Note: The following excerpt is reprinted from Healthy, Happy and Free: Spirit-Soul-Body Solutions for Healing from Depression (Copyright January 2019), with the kind permission of Connie Strasheim.
Solving physiological causes of depression in chronic disease
Once the neurotransmitter and hormonal imbalances were considered by the medical community as the main physiological causes of depression, but research shows that other phenomena such as inflammation, insulin resistance, nutritional deficiencies, mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress can also cause contributing to depression, especially in chronic diseases.
In addition, chronic infections are a major cause of depression, but largely unrecognized. Here, I will share with you on a basic level, how and why all these factors can cause depression and what can be done to heal the body and the brain from their effects. Once again, each of these topics is complex and whole books could be written on each of them, so just use the information here as a starting point for further research alone or to share with your doctors.
Balance the micronutrients of your body
Dietary micronutrients, including vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids, influence brain and nervous system function, as well as cofactors of amino acids and neurotransmitters, which I discussed in Healthy, happy and free. For this reason, it may be useful to perform a test of vitamins, fatty acids and mineral profiles, to evaluate the cellular level of micronutrients and make sure that the brain and the rest of the body have what they need to function properly. Spectra Cell Laboratories is a laboratory that performs this type of test. For more information, see: SpectraCell.com.
The B-complex vitamins, which are used as co-factors by the body to produce neurotransmitters, are among the most important nutrients that support the health of the nervous system. I have already mentioned vitamins B-12 and B-6, but also adequate levels of niacin and folate are important.
Vitamin D is another fundamental nutrient for the health of the brain and the nervous system. Many North Americans are highly deficient in vitamin D because they do not spend enough time in the sun. Vitamin D acts more like a hormone than a vitamin in the body and plays a crucial role in regulating mood and the immune system. Vitamin D deficiencies were found in people with seasonal affective disorder (or SAD), a type of depression caused by a lack of exposure to sunlight during the winter months.
Because vitamin D plays a vital role in supporting mood and overall health, it is a good idea to get tested vitamin D levels and take a vitamin D-3 supplement if your doctor recommends it. Most integrative physicians consider a normal range of vitamin D above 60 mg / dl. According to doctor supplement Joe Mercola, MD, in his article "Getting Your Vitamin D Within Healthy Intervals", the recommended level of vitamin D was between 40 and 60 nanograms per milliliter (ng / ml). However, in the last few years, the optimal range has been increased to 50-70 ng / ml, and if you are treating cancer or heart disease, it is as high as 70-100 ng / ml.
It is also essential to have the right balance between omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFA) in your body, which come from fatty foods such as healthy cooking oils, nuts, seeds and fish. Fatty acids are important components of nerve cell membranes and play a vital role in neuronal communication. Fatty acid imbalances can alter nerve transmission between nerve cells, leading to cognitive problems and mood problems, including depression.
In a healthy diet, omega-6 EFAs come mainly from cooking oils and nuts, while the best omega-3 EFAs come from high quality fish oils. You need both types of EFA, but many of us have too much omega-6, which means we could benefit more from taking some Omega-3 EFAs from fish oil to balance things out. Omega-3 essential fatty acids are also highly anti-inflammatory and can attenuate the depression caused by inflammation (more on this in the next section). Taking a high quality fish oil supplement that has been tested to be heavy metal free may be the best way to do it. Choose a supplement that has studies to support its effectiveness and confirm its purity. Nordic Naturals is a company that has a good reputation for efficacy and purity. For more information, see: NordicNaturals.com.
Reduced oxidative stress, inflammation and histamine, three main causes of depression
Oxidative stress (OS) is a general term that is used to describe the damage that occurs to your cells when your body's ability to remove free radicals (which are by-products of toxicity and metabolism) through its antioxidant system, not can keep up with the amount of free radicals in your body When there are too many free radicals in your body, you can not do it and the result is inflammation and cell damage. Nowadays, most of us have high amounts of oxidative stress, mainly due to environmental toxicity, stress and our hectic lifestyles. The resulting inflammation and cellular damage can cause or contribute to depression and other disorders of the nervous system and the brain.
