Here is a link to a great article highlighting the benefits of exercise, especially outdoor exercise, as an inexpensive, readily accessible remedy for anxiety, insomnia, back pain, and more.
A new article in the Los Angeles Times helps to shed light on the value of yoga as part of a treatment plan for anxiety and depression.
Los Angeles Times (latimes.com) – Yoga Might Help Boost Mental Health – By Amber Dance – (Saturday, April 13, 2013)
As you stretch into warrior pose and inhale and exhale, you’re not just stretching those hamstrings and lungs; you’re also doing good for your brain with a practice that can stave off or relieve problems such as stress, depression and anxiety.
Yoga “gives some sense of sanity,” says Sat Bir Khalsa, a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School in Boston. “You’re no longer washed away by the avalanche of your emotions. You are more in control.”
Yoga practice can also lower heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure, and may make people less sensitive to pain.
In some cases – particularly for anxiety, depression and stress – yoga might be more effective than medication, though this hasn’t been proved, says Dr. Murali Doraiswamy of the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. While it won’t get rid of whatever is causing you distress, it could make it easier for you to deal with the issues. Doraiswamy compares learning yoga to learning to surf: Once you’ve got the skills, you can ride the wave instead of drowning underneath it.
The relative amount of one amino acid, like tryptophan, to the others, is what makes the difference when it comes to mental health. Dr. Michael Greger, MD of NutritionFacts.org posted an interesting video about the importance of high tryptophan levels, relative to other amino acids, when it comes to boosting serotonin levels and treating depression. So eating animal protein, for example, isn’t helpful for boosting serotonin, whereas consuming seeds (pumpkin, sesame, butternut squash, etc), which have a particularly beneficial tryptophan to protein ratio, is helpful. I would advise eating raw (and sprouted if possible) seeds, as roasting the seeds alters the amino acid ratios.
We have long been testing the blood for amino acid imbalances in patients with mood disorders. Formulating the appropriate amino acid blend to create healthy amino acid balance, based on symptoms and the blood test results, makes a big difference in producing positive change. The most impressive changes I have witnessed in practice are with patients facing the challenges of anxiety, depression and autism disorders.
I recently read a good summary by journalist Sheila Casey of the benefits of the mineral lithium orotate (not to be mistaken with the prescription medication lithium carbonate) for protecting the brain from challenges like Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, mood disorders including depression, alcoholism, and brain injury, and to enhance brain function, increasing the number and the quality of new brain cells.
Lithium protects the brain against toxins of all kinds, including alcohol, and environmental toxins we all face. At HealthBridge we test the blood for lithium in patients who are challenged with mood disorders and often find an extreme deficiency of this mineral. I will prescribe the mineral when it is appropriate, while monitoring blood tests to make sure thyroid, kidney and liver function remain healthy.
Some food sources of lithium to incorporate into your diet include kelp (1000-2000mg taken daily) and pistachios (just a handful, 2-3 times per week).
Miracle Mineral Protects the Brain By Sheila Casey / RCFP
Numerous studies have found that a common mineral heals the brain by stimulating the growth of new brain cells and protecting brain cells from every known neurotoxin. It has been shown to reduce the incidence of violent crime, homicide, suicide, and drug addiction, while preventing the brain shrinkage and memory loss that otherwise occurs naturally with age, as well as helping people with alcoholism, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, cluster headaches and traumatic brain injury.
Although occurring naturally in tomatoes and in the water supply in many places, this mineral is rarely found in any vitamin-mineral supplement, and is not even commonly found in brick and mortar health food stores. Its name may surprise you: Lithium.
Most people think of lithium as a drug for crazy people. While high doses of lithium carbonate are used to treat bipolar disorder, and are available only as a prescription, both lithium orotate and lithium aspartate are available cheaply over the counter, in much lower doses, at outlets such as vitacost.com and iherb.com. (Note: We have no financial connection with either outlet.)
According to the controversial, and now deceased German orthomolecular physician Dr. Hans Nieper, the orotate form of lithium is more effectively transported inside cells, making it more effective at lower doses than the prescription form, lithium carbonate.
Lithium has also been shown to be effective at ultra-low doses, such as those found naturally in tap water. A ten year Texas study found that the incidence of rape, homicide, suicide, burglary and drug addiction was significantly lower in counties where the water supply contained 70-170 micrograms of lithium per liter, compared to counties where there is little or no lithium in the water. A similar study in Japan found that lithium in the water supply significantly reduced the risk of suicide.
