Search Term: " Eleuherococcus "
A review of the adaptogenic properties of Eleutherococcus
October 24, 2013 09:24 AM
What is elutherococcus
Eleutherococcus, also called Siberian ginseng, is a medicinal plant that belongs to the ginseng family. It is normally found in forests that are located at regions that lie about 800 meters above the sea level. Male Eleutherococcus plants are characterized by violet flowers while their female counterparts bear yellow flowers. The leaves and berries of this plant has medicinal values and in fact, it is considered a perfect substitute to ginseng.
How does it work?
Its functioning is similar to that of ginseng. It possesses various properties that are known to bring amazing effects on the health. Basically, the extracts from this plant are used as therapeutic products. The y are know to have adaptogenic effects. It is normally prescribed to individuals who are battling with cardiovascular and energy problems. It is also a mood enhancing product. //www.drugs.com/npc/eleutherococcus.html
Since it is a good adaptogen, the plant is normally used to treat physical and mental stress. According to medical practitioners, adaptogens are substances that helps in adjusting to situations and scenarios that are stressful. In order to facilitate this, the substance nourishes adrenal glands that are designed to regulate various hormones in the body. It also works by increasing the functioning of the white blood cells. It has been identified that regular use of this product will enable an individual to improve his/her endurance thus resulting in improved mood. //www.tasteforlife.com/nutrition-plus/medicinal-herbs/eleuthero-powerful-adaptogen
Other benefits of this product include:
There are several benefits that accrue to any one who uses this product. For instance, it promote metabolism in the body. In addition, it is a good bone-strengthening herb and that is why it is recommended for those with weak bones.
The bottom line
Provided that it is used as recommended, any user should expect nothing less than the best results. It is one of the safest herbs that you will ever find.
What Are The Different Types Of Ginseng And What Is Ginseng Good For?
December 16, 2011 06:44 AM
Ginseng is a considered to be a perennial plant which is a member of the Panax genus under the family of Araliaceae. It is abundantly found in North America, East Asia and other places which have a cool climate. There are many types of ginseng. Though different in kind, all these species of ginseng contains the active ingredient known as ginsenosides. This chemical substance is the one responsible for the many health benefits of ginseng.
The types of Ginseng are:
1. PANAX GINSENG. This type of ginseng is also known as Asian ginseng. It is very rich in ginsenosides which proves that it is included among the types of true ginseng.
2. PANAX QUINQUEFOLIUS. This ginseng has an effective adaptogenic property. It is otherwise known as American ginseng. This herb is also considered as a true ginseng.
3. ELEUTHEROCOCCUS SENTICOSUS. The other name for this herb is Siberian ginseng. However, it is not considered as a true ginseng because it does not contain ginsenosides but eleutherosides. Also, ginseng has a fleshy root while this herb has a woody one. Despite their differences, Siberian ginseng also has similar effects to true ginseng herbs. It has an adaptogenic property which can effectively improve the overall health of the individual.
As mentioned above, ginseng has many benefits to human health. These include:
1. IMMUNE SYSTEM BOOSTER. Ginseng contains several vitamins and minerals which can be helpful in improving the immune system as well as the overall health of the individual. Studies have shown that ginseng has an ample amount of Vitamin C which can help maintain the health and strength of the body’s immune system. As a result, ginseng can effectively improve health especially those who are one the recovery phase of an illness.
2. LOWERS BLOOD GLUCOSE. Asian ginseng is noted for its potential ability to help regulate blood sugar levels. This is made possible because of its action in the stomach and intestine to control the absorption of glucose from the diet. In this connection, health experts highly recommend that individuals under diabetic therapy must use ginseng with extra care because it might cause hypoglycemia or low level of sugar in the blood.
3. AFFECTS BLOOD PRESSURE. Ginseng can produce an effect to the blood pressure of the individual, either high or low blood pressure. Depending on the dosage and the person’s response, ginseng can effectively maintain blood pressure within it normal limits.
4. IMPROVES THE OVERALL STATE OF HEALTH. Many ginseng consumers have reported that they experience an increased sense of well – being with their regular use of such helpful herb. It is also commonly used for the improvement of one’s stamina and endurance in performing many mental and physical tasks.
Ginseng can be consumed raw. Others use dried roots of this herb. Supplements are also available in the form of tablets, extracts and teas. Ointments and creams are also formulated for topical administration. If you plan to use ginseng for a particular health indication, make sure to talk to your doctor first since ginseng can have significant effect to the body as mentioned above. This will greatly prevent adverse effects and interactions with other medications you are taking.
September 22, 2008 09:48 AM
Panax is a type of perennial plant with fleshy roots, and grows in Eastern Asia. Ginsengs contain ginsenosides that are triterpene saponins, steroidal compounds that are found only in Panax ginseng. The effects of these saponins are difficult to establish, but they are believed to be behind the properties of ginseng.
Panax ginseng is found predominantly in Korea, China and Siberia, although a genus has also been found in Vietnam. Panax are adaptogenic herbs that help promote resistance to anxiety, fatigue and stress, and are said to adapt the body to resist a number of different stressors. It has been proposed that adaptogenic herbs can balance the endocrine hormones of the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal axis.
They also normalize the immune system, and increase the activity of phagocytes, the killer cells. Additionally, they not only help to maintain homeostasis, but are believed to go further and act as allostatic agents, adapting response to maintain system stability in a more dynamic fashion, by changing interactive functions as opposed to the individual adaption’s made in homeostasis.
Not all ginsengs are the same, and although Siberian ginseng is an adaptogen, it is not a true ginseng. Its roots are woody rather than fleshy, and it contains eleutherosides as opposed to ginsenosides. These also are triterpenoid saponins, but of a different adaptogen. The herb is actually Eleutherococcus senticosus as opposed to Panax ginseng and P. quinquefolius, both true ginsengs. Siberian ginseng was misnamed as a marketing ploy.
American ginseng is Panax quinquefolius, sometimes referred to by the Chinese as Huaqishen. It, too, is an adaptogen and a true ginseng, containing ginsenosides. However, it contains much less ginsenonide Rg1 than panax. This ginsenonide appears to possess estrogen-like activity and improves spatial learning. The other forms of ginesonide found in panax ginseng are:
Ginsenoside Rb1: This appears in greatest concentration in American ginseng, and appears to have an effect on the reproductive system. It not only has an effect on the testicles, but is believed to increase testosterone production through its stimulating effect on luteinizing hormone. It also helps to rdeduce the incidence of angiogenesis, which is the formation of new blood vessels from old, and also a stage in the development of malignant tumors from dormant ones.
Ginsenoside Rc: this possesses sedative properties, and in a study on breast cancer was found to have an effect in inhibiting the growth of these particular cancer cells. Ginsenoside Rc might therefore have use in the treatment or prevention of breast cancer. Studies have also suggested that this ginsenoside could increase the motility of sperm: the motiliy of sperm was found to increase significantly in a solution of ginsenoside Rc.
