric hospitals in Denmark increased immediately after the transition from Daylight saving time, the study says."
September 17, 2014 05:25 PM
What is a Maca Root?
Maca Root is one of the roots and tuber harvests of higher protein content. Until late years, this nutritious base of the Andes was little or nothing known for the lion's share of the individuals thereof, Peru (aside from the tenants of the Andes) and obviously overlooked by whatever is left of the world.
Maca (otherwise called Peruvian Maca or Maca Andina) has an astonishing quality to develop to remarkable statures: from 3800 to 4800 meters high in the most cold Andes mountains, where temperatures are amazing, from exceptional hotness morning to ice on the night, frigid winds, snow and persevering high power of Daylight. In this antagonistic region, where there is little oxygen, there is uncommon vegetation develop just potatoes and maca sharp. There are no trees, no plants, just a couple of centimeters tall.
This tuber, irrelevant part of the tuberous root size and state of a typical radish, is effectively dried under the sun and keeps up its nutritious qualities, with elevated amounts of iron, for a few years stockpiling. It is brilliant nourishment and Incas additionally utilized it for its richness improving activity and its impact on sexual conduct.
There have been various effective studies on the action manure Peruvian maca creatures and people. In 1980, researchers from Germany and North America who were doing investigations of the herbs in Peru, rekindled enthusiasm toward its momentum Maca, naming it "the lost products of the Incas."
A percentage of the elements that have been recognized: amino acids, proteins, vitamins, minerals, follow components and auxiliary metabolites.
Maca - History:
Anthropological confirmation has been found in the development of maca in Peru since 1600 BC. The Incas considered Maca as a blessing from the divine beings. They additionally develop maca as nourishment, Lamac - developed in the Andes utilized for religious services and custom moves. Spanish accounts report that amid the victory of Peru, creatures brought from Spain not play ordinarily as of right now, the locals cautioned the vanquishers who nourished their creatures with maca, with what they got the levels of typical generation.
Concerning the stretcher, Father Cobo, amid the pilgrim time, he said: "Maca develops in the most rough and frosty of the good countries where there are chances to develop any plant sustenance."
Maca - Morphology and plant science
Maca is a biennial plant statures conduct, being pollinated toward oneself, cleistogamous, with a five-month conceptive stage and with a blossom that keeps going two roots.
Maca Root: Roots have shades extending from light yellow to dark through the tan, purple, and so on with sizes of 3-6 cm. transverse measurement of 4-7 cm. longitudinal, in the same way as a radish (reversed cone). The root is first in the improvement of items. There is no true distinction in taste or substance organization as the color of the root.
Stem: Short, subtle, in the same way as a carrot or radish.
Leaves: rosette, made with flanges sheath, petiole length with the top leveled. Limbo compound, has a length of 6 to 9 cm; the basal and cauline pinnatifid are somewhat lessened.
Inflorescence: group compound and infrequently basic. The blooms structure bunches, are helper bisexual, actinomorphic, green light and little, white pre-flowering calyx and corolla with 4 free petals somewhat bent at the peak.
Soil grown foods: units somewhat amagrinado. With a solitary seed in each one cell, ovoid, yellowish-red, 1-2 mm. wide.
Maca – Cultivation
Cultivola Maca is developed fundamentally for its tuberous root is naturally known as hipocolito (eg radish, turnip). The maca plant has the astonishing quality to develop to unprecedented statures (from 3800 to 4800 meters) in the unfriendly Puna Peruvian where temperatures are great: the serious high temperature of the morning to the sub zero frost of the night.
The puna is a pleasant yet great condition in this environmental locale is uncommon vegetation, just potatoes become astringent and maca. The air contains little oxygen, the sun is amazingly exceptional and extremely solid winds, it is consequently that no trees and plants have just a couple of centimeters tall.Maca planting is carried out from September to December. The seeds are scattered in the fields to be reaped in 6 to 8 months. After Recolta the roots to dry in the sun for 2 months, amid which they lose 75% of its unique weight. This moderate drying methodology causes the maca change of taste: an intense hot taste with a caramel flavor. The dried root could be put away for 4 years without losing its properties.
