4 Things Your Psychiatrist May Not Have Told You

Here are four things your psychiatrist may not have mentioned to you about psychiatric medications, but that are very important for you to know:

  1. There are many safety concerns with medication: It is well-documented that more than 100,000 people per year die simply by taking their medications as directed by their doctor. In contrast, zero people are killed by taking vitamins. This YouTube video by Dr. Peter Gøtzsche asserts that the number is now 200,000 deaths per year and prescription drugs are now the third leading cause of death, after heart disease and cancer.
  2. There are negative health consequences associated with taking medication: You may find relief when you first begin taking medications. However, after a while, most people find that the beneficial effects of the medications lessen. The standard procedure is for the doctor to recommend increasing the amount of medication. They may even suggest you start an additional prescription. It is common for this cycle to continue until people are taking 5-10 different medications daily, each one with their own adverse side effects. It gets to be a vicious cycle of prescribing one drug to combat the side effects of the previous drug. This can lead to a condition called Tardive Dyskinesia, described as involuntary repetitive body movements caused by long-term use of psychiatric medications. Symptoms include “stiff, jerky movements of your face and body that you can’t control. You might blink your eyes, stick out your tongue, or wave your arms without meaning to do so.” This condition is often permanent, even after discontinuing medications. You may also be put on a medication that makes your condition worse. There are many documented cases about this on the website SSRI Stories.
  3. You may have a difficult time when you withdrawal: If, after taking your medications for a while, you decide you no longer want to take them, you may face challenges as you as you taper off the drugs. It has been noted that certain classes of psychiatric medications called benzodiazapenes can become addictive after only a few weeks. This blog post by Martin C. Winer gives a firsthand account of his experience with psychiatric medications. This Huffington Post article describes another person’s experience with the drug Klonopin. There are many Facebook groups where you can read accounts of people who are attempting to withdrawal from medications. You can type in the name of the drug your doctor wants to put you on, and the word withdrawal. For example, search Facebook for ‘Cymbalta Withdrawal’ and request to join the group.
  4. There are a glaring number of conflict of interests in the pharma industry: There are several moral and ethical breaches occurring within the medical and pharmaceutical industries that are rarely talked about. This article reports that 65% of doctors are receiving compensation or “kickbacks,” from a drug company. This means that your doctor has a vested financial interest in prescribing you a certain drug, even if you don’t need it. In addition, several mental health advocacy groups (such as NAMI) are funded primarily in large part by the pharmaceutical industry. This is the reason why advocacy groups are reluctant to speak out against the dangers of pharmaceuticals. The FDA, the government group tasked with making sure drugs are safe before being approved, has also been infiltrated by former heads of pharmaceutical companies. There are many other instances of conflicts of interests that are happening, including suppressing information about large court settlements against the pharma industries where people’s lives have been ruined by taking psychiatric medications. The list goes on and on.

Now, with all that being said, if you decide you DON’T want to take pharmaceutical drugs, what CAN you can do to improve your mental health?  This site is a great resource for books, websites, and YouTube videos that will help you decide what you can do instead of taking medication. An introductory book I often recommend to people is The Mood Cure by Julia Ross. Another helpful book is The Secrets to Real Mental Health by Linda Van Zandt. You can find more suggestions by visiting the resources page.

You can also contact me at HolisticHP at gmail.com for personal coaching and assistance in finding holistic solutions for depression and anxiety.

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New Alternative Mental Health Resource

I’m so pleased to announce the launch today of a free resource for people wanting to explore holistic options for mental health.

The website www.alternativementalhealthrevolution.com contains resources, information, links to other helpful websites, info about tapering off medication, healing stories and more!

Please take a look at the first blog post which explains the mission and goals of the website.

There is also a menu tab that features stories of people who have healed using various holistic modalities. If you wish to share your story and inspire others, please send an e-mail to HolisticHP at gmail.com.

At the site, you can also sign up to receive e-mail notifications about new blog posts. If you’d like to contribute to the site or if you are interested in writing a guest post, your contributions are most welcomed!

Thank you for checking it out and recommending it to friends who may be interested in a holistic way to address mental health issues!

-Judy Meyer, HHP, NHC

 

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Podcast: Natural Solutions for Anxiety

I recently had the pleasure of being a guest on the Voices of Anxiety podcast. I spoke about several holistic ways to heal anxiety. My aim was to give very specific information about what someone can do immediately to feel better, and which nutrients to focus on. I hope you’ll give it a listen, and pass it along to anyone who suffers from anxiety.

Here’s the link:

http://bit.ly/2lNUOPz

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Depression and Addiction

Depression and addiction can go hand-in-hand.  This is because people often try to self-medicate in an effort to alleviate symptoms of mood disorders. Unfortunately, the risk of suicide and self-harm is elevated among addicts. For example, 40% of all alcoholics attempt suicide at least once.

Another unfortunate statistic is that 90% of people who try to get sober are unsuccessful.