Ginsenoside Rf: this is present only in panax ginseng, and studies have indicate that it has an inhibitory effect on the Ca2+ neural channels in the brain, and so cokld have an analgesic effect. Studies have as yet failed to explain this effect that is seen in animal tests, but are continuing on this ginsenoside.
Ginsenoside Re: this ginsenoside has strong antioxidant effects and has a significant antidiabetic effect in that is reduces insulin resistance, which is likely why ginseng is taken to treat Type 2 diabetes. Studies are ongoing into the properties of this ginsenoside, and also on the other 10 or more that are known to be present in Panax ginseng. The effects of ginseng are difficult to establish with certainity because they work through so many different pathways and it is difficult to isolate one. More than one ginsenoside, for example, affects the calcium channels in the brain, and it is difficult to determine which does what.
There are fewer ginsenosides in Panax quinquefoilius, and in the USA it is only the panax version that can be traded as simply ‘ginseng’. One of the main problems with all ginsengs is that although it is one of the most studied plants, the majority of the studies have been on animals, and due to this, and the difficulties caused by the multiple pathways described earlier, many of the postulations have not been proved in humans.
However, if the theory as it is know today is taken into consideration along with the traditional uses of ginseng in traditional Indian (ayurvedic), Chinese and Native American medicine, it would be fairly accurate to say that ginseng is useful in helping your body to recover after illness or surgery, and to help you to deal with stress. It has also been proved to lower your blood glucose (sugar) levels, and help in the treatment of Type II diabetes, as already mentioned. There is evidence that it helps to boost your mental performance, memory and might help to slow down the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Ginseng can also give a boost to your energy levels, and it is genarally accepted that panax ginseng is more effective than the American version. In traditional medicine, Asian ginseng is said to be warming, and the American variery cooling. Thus Panax ginseng is useful for people recovering from illness and trying to recover their strength, acts as a tonic, stimulant and supports the immune system. In other words it helps the body to get whole again after being depleted.
It should not be used if you get very hot and red, such as with heat stroke, unless you use it in combination with the American version, because these are conditions of high yang and this type of ginseng will increase the yang even further.
American ginseng, on the other hand, is good for those with fevers, hypertension (high blood pressure), and suffereing the effcts of heat. It helps build the yin and reduce the yang, so if you always feel flushed and hot or are hyperactive then go for the American, and if you easily get chilled or find your hands and feet get cold very easily, reach for the Asian ginseng to increase your yang.
You often find ginseng as an ingredient in soft drinks, but the concentration is so low that it has no metabolic or pharmacological effect. The dose to be taken should be as stated on the pack, since there is no specific standardization. It has been noted that the effects can be lost if an excess of ginseng is taken, but generally the herb is safe and if you feel a bit down or lacking in energy, ginseng can work wonders for you.
May 28, 2008 01:36 PM
Eleutherococcus, better known as Siberian Ginseng, is best known for increasing endurance and stamina in people who use it on a regular basis. It is also known for its properties that aid the body in fighting fatigue and stress. Keeping both of these physical stressors under control will improve the body’s ability to optimize physical and mental performance.
Eleutherococcus is an adaptogen. This means that it will help the body maintain a normal adrenal function in order to reduce stress and combat disease. This species of ginseng is generally used for boosting and maintaining the immune system. It plays a major role in increasing resistance to mild infections and colds.
How to Use Eleutherococcus
This herbal product should be taken by mouth. The dosage will depend on the source of the herb and the purpose of its use. As with any species of ginseng, Eleutherococcus may cause sleep difficulties. It is; therefore, wise to avoid taking the product near your usual bedtime. It is also recommended that you do not take Eleutherococcus for more than three weeks at a time continual use will reduce its effectiveness.
What Does it Work for?
* Fatigue (physical and psychological). Fatigue is one of the most common complaints of people in the general population. It often poses a problem for the patient, as well as the physician trying to treat them. It is usually caused by endocrine dysfunction of the thyroid and/or adrenal glands.
* Hypothyroidism. This is caused when there is low thyroid hormone function. The result is less energy production at the cellular level. This causes the metabolic rate of the body to plummet. The thyroid also controls growth, transcription of genes, carbohydrate and fat metabolism, heart rate, blood volume heartbeat, muscle contraction, digestion, gastrointestinal function and endocrine hormones.
* Low adrenal function. The adrenal glands secrete steroid hormones including cortisol, aldosterone, and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). An imbalance in these hormones can cause a wealth of other health problems. It can also activate a regular stress response in the body, which takes its toll on overall healthy function of the body and mind.
Common side effects of using Siberian Ginseng may include agitation, headache, nervousness and trouble sleeping. If you experience diarrhea, fast or irregular heartbeat, skin rash or unusual vaginal bleeding, discontinue use and contact your pharmacist or physician immediately.
Who Should Not Use Eleutherococcus
If you suffer from any of the following health problems, you should consult a physician before using Eleutherococcus:
* Cancer * Fever * High blood pressure * Low blood pressure * Diabetes * Heart problems * Allergies
If you have allergy issues with any species of ginseng, you should avoid all of them. Ginseng may lower blood sugar levels. Diabetic patients should carefully monitor their blood levels while taking this product. Liquid forms of this product may contain sugar and/or alcohol. If you suffer from diabetes, alcoholism or liver disease, use extreme caution. This product is not recommended for use by women who are pregnant or breast-feeding.
It is important to consult your pharmacist or someone you know is trained and educated in the use of Eleutherococcus. Some products have been found to contain additives and impurities that may be harmful to the consumer. Only use the purest forms of Siberian Ginseng that are available to you.
Aside from the specific conditions listed, Eleutherococcus can play an important role in the overall health of the mind and body. Every aspect of our physical health relies on the health and normal function of all of our internal systems. Our psychological health also relies on these systems all working in unison with each other. A healthy and balanced mental state requires an ever-present inner harmony.
Supplements for Sexual health!
April 17, 2007 02:35 PM
Improving Sexual Performance Naturally
Sex. It’s everywhere. It’s on TV (a lot!). It’s in the books we read and the movies we watch. Even the radio seems a veritable hot bed of sex. (what would hard rock, soft jazz, or Motown classics be without songs about sex?) Magazines are full of sex and it’s not just the “naughty” ones with glossy centerfolds. From Sports Illustrated to Good Housekeeping, sex makes for titillating headlines and cover stories. In fact, 21st Century
No one really knows for sure how many of the 113 million married Americans are living as couples with DINS (dual income, no sex). Estimates range from 15 to 50 percent. Even couples who have sex fairly often feel like they’re not having enough sex or that it’s not as enjoyable as it was in the past, or both. And while women are stereotyped as the sex refusers and avoiders, surveys show that both women and men decline spousal advances fairly equally.