The Health Benefits OF Avocado Oil
March 08, 2014 09:02 AM
Benefits of avocado
Avocado oil has a high attention of healthier fats and supplement E, that is a fabulous epidermis lotion. Icy pressed virgin avocado oil, taken consistently, may help decrease levels of cholesterol and ensure against coronary illness.
Actually avocado oil holds its own particular emulsifier, lecithin, and additionally the cancer prevention agents Vitamin An and Vitamin E that likewise help to administer a young looking skin. These cell reinforcement vitamins annihilate the free radicals that execute your skin cells and make you look more advanced in years. Avocado oil can help you to continue looking more youthful as you develop sequentially more senior. It likewise holds vitamin D that is so paramount in large portions of the natural methodologies inside your skin - it is not called the 'Daylight vitamin' to no end.
Grape Fruit Pectin Fiber
October 21, 2008 12:56 PM
Grapefruit pectin fiber is a source of soluble fiber that can bind to cholesterol and inhibit the formation of atherosclerosis. It is also effective in maintaining good blood sugar levels, and promoting a healthy colon. However, before discussing how grapefruit pectin fiber works in these ways, it is first necessary to explain how they occur in the first place.
First cholesterol. This is a steroid lipid, most of which is biosynthesized by your body rather than being present in your diet. Although it has a bad name health wise, cholesterol is actually essential to good health because it helps your digestive system break down fast, it strengthens cell walls and is a major ingredient in the manufacture of vitamin D by your liver. It is also essential for the formation of several hormones, including cortisone, cortisol and aldosterone by the adrenal glands, and also of estrogen and testosterone. A bloodstream without cholesterol is therefore not good for you.
Given that cholesterol is essential for good health, then why does it have such a bad press? The root cause of that is that cholesterol is not water soluble, and to be carried round the bloodstream to where it is needed it needs some transport. For that, it uses low density lipoproteins (LDLs). However, it’s not a return journey, and to get back they must use another form of lipid known as a high density lipoprotein (HDL). The protein part is water soluble, wile the lipid part can attach to the cholesterol and carry it around the bloodstream.
The problem arises with free radicals, which are oxygenated molecules that are generated by the body’s metabolism, and also created from pollutants, such as pesticides and cigarette smoke, and the UV portion of Daylight. These can oxidize the low density lipoproteins so that they can be attacked by phagocytes (while blood cells) deposited as plaques in the artery walls. This hardens and thickens the arteries, reducing the heart’s blood supply which in turn can cause strokes and heart attacks.
This can be prevented in a number ways, the major of which are by consuming plenty antioxidants in your food, mostly contained in phytochemicals (plant chemicals), reducing your LDL cholesterol levels to the minimum needed by your body, and also by increasing the HDL levels in your bloodstream by as much as possible.
Grapefruit pectin fiber can bind to cholesterol, and prevent it from being deposited in the artery walls by the oxidized LDL. A sixteen week double blind study (neither the subjects nor those carrying out the test and analyzing the results knew who were given the placebo) found that grapefruit pectin successful reduced the low density cholesterol level of 27 subjects by 10.8% and overall plasma cholesterol by 7.6%. These volunteers were at a medium to high risk of atherosclerosis due to a high LDL cholesterol concentration in their blood.
Animal studies have also been carried out, whereby animals were fed a high cholesterol diet, and those fed a high fat diet were found to have an average of 45% narrowing of their arteries, and those fed the same diet, but with added grapefruit pectin fiber, were found to have only 25% narrowing, thus corresponding with the results of the human volunteers.
It is essential that you maintain a stable level of sugar in your blood since the body reacts to low blood glucose by making you feel hungry, and thereby forcing you eat. If you are trying to lose weight you will find it very difficult if your blood sugar levels fluctuate. Grapefruit pectin can reduce the rate at which carbohydrates enter your bloodstream, and therefore the rate at which sugars are absorbed.