Even a very thirsty Texan who drank three liters of water a day (100 ounces) would still be getting only a half a milligram of lithium per day, if they lived in an area where there is 170 mcg. of lithium per liter of water. Compare this to the amount commonly taken by bipolar patients: 900 mg/day of lithium carbonate, which contains 165 mg of elemental lithium. Put another way, the startling results of the Texas study were achieved with doses that were one-third of one percent of the amount taken by bipolar patients.
These highly beneficial effects from low dose lithium have prompted some researchers to call for adding lithium to the water supply in the amounts found naturally in the high lithium Texas counties.
One of these is Jonathan Wright M.D, author, founder of the Tahoma Clinic in Renton, Washington, and a member of the medical advisory board for the non-profit Life Extension Foundation. Dr. Wright first began working with lithium in the 70s, when research at a VA hospital showed that it dramatically reduced recidivism (otherwise known as “falling off the wagon”) among alcoholics. Not only were these vets drinking less, their families reported less anger, aggression and violence in the men, and less moodiness, weepiness and depression in the women. They were also sleeping better, and generally calmer and happier.
Wright later began using low dose lithium with the children of alcoholics, who often have some of the same mood problems afflicting their parents. (A February 2010 article published in the journal Addiction showed that kids with a family history of alcoholism are more likely to crave sweets, suffer from depression, and become alcoholics themselves.)
But Wright didn’t start using low dose lithium himself until 1999, when an article in the British medical journal The Lancet reported the astonishing finding that just four weeks of high-dose lithium therapy caused a three percent increase in brain volume — translating into billions of additional brain cells. These findings turned on its head the conventional wisdom that we are born with all the brain cells we will ever have, and that brain shrinkage is an unavoidable consequence of aging.
In the past ten years, says Wright, there has been an “avalanche of research” about lithium. In addition to proving definitively that lithium stimulates the brain to grow new cells, it has also been shown to be, Wright says, a “wonderful neuroprotective agent from any type of toxin there is.” This neuro-protective mechanism is so strong that one respected lithium researcher said, according to Wright, that it “verges on malpractice to prescribe any psychotropic medication without lithium to protect the brain.” Psychotropics include antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, and sleeping pills.
Dr. Wright has even heard, anecdotally, from numerous patients, that when they are taking lithium they don’t get bad hangovers. Lithium protects the brain from the damaging effects of alcohol, reducing the pain the morning after. Wright cautions that one can’t simply pop a tablet of lithium along with a pitcher of margaritas to achieve this effect, one would have to be taking it regularly, prior to a night of overindulgence, to protect brain cells.
Likewise, it has been shown that if the blood supply is suddenly cut off to the brain, such as with a stroke, brain cells suffer much less damage if the stroke victim has been taking lithium. (It does not work to take the lithium after the stroke, when the damage has already occurred.)
Mentioning that a recent medical journal carried a story with the headline “Can lithium prevent Alzheimer’s disease?” Dr. Wright said, “You know when you see a headline like that, that in another ten years you’ll see the same headline without the question mark.” He then enumerated multiple ways in which lithium interferes with the Alzheimer’s disease process.
Although he has no family history of mental illness or alcoholism, Wright has been taking 20 mg/day of elemental lithium (in the orotate form) for over ten years, purely to protect his brain and keep his IQ and memory in tip-top form, for as long as possible, as he ages.
In over 30 years, Wright has encountered only two or three people who have had a possible reaction to a dose of 20 mg/day or less: they thought it might have caused a slight tremor — which went away when the lithium was discontinued. On the other hand, he’s had dozens of patients report that their benign tremor improved on low dose lithium
Wright cautions that every patient is different and it is wise to also take fish oil and flax seed oil, if one is taking lithium. These healthy oils are routinely used to treat lithium toxicity in patients who are so severely bipolar that stopping their lithium is not an option, and they add an extra layer of safety for those using over the counter lithium without a doctor’s supervision.
Wright defines low dose lithium as anything up to a maximum of 55 mg of elemental lithium per day, which is the equivalent of a single 300 mg. capsule of prescription lithium carbonate, or 11 tablets of over the counter lithium orotate or aspartate, which typically contain 5 mg. of elemental lithium per tablet. No one, he says, should consider going higher than that without regular blood testing to insure that they are not toxic, and damaging either their kidneys or thyroid gland. Symptoms of lithium toxicity are: tremor in the hands, rising blood pressure, and flu-like symptoms.