What’s really interesting about this lack of sexual activity in
As a medicine hunter, I have discovered effective plants and herbs al over the planet that really do improve orgasms in women and erections in men. Now it’s your turn. I’m going to teach you how to enhance your sexuality and introduce you to an entire arsenal of libido lifting plants to help make sex fun, vibrant, and satisfying for both you and your partner.
Q. These plants sound too good to be true. Do they really work?
A. Yes, they do. Part of their success is their ability to work with your body’s innate mechanisms for healthy sex. Good sex is much more than just stimulated body parts. But it’s a good place to start!
A man needs an erect penis that remains firm past foreplay and on into intercourse. He also needs to sustain that erection and experience forceful and pleasurable ejaculation when he and his partner are both ready for his orgasm. A woman needs to feel desire and feel desired for her nipples to be aroused, her clitoris stimulated, and her vagina lubricated – the basics leading to her orgasm.
Plants that enhance sex can help men and women obtain these bare necessities of sex. And unlike other supplements, you’ll know if the medicinal plant you’ve purchased is actually doing what it promised to do. You can’t really tell if the calcium supplement you take each day is making your bones stronger. But you will be able to tell pretty soon if Catuaba, for example, is increasing your sexual desire.
Q. Night after night, my husband falls asleep on the sofa. And the honest to goodness truth is that I’m too tired for sex, too. I love my husband and once upon a time I loved sex. But my job, the kids, those never-ending errands, and trying to keep up with the laundry are too exhausting. Is there a plant that can rev us up?
A. Many women are in the same sexless boat you’re sailing around in and they don’t like it any more than you do. In fact, women all over the world put their family’s needs before their own, leading to some very tired moms and wives.
Life’s demands can also impair sexual performance in men. Work stressors, family demands, and home maintenance result in fatigue and lack of energy. Men find that they have no energy left to devote to to sex at the end of the day.
But, over 80 percent of married couples in the world have at their disposal a health care system that integrates sex into their personal health and well being. For centuries, millennia actually, practitioners of traditional medicine have prescribed Maca and Rhodiola to reduce “sexual fatigue” in women and men who are just too tired to make love.
Q. Since I had a baby four months ago, I have no desire for sex. This is making my husband pretty frustrated and me too, actually. I’d love to want sex again.
A. A married woman with a baby and a toddler or two can feel that her body isn’t really hers. So much for feeling sexy! While this fact can be a source of great pride and joy, it can also drain desire.
As women enter perimenopause – those years when they are still menstruating despite fluctuating estrogen levels – they often have no desire for sex. Since estrogen is the engine that drives women’s reproductive function, when it starts to go, sex goes too. Women who have reached menopause may find their minds wandering during sex. Pondering the car’s need for an oil change or if the milk in the refrigerator has reached its expiration date makes for pretty blah sex. It also makes it nearly impossible to achieve orgasm.
Once more, traditional medicine has some answers:
Q. My husband has a desire for sex, but sometimes it’s not enough. Even if we’re both in the mood, he can’t maintain his erection very long. It’s very frustrating for us both.
A. For men it’s often their equipment that lets them down. As men age, they find they can’t get an erection hard enough or keep an erection long enough to satisfy their partners and themselves.
While women can fake an orgasm if they’re tired, men have to perform every single time they have sex. Luckily, Mother Nature can help:
Q. There are hundreds of supplements that claim to make men hard and women weak with desire. I’ve tried some of these, and they don’t do anything. When should I believe that the herbs and plan medicines you have discovered are nay better?
A. There are a lot of “snake oil” companies out there pitching products that promise to improve our sex lives but do absolutely nothing. One reason for this glut of useless supplements is simple demand. Men and women trying to make their sex lives better, are willing to give most products the benefit of the doubt and buy one or two. Sex sells – and even products that are purchased one time only will make big profits.
To get the most for your money, make sure the sexual supplement you are considering is from a well-respected manufacturer. Ask store staff, surf the Internet, and do some searching for the best nutraceutical companies. Make sure the herbs are standardized and that the extracts are concentrated fro optimal benefit.
Q. Are these sex-enhancing plants safe?
A. Despite years of use by practitioners of traditional medicine, significant adverse effects have not been reported for most sex-enhancing plants. However, men who have already been diagnosed with certain health conditions such as high blood pressure, thyroid disease, prostate problems, or other illnesses should use caution when selecting any health supplement. The same advice applies to women, especially women who are pregnant or nursing. And always remember to keep your doctor informed about the supplements you are using, especially if you are also taking prescription drugs. But the sex-enhancing plants have been traveling on planet Earth for a long, long time. And hopefully they’ll be here for lot longer, continuing to work effectively and go about their business of safely improving orgasms and erections and making sex great for men and women all over the world.
Q. OK, exactly how did early native healers figure out which plants improve sex? Was it just simple trial and error?
A. It does seem pretty remarkable that tribal peoples have discovered the right plants to treat diseases and improve health without modern day scientific advances.
From my many years as a “medicine hunter” in rainforests and grasslands and marshes and mountains, I’ve learned that healing plants exist for virtually every health need. It’s up to the medicine man or women to put the plant into practice. These healers have been able to do this successfully for thousands of people, by intensively studying and working with the plants. By putting themselves into the plant’s world, becoming part of the world around them, native healers have intuitively discovered which plant helps which disease. It wasn’t mere luck that brought all those plants and all those healers together. It was the natural and spiritual connection existing between the two.
Q. Are there other “natural” remedies we can use to improve our sex lives?
A. The easiest way to naturally enhance your sex life is to practice, practice, practice! Because if you don’t use it, you might lose it. Studies have shown that couples in the Amazon rainforest as well as couples in the concrete jungle of New York City have better sex lives if thy make sex a priority. All the sex-enhancing plants in the world are useless if the men and women taking them don’t put them to the test.
Men who smoke need to quit. Research has shown that cigarettes send men’s sex lives up in smoke. Men who smoke more than 20 cigarettes daily have a 60 percent higher risk of erectile dysfunction compared to men who never smoked. That’s because smoking decreases blood flow making it difficult for men to obtain an erection.
