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My adult son has been struggling with depression and anxiety for several years.

Q. Hello Terry, “My adult son has been struggling with depression and anxiety for several years. He tried many medications in the past, but nothing seemed to help. We are frustrated with his current doctor, so he is going to see a naturopathic doctor in the near future. I would like some suggestions as to anything natural that might help stabilize his mood?” — Sharee O., Denver, CO

A. Dear Sharee, Depression is a very complex disease that can be difficult to treat. Please continue to keep your son’s healthcare practitioner in the loop with any supplementation he may be considering.

Chronic inflammation is known to play a major role in the development of depression. Curcumin is one of the best substances on the planet for modulating inflammatory pathways in our body. This can equate to a big impact on many chronic conditions, including depression. Research has also shown that curcumin is able to modulate the levels of brain neurotransmitters (chemical messengers like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine) that influence mood, behavior, appetite, emotions, and even dreaming and memory.

In a clinical study, patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) showed the highest response using a combination of fluoxetine (Prozac®) and curcumin enhanced with turmeric essential oil. The combination group saw a 77.8% response rate as measured with the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD-17). Another clinical study demonstrated that curcumin enhanced with turmeric essential oil showed antidepressant effects in people with major depressive disorder as early as 4 weeks after treatment. Keep in mind that standard curcumin is very poorly absorbed, so make sure the curcumin you choose features excellent absorption that has been proven in published human studies. The best form I have ever found uses curcumin blended with turmeric essential oil. I would take curcumin twice per day. 

St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) has a long history of use for mood issues and modern research has validated its use for depression. One multi-center clinical study in Germany divided patients into two groups: one taking St. John’s wort, and the other imipramine (a prescription drug for major depression) for six weeks. Both groups showed similar improvements, but St. John’s wort was much better tolerated. In fact, the researchers concluded that St. John’s wort was, “therapeutically equivalent to imipramine in treating mild to moderate depression, but patients tolerate Hypericum better.” They also felt that St. John’s wort should be the first-line treatment, rather than a prescription drug, because it is so much easier on people’s systems. I prefer St. John’s wort that is standardized to 0.3% hypericin and stays in your bloodstream for up to 24 hours. I would take St. John’s wort daily.

Additionally, I also think that omega-3s would be very beneficial. Omega-3s like DHA and EPA are healthy fats that are essential to the human body. I prefer omega-3 fatty acids from the head of salmon, naturally bound to beneficial peptides and phospholipids, as this is much closer to nature and how people were meant to absorb and use these nutrients. In addition to the omega-3s that have extensive research on depression, the peptides and phospholipids also have some mood supporting properties. These additional compounds are not found in traditional fish oils, which are commonly processed from the body of the fish, and contain the unfavorable triglycerides to transport the omega-3s. I would take omega-3 fatty acids from the head of salmon once or twice per day.

Healthy Regards!

Terry . . . Naturally

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