Studies have also indicated that pectin can even out your blood sugar concentration, so that you experience fewer fluctuations or sudden spikes that can make you feel either very hungry, and so binge on carbohydrates, or very satisfied so that you eat nothing at all. The maintenance of a stable level of glucose in the blood is necessary for a normal life since it is that that determine your need to eat food. If your blood sugar is low, the desire to eat high calorie carbohydrate food is uncontrollable.
This is the theory behind the so-called ‘grapefruit diet’. You eat a grapefruit prior to a meal, and allow it to be digested. The grapefruit pectin will make you feel full and so eat less, so that you can eat normal foods, but still lose weight. Many people take the grapefruit pectin in supplement form for its ease and economy of use. It is also more convenient since you don’t have to carry grapefruit around with you everywhere you go.
A Healthy Colon
Like any other soluble fiber, grapefruit pectin fiber is a dietary fiber that can help to maintain the health of your colon. In fact it is the only one of the basic four fibers of lignin, cellulose, hemicelluloses and pectin that is soluble. Although referred to as soluble, pectin softens and expands and provides substance and added weight to faeces in order to allow it to pass easier through your colon.
Other than ensuring the easy passage of your stool through your colon, and avoiding constipation, grapefruit pectin fiber can help to prevent excessive growth of bad bacteria in the intestine, and because it accelerates the passage of substances through the colon, there is less time for toxic or cancerous substances to be in contact with your bowel lining. It is that which causes bowel cancer, and grapefruit pectin fiber can help to prevent it.
Fiber can also help to prevent diverticulosis, where the intestinal wall develops small sacs and becomes weakened. It also prevents hemorrhoids, eases the symptoms of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). In short, it offers many benefits for the health of your colon, and can help to cure many bowel conditions.
However, it is important that you don't just rush into using any form of dietary fiber, but take it gradually. You start with a small intake, and then increase it slowly; since it is not absorbed through the intestine too much can lie in your colon and ferment, causing any number of intestinal problems. When used properly it can ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, but if used to excess, or too quickly, can actually cause the same symptoms, in addition to blocking the absorption of essential minerals such as iron, zinc and calcium.
Grapefruit pectin fiber can do a great deal for health, including maintaining good blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and helping to keep your colon healthy. It is available in convenient supplement form, but make sure that you drink sufficient liquid each day in order to prevent the fiber blocking your intestine rather than allowing free passage of waste product into, through, and out of your colon.
July 03, 2008 08:58 AM
Serotonin has not only been shown to regulate sleep, but it also is responsible for controlling mood, including feelings of optimism, relaxation, general sense of well-being, and the ability to focus and concentrate. When serotonin levels drop, it can lead to a lowered mood, which is what people experience with seasonal affective disorder, premenstrual syndrome, and general stress. People who experience these conditions also have been shown to experience decreased levels of tryptophan, which is responsible for the decrease in production of serotonin. Tryptophan depletion has been associated with a lowering in mood of normal healthy men. In one study, women who had recovered from major depression and ended drug treatment experienced temporary but clinically significant depressive symptoms after tryptophan depletion. In many studies that were performed in the 1970s, indications of trytophan’s ability to relieve lowered mood were found.
When shorter days begin in the fall and winter, negative effects on a significant percent of the U.S. population result. Some experience sadness, sleepiness, increased appetite, weight gain, and a loss of libido, which is what is known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). A key contributor to this is the increased synthesis of melatonin that occurs during the winter months. Daylight normally inhibits the conversion of serotonin into melatonin. Since the period of nighttime is longer in the winter versus the summer, there is a longer period of melatonin secretion. Increased synthesis of melatonin depletes serotonin levels, which, in turn, increase the symptoms of SAD. Those patients who experience SAD tend to crave starchy foods and sweets more, which happens when brain serotonin levels are low.