The good news is that there are effective, natural ways to address addiction using targeted amino acids and nutrients.

Researcher Kenneth Blum, PhD studied brain chemistry of alcoholics and drug addicts and coined the term “reward deficiency syndrome.” He found that when people in recovery supplemented with amino acids and nutrients, their relapse rates were 4x less than those not taking supplements.

The key to finding the appropriate supplements for you is to ask yourself how your drug makes you feel. For instance, some users of marijuana use it to relax, while others use it to increase motivation and get things done.

If you use drugs or alcohol to relax or calm down, nutrients that may support your recovery include:

  • -Gaba
  • -Inositol
  • -5-HTP or Tryptophan
  • -Melatonin
  • -Magnesium

If you use drugs or alcohol to get energy, you may benefit from:

  • -L-tyrosine
  • -L-phenylalnine
  • -Omega-3 fish oils
  • -SAM-e
  • -Milk thistle

In addition, 95% of alcoholics have low blood sugar and are often drawn to sweets and carbohydrates. A mineral called chromium may be lacking in the diet. Eating more protein and eliminating sweets and white flour products may be useful.

Addiction depletes essential nutrients in the body. The longer someone has been using, the more they will need basic nutrients to build their bodies back up.

If you are interested in treating your addiction using nutritional supplements and amino acids, I highly recommend purchasing both of these excellent books.

The Mood Cure by Julia Ross, MA

Seven Weeks to Sobriety by Joan Mathews Larson, PhD

7weeks2

Please note: the information in this blog is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any disease. Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner before taking any supplements.

 

 

 

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Anti-anxiety Nutrients

Depression often goes hand-in-hand with anxiety. Many people ask me about what they can do to help with stress, anxiety, or panic attacks. Here are a few nutrients I recommend.

My first suggestion is to get more magnesium. Most people are deficient in this very important mineral that supports relaxation (as well as so many other important processes in the body.) A quick and easy way to get magnesium into your body is by taking an epsom salt bath. Using a dry body brush beforehand will allow your skin to absorb the magnesium in the epsom salts even better. You can also purchase a magnesium spray or make your own. This great blog post from gotmag.org describes how to restore magnesium levels quickly.

bathstuff

My second suggestion is Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid, also known as GABA. This amino acid is known as “the brain’s natural Valium.” GABA comes in a sublingual form that can be placed under the tongue in stressful situations. I keep it in my purse in case I’m out in the world and find myself overly stressed. I just pop one under my tongue and usually feel relief within minutes.

Gabainpurse

Other amino acids that promote relaxation are taurine and glycine. There are some supplements available that combine GABA, taurine and glycine in one anti-stress formula.

If your serotonin levels are low, you are more prone to anxiety and panic attacks. To increase your stores of serotonin naturally, you can supplement with 5-HTP or L-tryptophan.

The B vitamin known as inositol has also been reported as being helpful in easing stress and supporting adrenal function.

Some excellent herbs that support the adrenals and the nervous system include: Ashwagandha, Holy Basil, and Rhodiola. Many people have found success with these herbs, but I have found them to be too subtle for my needs. I have found that I respond much quicker to vitamins and amino acids.

Finally, a well-known homeopathic solution for stressful situations is Bach’s Rescue Remedy, which is a blend of 5 different Bach Flower remedies. This comes in sprays, gels, or pastilles.

Have you tried these natural solutions for anxiety? Are there others you have found helpful? Let me know in the comments!

*Please note that this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for medical advice. Judy Meyer, HHP is not a doctor and cannot diagnose, treat or cure any disease. If you are currently on medication, it would be wise to consult your healthcare provider before experimenting with amino acids.

 

 

 

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A Natural Solution for Constipation

Constipation can occur for a variety of reasons, including when people change their diets, or if they add certain supplements such as iron or calcium.

One of my clients recently cut back on his coffee consumption and as a result, started to experience constipation.

Initially he tried several solutions: taking more epsom salt baths baths, eating more fruits and vegetables, drinking more water, getting colonics, and drinking more fresh pressed vegetable juice. However, none of these solved the problem long-term.

I advised him to try the following safe and effective natural treatment known as the Ivy Bridges Formula, as published in The Detox Book by Bruce Fife, N.D.

The recipe is as follows:

  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 2 Tbs. liquid chlorophyll
  • 2 Tbs. aloe vera juice
  • 1 heaping tsp. psyllium powder
  • 2 cascara sagrada capsules
  • 1 glass of water

Mix the apple juice, chlorophyll, aloe vera juice and psyllium powder together and drink immediately, as it thickens quickly. Follow with a full glass of water taken with 2 cascara sagrada capsules. This is best taken in the evening before bed so it has time to work during the night.

This drink is safe to take everyday for 30 days and or even longer if needed. Unlike commercial laxatives, it is safe and natural and is not habit-forming. It will actually strengthen and promote healing of the intestinal canal.