Given the many amazing neurological benefits of lithium, why has there been so little it in the press? A search at nytimes.com for “lithium alcoholism” brought up just two relevant articles: from 1973 and 1975. A search for “lithium Alzheimer’s” at both MSNBC and CNN brought up no relevant articles.
Dr. Wright has a theory about this, and it’s not flattering to either science writers, pharmaceutical companies or biosciences academics. The problem begins, he says, with the fact that lithium cannot be patented, so no real money can be made from selling it. Thus, there are no armies of press agents blanketing science writers with press releases touting its eye-popping benefits. And science writers, Dr. Wright says, “do not dig, and they have not been digging into this lithium at all.” If they don’t receive a press release about it, says Wright, science writers are unlikely to find out about new discoveries.
Not only is there no money to be made selling lithium, lithium represents direct competition to drugs that are currently earning many billions of profit for pharmaceutical companies. The central nervous system (CNS) drug market is expected to increase to $64 billion this year. By comparison, lithium aspartate is available at vitacost.com for less than $6 for a 30 day supply.
I asked Dr. Wright “If everyone were taking low dose lithium, as you are, wouldn’t there be a greatly reduced market for psychotropic drugs, Alzheimer’s drugs, alcoholism drugs?” and he replied:
“Yes. I don’t know when the news about lithium will break through into public awareness. When it does, it will probably be opposed, because there are so many professors who are on the payroll of patent medicine companies. Anybody who comes out and promotes something that is in competition with a product from the patent medicine companies is going to be called crazy and a quack by those on the payroll of those same patent medicine companies.”
The news that lithium is good for our brains raises some compelling questions. Is lithium an essential nutrient for human health that is deficient in our water supply and the soil that grows our food? With so many people now filtering their water or drinking purified bottled water, are we eliminating even trace amounts of lithium from our diets? Lithium is one of the most abundant minerals in the sea, with 50 micrograms in a tablespoon of seawater. Could that be part of the reason why people the world over flock to the sea, and feel so relaxed and calm after a day spent splashing in the waves?
Until these questions are answered, one thing seems clear: your brain has a good friend in lithium.
Sheila Casey is a DC based journalist. Her work has appeared in The Denver Post, Reuters, Chicago Sun-Times, Dissident Voice and Common Dreams.
A new study was just published in the Archives of General Psychiatry involving over 73,000 patients that points to the connection between inflammation in the body and depression. I identified this connection nearly 10 years ago, began publishing on it about six years ago, and coined the phrase “Sickness Syndrome” to help doctors to diagnose this prevalent cause for depression. I have been treating patients using this knowledge ever since.
It is time to take a new look at the underlying cause(s) of depression so that mainstream medicine can offer long lasting cures for this debilitating health challenge.
Just a quick post to share my excitement as our medical practice expands to offer to our patients the only medical service of its kind in southern California.
As you know, I am passionate about integrative medicine, and after 15 years treating patients and teaching physicians how to practice this medicine, I am still in awe of the results that come with helping the body to heal itself. There are natural options available for major health challenges, like depression, infertility, ADHD, hormone imbalance, memory loss, chronic pain, and rheumatoid arthritis.
I have been practicing concierge medicine with our high profile patients and am now offering this service to more people.
As a concierge patient you have the option for home visits, a private line to the doctor, help with shopping for the best foods for your body, and a more personal and direct relationship, the way medicine used to be practiced, when your doctor was also a family friend.
Read about our patients’ experiences to learn firsthand from others who have gotten results with the help of this medicine.
You can call our offices at 310-734-0950 (Beverly Hills) or 949-715-9321 (Newport Beach) for more info.
A new study, albeit on mice, further points to the link between inflammation and depression. I began publishing on this topic six years ago. In our medical office I see the real world connection between mood disorders like depression, and inflammation in the body. It is always a pleasure to watch patients as they heal from debilitating symptoms, when we address this underlying cause.
Dr. Gina Cushman of HealthBridge Management LLC to lead a live online continuing education (CE) event on “Innovative Strategies for Optimizing Thyroid Function.” Licensed healthcare professionals receive 1.25 hours of LIVE pharmacy credits by logging on to www.freece.com and registering for Dr. Cushman’s seminar. The first presentation, Monday November 28th, 2011, offers 1.25 hours of live pharmaceutical CE credits and runs from 10:30 AM ET to 11:45 AM ET.
