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.
Just like with hormones, it is about balance when it comes to amino acid therapy.
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.
As evidenced by an article published this month in Pediatrics, there is a strong push by the US Government’s Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) to encourage doctors to routinely screen ALL American teens for depression using subjective mental health screening questionnaires. Unfortunately, this can very quickly lead to over-prescription of addictive psychotropic medications, some of which have been proven to increase risk of teenage suicide. What is most interesting is that the screening methods that the USPSTF is recommending were at one time discouraged by the same task force, which discerned that there is no evidence that screening for suicide risk actually reduces suicide attempts or death.
Teens will typically be prescribed SSRI antidepressants unnecessarily as a consequence of widespread screening. SSRI antidepressant medications have been shown to be no more or only slightly more effective then placebo. Additionally, these antidepressants carry the FDA’s strongest “Black Box” warning for increased risk of suicide among teens and young adults.
These medications are highly profitable in the US, bringing in approximately $286 Billion in ’07.
You can treat depression naturally. It is absolutely worth the time, money and energy to go that route first, before considering an antidepressant. I see the most success in my practice when we use a variety of laboratory tests (e.g. blood amino acid & nutrient levels, Organic Acids, Food Allergy panels, as well as hormones) coupled with individualized treatment protocols aimed to work with the body’s unique and natural tendency to come to a state of balance, rather then forcing it to produce a single neurotransmitter, like serotonin, at the expense of overall health and well being.
It is time to re-focus our attention on doing what is in the best interest of the people (in this case US teens) and the planet.
The MOTHERS act has been introduced once again to the US House of Representatives and the US Senate. This bill is concerning as it would mandate the federal government to screen all new mothers for “psychiatric” conditions. It parallels the “Teen Screen” phenomenon where schools began screening kids to see if they were at risk for suicide. It appears like a good idea on the surface however, it opens the door for over-prescribing potentially lethal psychiatric medications with questionable justification. If you follow the money trail, it leads straight to the pharmaceutical industry, and new moms and teens are both huge markets that have, until now, been virtually untapped.
In my practice, I see many patients who have been prescribed psychiatric medications, feel disconnected from who they really are, and have grown extremely frustrated with the process of trying to get off the medications, with little if any support from their prescribing psychiatrist. I often learn that these patients felt better before taking the medications and are now left confused and totally disenchanted by the Healthcare system that offers no answers once a patient decides that his or her antidepressant is causing more harm then help. Had they come in prior to taking the medications we would have worked together to find the underlying cause for the sad or anxious feelings. Oftentimes it is due to a multifaceted condition called Sickness Syndrome Depression that is best treated with natural medicines. Sometimes it can be related to adrenal stress, or compromised immune function, or an amino acid imbalance or other nutrient deficiency. Sometimes, and especially in new moms, it is simply due to a hormonal imbalance that can be easily and safely corrected through natural, nutrition -based medicine. Patients are able to eventually break free from the psychiatric medications, but it is a long and committed process that takes time, energy and patience.
To gain a better understanding of the consequences of allowing this bill to pass, click here.
To see and hear one woman’s story about being misled by the psychiatric field and losing her child as a consequence, click here.
To sign a petition urging congress not to pass the MOTHERS act click here.
In the spirit of doing what is best for the patient,
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