IvyBridges

 

 

 

 

 

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ZERO Deaths from Supplements

People are sometimes reluctant to try vitamins and supplements because they worry about side effects or possible interactions. But here’s the real truth:

The most recent information from U.S. National Poison Data System shows that there have been no deaths reported from any vitamin, mineral or amino acid. Ever.

In stark contrast, it’s been reported that approximately 100,000 people die every year from pharmaceuticals taken as prescribed. That’s approximately 270 people per day.

Why is this stunning statistic not being widely reported?

The answer is that pharmaceutical companies are powerful and their pockets are deep. They have money to advertise. They have money to lobby congress. They have money to hire the best lawyers and pay people off to be silent about the dangers of their products. Because they have money, they also have power to intimidate, influence and corrupt the media.

Having worked in the medical publishing business for years, I’ve seen first-hand the lengths pharmaceutical companies will go through to promote their product and protect their revenues.

But even more important than the negative aspect of this story is the positive one. There is something we can all do take back our health. We can add vitamins and amino acids to our health program knowing that the dangers that the media sometimes reports are simply not there.

 

 

Featured image by Simon Zirkunow

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Follow Your Intuition

When it comes to healing from depression, anxiety or any other mental health issues, I have found that it’s really important to follow your intuition.

Unfortunately, people dealing with mental illness often come to mistrust their “little voice” or their “gut feeling.” They learn to discount their intuition because their brain has tricked them in the past.

However, once you’ve begun the process of healing by getting more of the right nutrients (vitamins, minerals and amino acids), it’s important to practicing learning to trust in what our bodies are trying to convey to us.

Our bodies are very wise.

If something feels wrong, don’t go against that feeling. I had several instances in my healing process where a practitioner recommended something to me and it felt wrong. Unfortunately, I often went ahead with it anyway because 1. I was desperate to feel better and 2. the person in authority was confident it would help me.

I would have saved myself a lot of suffering by listening to my intuition when something felt “off.”

Practitioners use their own knowledge and experience to recommend protocols, but because everyone is so different, what worked for one person may not work for another. Also, every practitioner is biased by their own personal experiences.

Here’s a simple truth: You know yourself better than anyone. You know how you react to certain foods. You know what makes you feel better. You know subtle things about yourself that cannot be conveyed through a questionnaire.

It’s easy to be persuaded to buy a supplement you don’t want, get a yet another test you don’t need, or continue to see a practitioner who isn’t helping you make progress. But it’s even more important to listen to yourself and trust your inner voice.

Check to make sure that you are giving your own opinion and feelings the same amount of respect that you would give a trusted practitioner. Listen to what others say but ultimately, go with what your own inner voice is telling you.

The more you practice tuning into yourself and your needs, the easier it will get.

If you’re having trouble tuning into your intuition, try one of these techniques:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position and silently ask your body what it needs. You may be really surprised by the answers that come to you.
  2. Keep a journal so you can track your progress and go back and read what has worked for you. What did you do on your good days? What were you doing on your bad days? List the supplements you took that day, and how they made you feel, along with any side effects. This will often give you insights when you’re in a fog and don’t know how to proceed. You may spot a “big picture” pattern that will help. Some of my best insights have come from re-reading my journals.
  3. Talk about your breakthroughs with a trusted friend or coach. Once when I was having a tough day, my friend asked me: “Are you taking your amino acids?” I was shocked that she reflected that back to me since she wasn’t much interested in my approach to my depression. I sheepishly answered “No” and tried to explain the many reasons why I wasn’t. Then, I shut up and took my amino acids. I felt better almost right away.

Finally, be gentle with yourself and your body. Trust that when you give your body the nutrients, love and support it needs, it will be able to heal itself in the most wonderful way.

 

 

 

 

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The Secret is Out

Lately I’ve been feeling like I have this big secret, and all I want to do is run around telling everyone about it.

But the thing is, I don’t want it to be a secret. I want everyone to know.  I wish I had a bullhorn to shout it from the rooftops.

Here’s what I wish everyone who is suffering from mental illness knew right now:

You can heal your depression and anxiety simply by taking a few nutrients that are right for your biochemistry.

This statement still amazes me and if I didn’t experience it for myself, I wouldn’t believe it. But it’s true. I know this because I battled depression for 20 years. I’ve attempted suicide. I’ve been to the depths of despair and unhappiness that made me feel like I couldn’t go on anymore.

But today I feel better than I ever have. I wake up happy. I have a productive life. I no longer want to kill myself.

If you’re struggling right now, I’d like you to really hear this: You CAN heal and you have effective options that go beyond therapy and pharmaceuticals.

Please research orthomolecular psychiatry, and learn more about how you can use vitamins and nutrients to heal your emotional pain. The research is out there but you have to dig a little bit to find it. Check out the resources page for books and websites that will get you started.

mybooks

If you need help in figuring out where to start, I can help.

Wishing you emotional health and happiness!