Therefore, it is possible that the reduction of oxidative stress and inflammation can help mitigate symptoms, especially if you are fighting a chronic neurodegenerative disease such as Lyme. It never occurred to me that inflammation could be another of the main causes of my depression until I experienced it for myself after getting sick from Lyme disease.
After about 10 years in the disease, a doctor told me that I had a mast cell activation disorder (MCAD) induced by Lyme disease and mold toxicity. MCAD is a condition in which the body releases an excessive amount of histamine from mast cells, which are a type of immune cell. Histamine causes widespread inflammation and can be caused by an excessive exposure to dangerous toxins such as mold and chronic infections, but it can also be apparently a genetic problem in some people or even caused by stress.
Researchers are discovering that MCAD is one of the main factors contributing to many chronic conditions and diseases: from depression to cancer to chronic fatigue syndrome. To learn more about MCAD, you could read Lawrence Afrin's book, Never bet against occam: mast cell activation disease and the modern Epidemics of chronic disease and medical complexity. The book is for doctors but if you are science oriented, you may find it interesting.
Both natural remedies and medications can be used to manage inflammation caused by oxidative stress and MCAD. Ketotifen is one of these. It is an antihistamine drug composed with a very low side effect profile. Clark's Pharmacy in Washington is a pharmacy that produces this excellent drug. My doctor gave me ketotifen for MCAD and literally during the night, my symptoms of Lyme and mold MCAD induced toxicity were dramatically reduced, including depression. In a few days, I was a new person: happier, with less pain and much more energetic.
What I like about ketotifen is that it is profoundly effective and, unlike other antihistamines commonly known as Benadryl, it is not anticholinergic; that is, it does not block the action of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the central and peripheral nervous system. Some antihistamines do this, which is why drugs like Benadryl have been associated with Alzheimer's and memory loss, since acetylcholine plays a vital role in memory and cognition. On this note, be cautious when you take over-the-counter drugs because they are not necessarily safer than prescription drugs!
A natural antihistamine that may be useful for the management of depression caused by MCAD is quercetin, a flavonoid antioxidant found in many plant foods. Diamine oxidase, an enzyme involved in metabolism and inactivation of histamine, can also be useful.
In addition, two natural substances that can help suppress the depression caused by inflammation are essential fatty acids omega-3 and curcumin. Both have been extensively studied for their potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Curcumin is a compound of spicy turmeric and has also been shown to be useful for reducing histamine. You can buy it over-the-counter and online. I recommend choosing a product that has a reputation for effectiveness, since curcumin can be difficult to absorb and not all curcumin products are bioavailable for the body.
Finally, perhaps the most effective thing you can do to reduce the inflammation in your brain and the rest of your body is to maintain an anti-inflammatory diet and reduce stress levels. I also found brain retraining programs, which I share in chapter two of Healthy, happy and free be very powerful to reduce inflammation.
The role of bowel health in mental well-being
In recent years, researchers have investigated what is called the "intestine-brain" axis, which exclusively affects the way in which brain health affects the intestine and vice versa. I have already described a way in which the syndrome of the permeable bowel causes depression: by letting food particles escape through damaged walls of the gastrointestinal tract; in particular, the small intestine, where they enter the bloodstream and cause systemic inflammation. Also, the type and number of beneficial bacteria you have in your gut play an important role in your mood, as well as your immune function.
For example, a 2016 study, the results of which were published in Trends in neuroscience, found that the following probiotics (or beneficial bacteria) substantially reduced depression in a number of people:
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
- Bifidobacterium lactis
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Lactobacillus brevis
- Lactobacillus casei
- Lactobacillus salivarius
- Lactococcus lactis
An article published on MentalHealthDaily.com entitled "10 best probiotics for depression and anxiety: the modification of the gastro-brain axis" cites the following as the most useful probiotics for mood regulation, according to animal studies. However, the tenth of the list here is what is called prebiotic, which is a plant fiber that nourishes the good bacteria that are already in the gut or in the colon. While probiotics introduce good bacteria into the intestine, prebiotics act as fertilizers for the good bacteria that are already present. The following pre and probiotics can help you rebuild your gut, and in doing so, positively affect your mind and emotions. They include:
- Bifidobacterium longum
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus
- Lactobacillus helveticus
- Lactobacillus plantarum
- Bifidobacterium animalis
- Lactobacillus casei
- Bifidobacterium infantis
- Bifidobacterium short
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
To find a probiotic supplement that optimally improves mood and well-being, choose a product that has a large number of one of the aforementioned multiple bacterial species. Ideally, it also seeks scientific research and clinical trials to ascertain the effectiveness of the product.
