The power of nutrients regarding a healthy functioning brain. Part 7 of the series on depression.

The power of nutrients regarding a healthy functioning brain. Part 7 of the series on depression.

In one particular experiment researchers administered resveratrol to laboratory animals just prior to chemically inducing Parkinson’s disease. Dosed with resveratrol significantly reversed the toxic effects by increasing levels of dopamine and glutathione, which are a nerve transmitter and antioxidant respectively. Resveratrol appears to negate the adverse effects upon the brain.

Studies have shown that co-consumption of resveratrol with alcohol in rodents prevented behavioral and molecular problems caused by alcohol. It has been shown to attenuate deficits in emotional learning and memory in chronically stressed laboratory animals as evidenced by changes in inflammatory brain chemicals.

Amphetamine-like stimulants (Ritalin, Dexedrine, Adderall) are used among youngsters with attention deficit disorder. Resveratrol minimized the effects of amphetamine and created the release of dopamine, a brain transmitter involved in working memory.

These animal studies involving mega-doses (7000+ milligrams) of resveratrol, which created mood elevation does not indicate that these high doses are practical in humans, so 200 milligrams of resveratrol per day was tested among older individuals. Resveratrol improved word retention, improved connectivity between neurons in the hippocampus, thethinking part of the brain, reduced long-term measure of blood sugar as seen on hemoglobin A1c tests, and increased leptin. Researchers concluded a modest dose of resveratrol improved memory in older adults.

The anti-depressant amitriptyline is now considered effective in autistic spectrum disease for irritability, aggression, gastrointestinal problems, and insomnia, in children, adolescents and adults because it stimulates production of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor. (BDNF) Resveratrol acts like the antidepressant drug amitriptyline; it stimulates BDNF production. Amitriptyline, prescribed for depression is now being prescribed for autism as well. In one study of 50 autistic children, 30% that failed other medications, low-dose amitriptyline calmed hyperactivity, impulsivity and aggression. Resveratrol could do the same without the side effects.
One of the probable mechanisms involved in autistic behavior is inflammation accompanied by oxidation and reduced cellular energy (mitochondrial dysfunction). Chemicals were instilled into the brains of laboratory animals to induce autistic-like symptoms. Resveratrol was then administered to these animals in human equivalent doses of 350, 700 and 1050 milligrams. After 4 weeks on resveratrol, all behavior and biochemical abnormalities were restored.

Valproic acid is a anticonvulsant drug also used to treat mood swings (bipolar disorder). Valproic acid induces autistic behavior in lab animals Exposure to valproic acid during pregnancy is associated with autism. Exposure of lab animals to valproic acid produces autistic behavior in offspring. Investigators explored the use of resveratrol prenatally on social behaviors of rodents whose mothers had been exposed to valproic acid. Prenatal administration of resveratrol prevented social withdrawal.

When laboratory animals were injected with a chemical to induce depression, but were given fluoxetine (Prozac) or resveratrol prior to administering the chemical into their bodies, resveratrol reversed the behavioral changes.

Adrenal glands produce hormones that help deal with stress. Two primary stress hormones, cortisol and DHEA, must remain in balance. The highest levels of vitamin C in the body are found in the adrenal stress glands. Vitamin C facilitates healthy levels of cortisol and DHEA. Animals can make vitamin C, humans cannot. During youth, DHEA and cortisol usually remain in balance.

DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) peaks around 30 years of age and its progressive decline is associated with decreased levels of testosterone. DHEA supplementation in postmenopausal women increases bone formation and density. DHEA is considered to be a mood enhancing supplement. While cortisol secretion is generally well maintained with advancing age, the adrenal production of DHEA declines. Demented subjects exhibit an even more marked ratio of cortisol over DHEA. Excess cortisol facilitates depression. DHEA replacement can restore cortisol/DHEA balance.

A decrease in DHEA is found in elderly depressed patients. The ratio of cortisol over DHEA increases with advancing age and is accompanied by depression and dementia. Cortisol and DHEA produce opposite effect on the central nervous system. DHEA has a positive effect on mood and mental acumen. DHEA supplementation can restore balance between cortisol and DHEA. It is available at health food stores.

Cytochrome P450 enzymes, produced in the liver, inhibit cortisol synthesis. Pregnenolone and to a lesser degree DHEA, both precursors for sex hormones, boost cytochrome P450 enzymes and lower cortisol levels. The beneficial effect of DHEA in depressed patients might result from enhancement of noradrenaline and serotonin.

Resveratrol boosts cortisol levels. Cortisol is derived from cholesterol by activation of Sirtuin3 and 5 survival genes.

There is a place for dietary supplements to be used among stressed individuals with mental depression. DHEA is better known as a dietary supplement that has become popular because it restores sex drive, which overshadowed it’s use as a natural antidepressant.

Natural psychobiotics are positioned to overwhelm psychotropic drugs, being more affordable and posing fewer side effects. However, sales of resveratrol, apple pectin or DHEA will not reach billions of dollars. The medical industrial complex will protect their income.

The pharmaceutical industry can covertly engineer regulatory sanctions (a product recall) or imagined side effects in order to frighten the public away from natural remedies.

An example is kava kava, a natural anti-anxiety herbal, that was actually being marketed in Europe by drug companies and was gaining in popularity. The pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. produced reports of Kava side effects and liver toxicity. The US FDA issued an announcement inviting the public to report any side affects from Kava. That scared consumers away from the product. It was never demonstrated that kava posed any health problem.

In another instance L-tryptophan supplements were recalled by the FDA for side effects that were eventually traced to bad manufacturing practices from a lone overseas manufacturer. Tryptophan is a natural molecule in foodstuffs (mother’s milk, cheese, fish, meat) that aids in the production of serotonin, a brain neurotransmitter, that in turn helps regulate sleep and mood. It is highly unlikely that tryptophan would induce any side effects when it is so widely available in the food chain.

The FDA recall occurred at about the same time as Prozac, an anti-depressant drug that was first being marketed in the US. Tryptophan was gaining popularity as a remedy for mood and sleep problems and competes with drugs like Paxil, Zoloft, Lexapro and Prozac.

L-tryptophan has been replaced on store shelves by its precursor, L-5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), which is also available as a dietary supplement and has been shown to be superior to a popular serotonin boosting drug. (fluvoxamine). Tryptophan supplements have also returned to the retail marketplace. But the public has been successfully frightened away from their use. Doctors will often yell at you for mentioning these natural remedies.

Sadly, even though currently marketed psychotropic drugs have been revealed to be a pharmacological problem of great proportions, it is unlikely many doctors or patients will opt to try these natural psychobiotic remedies.

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