As always, you won’t want to miss this talk, that will provide new information on how best to prevent and treat the most prevalent thyroid conditions of our time.
Note from Dr. Cushman…”most of my patients associate thyroid issues with weight gain or weight loss. This is true, but just as significant is the powerful impact that an unhealthy thyroid has on your mental health, causing depression, anxiety, difficulty focusing, and difficulty handling stressful situations. Most physicians only test “TSH” which is an antiquated and ineffective way to catch and treat the MAJORITY of treatable thyroid conditions our country is challenged with. I encourage all practitioners to attend this seminar that includes digestible, take home strategies and clinical pearls that you can apply in your practice the next day.”
We love patient testimonials, and want to thank all of our HealthBridge Medical Center patients and DrGina.com customers who take the time to share their experiences with us. Below is a testimonial that just came in, and instantly helped us to renew our strength, inspire us and served as a reminder of why we work so hard to share the message and be a demonstration for you, that Naturopathic Medicine works, even in the most seemingly hopeless situations.
Dear Dr. Gina Nick (Cushman), I’m writing this to thank you for your expertise and for the information you are sharing on your website. I want to tell you my experiences, along with how much you helped me. I was diagnosed as a Manic Depressive in 1979, along with being a alcoholic with a cocaine problem. I was prescribed lithium and at that time I quit drinking and quit cocaine. I took lithium for 30 years but still continued to have bouts of depression which I attribute to hypoglycemia, which I was told I had even before 1979. My kidneys were beginning to be compromised by lithium and although I was scared about going off of it, in March of 2010 I gradually decreased the dosage and finally quit taking it. I found my system to be even more sensitive to the low blood sugar problem and I decided for the first time in my life to start taking it seriously and to eat a high protein, low carb diet. I started to feel better and the depression and confusion started to lift, but it seemed that every time my allergies (inflammation) got bad, the blood sugar issue along with the headaches and feeling so fatigued etc. got worse. I added Vitamin D (4,000 ui/day, Twin Lab, water soluble) to my diet and it helped me a lot, but I ran out one day and bought another brand of Vitamin D3 (not water soluble) and within 3 weeks I found myself really depressed. After analysing it I realized it was the water soluble product that was working for me. I kept thinking though, the inflammation I had was directly related to the hypoglycemia but I didn’t understand why, this is when I ran across the paper you wrote about cytokines. I then started searching for more of your work and I ran across your ‘sicksyndrome.com’ site and took your assessment test. I scored a 17, knowing it would have been much worse if I would have taken it prior to the diet change. I followed your 5 Step Program and started doing the following daily… 1) A tablespoon of Sesame Oil/day. 2) A handful of Walnuts/day. 3) 450 mg of Holy Basil/day. 4) I’m unable take Flaxseed Oil, I tried in the past but it doesn’t seem to digest properly. 5) I don’t know if my DHEA level is low, so I haven’t taken it. 6) I picked up a meditation sound file and I’m meditating at least 5 times per week. I was always so fatigued, along with all the other mental and physical things that went along with what you explained regarding the cytokine overload, and after I started your ’5 Step Program’ I have to tell you how good I feel mentally and physically and the blood sugar issue is much better also. I hope I didn’t give you to much information, but I am so happy to feel good and I had to tell you how much you have changed my life. I hope I can refer someone to you in the future because I feel indebted to you.
You are what I consider a real Doctor to be.
Scientists should more closely examine whether antidepressant drugs increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, according to a researcher affiliated with Harvard University whose review of 61 studies suggested a link.
The risk of cancer increased 11 percent on average for patients taking the medicines, according to a report that analyzed previous data and was published in yesterday’s issue of the peer-reviewed journal PLoS ONE. Read the full article by clicking here.
Preparing for a CME lecture (to air on PharmCon on June 9th, and categorized as live pharmacy hours for doctors) on augmenting the side effects and risks associated with oral contraceptives and other synthetic hormones popular among women and teen-aged girls. In addition to a significant increased risk in various cancers, the synthetic hormones also decrease serotonin levels, further increasing the chance of a woman being prescribed anti-depressant medications which appear to further increase her risk of cancer!
A solution could be to take well researched immunomodulators like BRM4 if you take synthetic hormones, or to avoid these hormones if at all possible and turn to more natural options like Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy.
In health and healing,