Depression is one of the most common mood disorders out there. While a number of effective, safe, and medically-approved treatments for it currently exist, many of these involve the use of pharmaceutical drugs that can sometimes have unwanted side-effects. Because of this, some people are reluctant to use a medication-based approach, and instead choose to look for other, non-drug-based forms of treatment. In this post, we’ll review conventional and psychological approaches, and what the science currently says about them.
Disclaimer: This post is not a recommendation or endorsement for any particular type of mental health treatment. The only way to be sure you get effective treatment is to discuss your options with your personal doctor — and none of the complementary approaches described below should ever be used to replace what your doctor has prescribed or recommended. We have written this post for informational purposes only, and its goal is simply to inform our readers about the science behind some complementary treatment strategies, and what we know about how they might work. Introduction To Depression And How It Is Treat ed
Many of the most common treatments for a person diagnosed with clinical depression ( major depressive disorder , or MDD) involve the use of prescription medications (such as SSRIs) to alleviate or manage the symptoms.
While these medications can be highly effective in many cases, it is also unfortunately the case that many of these pharmaceutical drugs can potentially cause a number of unwanted side-effects in people who take them.
For this reason, some people are reluctant to rely on pharmaceutical treatments, and prefer to try non-chemical treatments instead.
However, before we begin we want to stress that this post is not an endorsement for- or against any particular mode of treatment! Nor are the strategies outlined in this post intended to be used as a replacement for conventional medical care in any way.
If you are ever diagnosed with a mental health condition of any kind, the only way to decide what the best treatment for your specific case might be is to discuss it with your doctor. Only a fully-qualified medical professional fully understands all the different advantages and drawbacks associated with the many different possible modes of treatment — and they will work with you to come up with the safest and most effective approach for your individual needs.
With that in mind, in the rest of this post we’ll discuss some of the many non-drug-based treatments for depression and other mood disorders, and what science currently says about them.
Before we get into some of the “alternative” or “complementary” strategies for potentially improving mood, it’s important to be aware of what some of the more typical treatment approaches for clinical depression are, and how they work.
The approaches below are some of the ones that you might be likely to encounter if you were to book an appointment with a traditional qualified psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional.
Many of these treatment modalities have been used for a long time, and have been extremely well-studied. Therefore, these approaches are widely-used by doctors due to their having a lot of evidence to support them. 1) Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
One of the most common forms of therapy used by mental health professionals is cognitive-behavioral therapy — also known as “CBT”. This highly “evidence-based” approach to therapy is one of the most widely-used for preventing and reducing depression (as well as many other mental health conditions) [ 1 ].
The main idea behind the use of CBT in depression is to help patients change their patterns of thinking and make behavioral changes to improve coping and reduce distress [ 2 ].
CBT has been reported to be effective for both acute depressive episodes, as well as long-term prevention [ 1 ].
According to various studies (RCTs), CBT reportedly reduced depression symptoms in 177 seasonal affective disorder patients, as well as 87 patients with postpartum depression [ 3 , 4 ].
One specific type of CBT, called “acceptance and commitment therapy” (“ACT”), has been reported to decrease symptoms in cases of mild-to-moderate depression. It has also been claimed to help reduce overall severity of depression cases, as well as the occurrence of suicidal thoughts (“suicidal ideation”) [ 5 , 6 ].
According to some reports, CBT may help reduce the negative perceptions of emotions [ 7 ].
Some early neurobiological evidence suggests that CBT may work by reducing the activity in parts of the brain that are involved in emotional processing (such as the amygdala and hippocampus) as well as cognitive processing (such as the prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortex) [ 8 ].
CBT is traditionally delivered face-to-face by therapists, but is also sometimes delivered “digitally” over the internet, such as through a mobile phone or personal computer [ 9 , 10 ].
CBT is an evidence-based and widely-used approach to treating and preventing depression. It helps people alter their thinking patterns, which improves coping and reduces emotional distress. 2) Psychodynamic Therapy
“Psychodynamic” therapy is probably the therapy you most associate with mental health treatment. It focuses on conscious and subconscious feelings from past experiences, and how they affect the patient.
The effectiveness of psychodynamic therapy for depression treatment is generally well-supported. In some cases, psychodynamic therapy was as effective as prescription antidepressants [ 11 ].
Internet-delivered psychodynamic therapy for 10 weeks was reported to reduce symptoms in a study (RCT) of 100 patients with mood and anxiety disorders [ 12 ].
The results from some preliminary neurobiological studies suggests that psychodynamic therapy may act by reducing metabolic activity in the right insula, a brain region important in emotion control and depression. This decreased activity was, in turn, reportedly associated with greater symptom reduction over 4 weeks of treatment [ 13 ].
Psychodynamic therapy focuses on resolving deep-rooted, unconscious feelings that can dramatically affect a person’s mood. 3) Interpersonal Therapy
Interpersonal therapy emphasizes the social context of depression, and aims to improve communication skills and relationship-building [ 14 ].Interpersonal therapy has a few central goals [ 15 ]: increasing social support […]
CoQ10 is a popular supplement used to boost energy levels, protect the heart, and reduce the side effects of statins. It is important for proper mitochondrial function, heart health, muscle function, and more. Read on to learn the supplementation benefits, dosage, and side effects. What is Coenzyme Q10?
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is an important compound found in every cell in the body . It is a type of coenzyme, which means that it helps enzymes work more effectively. CoQ10 is mainly located in the membrane of mitochondria , where it is used to make energy [ 1 ].