Tryptophan treatment may offer a substantial amount of help for people who are suffering from seasonal affective disorder. SAD patients who were treated with either light therapy or with tryptophan proved that patients with light therapy relapsed more quickly after the discontinued use, as apposed to those who were treated with tryptophan. Studies have also shown that SAD patients often feel better after being treated with tryptophan.
Serotonin also plays an important role in behavioral inhibition. Many studies have found that there is a decrease in aggressive behavior when serotonin is increased, while decreasing serotonin leads to impulsive aggressive behavior. Another study proves that healthy men who are depleted of tryptophan show more aggressiveness. When tryptophan supplementation was studied, participants who received the tryptophan significantly decreased their quarrelsome behavior and increased in sociable and agreeable behavior. Additionally, those patients’ perceptions of other participants’ agreeableness also increased.
Symptoms that are related to premenstrual syndrome include depression, cravings for foods that a rich in carbohydrates, insomnia, irritability, and hostility. More so, women with premenstrual syndrome dysphoria, which is a more severe premenstrual syndrome, have shown decreased levels of brain serotonin. This suggests that tryptophan may be involved, as premenstrual women who had tryptophan depletion have shown increased aggressive behavior. When tryptophan supplementation was studied on women who experienced premenstrual dysphoric disorder, mood swings, tension, and irritability, results showed that there were significantly greater improvements with l-tryptophan supplementation than with a placebo.
June 13, 2005 01:18 PM
by Cal Orey Energy Times, August 2, 1999
Depression plagues the creative and the mundane. The disparate desperate driven to distress by depression include painters, poets, actors and musicians as well as truck drivers, clerks, electricians and physicists. The victim list encompasses Vincent van Gogh, Emily Dickinson, Audrey Hepburn, Virginia Woolf and Ludwig von Beethoven, as well as millions of other sharers of melancholy misery.
More than 17 million American men and women experience depression in one form or another every year, according to the National Mental Health Association (NMHA) in Alexandria, Virginia. This includes the deeply destructive major, or clinical, depression, the wide mood swings of bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), and dysthymia, a milder, long-lasting form of emotional suffering.
Twice as Many Women In the depression scenario, women suffer twice as much: Two times as many women as men endure clinical depression, reports the NMHA. The mood-deteriorating effects of the hormonal disruptions women are heir to may be partly to blame.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about one of 10 Americans wades through at least one depressive swamp sometime during his or her life.
The good news: Research shows that diet and lifestyle can lower your risk of depression.
Birth of the Blues
Nowadays, mounting evidence suggests that depression may result more from physiological factors than psychological woes.
Some of the hidden reasons why you may be depressed include: nutritional deficiencies, exacerbated by overdosing on too much caffeine, sugar, alcohol and high fat foods; allergies; anxiety and chronic stress; and a chemical imbalance in the brain's gray matter. According to the NMHA, people with depression often possess too little or too large a quantity of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine. Changes in levels of these brain chemicals may cause, or contribute to, clinical depression.
The NMHA also reports that an imbalance of melatonin, a chemical made by the body's pineal gland (located at the base of the brain), contributes to a form of wintertime depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This hormone is made at increased levels in the dark. Therefore, the body may oversupply this hormone during winter's shortened Daylight hours.
Since the B vitamins are often involved in the production of energy, and a large component of depression may encompass the inability to get out of bed and deal with the world, experts believe that at least some of the signs of depression are linked to B deficiencies. For instance, studies cited in the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (Prima) by Michael Murray, ND and Joseph Pizzorno, ND, demonstrate that folate deficiency and lack of vitamin B12 can compromise mental health (Drugs 45, 1993: 623-36; Lancet 336, 1990: 392-5).
Inositol: This vitamin is also part of the B vitamin complex, and it, too, has shown its ability to lift spirits. Research work in Israel shows that daily inositol given to 28 depressed patients for four weeks produced an overall positive effect. (Eur Neuropsychopharmacol 7:2, May 1997: 147-55). Inositol is found in whole, unprocessed grains, citrus fruits (except lemons) and brewer's yeast.