And finally, since sex is a visual and tactile endeavor, there are quite natural and creative ways to give it a boost. Visually stimulating images can arouse even the tiredest of the tired. Premiere Magazine recently compiled a list of the most erotic movie sex scenes ever. You don’t have to feel embarrassed when renting these movies (as you might with pornography) at the video store and they are guaranteed to light up your life:
2. Hilary Swank pleasuring Chloe Sevigny in BOYS DON’T CRY (1999)
3. Brad Pitt and Claire Forlani making love in MEET JOE BLACK (1998)
4. Leonardo DiCaprio drawing Kate Winslet in the nude in TITANIC (1997)
5. Sharon Stone uncrossing her legs while she is being interrogated in a room full of en in BASIC INSTINCT (1992)
6. Patrick Swazye and Demi Moore in the pottery secene early on in GHOST (1990)
7. Michael Douglas and Glenn Close having sex in an elevator in FATAL A TTRACTION (1987)
8. Mickey Rourke caressing Kim Basinger’s body with an ice cube in 9 1.2 WEEKS (1986)
9. William Hurt and Kathleen Turner having sex in BODY HET (1981)
10. Julie Christine and Donald Sutherland making love in DON’T LOOK NOW (1973)
11. Rita Hayworth flipping back her hair and singing “Put The Blame on Mame” in FILDA (1946)
One Important Last Point
Sex always has consequences. And improving your sex life does not eliminate the requirement to practice it responsibly. Sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis, and HIV/AIDS must be prevented, pregnancy must be considered and consent between partners must exist.
Sexual activity keeps us connected – both tangibly and spiritually to our heart’s desire. It helps us feel secure and well loved and adds to our self esteem. In other words, good sex is important to good life.
But all of us need a little help now and then. Sex-enhancing plants that have been used for thousands of years by millions of people provide that help. You can have actual sexual healing with effective sexual supplements and maybe find out what you’ve been missing.
After all, 80 percent of the world’s married couples can’t be wrong!
December 17, 2005 01:35 PM
Eleuthero- Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is a hardy herb indigenous to the Taiga region of the Far East, which includes southeastern Russia, northern China, Japan and Korea. The use of this popular herb can be traced back over 2,000 years in ancient Chinese medical texts, where it is indicated for the treatment of a wide variety of ailments. Although it is a cousin of the Panax ginseng family (Korean, Chinese and American) it’s considered distinctly different. The term panax is derived from the Greek words pan (all) and akos (cure), which means “cure-all”. In addition to its adaptogenic properties, which seem to stem from its ability to regulate the activity of the adrenal cortex in response to stress, Eleuthero has some unique benefits. It stimulates the immune system, especially during times of strenuous physical exertion and stress, and seems especially beneficial for supporting a healthy mood and mental alertness. Eleuthero is also extremely beneficial as a training aid for athletes.
Ginsengs - Energy Tonics For Today's Hectic Lifestyles
June 30, 2005 09:34 AM
Ginsengs By Ellen J. Kamhi, Ph. D. with Dorie Greenblatt
What's the difference between Chinese (white root), Chinese (red root), Eleuthero and American Ginsengs? Which one is best for me? There are actually many different "ginsengs." We will discuss those mentioned above since they are the most widely available. All of these Ginsengs are considered to be potent adaptogens, which means that they are: 1) harmless to the body 2) non-specific in their actions 3) have balancing or normalizing effects. An adaptogen helps the body adapt to stress - both mental and physical. It is in this area that ginseng excels.
Chinese Ginseng (Panax ginseng) is what most of us think of when Ginseng is mentioned. It is indigenous to the forests of northeast China, Manchuria and Korea. Red Ginseng is often referred to as "Korean" Ginseng. In traditional Chinese Medicine Ginseng is used to tonify the "Chi" (vital energy or life energy force). Modern scientific studies indicate Panax Ginseng stimulates the immune system, has antifatigue, antistress, antitumor, anticancer and anti-aging properties, balances blood sugar levels, enhances mental performance and memory, lowers cholesterol, strengthens the heart muscle and protects against radiation damage. Panax ginseng has had a notorious reputation as a sexual rejuvenator which studies give some credence to; albeit not to the degree of its reputation. Ginseng "overuse syndrome", although rare, is characterized by irritability, insomnia and rapid heart beat, and is associated with using too much Chinese Ginseng, especially by healthy, active men.
American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium) is indigenous to the eastern woodlands ranging from Georgia to Quebec and was used by many Native Americans. Jesuit Priests were reported to be trading American Ginseng to the Chinese as early as 1718. Ironically, American Ginseng is highly sought after in China, while Americans chase after Chinese ginseng. While having much the same adaptogenic qualities of Chinese Ginseng, American Ginseng is believed to have a more "yin" or cooler nature. What this means is that American Ginseng is excellent for the high-paced, stressed, not enough time culture that we live in. While still energizing the body, American Ginseng calms the central nervous system, quiets the brain and lowers blood pressure. Also, because of its more "yin" nature, it is generally better to use on a day-to-day, long term basis than Chinese Ginseng. American Ginseng is one of the best tonics for all-around health and vitality, particularly well suited for the hectic world we've created.
Eleutherococcus senticosus (known as Siberian Ginseng in Herbs of Commerce) is native to Siberia, Japan, Korea and China. Although not a "true ginseng", this variety is most highly prized. Eleuthero was traditionally used to promote longevity and general health. Many herbalists prefer Eluthero for helping with women's health issues. It is particularly useful with depression associated with PMS and menopause. Research, mostly from Russia, confirms this herb's ability to increase mental and physical performance, stimulate the immune system, increase phagocytosis (movement of white blood cells) promote circulation and enhance the benefits of medical radiation treatments while lessening its negative side-effects. (The dosage used in one Russian study was 4 milliliters in the morning and 2 milliliters at night.)
Which Ginseng is Right For Me Here's a simple guide for deciding which Ginseng to use. Chinese Ginseng is best suited as a tonic 1)for the fragile and weak 2) during convalescence, and/or 3) to support the immune system. American Ginseng is for regular daily use, specially suited for energetic personality types. Eleuthero is excellent for endurance and stamina, and well suited for athletes as well as for women's issues. If you're still confused, try Balanced Ginseng™ (alcohol-free) a high-powered liquid herbal extract supplement that blends several varieties of Ginsengs together to assure balanced tonic action.
It is important in purchasing Ginseng products to buy from a company you trust and one that has the technical capabilities to test and guarantee quality and activity. Unfortunately, the Ginseng market is prone to both adulteration and poor activity levels. Nature's Answer®, with its full pharmaceutical level in-house laboratory and years of experience, is proud to offer a variety of the finest quality of Ginseng formulations available in either liquid (alcohol-free or organic alcohol) or encapsulated (standardized or single) forms. The company also offers the herb in unique, proprietary blends. All products are Unconditionally Guaranteed.
