By Catherine Haug, June 2021
In March 2021, I was exposed to COVID, and my immune system did its best to combat it. My symptoms were minimal: mild sinus headaches, tiredness/sleepiness. After 5-6 days, all but the sleepiness were gone. As time has gone by, my sleepiness has increased day by day so that I’m in bed 20 hours (off and on through the day/night). I finally conclude that the sleepiness is due to a type of depression, and I’m looking into natural/herbal ways to resolve this.
See also: 1. Diet & Health Menu; 2. Notes on Natural Health & Healing Topics
Depression and Anxiety
Causes of Depression and Anxiety
Foods that trigger Anxiety:
From Dr. Jockers: drjockers.com/6-foods-that-trigger-anxiety-and-what-to-eat-instead/:
- Sugar and processed foods;
- Gluten and Grains [Cat’s note: sprouted or fermented grains are less likely to cause issues];
- Artificial flavorings such as aspartame and monosodium glutamate; and other artificial ingredients such as: artificial coloring, high fructose corn syrup, guar gum, sodium benzoate, trans fats, and any artificial flavoring, [and artificial sweeteners]
- Processed vegetable oils: corn oil, canola oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, cottonseed oil, and peanut oil are high in omega-6 fatty acids. This means that they are also inflammatory and contribute to pain and health issues, and may trigger anxiety;
- Conventional meat products [processed meats, such as commercial hot dogs, etc.];
- Too much caffeine, such as from coffee, sodas and energy drinks.
See also Dr. Jockers’ “Healing Diet” article, and my “Natural Treatment” section, below, for my notes from Dr. Jockers’ article: “Foods that Trigger Anxiety and What to Eat Instead” on How to Reduce Anxiety.
Antidepressant Prescription Meds that Can Lead to Suicide, Murder
From Mercola (1a). Read his article for lots more info and studies. The following are the specific drugs cited in the article:
- Paxil (from GlaxoSmithKline or GSK): “GSK’s own clinical placebo-controlled trials revealed subjects on Paxil had nearly nine times the risk of attempting or committing suicide than the placebo group.” (3)
- Prozac (from Eli Lilly): “an in-house analysis by Eli Lilly in which the company found a large statistically significant increase in suicide attempts for patients taking Prozac during their placebo controlled clinical trials.” (4)
Effects of Parkinson’s may cause anxiety & depression
From Mercola (1b) : Parkinson’s originates in the gut, with misfolded alpha-synuclein, that migrates to the brain (microbes in gut may worsen the mis-folding). These proteins may also cause anxiety & depression.
Natural Treatment to Help With Anxiety & Depression
This includes dietary suggestions (herbs, foods and supplements) which are listed after the “How to Reduce Anxiety” summary below.
How to reduce Anxiety:
From Dr. Jockers: drjockers.com/6-foods-that-trigger-anxiety-and-what-to-eat-instead/:
- Anti-inflammatory healing diet. Remove any foods included in list above.
- Instead, turn to nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory and healing foods, including:
- Leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, and Swiss chard, non-starchy vegetables, such as cucumber and celery;
- Herbs and spices, such as turmeric, ginger, rosemary, and cinnamon;
- Low-glycemic index fruits, such as berries and lemon;
- Healthy fats, such as avocados, organic ghee and butter, and coconut oil;
- Clean protein, such as organic grass-fed beef, pasture-raised poultry, wild-caught fish, wild game, and free-range eggs;
- Nuts and seeds for fiber; and
- Fermented foods, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and kefir [see also my recipes: fermented berries, fermented cranberry relish, fermented citrus, fermented onions or garlic, fermented apple and beetroot relish, fermented catsup (ketchup)]. Dr. Jockers also recommends his article on “Healing Diet.”
- Remove food sensitivities, which is a category of allergies. [This is my big issue; I see my acupuncturist who uses NAET to treat food sensitivities, and it works pretty well. But I’d far prefer not to get any new ones; to do that, I need to heal my “leaky gut.”
- Reduce stress and prioritize good sleep.
- Breathe well and properly. Long, deep breaths are very important.
- Improve gut health and bowel motility.