NADH: Allan Magaziner, DO, in his book The Idiot's Complete Guide To Living Longer & Healthier (Alpha), reports that brain energizing NADH, a metabolite of vitamin B3, enhances the production of the key neurotransmitters dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin. "In a recent clinical trial," he claims, "nearly all patients given NADH for depression reported improvement in their symptoms and the absence of side effects or adverse reactions."
Another substance winning the spotlight for its effect on mood is SAM-e: S-adenosylmethionine. In New York on February 24, a symposium coordinated by the American Health Foundation met to hear researchers present information from studies of SAM-e's ability to possibly ease depression.
"SAM-e is a natural product. You and I have it but as people age it declines in production in the body. And that's why we believe supplementation in older people is a beneficial means of bringing that back up and helping people that have depression," said the lead symposium researcher, John H. Weisburger, PhD, MD, Director Emeritus, American Health Foundation in Valhalla, New York.
Another researcher, Teodoro Bottiglieri, PhD, Associate Professor of Biomedical Studies and Neurology, Director of Neuropharmacology at Baylor University reported: "SAM-e has been shown to enhance brain dopamine and serotonin neurotransmitter metabolism and receptor function. It may also aid in the repair of myelin that surrounds nerve cells. These mechanisms are likely to be responsible for the antidepressant effect of SAM-e."
(Bottiglieri is co-author with Richard Brown, MD, and Carol Colman of Stop Depression Now, a report on the powers of SAM-e just published by G.P. Putnam's Sons.)
SAM-e was first touted as an antidepressant in Italy in 1973. It's been reported that nearly 40 clinical trials demonstrate its beneficial effects as a natural antidepressant.
For instance, an analysis of more than 1000 people suffering depression showed that the effect of antidepressants in patients taking SAM-e was 17% to 38% better than dummy preparations. Conventional antidepressants show a 20% effectiveness rate (Bressa G. Acta Neurol Scand S154, 1994: 7-14).
5-HTP: Another popular supplement to boost mood and relieve depression is hydroxytryptophan. "This medication is actually a brain chemical that is metabolized from tryptophan into serotonin," says Magaziner. And since low serotonin levels have been linked with depression, and certain prescribed medications may up serotonin levels, 5-HTP is in demand.
"One of the more impressive studies supporting the efficacy of 5-HTP for depression evaluated 100 people who had previously found conventional antidepressant therapy to be inadequate. Forty-three of these folks reported a complete recovery, and eight showed significant improvement," reports Magaziner. Not only has 5-HTP been shown to work slightly better than drugs known as SSRIs (these include Prozac), he adds, it has fewer side effects than standard antidepressants, too. DHEA: Medical experts also believe that levels of the hormone DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) may influence mood. Ray Sahelian, MD, in his book All About DHEA (Avery) reports an interesting study conducted by Dr. Owen Wolkowitz of the Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco. A group of six depressed middle-aged and elderly individuals who took DHEA found that within a month they had better memory and mood. (Biological Psychiatry 41, 1997: 311-18.) "In addition," adds Sahelian, "other studies have also found that DHEA increases energy levels and a sense of well being." But follow package directions: Some people complain of greater irritability and overstimulation with DHEA, when they take large amounts.
St. John's wort: still the most touted natural therapy for defeating depression. In Europe, 23 clinical studies, reviewed in the August 3, 1996 British Medical Journal, found that this herb, also known as Hypericum perforatum, can be helpful in alleviating cases of mild to moderate depression. The work, which included 757 patients, has shown that hypericum produced fewer side effects than conventional anti-depressants.
Although experts have never satisfactorily explained exactly how St. John's wort benefits the brain, some theorize that it boosts serotonin levels. And it can help SAD sufferers.
"In a recent study of 20 people with SAD, four weeks' worth of St. John's wort significantly alleviated feelings of depression. Those people who added full-spectrum lights to the treatment program gained an even greater benefit," notes Dr. Magaziner.