 

 

 

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The 5 Biotypes of Depression

I first experienced major depression as a teenager. Like most people who find themselves struggling with this, I tried pharmaceuticals. However, this never felt right to me. I always knew that I didn’t want to take medications that had a long list of side effects. The trouble was, there didn’t seem to be any alternatives. No one was really talking about any other possibilities.

Things really changed for me when I came upon the exciting research of William J. Walsh, PhD. His work focuses on the root causes of depression.  For the past 20 years, he has collected lab samples from more than 2,800 depressed people. In examining the data, he discovered that depressed people are biochemically different from the rest of the population.

Dr. Walsh concluded that there are essentially only 5 major chemical classifications (or biotypes) of the depressive population. This made me feel very hopeful that I would be able to narrow it down to see which one(s) were affecting me personally. Here is a brief explanation of his findings. More detailed information about each classification can be found in Dr. Walsh’s groundbreaking book, Nutrient Power.

biotypechart2

Undermethylation– 38% This biotype accounts for the biggest percentage of depressed patients. These patients usually have reduced levels of serotonin and dopamine.

Folate deficiency– 20% These patients exhibit elevated serotonin and dopamine. In contrast to the undermethylation group, these patients usually show an intolerance to SSRI medications. Most report anxiety in addition to depression and about 20% have a history of panic disorder.

Copper overload– 17% These patients tend to have elevated norepinephrine. It is mostly women who are affected with hypercupremic (high copper) depression. It can be traced to drinking water, birth control pill use, and estrogen dominance.

Pyrrole disorder– 15% These patients show reduced serotonin and GABA, which is the main calming neurotransmitter. This disorder may be genetic and can be identified using a simple urine test. It is treated primarily with B-6 and zinc.

Toxics– 5% These patients have an overload of toxins in their body that impair the blood-brain barrier and damage the myelin sheath, resulting in symptoms of depression.

These 5 biotypes often overlap and people can sometimes fit into more than one category. I personally have a combination of copper overload, toxics and folate deficiency.

The really fantastic news is that most of these issues can be identified using blood or urine tests. Even better news is that they can usually be addressed using a few targeted vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

Walsh quote

If you are interested in finding out about which of these 5 might be contributing to your depression, send me an e-mail so we can set up a free 15-minute consultation.

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Liver/Gallbladder Cleanse

I recently completed a liver/gallbladder cleanse for the second time, and I wanted to share my experience. The first time I did this was about a year ago, and I had great results: my energy increased, my skin and eyes became clearer, and I felt great!

One of the pieces of my depression puzzle (there are several) is that I have a mutation of the MTHFR gene. This means that I do not get rid of toxins as well as I should. Therefore, anytime I can assist my body to eliminate toxins faster, I feel much better.

The recipe I follow for my liver cleanse comes from The Detox Book, 3e by Bruce Fife, ND. I absolutely love this book and highly recommend it. It has many different recipes and specific techniques to help eliminate toxins.

The ingredients needed for the cleanse are: olive oil, fresh grapefruit, epsom salt, and l-ornithine capsules. The protocol has 6 steps, and includes detailed instructions. There is a similar recipe here, but it’s not exactly the same as the recipe in the book.

The good news is that if you follow the directions carefully, there is no pain involved and the stones are dislodged and eliminated without much trouble.

However, I have found two minor drawbacks to the cleanse:

1. I tend to get grumpy if I don’t eat and I find it challenging to fast for two meals (dinner one night and breakfast the next day.). However, the results are well worth this brief discomfort of feeling hungry. 2. The other challenge for me is drinking the bad-tasting epsom salt and water concoction. To help get it down, I make the doses all at one time so the salt dissolves in the water, and I keep it cold in the refrigerator. When I drink it, I use a straw and plug my nose. Again, a minor temporary discomfort and well worth the results of long-term increased energy.

The next day is spent mostly on the toilet as a result of the epsom salt, which has a laxative effect. The first time I did the cleanse, I passed hundreds of small pea-sized stones and a few slightly larger ones. The stones are green and they float, so they are easily recognized. This time, I ended up passing 7-10 stones the size of a thumbnail, and maybe 50 or so smaller stones. They looked similar to the ones in this photo:

Photo courtesy of OrgonSi via Flickr

Photo courtesy of OrgonSi via Flickr

It amazes me to think about these stones plugging up the ducts of my body. Some skeptics do not think these are gallstones for various reasons, but all I can think is that I’d rather have these stones out of me rather than lodged in my body!

The day after the cleanse, I did my best to rest and take it easy so that my kidneys and liver could mop up any excess toxins that were floating around after being dislodged. I drank lots of water and ate mostly fruits and vegetables.

The next few days, I felt fantastic! I ended up taking two walks in one day, totaling 7 miles. I also did all the chores I’d been putting off for a few days, including the dishes and laundry. When I breeze through doing the dishes, I know I must be feeling good!

If you’re interested in more information, there is a great Facebook group that discusses recipes, success stories, and cautions.

Have you tried a liver cleanse? How did it make you feel? I’d love to hear your feedback!