June 30, 2005 09:20 AM
Depression By Ellen J. Kamhi, Ph. D. with Dorie Greenblatt Depression is a widespread health imbalance that effects many people at some point in their lives, and may be caused by a multifaceted list of factors. Depression can be triggered by personal tragedy, loss of a loved one, or changes in life situations (even if they are positive!). Some of the less recognized causes of depression may involve diet, including over-consumption of sugar, artificial sweeteners, chemical flavorings and preservatives, insufficient nutrition and foods that causes an allergic or sensitivity reaction in an individual. Lack of exercise and not enough sunlight, (i.e. Seasonal Affective Disorder), may be implicated as well. It is essential that those suffering from severe depression seek professional care. Since depression can arise from many different sources and operate on multiple levels, it is helpful to remember that “true healing” requires one to explore and address the root cause(s), not just attempt to cover up the symptom. Proper nutrition is essential. B vitamins can be helpful, such as Nature’s Answer’s B-Stress with Herbs, along with other nutrients such as the amino acids, GABA (particularly for anxiety), Tyrosine and Phenylalanine. Regular exercise, and a nice relaxing bath in lavender oil and sea salt are also enjoyable aids for lifting one’s spirits.
Herbs can be useful in relieving the symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Nature’s Answer offers many high-quality, single herb and combination formulas (liquid or capsule) that feature ingredients well-known for balancing emotional mood. Relora®* features a patented propriety blend of two herbs, Magnolia (standardized to 1.5% honokiol (3.75mg)) and Phellodendron (standardized to 0.1% berberine (0.25mg)) which, when combined according to a particular method, may help reduce the negative effects of stress, a factor that leads to depression as well as “stress overeating”. When the body is under stress, it causes the release of specific “stress hormones” that influence mood and emotional well-being. Relora® is unique because its active plant constituents work on the body’s natural chemistry to re-establish a normal equilibrium of stress hormones, while enhancing feelings of relaxation and cheerful outlook.
Another powerful, “all-in-one” proprietary herbal blend formula from Nature’s Answer® is Mood Balance 2™ (alcohol free liquid, vegetarian capsule). Mood Balance 2™ contains key ingredients well-recognized for their beneficial actions on emotional health, including St. John’s Wort, California Spikenard, Gotu Kola, Skullcap and Eleuthero root**. This combination of ingredients can help “lift the spirits”. (Note that these herbs are also available from Nature’s Answer® as single herb formulas in concentrated liquid herbal extracts and/or vegetarian capsules; Kosher).
Key ingredients in Mood Balance 2™include:
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum), used for a range of nerve disorders and said to “chase away evil spirits.” Since 1996, it has become one of the most popular herbs in the US due to its use as a mild to moderate antidepressant. A number of current studies confirm its effectiveness, including a review in the British Medical Journal of 23 clinical trials, which reported that it worked nearly as well as the leading pharmaceuticals with far fewer side effects. Although more research is needed, it appears that the activity of St. John’s Wort is due to a variety of naturally occurring components, including Hypericin and Hyperforin. Nature’s Answer’s exclusive formula, Super St. John’s Wort (vegetarian capsule), is standardized to both 3.0% hyperforin and 0.3% hypericin. Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica), used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine as a nerve tonic and to treat emotional upset, insomnia, stress, anxiety and memory problems. It is currently used along with meditation and yoga due to its abilities to both calm and energize nerves. Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) has the double action of relaxing nervous tension while building the central nervous system. As a mild bitter it will also help stimulate digestion and help the liver. Eleuthero root** (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is an “adaptogen” that helps to balance the entire system. It gives strength and fortitude, especially when dealing with stress; so often a factor in depression.
References for Educational Purposes:
Wellness Herbal Kids Liquid - Immune Support for Children–Ages 2 & Up
June 29, 2005 12:45 PM
For parents, nothing is more important than ensuring the wellbeing of our children. That’s why Source Naturals developed WELLNESS HERBAL KIDS.
WELLNESS HERBAL KIDS is the only herbal liquid for children with the Wellness name behind it. This unique and powerful cold weather blend features the prime immune herbs, echinacea and goldenseal. Unlike typical formulas, WELLNESS HERBAL KIDS also contains the famed Yin Chiao Chinese herbal complex, plus uncommon winter botanicals from around the world. And WELLNESS HERBAL KIDS is alcohol-free, with a great kidapproved taste. Source NaturalsWELLNESS HERBAL KIDS: because nothing is too good for your child.
Echinacea & Goldenseal: Botanical Immune Support
Echinacea, one of the most popular herbs in the United States, has been used to support natural defenses for more than 5,000 years. A highly valued Native American botanical, it has been shown in modern research to support immune function, specifically the activity of macrophages. Echinacea’s beneficial activity is due to a number of constituents, including polysaccharides and echinacosides, a group of compounds found only in echinacea. WELLNESS HERBAL KIDS features a standardized extract of Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea angustifolia. Goldenseal, another Native American botanical, has been used for centuries to soothe sensitive mucous membranes, including those in the respiratory, digestive and genitourinary systems. Its beneficial properties are attributed to its alkaloids, especially berberine.
According to traditional Chinese herbalism, Yin Chiao is best taken at the first signs of internal imbalance. Yin Chiao features herbs like lonicera (honeysuckle), forsythia, peppermint, and licorice.
WELLNESS HERBAL KIDS includes other traditional botanicals. Elderberry has been used for winter health for centuries. It is a rich source of nutrients, especially bioflavonoids and anthocyanins. The phytonutrients in elderberry positively influence cell function and protection, and support the immune system. Isatis contains glycosides that help support your body’s innate defenses; it is valued by herbalists as a complement to echinacea and goldsenseal. The formula also includes the traditional Native American botanicals boneset and horehound, warming ginger, the renowned adaptogen Eleutherococcus senticosus, and bayberry.
The Wellness Family™:
Comprehensive Winter Support WELLNESS HERBAL KIDS, an important member of Source Naturals’ Wellness Family of natural immune system products, is available in 2, 4 and 8 fl oz bottles. You can also try Source Naturals’ other fine Wellness products. Look for WELLNESS EARACHE™ homeopathic kids’ formula, WELLNESS COLD & FLU™, WELLNESS COUGH SYRUP, WELLNESS ZINC™ Lozenges and Throat Spray, WELLNESS ELDERBERRY™ and lots more—including, of course, original WELLNESS FORMULA®.
WELLNESS HERBAL KIDS: Part of the Wellness Revolution
There is a revolution underway in natural health consciousness, and health food stores are in the forefront. You can benefit right now—long before word spreads to the general public—with the innovative child nutrition of WELLNESS HERBAL KIDS.
GINSENG - KoreanAmerican(Panax quinquefolium), Siberian(Eleutherococcus senticosus)
June 25, 2005 12:54 PM
Ginseng and ginseng products are increasing in popularity. They have been highly valued for thousands of years in many different cultures for their medicinal properties. Ginseng is probably the most highly regarded tonic and adaptogenic herb in the world. There are many different varieties of the ginseng plant grown throughout the world that are used for traditional medicine. All of the most common species of plants known as ginseng have similar reactions in the body. Ginseng is often used to maintain and support health as a tonic rather than treating a particular disease in the body. Panax ginseng, also known as Asian, Korean or Chinese ginseng, is the type most often studied and the most abundant. The genus name for Asian ginseng is Panax ginseng from the Greek word meaning “all healing.” The Wild American variety, Panax quinquefolium, is thought to have properties similar to the Asian plant. Most consider it to be less stimulating than the Asian root. The Siberian ginseng, Eleutherococcus senticosus, grown in Russia originally and now throughout the world, is not considered to be “true ginseng,” though scientists have reported common pharmacological features to the Panax. The compounds in the Siberian variety, eueutherosides, are not the same as the ginsenosides found in the American and Asian, but they do have similar chemical activity. The American, Asian and Siberian ginsengs are all considered to be superior adaptogens.1
What is the difference between the types of Ginseng?