Valerian: Anxiety and stress, which can cause depression and insomnia, may be helped by this herb, says the prolific Dr. Sahelian in his book Kava: The Miracle Antianxiety Herb (St. Martin's). In 101 Medicinal Herbs (Interweave), Steven Foster reports that "Ten controlled clinical studies have been published on valerian...one of which suggests that valerian should be used for two to four weeks before daily mood and sleep patterns improve."
Amino Acid Help
Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, may also help improve mood. (For more on protein, see page 65.) These chemicals are used by the body to construct neurotransmitters, brain chemicals that facilitate mental activity.
For instance, the amino acid L-tyrosine is necessary for the formation of transmitters adrenaline and dopamine. This substance, therefore, is given to alleviate depression and anxiety.
The substance L-dopa which is given to victims of Parkinson's disease is concocted from tyrosine. And several antidepressants alleviate bad moods by boosting the interaction of brain chemicals related to tyrosine.
In addition, since tyrosine is used to make adrenaline, this amino acid may be helpful for folks trying to cope with the mood problems related to stress.
Another amino acid that experts believe useful for better moods, L-methionine, is used by the body to make choline, a crucial substance for brain function. (Choline goes into the formation of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter.)
Methionine has been given to people suffering from schizophrenia and depression as well as to those with Parkinson's. Methionine plays a number of crucial roles in the brain and body since it helps form other vital proteins.
For those concerned about preserving a positive mood, researchers are positive that smoking worsens depression. A study at the Department of Behavioral Services at the Henry Ford Health System in Michigan found that daily smokers run twice the risk for major depression compared to those who only smoked occasionally.
Unfortunately, the investigators found that not only did smoking seem to lead to depression, depression, in turn, led to more smoking (Archives of General Psychiatry, 2/99).
"Smokers who have depression tend to see their smoking become a daily habit and it may be because they use nicotine to medicate their depressed mood," reported Naomi Breslau, PhD, who headed the research. Over a five year period, the researchers looked at about a thousand young people aged 21 to 30. They found that daily smokers generally start smoking in adolescence, and those who report early depression are three times as likely to eventually become daily smokers.
If you're feeling down, don't give up hope. Although depression can prove to be a depressingly complicated malady, daily, healthy habits can offset its effects. Getting consistent exercise, dousing your cigarettes and turning to herbal and nutritional help to treat mild depression may defeat those blues.
Don't Be Blue - Does winter got you singing the blues?
June 13, 2005 09:49 AM
Don't Be Blue by Phyllis D. Light, RH Energy Times, October 10, 2003
Have the gray skies of winter got you singing the blues? Do you feel tired, lost your creative spark, need extra sleep, can't get control of your appetite? If you nod in agreement to these queries, you may be one of the millions of people affected by SAD (seasonal affective disorder), also known as the "winter blues" or "cabin fever." Time to lighten up, throw off those lowdown winter blues and step up to more enjoyable feelings. Experts who study the winter blahs now acknowledge that you can blame much of winter's crankiness, moodiness and restlessness on short, cloudy days and a lack of sunlight. Low levels of sunlight trigger changes in hormones, increasing levels of melatonin (a hormone that normally helps you go to sleep) and decreasing serotonin (a hormone that improves mood). For many people, this hormonal tumult translates into a craving for sugary foods, a need for more sleep and a reduced sex drive.
Although the exact cause of SAD is not known, researchers believe the pineal gland plays an important role in this disorder. This gland, located beneath the brain, makes melatonin in response to the amount of light that enters your eyes. Melatonin hormone is only produced in darkness. The darker your bedroom, the greater your melatonin production.
Conversely, melatonin production usually stops in the morning when you open your eyes to the day's new light. But research shows that the production of melatonin climbs too high in folks who suffer from SAD. That excessive amount of the hormone results in a sedative effect upon the body.
Many people with SAD suffer muscular aches and pains, along with headaches and a faltering immune system. Consequently, they often feel like they have the flu all winter long.
