Natural Supplements For Mental Health

Supplements for mental health

Before I get started, the reason I am writing this specific blog is because I have struggled with mental health issues for a while now. After seven years of medication (on and off), antidepressants have not helped me in my long-term recovery. I’ve felt a little bit better, and relapsed, better and relapsed. Here is the information that doctors may not share with you.

Looking for natural supplements for mental health, alternatives to antidepressants or wellness tips? You’ve come to the right place.

Antidepressants allegedly treat depression by fixing a chemical imbalance, specifically, a lack of serotonin in the brain. Antidepressants supposed effectiveness is the primary evidence for the chemical imbalance theory.

However, analyses of all published data and the unpublished data (hidden by drug companies) reveals that most, if not all of the positive effects of antidepressants are due to the placebo effect.

Studies also show that, not only are antidepressants mostly ineffective, antidepressants deplete your body of critical nutrients which can be one of the causes of mental illness in the first place.

The causes of depression are known to be, changes in brain chemistry, genetics, changes in hormone levels, medical conditions, stress, grief or difficult life circumstances. But doctors don’t really know if low levels of serotonin “cause” depression, or if raising levels will resolve it, which is why antidepressants don’t work for many people.

If you are on antidepressants and they are working for you, please consult your doctor, family or psychiatrist before abruptly stopping any medication. I’m hoping to come off antidepressant medication soon, using the information below as a guide and with the help of holistic therapy professionals.

There are many natural treatments for depression scientifically proven to be as effective, or better than antidepressants in treating mental illness.

The four major neurotransmitters that can regulate mood and brain function are Serotonin, Dopamine, GABA and Norepinephrine.

Neurotransmitters act as chemical messengers that coordinate communication between neurones, which in turn affect every cell, tissue, and system in your body.

Many factors critically reduce the level of chemical neurotransmitters in the brain, including, genetics, stress, anxiety, trauma, lifestyle, chronic pain, environment, medications, illnesses, head or neck trauma, digestive imbalance and substance use.

Luckily, there are many natural ways to rebalance the brain’s neurotransmitters.

natural supplements for mental health

Amino acid supplements

SAM-E

S-Adenyl-Methionine (SAM-e) naturally occurs in every cell of the body and brain, fueling over 100 metabolic reactions, including the liver, joints and brain. Several studies show that SAM-e works by increasing dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine levels.

SAM-e is derived from the amino acid methionine and is one of the most important methyl donors in the central nervous system. Studies show that SAM-e works faster than antidepressants, and also build neurotransmitters by donating part of its own chemical makeup, a methyl group.

Unlike synthetic prescription drugs that induce many horrible side effects, SAM-e is a naturally-occurring agent in the body that performs a multitude of beneficial functions, such as boosting glutathione levels in the brain and liver.

SAM-e is used for depression, anxiety, heart disease, fibromyalgia, abdominal pain, osteoarthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, chronic lower back pain, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, slowing the ageing process, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), improving mental performance, liver disease, and Parkinson’s disease. It is also used for attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, seizures, migraine headache, lead poisoning, to break down a chemical in the body called bilirubin, or to help with disorders related to the buildup of a chemical called porphyrin or its precursors.

I recommend this SAM-e supplement.

MEDICAL INFORMATION: There is not enough research to identify whether this supplement is safe for pregnancy or breastfeeding. It is not considered safe to mix SAM-e with antidepressant medications. Together, they can cause serotonin syndrome (which I have personally experienced, and is terrifying), with symptoms ranging from mild to fatal. SAM-e also cannot be mixed with Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI’s). Read all SAM-e drug interactions here.

L’TRYPTOPHAN

L’Tryptophan is an essential amino acid found in protein-rich foods, like animal products and is needed to synthesise serotonin and melatonin, hormones involved with mood and stress response. L’Tryptophan converts to 5-HTP (5-hyrdoxytryptophan), and then to serotonin. L-tryptophan is an “essential” amino acid because the body can’t make it. It must be acquired from food.

Food sources for tryptophan include turkey, cheese, eggs, tofu, soy, and chicken amongst others. Veggos, you don’t have to eat meat. It’s actually better if you don’t. Research shows, eating a high protein diet does not help create more serotonin. In fact, it makes things worse; protein blocks the synthesis of tryptophan into serotonin.

L-tryptophan helps support relaxation, restful sleep, and mood. L-Tryptophan also supports immune functions because it is the body’s precursor to the kynurenines that regulate immunity. If needed, L-tryptophan converts to niacin in the body, which supports circulation, a healthy nervous system, the metabolism of food, and the production of hydrochloric acid for the digestive system.