- “It is really important to calm your body and eat your food in a relaxed state. This will help your body produce enough digestive juices to adequately break down, sterilize and absorb the nutrients you are putting inside of it.”
- “When you are dealing with an underlying gut health issue, enzymes and hydrochloric acid (HCL) may benefit your digestion.” He suggests a specific enzyme supplement.
- “High quality probiotic [such as a spore-based (SBO) probiotic].” He suggests a specific probiotic SBO supplement.
- Reduce stress.
- Physical exercise; “move your body properly.”
- Use magnesium supplement daily; he suggests a particular supplement. [I use magnesium chloride; however, I frequently develop a food sensitivity to any magnesium supplement.] “Magnesium supports:
- Blood sugar balance,
- Optimal circulation and blood pressure,
- Cellular energy production,
- A calm nervous system,
- Pain relief and relaxed muscles,
- Bone density and calcium balance,
- Joints and ligament flexibility,
- Deep sleep patterns, and more….”
- Consider using GABA supplement; he suggests a particular one.
- “Use the “Brain Tap System” that helps to restore your brain’s natural ability to balance. It helps to soothe your brain. It enhances relaxation and revitalization. This system provides you with a range of brain waves to achieve balance.”
- Consider seeing a Functional Health Practitioner.
In March 2021, I was exposed to COVID, and my immune system did its best to combat it. My symptoms were minimal: mild sinus headaches, tiredness/sleepiness. After 5-6 days, all but the sleepiness were gone. As time has gone by, my sleepiness has increased day by day so that I’m in bed 20 hours (off and on through the day/night). I finally conclude that the sleepiness is due to a type of depression, and I’m looking into natural/herbal ways to resolve this. In addition to herbal supplements discussed here, I also plan to try a homeopathic remedy (NatMur); see Notes on Natural Health/Healing Topics, H – I under “Homeopathy” for more.
September 2021 update about my exposure to COVID: In late March, I restarted taking HTP supplement before bed, and it really helped with the depression. I no longer want to sleep all day, and may energy has improved too!
The following list is from references (5, 6,7 as noted); One’s I’m already taking for other reasons are in blue-bold, and I will try the ones in purple, if needed.
- 5-HTP (caution: do no use in excess) (6)
- Ashwagandha (the latter is more for bipolar rather than general depression) (5)
- Chamomile (5,6)
- Ginko Biloba extract (5)
- Ginseng (6)
- Kava root (5)
- Lavender oil, spray or lotion (5,6)
- Maca (5)
- Magnesium (see below for more on magnesium)
- NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine)
- Rhodiola (5,7)
- Rosemary (5)
- SAM-e (5,6)
- Saffron (6,7)
- St John’s Wort (5,6)
- Thyme (5)
- Valerian root (5)
- B-Vitamins, especially Folate, B12 and B6 (7); see more on this, below
- D (7)
- Zinc (7) as zinc picolinate. I note that one should also take copper in proper balance to zinc (15 mg zinc to 2 mg copper) for maximum benefit; I take copper biglycinate.
See more on Herbs & Spices, see below.
More on Magnesium for Clinical Depression
From Green Med Info: Safe First-Line of Defense for Clinical Depression, by Ali Le Vere (2a). The topic of “clinical depression” includes Bipolar Disorder, Fibromyalgia, PMS, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. [Cat’s note: Schizophrenia is not considered a type of “clinical depression,” but depression is common among schizophrenics. It is not discussed in the article.].
The article includes animal studies that propose a role for magnesium, and human studies that confirm the role of magnesium in depression.
Supplemental sources of magnesium for depression:
- Organic vs mineral (inorganic) salts of magnesium: Organic salts include acetate, ascorbate, aspartate, bicitrate, gluconate, and lactate forms; they more soluble and biologically active than magnesium mineral salts such as magnesium oxide, magnesium carbonate, magnesium chloride, and magnesium sulfate. However, I disagree with this conclusion for magnesium chloride, as it is highly soluble and biologically active.
- Chelated magnesium provides a more rapid recovery
- Such as magnesium glycinate and magnesium taurinate (administered at dosages of 125 to 300 mg with each meal and at bedtime) have been shown to provide a more rapid recovery from major depression – less than 7 days!