More women than men suffer from SAD (and, apparently, depression in general), though the reason is unclear.
According to Norman Rosenthal, MD, author of Winter Blues (Guilford Press), "about 6% of the US population may suffer from SAD, with an additional 14% suffering from subsyndromal [less severe] SAD." Because less sunlight reaches the northern latitudes, folks in Washington state and Alaska suffer the highest rates of SAD. People in sun-soaked Florida suffer the least.
How do you escape SAD? If a winter vacation to the sunny South is out of the question for you, a natural program can brighten the wintry gray days and provide relief.
Turn on the Light
The most common treatment for SAD is light (also called phototherapy), which cuts back the body's manufacture of melatonin. Sitting in front of a special light box for about 30 minutes each morning during the winter months can often offset SAD. But the effects of this treatment vary from individual to individual, and some may be more sensitive to the light therapy than others.
For artificial light treatment, consult an appropriately trained healthcare professional who can design a plan that finds the optimal intensity, length and time of day for the treatment that best works for you. Researchers at Columbia University have found that timing the light therapy with the nuances of a person's biological clock doubles its effectiveness (Archives of General Psychiatry 1/15/01).
On the other hand, walking in natural light can banish these problems, and research finds that natural light frequently offers the best results (Journal of Affective Disorders 1996 Apr 12; 37(2-3):109-20). In this study, people either participated in a daily walk outdoors in natural light or were treated for half an hour in artificial light. At the end of the study, participants were tested for melatonin and cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Both were found to be lower after exposure to natural light than artificial light.
Roll up those sleeves when you're outdoors this winter: Curiously enough, studies show that light produces physiological effects by being absorbed through both the eyes and the skin.
Research now shows that light on the skin alters the hemoglobin in the blood. "This research suggests that SAD might be a disorder of the blood rather than a brain disorder," says Dan A. Oren, MD, of the Yale University School of Medicine (Science 1/12/98).
Vitamin D Need
If you suffer from seasonal depression, you may also not be getting enough vitamin D. During the sun-reduced winter months, stores of this fat-soluble vitamin drop, since the skin makes it when exposed to sunlight. When you step out into Daylight, the sebaceous glands near the surface of your body produce an oily substance from cholesterol that rises to the skin's surface. Then, ultraviolet B rays from the sun convert this oily substance (7-dehydrocholesterol) into what is called previtamin D3. Finally, body heat converts previtamin D3 into vitamin D3 (a form of vitamin D).
Twenty minutes of daily sunlight exposure on the hands, arms and face can give adequate amounts of vitamin D to light-skinned people. Dark-skinned people may need longer exposure. Supplements can help: In one study, researchers found that people who took vitamin D had significant improvement in depression scale scores (Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging 1999; 3(1):5-7).
As far as vitamin D production goes, you can never receive too much sunlight (although overexposure resulting in a burn is never a good idea). The body absorbs vitamin D from the skin as needed and never accepts more than is required. (If you take supplements, follow package directions so you don't get too much of a good thing.) Food sources of vitamin D include eggs, fortified milk, cod liver oil, salmon and other fish.
Walk Away the Blues
Research also shows that exercise can chase the winter blues and that a little bit of exertion goes a long way. Exercise physiologists at Duke University found that little as eight minutes of physical activity can improve your mood.
Exercise stimulates the brain to produce endorphins, feel-good hormones that help reduce pain and depression. Physical activity can also increase serotonin levels, those neurotransmitters that brighten emotions. These two hormones work together to make you feel better: Serotonin improves the functioning of your mind while endorphins produce beneficial effects on your body. In one study, researchers reported that exercise increased vitality and improved mood even in cases of prolonged depression (Psychological Medicine 1998 Nov; 28(6):1359-64).
To banish SAD, engage in an outdoor activity in natural light, or get active indoors under bright lights.
As you can see, much of the research into low, wintry moods suggests that sun worshippers may have been right all along: Exposure in winter to our friendly, local neighborhood star offers impressive mood benefits.