Posted in alternative medicine, anxiety, biochemistry, cleanse, cleansing, detox, detoxification, gallbladder, genetics, liver, mental health, mental illness, MTHFR, orthomolecular, stones, toxins | Tagged | Leave a comment

Withdrawl from Psych Meds

There are several Facebook groups to support people who are withdrawing from psychiatric medications. It breaks my heart to read posts describing the immense suffering these folks are going through as they taper off their medicines. Generally, people are struggling through months and even years of pain and symptoms, even after they stop taking medications. When they decide to get off meds (or their failing liver function mandates it), they not only have the original symptoms to deal with, but they also have a variety of other problems that were caused by taking the medication. It’s really awful.

If you’re on medication, please know that I’m not judging you. I have taken medication myself and I understand why people start taking it. I think people should be commended for bravely reaching out to seek help and save their own lives. This takes HUGE courage.

The trouble is, media campaigns about mental health tell us that taking medication is our best option. Rarely are patients given realistic information about side effects and long-term implications of psychiatric medication. Neither are they given useful information about vitamins or amino acids. I think if given the choice, most people would choose to take vitamins over a pharmaceutical drug. But there are several factors involved, including 1. what insurance will pay for, and 2. a lack of awareness that mental health can be improved and often reversed simply by taking a few targeted nutrients.

When I was on medication, I knew that the doctors were playing a guessing game and didn’t really know how to help me, even though they wanted to. I definitely knew that my body wasn’t suffering from a lack of pharmaceuticals. I instinctively felt the problem went deeper.

I guess what it boils down to is this: If you’re not already on medication, please do diligent research before you start taking it. Read books on natural health, join forums, seek out alternative health practitioners. If you aren’t in a healthy place to do this, enlist someone to help you. There ARE resources out there, but sadly, no one is really talking about effective natural solutions for depression and anxiety.

If you are interested in starting the process to get off medications, Beyond Meds has a great posting which lists lots of fantastic information and useful tools. Please consider supplementing with nutrients that your body needs if you are going to undertake this transition. This will help ease the process and save a lot of needless suffering. Please note that you should talk to your doctor before beginning a tapering program. Never just quit “cold turkey,” as this could put your life in danger.

A fantastic film on YouTube called “Death by Medicine” addresses this subject. It features a woman who is going through withdrawals of her psych medications a year after stopping taking medications. It’s lengthy but well worth your time.

It is my ardent hope that someday soon, people will come to know that mental health issues can be effectively addressed and corrected using nutrients tailored to their specific biochemistry.

Posted in abilify, anti-depressants, anxiety, benzos, biochemistry, Death by Medicine, dependency, Gary Null, holistic, medication, mental health, mental illness, nutrients, pharmaceuticals, side effects, ssri, wellbutrin, withdrawl | Tagged , | Leave a comment

No Magic Pill?

There-Aint-No-Magic-Pill2

This type of meme makes its rounds occasionally, especially in anti-pharmaceutical or fitness threads. Whenever I see it, my immediate reaction is: YES, THERE IS!

Of course, the implied message is that there’s no magic pharmaceutical pill that will solve one’s problems. And I do agree with that. Because let’s face it, no one is suffering from a lack of pharmaceuticals.

But when I look back and think about some of the key vitamins and nutrients I’ve taken, sometimes it feels like they ARE magic pills. This is because my body really needed those specific nutrients.

For example, when I first took l-methylfolate (the bio-available form of folic acid), I couldn’t believe how amazing I felt. I ran around telling everyone I knew that I finally knew what it felt like to feel “normal.” I was calm. I was at ease. I was happy for no apparent reason. It was such a welcome and surprising change from wanting to cry for no reason.

Another vitamin that made me feel magical when I first took it was ADB12. I had been taking other forms of B-12, but those were making me feel worse. The first day I took the ADB12, I felt like I could climb any mountain. I felt like superwoman, with the motivation to get everything on my to-do list finished.

When I first tried Tyrosine and DLPA (amino acids), I felt the same type of feelings. I no longer needed coffee in the morning to get me going. I would take these in the morning upon awakening and would feel a sense of peace within a few minutes.

One of my rules of thumb is that when a vitamin or mineral makes you feel this way right from the start, it is a good sign. It means your body really needed that particular nutrient, and was thirsty for it.

Over time, I have found that I usually don’t need as much of a nutrient as when I first started taking it.  I usually end up taking nutrients every other day (or every third day). The feelings of euphoria that I got right away from my “magic” pills tends to fade as my body becomes accustomed to that nutrient.

So, not only do I think there IS a magic pill, I think there could be several! It really just depends on your individual genetics and the nutrients that your body is craving.

What vitamins, minerals or supplements have made you feel amazing when you first started taking them?

Note: Please consult your doctor or holistic health practitioner before starting a nutritional program, especially if you are currently taking medications. Some nutrients may counteract or interfere with your medications. The nutrients listed above may not be appropriate for your particular situation.