- Magnesium threonate may also be explored as a therapeutic option, as it may have better penetrance of the blood brain barrier and restore neurological levels of magnesium. This form, which is delivered directly to the brain, may improve cerebral signaling pathways and synaptic connections between nerve cells as well as support learning and memory, although the studies have been conducted in animal models.
For more about magnesium including food sources, see my article Magnesium (About).
More on Spices and Herbs
- Curcumin, Rosemary and Saffron can ease your symptoms. See Sayer Ji article on Green Med Info: 3 Common Kitchen Herbs and Spices for Anxiety and Depression (2b) for more. See also Mercola (1c) for more about Saffron
- Green Med Info article: “Better Than Zoloft for Depression: Rhodiola” (2c, 2d): “evidence is mounting that Zoloft and other SSRIs are no more effective than placebo for depression symptoms) and Manufacturing Madness Pseudoscience.”
- Study by Jay D. Amsterdam et al: Rhodiola rosea versus sertraline for major depressive disorder: A randomized placebo-controlled trial: Phytomedicine, 2015 Mar 15;22(3):394-9. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2015.01.010. Epub 2015 Feb 23. (8a)
- Turmeric Extract: From Sayer Ji (Green Med Info): Groundbreaking Study Finds Turmeric Extract Superior to Prozac for Depression (2e). Article sites scientific study published in Phytother Res. 2013 Jul 6. Epub 2013 Jul 6. PMID (2f): Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial, by Jayesh Sanmukhani, et. al.. See also another Green Med Info article: Animal Research on Curcumin’s Anti-depressive Properties (2g)
The study discovered that the [turmeric] spice extract [curcumin] performed just as well at improving symptoms of depression as this widely prescribed antidepressant drug [Fluoxetin (Prozac)]. “Even though it would appear the study found that curcumin and Prozac were equivalent in effectiveness, the fact that curcumin comes ‘…without concurrent suicidal ideation or other psychotic disorders,’ clearly proves its superiority over Prozac. There are also a wide range of additional side benefits that come with using curcumin, including its powerful neuroprotective properties.”
Cat’s Note: taking turmeric supplement alone just doesn’t do the trick. I decided to try liposomal turmeric (turmeric mixed with coconut oil and black pepper) instead, and it really is making a difference for me, not just for depression but also for my joints.
More on Vitamins, Especially B-Vitamins
- From Mayo Clinic: Expert Answers: Vitamin B12 and Depression (9). Older adults may have trouble getting enough B-12.
- From PubMed (10): Both low folate and low vitamin B12 status have been found in studies of depressive patients, and an association between depression and low levels of the two vitamins is found in studies of the general population.
- From Kelly Brogan MD (11): How to test for B12 deficiency. Also lots more is discussed …
- From Livestrong (12): Read article for more detail, including suggested daily amounts… Step 1: Thiamine; Step 2: Add B12-rich foods or take a B12 supplement; Step 3: Folate (vitamin B9); Step 4: Vitamin D; Step 5: Vitamin C.
Top foods list:
From Green Med Info: 5 Top Anxiety Relieving Foods (2h):
- Cold water fish (such as salmon and cod): “Rich in the essential amino acids L-lysine and L-arginine as well as healthy omega-3 fatty acids, increasing your intake of clean fish may help relieve anxiety by promoting a healthy brain and enhanced mood.“
- Nuts: “Essential proteins and fatty acids are abundant in brazil nuts, almonds and walnuts, plus vitamins D and E and the mineral selenium, all proven to reduce anxious feelings.”
- Yogurt and other fermented foods: The gut-brain connection is only beginning to be understood; “science is further acknowledging the benefits of fermented foods on brain health and even mood regulation.”
- Green tea: Its magical properties are attributed primarily to L-theanine, an active polyphenol in green tea that may be at the heart of its ability to calm nerves and fortify the brain.
- Dark Chocolate is clinically shown to improve anxiety and deliver a potent feel-good boost of serotonin. … “It is also rich in minerals like magnesium that are important for brain health and mood.
- Green Med Info:
- medicalnewstoday.com/articles/314421 (these may be for different types of depression)