June 17, 2005 12:45 PM
What is the difference between the types of Ginseng?
Ginseng has been used for thousands of years by the Chinese and Native Americans. The Chinese name, Ren Shen means "Man-Root" because it is shaped like a human. There have been over 3,000 scientific studies published on Ginseng. Studies have examined the anti-tumor, anti-infective, nervous system, lipid lowering, and anti-fatigue activity of ginseng. Experimental research indicates that Ginseng helps the body adapt to stress, protects the body against radiation, and increases sperm count, and stabilizes blood sugar levels.
Ginseng can differ depending upon the species, the way it is prepared, and of course the dose administered. There are two main kinds of Ginseng: American and Asian. American Ginseng, Panax quinquefolium, grows wild in many states although it is cultivated mainly in Wisconsin. American Ginseng generates body fluids and is said to clear heat. Those who can benefit most from American Ginseng are individuals that are under stress, athletes, and people who feel hot and thirsty. They may also have coughing, or coughing up blood, which indicates heat according to traditional Chinese Medicine.
Asian Ginseng, Panax Ginseng, is usually imported to the US from either China or Korea. It is traditionally used to treat cold syndromes, which include cold limbs, weak pulse, exhaustion, and shortness of breath. White Ginseng usually refers to untreated ginseng, and is said to be less warm than red Ginseng. Typically red Ginseng is steamed and cured with other herbs giving it a dark red appearance; most Korean Ginseng is red.
A common substitute for Ginseng in the US and China is Codonopsis, known botanically as Codonopsis pilosula. It has similar effects to Asian Ginseng: it is not as strong and not nearly as expensive. Eleuthero Ginseng, sometimes referred to as Siberian Ginseng, is really not ginseng at all but is in fact a distant cousin. It belongs in a different botanical species: Eleutherococcus Senticosus. Eleuthero Ginseng grows in northern China and Russia. Although it is used to help the body adapt to stress, it is less specific as a medicinal herb than Asian or American Ginseng.
Traditional herbalists rarely use ginseng by itself. Herbs are usually combined with other ingredients in order to increase clinical benefits and reduce negative reactions. For example, Generate Pulse Powder (Sheng Mai San) is a traditional combination, which often combines America Ginseng with herbs to moisten the lungs; therefore it can be used for chronic cough that is difficult to expectorate, and shortness of breathe. Bu Zhong Yi Qi Wan is an ancient formula that has been used for at least one thousand years to treat patients who are exhausted, feel cold, and may have weak limbs and/or chronic loose stools. In this ancient formula, Ginseng is combined with Astragalus and other harmonizing herbs, which help the body assimilate ginseng. Modern formulas with Ginseng or Codonopsis, have been used to help people overcome serious conditions such as impotence, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and fibromyalgia. Modern Ginseng formulas have also been used in conjunction with western medical approaches to treating patients with HIV, and patients undergoing chemo and radiotherapy.
Asian Ginseng is considered a "big gun" and should not be indiscriminately used especially by itself. Headache, elevated body temperature, digestive upset, rash, fever, irritability, and insomnia are possible signs that Ginseng is not appropriate. It should not be taken at the same time as caffeine or other stimulants. Good quality Ginseng is expensive. Superior grade Ginseng can run several thousand dollars per pound. For this reason, it makes no sense to shop for the cheapest Ginseng or Ginseng products.
Pep Up and Go!
June 14, 2005 05:45 PM
Pep Up and Go!
by Harris Parker Energy Times, February 2, 2000
Feel your energy flagging?
You've lost count of the number of phone calls you fielded all afternoon-the last was from your son, who missed the late bus home from school-and colleagues needing your decision are lined up outside your office. Your husband has invited clients home for dinner. You wilt like a new hairdo on a damp August day and pray for a miracle to jump-start your engine.
Your pep quotient depends on three essential ingredients: nutrients you consume through your diet and supplements, how much you exercise and your sleep schedule.(Of course, if you're troubled by any kind of disabling, ceaseless fatigue accompanied by mental fuzziness, joint pain, sore throat, swollen glands, headaches and other chronic distress, consult your health practitioner.)
Vitamins and Energy
Certain nutrients are called vitamins because scientists consider them to be crucial for vitality. They generally function as coenzymes, partnering with the enzymes that are catalysts for the chemical reactions constantly taking place in our bodies. Our need to replenish our store of vitamins, which may merge with cell, muscle, enzyme, hormone, blood and bone structure once they have been absorbed, depends on their rate of utilization, according to The Real Vitamin & Mineral Book (Avery) by Shari Lieberman, PhD, and Nancy Bruning.
While a low-fat diet rich in raw fruits and vegetables helps supply important nutrients, a B complex supplement and a balanced multivitamin can guarantee daily vitamin levels.
Be Energetic with B Vitamins
Vitamins, especially the B vitamins, play extremely important roles in producing cellular energy. The chart on page 39 lists the key vitamins and describes their effects as well as the consequences of not getting enough of them. Their benefit is felt most profoundly in the energy producing process known as the Krebs cycle (which we'll explain in a moment).
Vitamins B2 and B3, for example, supply the major building blocks for substances that are called flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD and FADH) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD and NADH), which are critical elements of energy production in the Krebs cycle as well as a process called oxidative phosphorylation.
Hundreds of Reactions
Even though you may never have heard of NAD and NADH, these molecules are found in very many places throughout your body; they play a role in hundreds of biochemical reactions in all kinds of cells. B vitamins also combine with other materials to build coenzymes, chemicals which help form other chemicals necessary for cellular energy. B vitamins are crucial: miss out on one or more and you may break these metabolic chains necessary for peak energy.
Energy to Spend
The main energy currency of every cell single cell is ATP: a chemical called adenosine triphosphate. This material is used by cells for every imaginable task including reproduction, growth, movement and metabolism. Specialized metabolic cycles within the cell are designed to generate ATP.
Consequently, the more ATP our cells create, the more energy can be generated. The raw materials used to make cellular energy are glucose (blood sugar) and "free" fatty acids. The best way to supply your cells with the sugar they need is to consume complex carbohydrates which also supply fiber and other nutrients. When you eat carbohydrates, they are made into glucose which is stored as a starch called glycogen in muscles and the liver. Your body can rapidly turn glycogen into glucose for extra energy. (The process of making energy from glycogen yields carbon dioxide and water as well as ATP.)