Posted in alternative medicine, amino acids, antidepressants, anxiety, b-12, biochemistry, Depression, epigenetics, magic pills, methylfolate, normal, nutritional balancing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Recovering from an Inadvertent Detox

For the last two days, I have been a real grump.

I’ve been super irritable and annoyed by things that don’t normally bother me. This is strange for me, because I’ve been feeling really good for a while now. For example, I usually walk a few miles a day but the past few days, I’ve barely had the energy to get off the couch.

Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images

Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images

I wondered why the sudden change? I tried to think back and recreate what may have caused the sudden lack of energy and lethargy. I finally figured it out: I recently started to rotate in some supplements I haven’t taken for a while. Two that I started up again were NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine) and ALA (Alpha-Lipoic Acid).

I remembered that these two are known to be chelators of heavy metals. A-ha! It started to make sense!

So my theory is that I inadvertently released some toxins and that was why I was feeling so awful. I remember this happening before when I’ve done detox protocols. But I certainly wasn’t trying to do a detox right now, and it took me by surprise.

Here’s what I did to feel better today (and why I have the renewed energy to write this blog post!):

-I stopped all supplements except for vitamin C, which is known to help the liver.

-Even though it took a lot of energy, I juiced some fruits and veggies. I used the following ingredients: apples, beets, carrots, ginger, celery, and parsley. I keep these items in my fridge all the time.  Sometimes if I don’t use them, I have to throw them away. However, I find it’s so helpful to have them on hand at times like these when I really need quick nutrients and don’t have the energy to go to the store.  I managed to clean-up quickly and then went back to the couch.

-An really important thing I did was to be gentle with myself. I had so many things I wanted to do, but absolutely no energy or motivation. My brain was really upset that my body couldn’t check some things off my to do list. However, I didn’t want to add shame and guilt to the mix of not feeling good. I gave myself permission to just be a lump on the couch. I felt a sense of relief just by doing that.

-As I was lying on the couch struggling with trying to gather the motivation and energy to get up and do things, I decided to make the best of it. I put on a castor oil pack with a flannel on top of my liver. I kept it on for approximately 30 minutes. This seemed to make a big difference and I was able to get up and do the dishes. Hurray!

-At about 6pm, I brushed my skin with a dry skin brush and then took a hot epsom salt bath with lavender essential oil. I stayed in the bath until it was no longer warm- about 20 minutes or so.

Then, I felt so good, I jumped up and wrote this post! : )

I am so grateful to have a variety of tools in my toolbox for times like these. Once I recognize that I’m not feeling good, I am usually able to take an action to change the way I’m feeling. I’m getting really good at knowing what works for me with certain symptoms. If one things doesn’t work, I try something else.

Of course, toxin elimination isn’t the only piece to my complex individual depression puzzle, but these last few days remind me that it is indeed significant. I was amazed at how just a few simple actions got me feeling back to normal again.

What kinds of things work wonders for you when you’re feeling down?

Posted in ALA, angry, chelating, detoxing, fatigue, grumpy, heavy metals, NAC | 2 Comments

Advice About Taking Supplements

Some of the best advice I ever received was from Dr. Carol Savage, who moderates the MTHFR Gene Mutation group on Facebook. She is, quite simply, an angel to so many people who are struggling to understand the complicated topics of epigenetics and individual biochemistry.

At the time, I had just started to supplement with methylfolate, B-12 and a variety of other co-factors. I knew I was on the right track, but some days I felt worse than when I started. I explained my situation to Dr. Savage and she suggested that I may feel better if I didn’t take all my supplements everyday. This was a real shocker to me! I had never even considered it. However, it made sense. Because the new supplements were jump-starting my dormant methylation cycle, things were starting to shift in my body. I was now releasing more toxins and perhaps my liver and kidneys were becoming overloaded.

The next day, I split my supplements into alternating days and immediately noticed a big change in how I felt. It turned out that I was simply rushing the process a bit too much and needed to take it a little slower. Go figure!

Taking_Vitamins

Photography: meaduva

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Helpful B12 Chart

I found this great B12 chart online and I wish I had seen it sooner! My first ND put me on Methyl B12. She told me to keep taking it even though it made me feel much worse. If I had been aware of this chart, I would have known that my best bet was to focus on Hydroxy B12 and ADB12.

If you’ve got your 23andme results handy, take a look and see if you’ve been taking the correct form of B12 for you.

B12chart

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Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis

In my last post, I talked about using genetic testing as a tool to help identify root causes of depression.

Another non-invasive diagnostic tool I recommend is a hair tissue mineral analysis. This test can provide valuable information about your levels of nutrients. It also provides feedback on toxic metals that may be accumulating in your body.

When you order the test through a qualified practitioner, you will receive a testing kit and an explanation of how best to collect the hair sample. It usually involves snipping a small amount of hair from your head that is close to the scalp. You can do this by taking a small sample from the back of the head underneath the top layer of hair where it won’t be visible. Test results are usually available within a week or two.

