Herbs, Vitamins, Etc.
Important Note: The following information is for educational purposes only. Information, like most everything else in our world, is changing quickly. Always check with your doctor before making any changes to your treatment program.
One option I chose to help my body deal with stress in general and the physiological effects of depression in particular, was the appropriate use of vitamins and minerals.
I did a lot of research on vitamins and other alternative health answers. So, what I am going to share with you is my personal perspective that is backed with a considerable amount of research.
However, let me make this very clear: Just because a supplement is natural doesn't mean it can't be dangerous when improperly used. Therefore, without exception, please check with your doc before mixing even vitamin C with any medications you are taking.
I am being very, very serious because even something as good for you and, as innocent as grapefruit juice can become dangerous and even deadly when mixed with some common medications such as cholesterol lowering medications.
At least one death has been attributed to the grapefruit juice/Lipitor combination. What happens is that the same liver enzyme that is used to break down or metabolize grapefruit juice is also used to breakdown Lipitor.
However, this enzyme can only do one at a time and, that enzyme's first choice is grapefruit juice. Therefore, deadly levels of the Lipitor built up in the Florida man's body and he died.
What is much more common however, is the innocent mixing of substances and people having mildly unpleasant to terrible reactions and sometimes not even knowing why.
So please, when taking a medication, always look for possible contraindications before adding anything new to the mix.
Anyway, here's my general take on vitamins and other alternative stuff for depression: They are useful and sometimes can make a big difference.
However, avoid ALL fad answers for two reasons:
(1) They are untested. Many are meant to simply bilk unhappy people out of their money and that is the least harm that can result from taking the latest miracle cure.
(2) They are untested. I know, I'm repeating myself but I just can't stress it enough. Look, 99% of fad answers simply don't work they way they advertise. But, more importantly, they don't have an established history. What if another grapefruit juice-Lipitor event happens?
And the third reason (I know, I said two but what the heck) to stay away from fad answers is because, like medications, in most cases they are just the wrong answer.
For example, let's say a person has a vitamin B-1 deficiency which can be caused by the excessive use of sugar, coffee, tannin from black teas, nicotine, and alcohol. What would a person most likely notice?
Generally, with low B1 the central nervous system--the brain and nerves--does not function optimally. The gastrointestinal and cardiovascular systems are also influenced greatly.
So, the first symptoms of thiamine deficiency may be fatigue and/or instability. These symptoms may be followed by confusion, loss of memory, depression, clumsiness, insomnia, gastrointestinal disturbances, abdominal pain, constipation, slow heart rate, and burning chest pains.
As the condition progresses, there may be problems of irregular heart rhythm, prickling sensation in the legs, loss of vibratory sensation, and the muscles may become tender and atrophy. The optic nerve may become inflamed and the vision will be affected.
Vitamin B1 levels have been shown to be low in many elderly people, especially those that experience senility, neuroses, and schizophrenia. Interestingly, the elderly take four times more take antidepressant medications than any other age group. Hm….is there a connection?
Anyway, if a B-1 deficiency becomes severe enough a person will develop Beriberi which is a terrible disease.
So, before taking a 'fad' or miracle answer to any of the symptoms mentioned a few moments ago, wouldn't it make sense to simply address the cause of the problem?
Now, to finish up this section on vitamins and related products that can possibly help with depression, let me ask you a question: Given what you've just heard about how easy it is to become vitamin B-1 deficient and given the scary symptoms, doesn't it make sense to take a good multi-vitamin, multi-mineral?
Absolutely. With two caveats:
(1) You can get too much of a good thing. Men, look out for multivitamin/multiminerals that have iron. Chances are, you have more than enough iron so get an iron free multi unless your doctor advises otherwise.
(2) You typically get what you pay for. Avoid cheap products and avoid one-a-day multivitamin/multiminerals because they cannot deliver optimal amounts of needed nutrients.
Taking a one-a-day is like filling your gas tank once to take a trip that takes 3 tanks of fuel to complete. Get your stuff at a store that specializes in quality vitamin products, not a corner drug store.
By the way, I personally use and recommend NOW brand products (no, I don't sell them) because they are good quality for a good price.
Finally, I suggest avoiding herbal answers unless your physician approves. I had a client who took St. John's Wort and, no kidding, the skin inside her mouth started falling off.
In conclusion, quality vitamins and minerals and wisely chosen herbs can help a great deal. However, be sure to get stuff that is well-researched by independent laboratories and chat with your doc before using them.
Never Give Up. There is a different world waiting for you.
C. Devin Hastings
"Speak gently to yourself because your deep mind is always listening."
Date of last update: March 9, 2011
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