The first step in making glucose into energy is called glycolysis. This complicated process requires nine different steps. During these steps, glucose is made into a substance called pyruvate. The process of glycolysis requires ATP, but yields twice as much ATP as is present when it starts.
From here, the process gets a little more complicated as pyruvate enters into a complex chain of events in tiny cellular structures called mitochondria. (Many metabolic events take place in the mitochondria.) The pyruvate molecules are converted to a molecule known as acetyl coenzyme A and eventually made into carbon dioxide, water and more ATP.
This process is known as the Krebs cycle or citric acid cycle. It also involves a series of events known as oxidative phosphorylation in which NADH formed during the Krebs cycle is oxidized to form ATP.
Why is fat such a concentrated source of energy? Free fatty acids enter the Krebs cycle to help generate ATP much more efficiently than glucose - producing roughly six times more energy per gram than glucose.
And Don't Overlook. . . . . .other supplements that may aid energy production: • Alpha Lipoic Acid, an antioxidant that works in the fatty tissues of cell membranes and in cells' watery interiors • Coenzyme Q10, also known as ubiquinone as it exists everywhere in the body, acts like a vitamin because it stimulates some reactions. CoQ10 protects cell membranes, especially of the heart, against oxidation and toxins.
Ginsengs: Energy Generators
With their legendary and slightly mysterious characteristics, the ginsengs are greatly respected natural energy boosters. " Perhaps no herb has excited so much interest in medical circles as ginseng, and yet, strangely, it does not actually 'cure' any one particular ailment," reports Michael Hallowell, the author of Herbal Healing (Avery) and a frequent lecturer on botanic medicine. "Rather, its virtue lies in its tremendous power as a tonic and invigorator. Russian athletes are prescribed large amounts of ginseng because researchers in Moscow have shown that it not only improves stamina, but also increases the efficiency with which blood is pumped to the muscles."
What are the physiological mechanisms that allow ginseng to bolster your get up and go? In order to unravel the legend and lore of ginseng, the first step is understanding the intricacies of the three types: • Asian (Panax ginseng), which produces the strongest and most profound stimulation; • American (Panax quinquefolium), which soothes at a more subtle level; • Siberian (Eleutherococcus senticosus), a stamina booster embraced by a wide range of athletes. All three varieties are treasured for their ability to help people adjust to stress.
The ginsengs are adaptogens, "biologically active substances found in certain herbs and plants that help the body and mind adapt to the changes and stress of life," says Stephen Fulder, MD, author of The Book of Ginseng and Other Chinese Herbs for Vitality (Inner Traditions). "Stress is not an illness in itself. Stress is change, our ability to adapt to all the changes that occur in life, emotional or physical, from exercise, work, chemicals, drugs, food, radiation, bacteria, disease, temperature, or simply too many late nights or too much fun."
The body reacts to stress by producing the hormone adrenaline, which throws the whole body into a state of alert. Metabolism, blood pressure and circulation accelerate; immunity and resistance drastically decline; performance suffers.
Enter the ginsengs, with their varied, subtle tonic qualities. The Greek name for this herb, "panax," means "panacea" or cure-all. But the Chinese, who first referred to it 2,000 years ago, more literally called it "ren shen" or "person root," in reference to its physical resemblance to a miniature human form.
" Most exhibit medicinal properties, but each species has a different chemical makeup and has a unique application in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)," says Kim Derek Pritts, author of Ginseng: How to Find, Grow and Use America's Forest Gold (Stackpole). "In general, all true ginseng contains biologically active saponins (chemicals similar to human hormones), essential oils, carbohydrates, sugars, organic acids, nitrogenous substances, amino acids, peptides, vitamins and minerals."
Building Vital Energy
All the ginsengs strengthen, nourish and build Qi, the TCM concept describing basic vital energy circulating through our bodies. Every physical and mental function, from breathing, thinking, nutrition and circulation, is regulated by Qi. Although many of the Native American tribes used the abundant, indigenous Panax quinquefolium ginseng extensively, particularly to increase mental acuity and boost fertility, the herb never has been as popular in North America as it is in Asia. American ginseng traditionally has been a lucrative export crop to China, where the wild native variety suffers from overharvesting. Even today, according to Paul Bergner in The Healing Power of Ginseng & the Tonic Herbs (Prima), 95% of the American ginseng crop is exported to China, where XiYang Shen, or "western sea root," as it is called, is immensely valued and costs double what it does here.
Jacques MoraMarco, author of The Complete Ginseng Handbook: A Practical Guide for Energy, Health and Longevity (Contemporary), as well as a licensed acupuncturist and doctor of Eastern medicine, suggests American ginseng for a slight energy boost. The moderate effect of American ginseng is considered a more appropriate tonic to the intensity of our pace and diet.
Variations on a Theme
In TCM terms, American ginseng cools and moistens, as well as lubricates and strengthens the body. It is reputed to reduce fevers and night sweats and alleviate hot, dry lung problems like smoker's cough. With its emollient qualities, American ginseng is considered to treat dry, wrinkled skin effectively.
The Bolder Energizer
Asian ginseng, which includes red Korean panax, is a bolder energizer taken by those who feel depleted from anemia, blood loss, cardiovascular weakness, injury, shock or trauma, as well as the disabling effects of age. In general, Asian ginseng is warming and stimulating, urging the body to run faster.
Siberian ginseng, though botanically not a true ginseng, still acts similarly to Asian ginseng in its reputed power to control stress, boost energy, support the immune system, enhance performance and increase longevity. Called Wu Cha Seng in Chinese, Siberian ginseng is perceived by natural practitioners as an ideal herb for the healthy who want to lift both stamina and endurance. Experts believe it counteracts the effects of cortisol, the stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to injury, pain or emotional turmoil.
Natural Energy Boosters
The herbal pharmacopeia includes several other natural energy boosters available in various forms-shakes and bars for those on the run-loaded with nutrition absent from commercial snacks. Some choices: • Ginkgo biloba-used in Chinese medicine to heat the body and increase sexual energy. Ginkgo enthusiasts take this herb to increase the supply of oxygen to the brain and generally increase circulation. • Gotu kola-may stimulate the central nervous system and help eliminate excess fluid, thereby reducing fatigue. • Astragalus-a Chinese herb that enhances energy and builds the immune system. It is credited with strengthening digestion, improving metabolism, increasing appetite, combating diarrhea and healing sores. • Schisandra-also a Chinese herb, treats respiratory illness, insomnia and irritability and rejuvenates sexual energy. Its mild adaptogens help the body to handle stress. • Licorice-is a favored endocrine toner in Chinese medicine. It is reputed to support the adrenals, the pair of small glands directly above the kidneys that secrete steroidal hormones, norepinephrine and epinephrine, the "fight or flight" hormones. People with high blood pressure or edema, or pregnant women, should avoid it. • Ashwagandha-an Ayurvedic herb used for thousands of years in the traditional healing of India as a potent strength builder for men and women.