Another great way to fill the intestines with probiotics that promote mood, or beneficial bacteria, is to consume fermented foods on a regular basis. Fermented foods often contain more types of beneficial bacteria than probiotic supplements and can be a useful digestive aid.
Some popular fermented foods include: kombucha, kimchi, beetroot kvass, sauerkraut and fermented vegetable juices. You can also prepare your fermented foods at home, which involves little more than dipping vegetables in a closed container for 48 hours with a little salt, and the starting serum or culture. For simple instructions on how to prepare probiotic foods and to purchase boot kits for probiotic foods, see: CulturesforHealth.com.
The health of the intestine is vital for mental, emotional and physical well-being. For most people, restoring the gut is a multifactorial process that involves not only taking probiotics and removing gastrointestinal infections, but also healing a leaky gut and damaged stomach lining. Furthermore, it is a matter of avoiding toxic foods, conventionally treated.
Many natural substances heal and soothe a damaged intestine. Among the most popular of these are: aloe vera, slippery elm, glutamine and marshmallow root. A product called Restore has also been shown to heal the leaky gut, and while it's a bit expensive at around $ 50 for a month's supply, some doctors and other professionals I know have had great success in healing the intestines of their patients. For more information, see: Restore4Life.com.
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For more in-depth information on bowel healing, an excellent resource is the book, Gut syndrome and psychology: natural treatment for autism, dyspraxia, A.D.D., dyslexia, D.D.H.D., depression and schizophrenia by Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD. Dr. Campbell-McBride has also developed a powerful gut healing diet, called the GAPS diet, which I mentioned earlier.
In summary, I encourage you to do further research on this topic, as you may be surprised to find out that tackling and healing your gut with the right foods and supplements is a powerful tool that will take you to the next level in your recovery!
Other biological factors that influence mood and the mind include the health of the mitochondria and the balance of blood sugar. I will talk briefly about these last two factors here, and you can do more research on each yourself, as God guides you. Your cells are made up of many components, including mitochondria, which are small organelles that are considered the energy centers of your cells, where all their energy is produced. Much of medical research has linked mitochondrial dysfunction and low energy to a multitude of health conditions, including depression.
For example, one study found that people with depression had significantly less mitochondria, or organelles producing energy than those who were not depressed. In another study, older women with good cognitive function were found to have more mitochondria than those with poor cognitive function associated with depression.
Nutrients that facilitate the health of mitochondria and provide energy to cells include coenzyme Q10 and acetyl-L-carnitine. Both of these nutrients also have mood-enhancing properties, due to their ability to reduce oxidative stress and toxicity in neurons and improve energy within the cells. Studies have shown that CoQ10 levels are significantly lower in people with depression or chronic fatigue. As a result, CoQ10 can be useful for improving mood and mental functions. Similarly, in another study of people with chronic depression, acetyl-L-carnitine was found to relieve depression.
Therefore, you could ask your doctor if you could benefit from taking these vital nutrients that support mitochondria. They also support many other processes in the body, including heart health and energy production. Another way to start your mitochondrial function is to get the morning sun! The neurosurgeon Jack Kruse, MD, has found that wetting the skin in the morning sun dramatically improves mitochondrial function and thereby cell energy.
The role of resistance to insulin and the correct balance of blood sugar
Over half of the US population is resistant to insulin and has pre-diabetes or diabetes. Insulin resistance is a condition in which cells become resistant to the effects of insulin, a hormone that is used by the body to provide glucose in cells, which cells use to produce energy. Insulin resistance is nowadays incredibly common due to environmental toxicity, chronic infections, the standard American diet (SAD), which is rich in carbohydrates and stress. This means that many of us are hypoglycemic, pre-diabetic or even diabetic, as these are the results of long-term insulin resistance.