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

The testing lab I use is called Analytical Research Labs in Phoenix. They test for 19 different minerals and toxic metals. Customers can order a variety of packages, some of which come with detailed analysis of results. The website itself is also a great source of information about nutritional balancing.

When I ordered my first test, I also got the complete interpretation, which helped me identify several more pieces in the puzzle of my depression. The test showed I was a slow oxidizer, and that my adrenal glands weren’t working optimally, which can contribute to depression and fatigue. When I got that information, it helped me to concentrate on improving my adrenal function using several targeted supplements. I made significant improvements during that time that I focused on healing my adrenals.

There has been criticism about hair testing and its accuracy, but for me,  hair testing has been really helpful.  I re-test every six months to keep an eye on my ratios and make adjustments to my supplements. I find it to be affordable, non-invasive, reliable, and it saves me from having to go to the doctor and get blood drawn (which I hate.) There is a new service by a company called Theranos that will hopefully be arriving in California soon. It allows consumers to order  individual tests at a drugstore using just a drop of blood from a pinprick on the fingertip. I am eagerly awaiting this service, but in the meantime, I find the hair testing to be a wonderful tool that helps keep me informed about the balance of nutrients in my body.

If you’d like to learn more about hair testing and its implications for your health, I’d recommend the book Nutritional Balancing and Hair Mineral Analysis, by Lawrence Wilson, MD.

 

Posted in adrenal fatigue, ARL, biochemistry, books, Depression, diagnostics, epigenetics, hair testing, Lawrence Wilson, mental health, mental illness, nutritional balancing, orthomolecular medicine | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Simple Genetic Test to Help Identify Root Causes of Depression

One of the tools I recommend to help people identify the root causes of their depression is a simple saliva genetic test. When I took this test, it provided a wealth of new information. The one I used was from 23andme. It costs $99 and can be ordered online. (update: It looks like after offering the test for several years at the same price, the company has just raised the price to $199. The reason is that they now offer FDA-approved interpretation of your results.) After you send in your saliva sample, you will receive results in a few weeks.

Saliva_test

Once your results are available, you can download them to a separate service that will help you interpret the results. Below is a list of websites that offer this service.

(Please note that I have no affiliation or financial ties to any of the companies mentioned in this blog.)

  1. Nutrahacker.com– This is the site I recommend first because it provides specific useful information for each genetic mutations. The basic report is free, or you can purchase a more detailed report for $23.00. I think the free report is the most useful of the two. It breaks down the following for each mutations you have: the function of each gene, the consequences of having that mutation, and what to encourage and avoid. This was extremely helpful for me in discovering, for instance, that I do not do well with methyl B12. The report indicated that I would do better with Hydroxy B12. In addition, I now have a list of 10-15 things I may want to supplement with, and another 10-15 things I should probably avoid. This was extremely helpful for me, especially when I was just starting out and learning about what works for my body. It saved me a lot of trial and error.
  2. Promethease.com-This report is available for $5, and provides a large zipped file that you can download to your computer. The report gives specific information on: increased risks for certain diseases, medicines that aren’t easily processed, and medical conditions you may be prone to. You can also click on certain SNPs for more detailed research and information on each one. This company also runs SNPedia, a free resource that shares information about the effects of variations in DNA. You can see if your genetics are making you prone to addiction, depression, or any other number of conditions. It’s helpful to be aware of these tendencies because you can use specific supplements to practice prevention. However, please be aware when you are looking at your results that just because a report says you may develop say, breast cancer, it doesn’t mean you will. There are many factors that determine whether you will develop a disease and whether a gene is turned on/off. (This is the study of epigenetics.) Do not panic as you read the long list of possible diseases you may be susceptible to!
  3. Genetic Genie– This site provides two free reports, but also makes a request for a donation. One of the reports is a methylation analysis, and the other is a detox profile. I found these color-coded reports to be helpful, especially when meeting with my naturopathic doctor. I brought a copy for him and he could easily see at a glance what my main mutations were. The methylation profile also includes a brief report about mutations and a bit of background on what they mean. The language is a bit technical and can be confusing if you aren’t familiar with the lingo.
  4. MTHFRSupport– This site offers a variant report for $30. I didn’t find it to be as helpful as some of the other reports, but the website offers lots of tools and information about the common MTHFR genetic mutation. They also offer an app, a forum, and other free resources.
  5. Amy Yasko’s site- This respected researcher offers a free report called the Methylation Pathway Analysis (MPA). This report offers some good information, but unfortunately only recommends supplements that she sells, instead of supplements you can purchase on your own. She also has several books on the subject that you can purchase.
  6. Livewello– This site provides a genetic variance report for $19.95. I did not purchase this service, so I cannot say whether I would recommend it. Their website states that they provide 12 resources for learning about each gene.