For more about CoQ10’s function, check out this post . Snapshot
Increases energy levels
Boosts mitochondrial function
Protects against free radicals and inflammation
Improves heart health
Reduces blood sugar levels and blood pressure
Helps with migraines
Reduces the side effects of statins and chemo
Possible interactions with blood thinners
Most benefits lack stronger clinical evidence
May not help with Alzheimer’s disease
Doesn’t improve exercise performance
Coenzyme Q10 Health Benefits
The following benefits are based on studies that involved supplementation with ubiquinone (the oxidized form of CoQ10). You can learn more about ubiquinol, including its health benefits and dosage, here . Likely Effective:
1) Coenzyme Q10 Deficiency
In rare cases, coenzyme Q10 deficiency can cause weakness, fatigue, and seizures.
Oral coenzyme Q10 (800 mg daily) seems to improve the symptoms of deficiency in adults. The recommended dosage in children is 30 mg/kg daily in three divided doses [ 2 , 3 , 4 ]. 2) Mitochondrial Diseases
Mitochondrial diseases are a group of disorders caused by mitochondria that don’t function correctly. CoQ10 improves symptoms of mitochondrial disorders including poor nerve function, muscular weakness, tremor, inability to exercise, cramps, and muscle stiffness [ 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 ].
Doctors may recommend supplementing with CoQ10 if a patient is deficient or if they determine that the patient may have a mitochondrial disease. Possibly Effective:
3) Heart Disease Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a type of heart disease in which the walls of the heart become abnormally thick, causing an irregular heartbeat and making it harder for the heart to pump blood.Taking 200 mg/day CoQ10 for improved heart function, irregular heartbeat, and quality of life and reduced the heart wall thickness in 87 people with HCM. In another study of 7 HCM patients, 200 mg/day CoQ10 was able to reduce heart wall thickness by 26% [ 10 , 11 ].In a 2-year study of 420 people with heart failure, taking 300 mg/day CoQ10 reduced mortality by 43%. A 1-year study found that CoQ10 reduced the number of people who required hospitalization for worsening heart failure. Supplementation also reduced the incidence of fluid buildup in the lungs and asthma [ 12 , 13 ].CoQ10 (100 – 320 mg/day) improved exercise capacity in heart failure patients by increasing the ability of the lungs and heart to deliver oxygen to muscles [ 14 , 15 ].A review of 14 studies and 2.1K heart failure patients found that CoQ10 reduced mortality by 31% but did not improve heart function or symptoms of heart failure [ 16 ].CoQ10 given within 3 days of a heart attack reduced heart pain , irregular heartbeat, and improved heart function in 144 people. The number of new heart attacks as well as deaths was also reduced in the group taking CoQ10 [ 17 ].CoQ10 improves heart health and may prevent thickening of the heart and heart failure. It also benefits people who have experienced heart attacks and it particularly protective if given within days of experiencing one. Heart Surgery Outcomes A review of 8 studies found that CoQ10 taken before heart surgery reduced the need for drugs after surgery and the development of irregular heartbeat [ 18 ].One study found that taking CoQ10 for 14 days before heart surgery helped maintain heart CoQ10 levels, improved heart function, and reduced recovery time [ 19 ]. Blood Vessel Health and Circulation Nitric oxide (NO) is a molecule that helps improve circulation by causing blood vessels to dilate. Healthy blood vessels produce NO to allow proper blood flow and prevent narrowing of the arteries. Free radicals such as superoxide inactivate NO, which prevents blood vessels from dilating and decreases circulation. CoQ10 neutralizes superoxide and increases nitric oxide levels [ 20 , 21 , 22 , 23 ].In multiple studies of over 135 people, CoQ10 (100 – 300 mg/day) improved blood vessel health and increased circulation. CoQ10 supplementation increased levels of superoxide dismutase , an enzyme that neutralizes superoxide [ 24 , 25 , 23 , 14 ]. Blood Clotting Supplementing with 100 mg CoQ10 daily for 20 days reduced the size of platelets and helped prevent them from sticking together [ 26 ]. 4) Blood Pressure Multiple studies of over 280 total people with high blood pressure have found that supplementing with CoQ10 (100 – 225 mg/day) reduces blood pressure. Reductions in systolic pressure ranged from 8% to 11% and diastolic pressure ranged from 9% to 12% [ 27 , 28 , 29 , 30 ].In people with slightly high blood pressure, studies have found that CoQ10 reduces systolic pressure 3 – 4% and diastolic 0.4 – 2% [ 31 , 32 +].However, two 12-week studies (40 people with slightly high blood pressure and 30 people with high blood pressure) found no effect from supplementation with 200 mg/day. Another study of 55 people with slightly high blood pressure found no change after 4 months of taking either 600 mg or 1,200 mg daily [ 25 +, 33 , 34 ].There is good research to suggest CoQ10 reduces blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. People with normal or slightly high levels may see little or no effect. Pregnancy Preeclampsia is high blood pressure during pregnancy, with swelling in the hands and feet. Women who took 200 mg/day CoQ10 20 weeks before delivery had a 20% […]
Humans have been on the search for the perfect nootropic long before the Limitless movie came out. From racetams to other experimental compounds, scientists have been wondering if there’s a pill that can offset cognitive decline and raise our brain’s potential to another level. And although the research is interesting, the dangers of these compounds are too often downplayed. Read on to uncover the truth.
Disclaimer: This post is not a recommendation or endorsement for the use of any of the particular compounds or drugs discussed in this post. The FDA has not approved any of these compounds for “cognitive-enhancement” purposes, and the available research on them is still in a very early stage overall. We have written this post for informational purposes only, and our goal is solely to inform people about what science currently says about these substances’ potential uses and mechanisms.
Much of the research on the compounds listed below is still in a very early stage, and in most cases, it is not yet possible to come to any firm conclusions about their relative efficacy and safety in human users.
Therefore, the potential effects listed below are still considered to have insufficient evidence , and these findings should be taken with a grain of salt until further research work – including large-scale clinical trials in healthy human users – is performed. 1) Semax
Semax is a drug that has been used in Russia for treating strokes and head injuries, and which has also been claimed to potentially improve learning capacities and memory formation [ 1 ].
