My son has been diagnosed with depression.
Q. Dear Terry, “My son has been diagnosed with depression. The doctor has recommended a prescription, but the side effects almost seem worse than the depression. I’ve read that natural medicines can be just as effective and would like him to go that route first. What can he try?” — Mark B., Quebec, Canada
A. Dear Mark, Depression is a very complex disease that can be difficult to treat. Please continue to keep your healthcare practitioner in the loop with any supplementation you may be doing.
First, inflammation is known to play a major role in the development of depression. Curcumin is one of the most potent, anti-inflammatory compounds on the planet and can help reduce inflammation throughout the body. Second, curcumin is also 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 a high-absorption 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 high-absorption 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 product you choose features a curcumin with excellent absorption that has been proven in published human studies. The best form I have ever found uses curcumin blended with turmeric essential oil in a patented process. I would take this unique curcumin twice per day.
St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) has a long history of use 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 6 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.
One of the biggest issues with St. John’s wort is compliance. Studies generally used 3 doses of St. John’s wort per day, but with people having such busy schedules it can be difficult to remember to take the full dose. That’s why I recommend a St. John’s wort that is standardized to 0.3% hypericin and provides the full, clinically-studied dosage in a once-daily tablet. You receive the full benefits because it stays in your bloodstream for up to 24 hours. I would take this St. John’s wort once 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 Atlantic salmon, naturally bound to phospholipids, as this is much closer to nature and how people were meant to absorb and use these nutrients. I would take omega-3 fatty acids from salmon once or twice per day.
Terry . . . Naturally