L-tryptophan is used for insomnia, sleep apnea, depression, anxiety, facial pain, a severe form of premenstrual syndrome called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), smoking cessation, grinding teeth during sleep (bruxism), attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Tourette’s syndrome, and to improve athletic performance.

I recommend this L’Tryptophan supplement.

MEDICAL INFORMATION: There is not enough research to identify whether this supplement is safe for pregnancy or breastfeeding. It is not considered safe to mix L’tryptophan with antidepressant medications. Together, they can cause serotonin syndrome, with symptoms ranging from mild to fatal. SAM-e also cannot be mixed with Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI’s). L’tryptophan also interacts (and is not safe to mix) with tryptophan sedatives, Benzodiazepines, such as diazepam Valium and alprazolam Xanax. Read all L-tryptophan drug interactions here.

L-THEANINE

L-Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea. Studies show that significantly increases levels of serotonin, dopamine, glutamate and GABA in the brain, making you more resilient to stress and irritability.

L-Theanine has the unique ability to increase alpha brain-wave activity, which puts you in a similar state to meditation. You can take supplements or drink 3 cups of green tea each day (if you have time for that much tea).

People use L-Theanine for treating anxiety and high blood pressure, for preventing Alzheimer’s disease, and for making cancer drugs more effective.

I recommend this L-Theanine supplement.

MEDICAL INFORMATION: Find all L-Theanine drug interactions here.

GABA

GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) is a non-essential amino acid considered an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which means it regulates brain and nerve cell activity by inhibiting the number of neurons firing in the brain.

GABA is referred to as the “brain’s natural calming agent”. By inhibiting over-stimulation of the brain, GABA may help promote relaxation and ease nervous tension. Unfortunately, GABA is depleted from the body and brain when exposed to manic and depressed states, which may be why people with high anxiety are unable to relax.

While GABA is known primarily for its ability to put you in a relaxed state, it plays a crucial role in regulating many aspects of mood, attention, cognition, and sleep. GABA deficiency symptoms may include depression, anxiety and insomnia.

natural supplements for mental health

GABA is taken for relieving anxiety, improving mood, reducing symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and treating attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is also used for promoting lean muscle growth, burning fat, stabilising blood pressure, and relieving pain.

I recommend this GABA supplement.

MEDICAL INFORMATION: It is not considered safe to mix GABA with medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs).

OMEGA-3

Omega-3 is imperative for overall brain health, cell formation and function. Why? Your brain is nearly 60% fat. Weird!

Omega-3 can predominantly found in cold-water fatty fish like salmon if you don’t feel like eating salmon every day, grab yourself some fish oil tablets.

Some studies in adults suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial in the treatment of mild to moderate depression, but more research is needed. People with depression may have low blood levels of brain chemicals called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA can be found in fish oil.

If fish isn’t your thing, I recommend this Omega-3 supplement.

PHOSPHATIDYLSERINE

Phosphatidylserine can boost brain function, as it’s is a core building block for the billions of cells in your brain. Phosphatidylserine is used for Alzheimer’s disease, age-related decline in mental function, improving thinking skills in young people, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, preventing exercise-induced stress, and improving athletic performance.

You get your Phosphatidylserine fix by eating tuna, chicken liver, white beans, veal, barley or and anchovies.

I recommend this Phosphatidylserine supplement.

MEDICAL INFORMATION: There is not enough research to identify whether this supplement is safe for pregnancy or breastfeeding. Find drug interactions here.

Vitamins

Vitamins are essential for a healthy, functioning nervous system. In other words, get some vitamins in you. STAT!

VITAMIN B6

Vitamin B6 is a must, as it facilitates the conversion of tryptophan into serotonin. It can be found naturally in foods like sunflower seeds, cauliflower, quinoa, garlic, fish, pistachios, bananas, avocados and spinach.

VITAMIN B9 OR FOLIC ACID

You need Vitamin B9 to break down food and convert macronutrients, like carbohydrate, fat and protein into energy. You also need it to synthesise normal red blood cells and regulate hormones.

Vitamin B9 deficiency increases your risk of stress-related disorders like depression, anxiety and insomnia.

Foods that contain high amounts of Vitamin B9/Folic acid include asparagus, broccoli, citrus fruits, spinach, beans, peanuts and sunflower seeds.