Semax is not approved by the FDA for use in the United States due to a lack of adequate safety and effectiveness data.
According to some early studies in animals and humans, some of semax’s reported effects include: Protecting against low oxygen ( hypoxia ) by promoting the survival of neurons when the brain is not receiving enough oxygen (in rats) [ 2 ]
Increasing selective attention at the moment of receiving information, as well as strengthening and promoting overall learning abilities [ 1 ]
Some of the potential mechanisms that have been suggested to be behind the effects of Semax include: Increasing enkephalins (a natural opiate neurotransmitter), which may be involved in memory formation, consolidation, and reactivation/recall [ 5 , 6 ]
Enhancing calcium ion accumulation inside the cells, which may help fight against brain-degenerative processes [ 7 ]
Enhancing the production of key proteins (such as immunoglobulin ) that are believed to play a role in protecting the brain from stress and damage [ 7 ]
2 ) Nicotine
Although it is highly addictive and dangerous in most of its common forms, nicotine is one of the most well-documented drugs to have memory-related effects.
However, we are not recommending starting smoking by any means! Since smoking is a major worldwide cause of death, the risks of smoking far outweigh any possible benefit. Therefore, we highly advise against smoking or using tobacco – and if you are already a smoker, seek professional help as soon as possible. Stopping smoking is among the most important things you can do to improve your health and longevity [ 8 ].
While nicotine can also be ingested in other forms – such as “e-cigarettes” or “vapes” – the safety of these methods have not been fully proven, and many serious concerns remain about their short-term and long-term effects and safety [ 8 ].
Some of the clinical studies on nicotine have relied on other forms, such as nicotine patches or gum. Although these might be “safer”, there is still a high potential for addiction and dependence to nicotine in any form. Therefore, considering how many different – and relatively much safer – options there are, it’s probably best to avoid nicotine altogether, and focus instead on less potentially dangerous options (such as the other ones in this post) [ 8 ].
With all that in mind, some of the purported cognitive effects of nicotine include:
According to one clinical study, nicotine patches reportedly helped alleviate cognitive impairments in Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, and ADD/ADHD patients [ 13 ].
Some other researchers have proposed that nicotine may be a promising treatment for Parkinson’s disease, Down’s syndrome, and age-related memory impairment [ 14 , 15 ].
Some of the potential mechanisms that have been suggested to be behind the effects of nicotine include: Activates the alpha-4 beta-2 nicotinic receptor, which has been implicated in learning [ 13 ]
Activates the alpha-7 nicotinic receptor, which has been implicated in long-term memory [ 13 ]
All in all, while some of the existing research on the potential cognitive effects of nicotine might seem promising, the inherent risk of addiction, dependence, and other significant dangers highly suggest against trying to use nicotine for the purposes of “cognitive enhancement”. 3 ) Selegiline
In small doses, selegiline ( L – deprenyl ) has been reported to inhibit the enzyme MAO-B . Similarly, in relatively larger doses, some evidence suggests that it may inhibit both MAO-B as well as MAO-A .
Because these MAO ( monoamine oxidase ) enzymes are involved in the breakdown of several major types of neurotransmitter in the brain ( monoamines ), inhibiting them can lead to increased levels of several different important neurotransmitters throughout the brain: MAO-B: phenylethylamine, dopamine, and other amines
These altered neurotransmitter levels, in turn, could theoretically have a number of effects on the brain and certain cognitive processes.
For example, some early studies in both animals and humans have reported that selegiline may: Improve memory and overall cognitive functioning in Parkinson’s patients (vs. placebo) [ 19 ] Improve memory impairments via the cholinergic system, a major brain system that has been associated with dementia [ 20 ] Improve long-term memory (in aged mice; 0.25 mg/kg, 3 times per week) [ 21 ] Some of the potential mechanisms that have been suggested to be behind the effects of selegiline include: Enhancing the activity of the “P300” signal (a brain response associated with vigilance, attention, and decision-making) [ 19 , […]
Summary: Chronobiologists warn changing to daylight savings can have serious effects on both brain and general health. The change in time during spring was linked to a 24% increase in severe cardiovascular events in women. Researchers also noted the sudden change in time alters circadian rhythms, reduces the production of natural melatonin, impacts cognitive function, and may also foster tumor growth.
Source: University of Granada
A study conducted by the world’s leading chronobiologists — including Darío Acuña Castroviejo, Professor of Physiology at the University of Granada — has warned that changing the clocks in autumn and spring is a significant risk factor for health and well-being, as it alters the circadian system that regulates and controls bodily functions.
The findings, published in the prestigious European Journal of Internal Medicine , constitute an international consensus on the impact of daylight saving on the human organism. The study was carried out to assess how the change of hour in autumn and spring negatively affects human health.
Such are concerns that the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism held a workshop entitled “Discontinuing seasonal changes of time in the EU”. Professor Acuña, in his capacity as invited expert, presented the data demonstrating the negative effects of daylight saving reported in the journal article.
He explains: “We must bear in mind that our state of health is based on the maintenance of rhythmic changes of all the functions of our organism, from the sleep/wake cycle to the rhythm of brain neurotransmitters (and therefore, of our cognitive functions); hormonal rhythms; metabolic rhythms; rhythms of cell division; and rhythms in the mechanisms of cellular repair, both at the cerebral level and at the level of peripheral organs.”
An abrupt change
Changing the clocks implies a sudden alteration of these rhythms, because in 24 hours we modify the subjective time of sunrise and sunset. “The circadian system is controlled by the photoperiod or light/dark rhythm. In turn, this regulates the nocturnal production of melatonin, which is the genuine endogenous synchronizer of these rhythms,” observes Acuña.
“This sudden change therefore also triggers a change of time in the nocturnal production of melatonin, leading to a process known as internal desynchrony, which prevents the biological clock from maintaining ‘order’ in the body.” It then takes about 3 to 5 days to work properly again. The study found that, particularly among women, the change of time in spring is linked to a 24% increase in severe cardiovascular events, including myocardial infarction. Image is in the public domain. “That is enough time for mild, moderate, or severe discomfort to occur, from cognitive disorders (such as loss of attention or memory lapses), to disrupted sleep and cardiovascular problems. It may even foster tumour growth,” notes the author of this work.
The study found that, particularly among women, the change of time in spring is linked to a 24% increase in severe cardiovascular events, including myocardial infarction.
To avoid such negative consequences for human health, this international consensus has proposed that seasonal daylight saving be definitively stopped, a measure that the European Commission is currently studying with a view to implementation in 2021.
University of Granada
Darío Acuña Castroviejo – University of Granada
The image is in the public domain.
Original Research: Closed access
“Impact of Daylight Saving Time on circadian timing system: An expert statement”. Meira e Cruz M., Miyazawa M., Manfredini R., Cardinali D., Madrid J.A., Reiter R., Araujo J.F., Agostinho R., and Acuña-Castroviejo DC.
European Journal of Internal Medicine doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2019.01.001 .
( Natural News ) Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health concerns in the United States. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), these disorders affect about 40 million American adults, or 18.1 percent of the population each year. While anxiety disorders are highly treatable, the ADAA claims that only 36.9 percent of those suffering actually receive treatment. Previous research has established a relationship between joint hypermobility — a condition characterized by joints that stretch farther than normal — and anxiety in humans. However, this phenomenon has not been investigated in non-human species. Now, recent evidence suggests that the association within animals may not be too different from the findings in humans.
A study published in the journal Scientific Reports found a positive association between hip joint hypermobility and emotional arousal in an animal model, paralleling the results found in humans. According to the researchers, this study provides the very first evidence of this association in non-human species
“Many years ago our research group discovered a relation between hypermobility and anxiety, in which people with more joint mobility and flexibility also tended to have more problems with anxiety. Now for the first time we are able to demonstrate that this association also exists in a non-human species,” said corresponding author Jaume Fatjo. The relationship between hip joints and anxiety
For this study, a team of researchers analyzed data on a set of 13 animal behavior characteristics and hip joint mobility in a total of 5575 domestic dogs supplied by The Seeing Eye organization. They chose domestic dogs ( Canis familiaris) as their candidate species as they present physical health problems related to joint hypermobility syndrome and experience naturally occurring behavioral disorders that show face validity. All of the dogs have undergone a hip evaluation at approximately 18 months of age. Discover how to prevent and reverse heart disease (and other cardio related events) with this free ebook : Written by popular Natural News writer Vicki Batt, this book includes everything you need to know about preventing heart disease, reversing hypertension, and nurturing your cardiac health without medication. Learn More. After the analysis, the results show that hip joint hypermobility is linked to emotion in dogs, which is similar to the findings observed in people. In humans, the researchers observed that this particular relationship is made evident by manifestations of anxiety, fear, agoraphobia and panic. The link to hypermobility is thanks to the indirect influence of emotional and mental states through the deregulation of the brain’s independent reactions which intensify emotional states. According to the researchers, this emotional reactivity or excitability is one of the risk factors for anxiety disorder.
All in all, their findings suggest that this particular link could be a universal trait in all mammals. Natural relief for anxiety
While anxiety could be a regular part of daily life, leaving it unchecked could leave drastic effects on your overall health. Below you can find a list of ways that could help you naturally relieve your anxiety issues. (Related: Calm your anxiety and stress with these 10 natural herbs. )
> Quit smoking. People often go for a smoke when experiencing stressful times. However, this quick fix might make your anxiety much worse over time. According to a study published in the journal Brain and Behavior, your risk of developing an anxiety disorder later in life increases the earlier you start smoking. It is best to put down your cigarettes if you want to keep your anxiety issues at bay.
Try out aromatherapy. The healing art of aromatherapy makes use of fragrant essential oils to promote general health and well-being. These oils may be inhaled directly or even added to bathwater. Research has shown that aromatherapy not only grants a boost in mood, but it also helps you relax and get significantly better sleep among other positive health benefits.
Drop the caffeine. If you experience chronic symptoms of anxiety, you might want to cut down your caffeine intake. Indulging in caffeine can cause nervousness and jitters, neither of which are helpful if you experience chronic anxiety. Not only that, a study published in the journal Advances in Psychiatric Treatment found that caffeine intake can actually cause or worsen your anxiety disorders .
For similar stories on anxiety and other mental health issues, check out Mental.news .
Ketamine is a medication used primarily as an anesthetic. Some early evidence also suggests that it may have the potential for treating a variety of other health conditions, although these uses have not been fully approved yet. Read on to learn more about the medical uses of and new research about this drug.
Disclaimer : This post is not an endorsement or recommendation for the use of ketamine under any circumstances, except when prescribed and used under supervision by a qualified medical professional. We have written this post for informational purposes only, and our goal is solely to educate people about the potential medical uses of ketamine, as well as the science behind its effects and mechanisms.
Ketamine – sometimes also known as Ketalar or Ketaject – is a drug that initiates and maintains anesthesia [ 1 ].
The original compound was first discovered in the early 1960s and was approved for use in the United States in 1970. Now it is considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the safest and most essential drugs in the healthcare system [ 2 ].
Ketamine is considered a Schedule III controlled substance by the FDA, which means that it requires a written, oral, or electronic prescription to legally buy or possess the drug [ 3 ].
Ketamine is also classified as a “ dissociative ” drug, which means that it alters the senses, leading to hallucinations and feelings of detachment from the environment and oneself [ 1 ].
Unfortunately, these dissociative effects are why some people abuse ketamine for recreational purposes – even in spite of the many risks and dangers that are associated with ketamine abuse. For this reason, ketamine has a significant and well-documented potential for abuse and addiction [ 4 , 5 ].
Ketamine is an anesthetic drug that was discovered in the 1960s. It is a schedule III controlled substance, meaning that it requires a doctor’s prescription to legally buy or possess it.
Like any drug, ketamine has a number of potential adverse side-effects that are important to be aware of. To learn about the side effects, drug interactions, and other potential dangers of ketamine, check out this post .
Ketamine has a number of accepted medical uses for treating certain specific medical conditions and situations. Although this means that the evidence for its efficacy in these conditions is relatively solid, always keep in mind that this is a federally-controlled prescription medication that must only be used under the direction and supervision of a qualified medical professional.
Additionally, none of these medical uses should be interpreted as general “benefits” for health! For all of the cases described below, any reported medical benefits only apply to contexts in which ketamine is being administered by qualified medical professionals in a controlled setting. There is no reason to expect any beneficial or therapeutic effects if ketamine is abused recreationally or taken outside of a conventional medical setting.
In medical settings, ketamine is most commonly used as an anesthetic (i.e. to make people unconscious during medical procedures). It is officially approved for this purpose by the FDA and is widely used both by itself and in combination with other anesthetic drugs [ 3 ].
Ketamine is also sometimes used – usually at lower doses – as a fast-acting sedative [ 3 ].
For example, when ketamine was administered intravenously in 30 children, all patients experienced sedation within 2 minutes [ 6 ].
In another study of 431 children, ketamine was administered through the muscles. In this study, 98% of patients experienced rapid sedation [ 7 ].
In a medical setting, ketamine is most often used as an anesthetic. It may also be used as a fast-acting sedative. Off-Label Medical Uses of Ketamine
Occasionally, doctors will prescribe medications to help treat conditions that fall outside of the official uses approved by the FDA – also known as “ off-label ” drug use [ 8 ]. Usually, this is done because there is actually decent evidence that the drug may help, although this evidence might not be quite strong enough to get full FDA approval (which generally has very strict requirements).
As always, however, always remember that the decision to use medications in this way can only be made by a licensed medical professional.
In addition to its official use as an anesthetic, ketamine also has a number of effects that can significantly reduce the perception of pain (i.e. an analgesic effect). Because of this, it is frequently used by doctors – albeit “unofficially” – to help control and manage pain. In this context, ketamine can be used either by itself or in combination with other pain-killing drugs [ 3 ].
For example, when administered by doctors, ketamine may potentially aid in reducing chronic pain . In a study of 12 male volunteers, low doses of ketamine were reported to activate portions of the brain that are believed to be involved in the inhibition of pain (such as the prefrontal cortex and certain areas of the brainstem) [ 9 ].
In one 11-week double-blind randomized controlled trial of 60 female patients with complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), a steady 100-hour intravenous infusion of ketamine was reported to significantly relieve pain. This effect was even reported to last up to 3 months following treatment [ 10 ].
Additionally, a study of 12 cancer patients with severe cancer pain reported that patients required 50% less morphine to reduce their pain after prolonged use of ketamine [ 11 ].
Ketamine also reportedly enhanced the effectiveness of spinal cord (“ intrathecal ”) injections of morphine treatment in a double-blind randomized control trial in 20 cancer pain patients [ 12 ].
Some preliminary evidence suggests that ketamine may also be especially effective at reducing pain when combined with certain other medications. For example, a combination of ketamine and a local anesthetic ( bupivacaine ) reduced post-operative pain in a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial of 53 amputee patients [ 13 ].
When used as a local anesthetic with diazepam (a benzodiazepine), meperidine (also known as Demerol – a narcotic pain-killer medication), and nitrous oxide , […]
Once declared the “best food for the future” by the World Health Organization, this blue-green algae is a protein-rich antioxidant that may support and maintain your immune system. Read on to learn more about spirulina. What Is Spirulina?
Spirulina is a dried supplement made from two species of blue-green algae, Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima . The Kanembu tribe in Chad call it dihé ; the Aztecs who lived in the valley of Mexico called it tecuitlatl [ 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 ].
The algae naturally grows in warm freshwater lakes like Lake Texcoco in Mexico and Lake Chad, which sits on the border of Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon. Locals traditionally harvest the algae and dry it in “cakes” [ 4 ].
Once it’s been dried, spirulina contains up to 70% protein, is a nutrient-rich antioxidant, and takes less land, water, and energy to produce than staple crops like corn and soy . Farmers use it to enrich their animal feeds and improve the quality of meat they produce. It pulls huge quantities of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and it may even be used to convert city sewage back to clean water [ 1 , 5 ].
Spirulina gathered attention as a possible pharmaceutical in the 1940s and 50s. In 1974, the World Health Organization declared it the “best food for the future” to combat malnutrition, especially in children [ 4 ].
To learn more about spirulina’s nutritional value and how it might work, check out this post .
Spirulina is a dried blue-green algae that contains 70% protein once dried. It is considered an important “food for the future” by the WHO. Snapshot of Spirulina
High in protein and full of nutrients
May reduce the risk of heart disease
May reduce inflammation, especially in allergies, and boost immunity
May lower blood sugar
May possibly prevent fatigue
May protect the liver, brain, and kidneys
Some potential benefits have been insufficiently investigated
May cause rare allergic reactions
Occasional contamination with other cyanobacteria
May interact with some medication
Health Benefits of Spirulina
Spirulina supplements have not been approved by the FDA for medical use and generally lack solid clinical research. Regulations set manufacturing standards for them but don’t guarantee that they’re safe or effective. Speak with your doctor before supplementing. Effective For
1) Antioxidant Activity
When free radicals build up, they disrupt structures, machinery, and even DNA inside cells. This process is linked to a great many diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and arthritis [ 6 , 7 ].
The most robust benefit of spirulina is probably its antioxidant effect . Multiple cell, animal, and human studies have demonstrated its ability to reduce oxidative stress; furthermore, spirulina contains diverse active compounds with antioxidant activity. It may contribute to whole-body health and, when combined with diet and lifestyle choices, delay or prevent disease onset [ 8 , 9 , 1 ]. Likely Effective For
2) Heart Health A review of 12 human clinical studies suggested that spirulina may protect the heart not only through its antioxidant properties, but also by lowering cholesterol , triglycerides , and blood pressure [ 9 ]. Blood Pressure Multiple clinical studies revealed that spirulina lowers blood pressure . In particular, the diastolic blood pressure – the lower of the two numbers, measured when the heart is resting between beats – is significantly decreased in people taking spirulina supplements [ 10 , 11 , 9 ]. Cholesterol and Triglycerides High levels of cholesterol and triglycerides increase a person’s risk of heart disease and stroke [ 12 , 13 , 14 ].In animal and human studies, spirulina decreased total cholesterol, LDL (the “bad” cholesterol), and triglycerides in the blood. These markers may increase as we age; spirulina may, therefore, have key benefits in elderly people or in those prone to high levels [ 15 , 9 ].The existing evidence suggests that spirulina reduces the risk of heart disease. Although spirulina supplements are not FDA-approved for this purpose, you may discuss with your doctor if they may be helpful in your case. Possibly Effective For 3) Inflammation Inflammation, like oxidative stress, is linked to many different conditions. Inflammatory diseases include everything from depression to IBD to arthritis [ 16 , 17 , 18 ].Spirulina contains multiple bioactive compounds that are known to reduce inflammation. Taken as a supplement, spirulina blocks the activity of molecules that stimulate the inflammatory response . In both human and rat studies, it reversed an age-related increase in inflammatory cytokines [ 1 , 8 , 15 ]. In Allergic Rhinitis Allergic rhinitis is the most common allergic reaction to environmental allergens like pollen; it is also a major part of asthma. In one clinical study on 150 people, spirulina decreased all measured symptoms of allergic rhinitis compared to placebo [ 19 , 20 ].Although limited, the evidence suggests that spirulina may help with allergic rhinitis and other inflammatory conditions. You may try spirulina if your doctor determines that it may help. Never take it instead of what your doctor recommends or prescribes. 4) Boosting Immunity Animal and human studies have demonstrated spirulina’s immune-boosting properties. By activating white blood cells and the tissues that produce them, it may help the body defend against bacteria, viruses, and even tumors without causing excessive inflammation [ 21 ].In a clinical trial on 169 HIV-infected people, daily supplementation with spirulina (along with a balanced diet) i ncreased the levels of immune cells (CD4) and reduced the viral load after 6 months [ 22 ].Similarly, spirulina reduced viral load and liver damage in a trial on 30 people with hepatitis C [ 23 ].Spirulina extract improved natural killer cell activity in 2 small trials on14 healthy people [ 24 , 25 ].In a trial on 19 rowers, supplementation with spirulina p rotected against the deficit in immune function caused by strenuous exercise (increased Treg over natural killer cell proportion) [ […]
Cordyceps doesn’t stop to fascinate. It naturally grows in the mountainous regions of Asia by invading insect larvae and growing out of their body. Folks have been using it for centuries to boost energy and libido. Find out how cordyceps supplements are commercially produced and used and what side effects they can cause. What Is Cordyceps?
Cordyceps is the name for a group ( genus ) of fungi , all of which are parasites of various insects or other fungi . There are over 750 species of Cordyceps fungi around the world. They primarily grow in South Asia, Europe, and North America [ 1 , 2 ].
With so many mushroom species, it becomes hard to say exactly which one someone is referring to when they talk about “cordyceps.”
The most well-known and studied one is Cordyceps sinensis . In 2007, scientists discovered that this species is unrelated to most of the others and placed it in an entirely new genus ( Ophiocordyceps ). Although its name has been changed to Ophiocordyceps sinensis , it is still commonly referred to as C. sinensis, or just cordyceps [ 3 , 4 ].
Cordyceps is no typical mushroom . The way it grows in nature has fascinated scientists for a long time and earned it the nickname “ caterpillar fungus .”
Namely, the spores of the fungus infect moth caterpillars. These tiny spores then grow into a large fungal mass called mycelium that spreads throughout the insect body, eventually killing the larvae. A thin stalk called a fruiting body then sprouts from the corpse, releases spores, and continues the cycle [ 5 ].
In fact, the fungus-caterpillar combination is among the most famous traditional Chinese medicines. It has been used for hundreds of years in tinctures and teas to boost libido, reduce fatigue, and fight lung and kidney diseases [ 2 , 6 , 7 ].
More broadly, cordyceps is considered a general tonic claimed to increase vitality and longevity . Standardized extracts are even used in medical clinics throughout China and some are classified as drugs [ 2 , 6 , 7 ].
Unlike any other mushroom, cordyceps grows in nature by invading and killing moth caterpillars. It’s traditionally claimed to be a tonic and aphrodisiac. Cordyceps Sinensis vs. Cordyceps Militaris
While C. sinensis is by far the most valued and studied Cordyceps species, others have also been used for their potential health benefits. Among these, Cordyceps militaris is the most well-known and researched one.
Despite their longstanding popularity and use, few clinical trials have been conducted on either C. sinensis or C. militaris, and no human studies have investigated the other species [ 4 ].
C . sinensis is found exclusively in the Tibetan plateau , the world’s highest plateau that covers most of Tibet and some of the neighboring regions. Its average altitude is astonishing, reaching 4,500 m or 14,800 ft. Cordyceps is an important part of traditional Tibetan medicine and the Tibetan economy. Harvesting of wild C. sinensis accounts for nearly 40% of the income in rural Tibet and 9% of the region’s GDP [ 6 , 8 , 9 ].
C. sinensis caught the attention of the world in 1993, when Chinese long-distance runners broke several world records in the Chinese National Games. Their coach credited their success to a daily tonic containing the fungus [ 10 ]. Active Components
The two most important active components found in both C. sinensis and C. militaris (and a few other Cordyceps species) are cordycepin (3’-deoxyadenosine) and D-mannitol (also known as cordycepic acid) [ 11 , 1 ].
Cordycepin is very similar to the molecule adenosine , which plays a role in helping fall asleep and increasing blood flow. Adenosine is also part of ATP, the body’s main energy currency [ 11 ].
D-mannitol is a sugar alcohol used clinically as a diuretic in people with fluid buildup (edema) due to kidney disorders and to decrease swelling in the brain after trauma or stroke [ 12 ].
Other active components found in C. sinensis and C. militaris include [ 11 , 1 , 13 , 14 , 15 ]: Polysaccharides (CPS-1, CPS-2, CS-F30, CS-F10, beta-glucans, and mannoglucan)
Nucleosides (adenosine and thymidine)
Sterols (ergosterol and beta-sitosterol)
Others: peptides, amino acids, sugars, fatty acids, and enzymes
Cordyceps contains many active compounds, the most important ones being cordycepin (that acts on energy levels) and polysaccharides (that support the immune system). How Does Cordyceps Work?
Anti-diabetic D-mannitol acts as a diuretic, helps maintain the balance between fluids inside and outside cells, and reduces inflammation [ 12 ].Carbohydrates in Cordyceps may have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-tumor, and cholesterol – and blood sugar-lowering effects. They may also help boost the immune system [ 23 , 24 , 25 , 26 , 27 , 28 , 29 ]. Cordyceps Supplement Facts, Combinations & Dosage How Are Cordyceps Supplements Made? Because it is adapted to a specific host, geography, and climate, wild C. sinensis is scarce and impossible to mass-produce using its natural life cycle . This, coupled with increasingly high demand, has led to skyrocketing prices. In 2017, high-quality C. sinensis pieces were being sold for more than $63,000/lb ($140,000/kg) in Beijing, over 3x the price of gold at the time! [ 30 ]. Due to overharvesting , wild C . sinensis is now classified as an endangered species . To fulfill the demand that can’t be satisfied by harvesting the wild form, artificial cultivation methods have been developed. Thanks to these methods, large-scale manufacturing of both C. sinensis and C. militaris is now possible [ 31 ].There are two main ways to mass-produce Cordyceps .One involves the fermentation of the fungus in a liquid medium containing yeast, sugar, and other nutrients, set at a specific temperature and pH. Once the mycelium (non-reproductive part of the fungus) has fully grown, it is extracted and purified. This method allows to grow Cordyceps quickly and is popular with Chinese manufacturers [ 9 , 32 ].Different strains of wild C. […]
Editor’s note: The claims made in this article are as published by our content partner and not endorsed by Microsoft News or Microsoft.
The start of the year is a time when so many of us turn our attention to getting fitter and healthier – so here are 50 different ways to do that without paying for gym classes you’ll never attend (or at least not for long). There are hundreds of simple ways to shape up, feel better and look younger. We’ve compiled a list of 50 taken from either official health advice and guidance, or academic research. So with a few simple updates to your daily routine, you can feel fitter in almost no time at all.
1 — Stretch it out every morning. Take just a few minutes each morning to stretch the major muscle groups – stretching is the body’s way of waking up by getting circulation going and encouraging flexibility.
2 — Stay on top of your doctor’s appointments. The NHS loses more than £200m a year to missed GP appointments – not only is it bad for doctors but it’s bad for you. Too many missed appointments may see you removed from your surgery’s list.
A 2017 study found that risk for each disease and death – other than cancer – was reduced with each 200g a day increase in fruit and vegetables (Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty)
3 — Up your vitamin D. You can do this by simply enjoying a healthy amount of sunshine. Just 15 minutes of exposure to natural sunlight daily is important for nutrition and mental health, bone density, vitamin D production, and other health benefits, experts say. Ask your doctor to check your vitamin D level and take a vitamin D3 supplement in winter.
4 — Eat breakfast. Make the first meal of the day your biggest. Not only will eating something healthy first thing help keep energy levels up throughout the day, but a 2014 study published in Nutrition Journal found it also keeps snack cravings in check.
5 — Repair your gut. Gut health plays a big role in overall physical and mental health. Some digestive disease specialists are recommending probiotic supplements or drinks for disorders that frustrate conventional medicine, such as irritable bowel syndrome.
6 — Take a cold shower. Cold showers have lots of health benefits, including improved circulation, faster muscle recovery, enhanced skin and hair and increased energy. Try it for one to two minutes.
7 — Learn a new skill. Our brain needs to be stimulated to keep all the synapses firing. Like a muscle, it needs a work-out. Studies have shown that learning a foreign language helps improve memory.
8 — Eat your fruits and veg. A 2017 study found that risk for each disease and death – other than cancer – was reduced with each 200g a day increase in fruit and vegetables, up to 800g a day.
9 — Take vitamins. As you age, it can be harder to get all the vitamins and nutrients you need from your diet alone. A daily multivitamin. could help keep bones strong and your energy levels up.
10 — Eat spices that boost circulation. Cayenne pepper, turmeric and cinnamon help promote better blood flow, increasing mobility.
11 — Check your bones. As you age, you begin to lose bone mass and density, so it’s important to get your status checked. Calcium and vitamin D3 are great for bone and immune support if a blood or saliva test indicates a supplement is necessary.
‘Keeping active reduces your risk of having a heart attack or stroke and cuts your chances of an early death. As the old mantra goes, if exercise were a pill it would be hailed as a wonder drug’.
12 — Get off the couch. A sedentary lifestyle is not only ageing, but it could decrease your life-span by more than a decade. Inactivity has become a major public health issue as it increases risk of heart disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer and more.
13 — Drink water. When dehydrated, your skin can look dry and dull, making you look older. Health authorities commonly recommend eight eight-ounce glasses a day (equal to about 2 litres).
14 — Adrenaline rush. Doing something that thrills you will instantly give you a jolt of energy that makes you feel half your age, whether you’re finally checking skydiving off your bucket list, watching a horror movie or going to an escape room.
15 — Eat healthy fats. Like carbs, some fats are better than others. The fat in pizza? Bad. The fat in an avocado? Good. The main fatty acid in an avocado is a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. This is also the predominant fatty acid in olive oil, associated with health benefits.
16 — Eat fibre. Fibre helps you to maintain healthy digestion and it also helps keep your cholesterol levels healthy. Eating fibre-boosting foods – such as whole grains like brown rice, plant proteins like beans and edamame and vegetables such as spinach and asparagus – can help prevent constipation.
17 — Go outdoors. According to Harvard Medical School, getting outside dramatically alters your mental health for the better. By changing scenery, you can change your perspective and banish pent-up stress.
18 — Karaoke kick. Simple acts such as singing and dancing to your favourite music can keep you young. Singing also strengthens muscles in the airway, which improves lung function and mental alertness by delivering more oxygen to the brain. Plus, it’s just fun.
19 — Relieve adrenal fatigue. A lot of people who are over-stressed, constantly fatigued, and experiencing problems such as insulin resistance, difficulty losing weight, and hormonal imbalance experience adrenal fatigue – when your adrenal glands are working too hard due to chronic periods of elevated and imbalanced cortisol levels. Try to find more time to relax each day, even for just a few minutes.
Stress has many negative effects on physical and mental health, from headaches and chest pain to anxiety (Photo: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire)
20 — Exhale your stress. Stress has many negative effects on physical and mental health, […]
Choir singers holding music. I have fibromyalgia , endometriosis , myalgic encephalomyelitis , generalized anxiety disorder and an endocrine disorder. I am sore, tired and anxious for many days at a time. I also sing in a choir. According to Charlotte Price Persson , “It may be that enjoyable music can trigger the release of opioids in the brain. Opioids are the body’s own ‘morphine’, which may explain why music can reduce the feeling of pain and the reduced need for pain medication.”
If listening to music can relieve pain, then what might singing do?
I have discovered how to truly benefit from singing in a choir. First there are the benefits of music as mentioned above. Second is the distraction. And third, I have learned that being in a group of people with a common goal can be a way to gain control over my life and over the way I view my body.
Singing in a choir has allowed me to be part of a community, to feel like I belong, and to channel my physical pain into learning and performing music. Being able to take a couple of hours out of my week to blend harmonies with others takes me away from my physical pain and into a place of creativity, beauty and connection. Chronic illness and chronic pain can be extremely isolating . Having a place to go every week where I know I will have fun, work hard and be removed from the physical pain keeps me going when flares are wearing me down.
In 2004, I joined an LGBTQ+ community choir in Toronto, Ontario called Singing Out. The 40-member choir became my home away from home. As of 2020, we are now 120+ members putting on shows, going out into the community to perform and creating a space to belong. “The research has often drawn on theories around how nerve impulses in the central nervous system are affected by our thought processes and emotions. Anything that distracts us from pain may reduce the extent to which we focus on it, and music may be particularly powerful in this regard. The beauty is that once we understand how music relates to pain, we have the potential to treat ourselves. Music attracts and holds our attention and is emotionally engaging, particularly if our relationship with the piece is strong. Our favorite music is likely to have stronger positive effects than tracks we don’t like or know. Researchers have demonstrated that the music we prefer has greater positive effects on pain tolerance and perception, reduces anxiety and increases feelings of control over pain.” Singing in a choir using mindfulness techniques is what shifted my experience of chronic pain and fatigue. Mindfulness means focusing your attention on the present and engaging fully in what you are doing, whether that be washing dishes, drawing, knitting, walking, swimming or singing. Any activity in which you are focused on the moment is mindful. Instead of focusing on how much it hurt to be at rehearsal for 2.5 hours, I began to focus solely on the music and on blending my voice with the people around me. I mindfully participated and gave the music my full attention.
Chronic pain is associated with an over-active amygdala (the part of the brain responsible for the initial emotional response to stimuli). When under stress, the amygdala sends signals to your “reptilian” brain triggering the fight, flight or freeze response . The emotions related to experiencing chronic pain can increase the sensation of pain because of this primitive response.
When not under stress, you can think logically, have better memory, and you are able to regulate your emotions.
In her book “ Unlimited Energy Now ,” Catherine Carrigan explores how “being stuck operating out of your amygdalae — as opposed to out of the frontal lobes of your brain — is a major cause not only of chronic pain but also chronic exhaustion.” When I am singing mindfully, I am able to reduce the brain fog and reduce my experience of pain by activating other parts of my brain. I am also sending messages to my amygdala that I am safe and happy. According to Carrigan, “If you feel safe, the amygdalae send the signals to your frontal lobes, where you can think logically, produce your own natural antidepressants and anti-anxiety neurotransmitters.”
For these reasons, I have found singing in a choir reduces my pain, increases my concentration skills, creates a sense of belonging, and allows me to feel safe and secure.