Once you know what some of your major mutations are (MTHFR, COMT, etc.), you may want to explore Facebook groups that discuss your particular scenario. Epigenetics is such an emerging field of medicine, and things are changing rapidly. Your doctor may not be up-to-date about the impacts of certain genetic mutations, especially as they relate to mental health. The folks in the Facebook groups provide excellent real-life feedback on what they have tried and how it worked for them.

In future blog posts, I will discuss other non-invasive tools that are helpful in determining how to balance your body for optimal mental health: hair testing and urine toxic metal testing.

I truly believe biochemistry will play a huge part in future prevention and treatment of mental illness. It will be especially important for people with treatment-resistant illness or people who have a family history of mental illness.

Instead of trying to guess what supplements will work for someone who is depressed, a simple saliva test can help practitioners identify treatment options quickly and effectively. Once it becomes common practice, I am hopeful that this will save thousands of people from suffering through trying treatments that aren’t suitable for them.

Have you tried genetic testing? Was it helpful in determining important pieces of your health puzzle? Please share your feedback in the comments below. You can also contact me privately if you have questions.

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Vitamin D, gut health, and depression

sunshine

My journey in recovering from long-term depression has included a lot of different facets: diagnostic testing, listening to my body, doing research, and being open to signs and signals. Today was a great example of all of those components coming together.

I came across a research article about VDR -/- (the vitamin D receptor gene). I happen to know that I have this particular genetic abnormality because I got tested using the 23andme saliva test. The article talked about implications for people who have this genetic issue, and how their gut microbes may be affected because of this.

Coming across this information reminded me that vitamin D is an important part of my very complicated health puzzle, and I would be wise to start paying attention to this again. I feel a pull to start taking my probiotic again regularly. I had gotten out of the habit when I last ran out. It also reminded me that I would probably benefit from getting more sun exposure each day.

This made me think about how no two people who have depression symptoms will be helped by the exact same treatments. I believe a very important part of the journey to healing comes from getting to know your body and what works for you and makes you feel better.

Depression is not a one-size-fits all thing. There’s no one cause and there’s no one solution. Everyone has personalized needs. Some people swear by amino acids or B-6 or magnesium. However,  what worked for one person may not work for another. In fact, it may be detrimental.

The best system I have found is listening to your body and doing some trial and error to see what helps (and what doesn’t).

It can be challenging to sort through all the research and complex medical terminology. This is especially true if you’re not feeling well. But if you go slow and work on one issue at a time, you can start to make some big changes that will benefit your mood and your overall health. 

Posted in alternative medicine, Depression, epigenetics, gut health, holistic health, mental health, mental illness, MTHFR, probiotics, research, vitamin d | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Why the System is Broken and What You Can Do

The other day, I was talking with a friend about a natural treatment for an issue she was having. She was thrilled to hear about the easy non-toxic solution I recommended, but wondered why her doctor didn’t tell her about it.

The answer is two-fold:

1. Doctors (and especially psychiatrists) usually aren’t trained in natural treatments.

2. They are not allowed to recommend alternative treatments, primarily due to their employment contracts, medical board guidelines, and insurance company regulations.

doctor

It’s not that doctors don’t want to help you; it’s that their hands are tied and they are limited to only offering medical solutions such as pharmaceuticals. It’s what they’ve been trained to do.

One of my favorite books on the orthomolecular treatment of mental illness is called The Real Secrets to Mental Health, by Linda Van Zandt.

The author pulls no punches when describing what is contributing to problems with our country’s mental health system. She says,

“Medical schools, which include classes on psychiatry, receive millions of dollars each year from drug companies. In return, students are taught to prescribe drugs for virtually all chronic ailments, including heart disease, arthritis, depression, anxiety, etc. These medical students have been led to believe that covering up symptoms is real health care and, once they have their own practice, they continue to pass along this misinformation to patients. So, while I’m saddened at how doctors, and especially psychiatrists, blindly accept this model of ‘health’ care, I’m not really blaming them. They have been misled and lied to just as the rest of us have.”

As for the legal aspects that doctors are bound by, this article by the Alliance for Natural Health explains the issue in depth.

The question is: What can you do to remedy this? How can you protect your health and not be enveloped by this broken system?

The first step is to educate yourself about natural therapies: join discussion groups, read books, and find websites with more information. I have several resources listed here about how you can treat mental health issues using natural methods that get to the root of the problem.

The second step is to take action: try out some of the natural therapies and see if they make a difference. If one doesn’t work, try another. If you are persistent, you’re bound to find a solution that works for your biochemistry. The best part about trying natural therapies is that there are usually very few side effects. Of course, it’s best to work with a trained naturopathic doctor or alternative medicine practitioner. But if you just don’t have the means, take comfort in this well-known statistic:

More than 100,000 people a year die from pharmaceuticals each year, while none die from vitamins and supplements.

Posted in alternative medicine, alternative therapies, antidepressants, biochemistry, Depression, holistic health, mental illness, orthomolecular medicine, psychiatry, supplements, vitamins | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment