Natural Boosts for Feeling Blue
By Dr. Barry Taylor
Days are shorter in the winter season and the combination of the cold and lack of light takes a toll on many of us — Seasonal Affective Disorder, stress, depression and other very real challenges to feeling uplifted and inspired.
There are many natural remedies I use to affect how the brain sends signals so that negative emotions are more easily processed. The right amounts of nutrients can very often allow people with depression and anxiety to not need synthetic drugs, or at the very least minimize their need, so they can enjoy much better results on smaller amounts of medication.
B vitamins are critical to dealing with stress and allowing the adrenal gland to function better. B vitamins are an aid to encourage serotonin (a neurotransmitter) which facilitates emotional balance.
Theanine is one of our amino acids (the building blocks that create protein). Taking it as a mood supplement has no side effects and can reduce mild to moderate anxiety. It can be crucial for instilling calmness.
5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is also an amino acid. It can be very beneficial for depression and insomnia. I have found that taking 5-HTP at night can help patients both sleep better and feel profoundly less depressed during the day.
SAMe (S-Adenosyl methionine) is made in the body from a reaction between methionine, which is an essential amino acid, and adenosine triphosphate, a molecule that carries energy. It is involved in many different reactions in the body and has been used to treat psychiatric illnesses (as well as a number of physical conditions). Like 5-HTP, it is designed to encourage positive feelings, and I sometimes use the two in conjunction.
These supplements can be found at your local health food store, or sometimes through a healthcare provider such as a naturopath. I use the above remedies while also suggesting eating “clean”. That means no refined sugar, white flour, or alcohol, until a person’s mood is stabilized. Sometimes I use specific vegan protein shakes as a mid-morning and or mid-afternoon drink to keep the blood sugar levels steady.
Shorter days often challenge our minds and hearts for many reasons. Discuss what might be best for you with your healthcare provider, and consider learning more about what your brain and body might need to more fully experience the light.
Dr. Barry Taylor was the medical director of the New England Family Health Center in Boston from 1981-1997. He continues to comprehensively evaluate nutritional programs for individuals, and coaches his clients to transform their relationship to their symptoms so that they feel powerful and inspired.
Dr. Taylor is the author of Love Your Body: Your Path to Transformation, Health, & Healing, leads the Love Your Body health and healing workshop, and founded the Love Your Body Institute.