Correcting insulin resistance and even some type 2 diabetes can be as simple as adopting a low carbohydrate and / or low glycemic load diet. There are many books and resources on low carbohydrate diets and low glycemic load, such as the ketogenic diet. If you know you are insulin resistant or have gained weight in recent years despite a healthy diet, it is worth considering the adoption of a low carbohydrate diet and / or the adoption of other measures to improve your glycemic balance.
For example, natural supplements of chromium and cinnamon have been shown to help the body absorb glucose into cells and prevent insulin resistance. Regular exercise lowers and prevents resistance to insulin. Insulin resistance is dangerous because it can lead to diabetes, heart disease and other serious health conditions, including depression. In one study, patients who were treated with the insulin-sensitizing drug pioglitazone had depression of those who were not given the drug. The evidence suggests that another drug commonly administered to diabetics, called metformin, can also positively influence mood.
If you are not diabetic, however, there are less toxic ways to improve the functioning of insulin in your body, for example through a low carbohydrate diet, eating smaller meals, doing physical activity and taking nutrients that support a healthy regulation of blood sugar.
Studies show that for optimal health, fasting glucose levels should be between 70 and 85 mg / dL and two hours after a meal should not exceed 120 mg / dL. If your blood sugar level is higher than that, you are probably fighting a certain degree of insulin resistance and you should consider making some changes to your diet and / or training program. You can monitor your blood sugar by purchasing a blood glucose meter and blood sugar test strips from Wal-Mart or your local pharmacy. It's simple to do and a useful tool to prevent diabetes, which has become rampant in the United States.
Infections as a main cause of depression
We all have pathogenic microbes in our bodies; everything from bacteria, viruses, yeasts, molds and parasites. Not all of us are sick of these microbes, since a healthy body will contain their numbers. However, if you are under stress, or your immune system is compromised by other factors, they can start to reproduce in your body and cause disease.
A surprising number of us today fight chronic infections from microbes. Unbeknownst to many of us, they can cause a wide variety of symptoms, ranging from chronic fatigue to headaches, skin conditions, intestinal and cognitive problems, and, you guessed , the Depression.
Microbes live in the central nervous system, in the brain, in the bloodstream, in the gastrointestinal tract and in virtually every organ and tissue in the body. They can damage the brain and the nervous system, the intestine and other parts of the body and release toxins that promote systemic inflammation and, consequently, depression. By now you've probably guessed that inflammation and depression are synonymous, right? Well, not always, but often yes!
As I can personally attest, many people with chronic Lyme disease, caused by microbes that primarily infect neurological and cardiovascular systems, fight depression and / or anxiety. Depression caused by microbes can be quite serious. This is because they damage or cause dysfunctions in the brain, in the intestine and in other organs and trigger a diffuse inflammation, which results in a physiological depression.
Yet many people with chronic low-grade infections often remain undiagnosed and unwitting to harbor a multitude of pathogenic microbes, because current methods of laboratory testing for pathogenic microbes are inadequate and the symptoms of infection can mimic those of many other conditions. Moreover, most of the doctors with conventional training are not trained to recognize these microbes and no tests have yet been developed to detect the numerous species and strains of pathogenic microbes that are now in the environment and which make people sick. Just because you have a negative lab test does not mean you're not hosting some pathogenic creatures somewhere in your body that are causing chaos!
The fact that pathogens can cause depression has been established by many studies and by the experiences of doctors with their patients. For example, a Stony Brook University report states: "An analysis of 28 studies found a link between virus and depression, including the Borna disease virus (BDV), the herpes virus responsible for cold sores, the varicella zoster virus, which causes chickenpox and the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes glandular fever. "
Some examples of other common pathogenic microbes that cause depression include: Borrelia, Babesia is Bartonella, all of which are found in chronic Lyme disease. They can also cause many other types of parasites, bacteria and viruses. Mold and yeast infections such as those caused by candida albicans they are other great culprits. It is beyond the scope of this book to list every type of pathogenic organism that can affect your mood and well-being, so I highly recommend visiting a medical integrator or naturopath, who uses a device or an external test method to find out whether pathogens they are making you sick or sad!
Two famous diagnostic devices used by integrative physicians include the ZYTO and the ASYRA. Many unconventional doctors now use these devices to test their patients for infections and many other things. They are computerized galvanic response devices that simply involve resting your hand on a base while a computer scans your body. They are a simple, non-invasive and quick method to detect problems in the body. Healthcare professionals who are experienced in the use of these devices can detect a wide variety of pathogenic microbes that will lack conventional laboratory tests.
Other professionals use muscle tests to find out if the body is harboring a pathogenic infection that is affecting your mental health. Every skeletal muscle in your body is attached to or associated with your autonomic nervous system (ANS), which is responsible for the "automatic" functions of your body, such as blood pressure, breathing, heart rate, digestion, and so on. If something is stressing your ANS, it will also cause momentary distress or weakening of the skeletal muscles. So you can essentially "pose" your ANS questions by testing your body's muscle response to a variety of stressors, including pathogenic infections. Your ANS will respond by causing a strengthening or weakening of the muscles in your body. Muscle testing, by itself, should not usually be used as an autonomous diagnostic tool, but when combined with other test methods such as laboratory tests and bioenergetic devices, it can help confirm a diagnosis. For more information on muscle testing, see Dr. Cowden and my book, Bioenergetics tools for wellness. Here, we also share some powerful tools in energy medicine for healing from depression, in addition to the solutions I provide here.
Microbes cause depression through a variety of mechanisms, which may include, but are not limited to: inflammation of the intestine, the brain and the neurological system; interrupting hormone function and causing imbalances in many of the chemicals involved in the mood, including many neurotransmitters. Furthermore, they tend to affect the health of the gastrointestinal tract, where many neurotransmitters and probiotic bacteria are produced promoting mood.
Moreover, in neurological diseases such as Lyme, the body can be overloaded with toxins generated by pathogens, such as ammonia, in addition to toxins from the environment. So, when the organs of elimination, especially the liver, are overloaded trying to process these toxins, this can also lead to depression. This is because liver health is also intimately linked to mental health.
For this reason, you may find it useful to do detoxification treatments on a regular basis, to help your body eliminate toxins generated by pathogenic organisms. Many therapies out there are beneficial for this. These include, but are not limited to: coffee enemas, ionic foot baths, castor oil packs on the liver, body brushing, rebounding, sauna therapy, exercise, flushing, massage and homeopathic detox remedies. These are just some of the tools that integrative physicians recommend, to facilitate the removal of toxins through the liver, gall bladder, kidneys, skin and lymphatic system.
It is beyond the scope of this book to describe each of these tools in depth, but you can learn simple strategies to detoxify your body and home from environmental contaminants, including pathogenic or microbial toxins, in Dr. Cowden and my book, Create a toxin-free body or home … starting today.
Managing chronic infections can be as simple and straightforward as a two-week herbal or homeopathic remedy, or months or years of therapy with herbs, essential oils, antimicrobials, or oxidative therapies, which include things like ozone intravenous. The type of medicine you will need will depend on the degree and type of infections you have.
If you have a myriad of undiagnosed symptoms and find that changing your diet and taking food supplements does not seem to be of great help, consider that you could fight chronic infections. These infections, just like environmental toxins, easily enter our bodies through food, water, soil and air. They are prolific in the environment. Even if you are not highly symptomatic, it is worth taking a bioenergetic test with an operator using a ZYTO or ASYRA device, along with advanced laboratory tests and possibly muscle tests, to find out if pathogenic microbes are affecting you. You could be very surprised by what you find!
Connie Strasheim is the author or co-author of 13 books on wellness, including the new paradigms recently released in the treatment of Lyme disease: 10 Top Doctors: real healing strategies that work. (October 2016) and Felice, healthy and free: Spirit-Soul-Body solutions for healing from depression. She is also a medical copywriter and a publisher of ProHealth.com, as well as editor of the Alternative Cancer Research Institute (ACRI). His passion is helping people with complex chronic diseases find freedom from illness and spiritual soul disease using whole body medicine, and collaborates with some of the best integrative physicians in the world to do so. In addition to Lyme disease and insomnia, Connie's books focus on cancer, nutrition, detoxification and spiritual healing. To learn more about his work, see: www.ConnieStrasheim.org.