VITAMIN D

Vitamin D deficiency is thought to be responsible for levels of happiness and many mood disorders, as well as the depression many people feel in the winter known as seasonal affective disorder.

Vitamin D supplements work just as well (if you unable to get sun time), or if you prefer the natural stuff, you can get stuck into some fatty fish, mushrooms, beef liver, cheese, or egg yolks.

VITAMIN C

Vitamin C assists the brain and body in dealing with stress.

Adrenals use a significant portion of the Vitamin C you take in, so if you don’t have enough Vitamin C, you are not able to manage stress effectively.

This vitamin increases serotonin and endorphins in the brain, acting as a natural antidepressant. You can get your Vitamin C fix from oranges, kale, broccoli, strawberries, grapefruit and more.

Minerals

MAGNESIUM

Magnesium is the holy grail of natural medicine (well, my favourite). Not only is it vital for body and brain function, it participates in over 300 biochemical reactions in your body, including neurotransmitter, enzyme, and hormonal activity.

An image of a woman floating in water

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and you may not be getting enough of it, even if you eat a healthy diet. Inadequate magnesium levels contribute and worsen many neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, abnormal heart rhythms, muscle spasms, seizures, chronic pain, schizophrenia, irritability and premenstrual syndrome.

Certain things are known to deplete magnesium, including excessive caffeine, alcohol, menopause, an unhealthy digestive system and certain medications, including antidepressants, antibiotics, corticosteroids, antacids, diuretics and insulin.

Patients treated with magnesium supplements have experienced rapid recovery from major depressive disorder. Besides improving mood, it’s also been shown to increase focus and concentration, relaxation, energy, and resilience to stress.

I recommend this Magnesium supplement.

ZINC

Zinc is another incredible natural medicine option with natural antidepressant properties.

Zinc deficiency is extremely common, affecting up to 2 billion people worldwide. Zinc has been found to be low in the serum of those suffering from depression; studies have found that the more depressed someone is, the lower the zinc level.

COENZYME-Q10 (CoQ10)

CoQ10 is a molecule found in every cell of your body, and it plays a key role in the production of energy. There is significant evidence that inflammatory and oxidative stress are a result of major depression.

Low levels of CoQ10 can result in brain fog, mental fatigue, difficulty concentrating, memory lapses, depression, irritability, increased blood pressure, muscle cramps, high blood sugar, and shortness of breath.

CoQ10 also has strong anti-inflammatory effects, is an antioxidant and protects your body and brain from free radical damage.

I recommend this CoQ10 supplement.

MEDICATION INFORMATION: CoQ10 may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants such as warfarin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.

Herbal medicines

Herbal natural supplements for mental health are extracted from plant parts that we don’t usually eat including, seeds, roots, leaves, bark, and flowers.

natural supplements for mental health

GINKGO

Ginkgo tress are one of the oldest living tree species, with fan shaped leaves and inedible fruit. Ginkgo has a long history of being used in traditional medicine to treat blood disorders and improve memory, and it’s best known today as way to potentially keep your memory sharp.

For those reasons, ginkgo may improve vein and eye health, help treat dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease) and intermittent claudication, poor circulation in the legs and memory.

The leaves have two types of chemicals (flavonoids and terpenoids) that are antioxidants. In your body, harmful particles called free radicals build up as you age, and may contribute to heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Antioxidants like those found in ginkgo fight off free radicals, and stop them from damaging DNA and other cells.

This herbal remedy also increases levels dopamine, GABA and glutamate, along with acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter of memory and learning.

I recommend this Ginkgo supplement.

MEDICAL INFORMATION: There are many possible interactions between herbal remedies and other medications, including blood thinning medications and antidepressants. Read all interactions here.

ST. JOHN’S WORT

St.John’s Wort is a weed that has been used to treat many conditions affecting the nervous and immune systems, since ancient Greek times. It works by increasing levels dopamine, GABA and glutamate,

In modern times, St John’s Wort has been shown to be as effective as standard antidepressants in the treatment of mild to moderate depression, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder and seasonal affective disorder.

Not only does it help with mental illnesses, GABA increases the production of your alpha brain waves which causes your mind to relax and get a good night’s sleep.

I recommend this St. John’s Wort supplement.

MEDICAL INFORMATION: There are many possible interactions between herbal remedies and other medications, including blood thinning medications and antidepressants. Read all interactions here.

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1 Comment

  1. Jenna

    March 16, 2017

    This article is perfection, and so on point.

Comments are closed.