Experienced herbal practitioners acquire an impressive and fascinating store of knowledge and experience-you'll find it helpful to visit one as you begin your course of ginseng or other energy-boosting herbs.
When you visit a TCM practitioner, you'll notice that she evaluates your body's condition through an extremely careful examination of all the different systems: Several pulse points are felt in order to ferret out and detect troubling abnormalities. The condition and color of the tongue is observed to decipher digestive disorders. In addition, your urine may be examined to determine other imbalances and specific health problems.
In many cases, your TCM practitioner will recommend ginseng as an adaptogen that can give you an overall boost. When taking ginseng, follow the directions on the package. Note: in some cases, you may want to consume a little bit less if you suffer headaches, insomnia or high blood pressure. Consult your health practitioner if you are afflicted with either acute inflammatory disease or bronchitis.
Then take comfort in the eternal soothing wisdom of Chinese Traditional Medicine. In the first century A.D., the Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing (The Divine Husbandman's Classic of the Materia Medica) effusively described ginseng and the tonic herbs in this beguiling and intriguing manner: "The first class of drugs...are considered to perform the work of sovereigns. They support human life and they resemble heaven. They are not poisonous regardless of the quality and duration of administration."
Women and Depression!
June 13, 2005 07:48 PM
Women and Depression by Lisa James Energy Times, March 11, 2004
Just as fog veils a beautiful landscape, so depression veils life itself: rendering existence dark and dreary, narrowing the scope of one's dreams. And women are particularly prone to this lingering sadness.
The good news: Depression doesn't have to linger forever. With proper nutrition, lifestyle changes and a revived outlook, you can break through that fog into a sunnier emotional clime. Women are more likely than men to fall prey to depression throughout their lifetimes, with women being twice as likely as men to experience major depression.
While the greatest risk for both sexes falls at midlife, the gender difference appears early; one in ten teenage girls was found to suffer from major depression in one study (International Journal of Behavioral Development 2004; 28:16-25). What's more, childhood depression leaves a person more susceptible to mood problems in adulthood.
One reason for the gender difference in depression, according to researchers, is that women tend to dwell on depressed feelings to a greater degree than men. Some scientists believe a family history of depression carries greater weight for women. Others theorize that the inner fluctuations of a woman's monthly cycle can leave her susceptible to stresses emanating from the outer world. Studies indicate that almost three-quarters of all premenstrual women experience some level of mood difficulties (Summit on Women and Depression, APA, April 02), and a woman's hormonal ebb and flow may even make her more vulnerable to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), the kind of depression linked to a lack of natural light.
Warning Signs Not surprisingly, many depressed folks feel sad and lethargic, down on themselves and the world. But in some people, depression is marked by agitation and concentration difficulties, or is accompanied by anxiety. Sleep disturbances-either insomnia or excessive sleepiness-often ensue, and activities that used to provide pleasure lose their appeal.
Breaking depression's grip can do more than just lighten your mood-it may help safeguard your health. Studies suggest depression dampens the immune response and may increase the risks of coronary heart disease and diabetes (Archives of General Psychiatry 2003; 60:1009-14; Circulation 2000; 102:1773; Diabetes Care 2004; 27:129-33).
Origins of Depression
The reasons some people are pulled down by depression's undertow while others are able to stay afloat emotionally are complex, but researchers believe common factors link them all.
One factor that can't be ignored is genetics. "If you are depressed, there is a 25% chance that a first-degree relative-a parent, child or sibling-is also depressed," says Hyla Cass, MD, author of St. John's Wort: Nature's Blues Buster (Avery). Other factors are physical problems and medication side effects. That's why your first step should be a consultation with your health care practitioner (if your moods are especially dark, seek professional assistance as soon as possible).
Life's worries and cares also weigh more heavily on some people than on others. " [N]ot only will certain stressors [adverse events] cause depression as a direct response," notes Dr. Cass, "but they may predispose an individual to future episodes of depression." For example, the end of a relationship when you feel you've lost a lover and been humiliated (and been cheated on) raises your risk of depression (Archives of General Psychiatry 2003; 60:789-96).
The Depressed Brain
When depression hits, brain chemistry shifts. As a result, chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which relay messages between brain cells, go awry. For instance, a neurotransmitter called serotonin-critical to mood control-may decrease, leaving you feeling depressed, anxious, craving certain foods and unable to sleep.
Conversely, "high levels of serotonin are associated with emotional and social stability," according to Dr. Cass. She adds that, in addition, sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone "affect brain cells directly."
Lifting the Fog
Because the causes of depression are so complex, leaving the darkness behind generally requires opening up several pathways. Part of feeling better simply lies in believing that you can. Researchers have found that depressed people who feel they have a sense of control over their troubles, do, in fact, have a better chance of recovery (General Hospital Psychiatry 2000; 22(4):242-50). Finding a community of like-minded folks bolsters your capacity to deal with mood problems. In some cases, time spent with a therapist can be a valuable aid in figuring out what's bothering you.
On the physical side, losing weight can lift your spirits. Among women with severe obesity-itself a depression risk factor-losing weight has led to depression relief (Archives of Internal Medicine 2003; 163:2058-65). Research also indicates that exercise helps brighten dark moods.
A change in diet, along with certain supplements, can also help dispel depression. The first step on the road to emotional recovery: eat a lot of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, and stay away from overly refined foods with high levels of sugar.
Omega-3 fatty acids, the kinds found in flax seed and fish, are essential to proper brain function. In several studies, people who took supplemental omega-3s found significant relief from depression.
Key amino acids-the basic units of which proteins are built-serve as starting points for the production of mood-lifting neurotransmitters. In one trial, people who took an amino-acid mix that included tyrosine enjoyed better moods and were happier than people who took amino acids without it (Psychopharmacology (Berlin) Sept 4 2003).
Along with amino acids, the body needs the right vitamins-especially members of the all-important B family-to create depression-fighting brain chemicals. In one study, people with depression who took vitamin B12 improved their chances of recovery (BMC Psychiatry 2003; 3:17).
Another interesting observation: Vitamin B12 and its partners vitamin B6 and folate are essential to keep a protein called homocysteine (known primarily as a cardiovascular hazard) from reaching excessive levels, and people with high homocysteine are twice as likely to be depressed. This has led some researchers to speculate that folate may help keep depression under control (Archives of General Psychiatry 2003; 60:618-26).
Herbs that may help beat back the blues include two that help the body deal with stress, eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) and schisandra (S. chinensis).
A new diet, a new outlook: With the help of the right nutrients and the right support, you can break the bonds of depression.