February 2018 Edition
The human brain has the capacity to generate approximately 23 watts of power when awake.
Depression in Men: Facing the Facts
Of the various mood disorders, depression is the most common, afflicting more than 20 million Americans from all ethnic groups, ages, and backgrounds each year. While ups and downs in mood are part of our daily experience, depression is different: it reflects a disturbance in mood and emotion over a period of time, interfering with a person’s outlook and ability to carry on with their usual lifestyle.
Both men and women experience depression, though women are more likely to report it and men are more likely to ignore it.
Depression can include the following symptoms:
- Uncontrolled anger or violent behavior
- Increased use of alcohol / tobacco / reckless behavior
- Changes in usual eating and sleeping habits
- Increased complaints of headaches, physical pain or tension
- Problems at work or school
- Feeling unrelenting pressure, even when simple requests are made
- Changes in how they think and feel about themselves and life
- Changes in desire for social interaction, relationships, and sex
There isn’t a single cause of depression. Biological, psychological, and social factors all play a part, as do lifestyle choices, relationships, and coping skills. Depression can be triggered by situations that create feelings of helplessness, anger or stress, such as:
- Overwhelming responsibilities at work, school, or with family
- Not reaching important goals
- Unanticipated changes in job or military status
- Unrelenting financial problems
- Chronic illness, injury, disability that alters lifestyle and independence
- Death of a loved one
Simple Healthy-Living Approaches
Depending on the situation and the severity of the depression, it’s extremely important to seek help from a professional. The following suggestions, however, can help you manage the symptoms of depression while working on the cause with your holistic health care provider.
Get Cuddly. Hugs, a gentle hand on the back, and other non-sexual touch reduces stress, heart rate and blood pressure. It also increases the “affection hormone,” oxytocin, which plays a role in our desire for social and romantic bonding. Platonic touch is necessary for emotional wellbeing for men and women.
Socialize In Person. Stepping away from online social networks for an in-person meet-up can boost your emotional wellness. People who maintain social ties – over a cup of coffee, lunch, dinner, or a game of tennis – live longer, have lower risk for depression and other health problems, and report having happier lives despite the usual ups and downs.
Eat Well. The production and levels of brain chemical (neurotransmitters) are influenced by the quality of the food you eat. Whole foods provide richer sources of the vitamins and minerals that are important to brain chemistry and overall health. Nutrition supplements can support a healthy mood, including the B vitamins, certain herbs, and fish oil.
Walk a Dog. Walking is great exercise for mind and body. When you’re out with a dog, it’s an easy way to meet people and get a boost of Vitamin D. Plus, the company of dogs can help ease stress and depression. Don’t have your own dog? Volunteer to walk dogs for animal rescue groups. Don’t like dogs? OK, then just get out there and take a stroll!
Food for Thought. . .
“Nothing is more important than reconnecting with your bliss. Nothing is as rich. Nothing is more real.” – Deepak Chopra
Go Nuts for Pistachios!
Pistachios are robust in many nutrients that support healthy brain function. They are a great source of Vitamin B6, which can be quite low in people who have depression. B6 plays a role in energy production and helps the body make the brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) serotonin and norepinephrine that influence mood, and melatonin, which helps regulate the body’s internal sleep-wake clock. Pistachios contain the minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, and phosphorus. Minerals are are necessary for the production of hormones important to emotional well-being. Pistachios also contain carotene and Vitamins A and E, which help protect the body from infection and disease.
The pistachio is naturally yellow-green in color. If you see red pistachios, those have been dyed and should not be purchased. A tightly closed shell around the kernel indicates the nut is not yet ripe. Ripe pistachios have an open shell. The nuts will stay fresh for up to a year if stored in the shell, but are best if eaten within four months of purchase. Store pistachios in an airtight container in the fridge to preserve nutrient content.
There are many easy and tasty ways to enjoy the health benefits of pistachios. Eat them by the handful, raw or roasted, or sprinkle over a salad. Crushed pistachio kernels or flour is an excellent addition to your favorite breadcrumb or cookie mixture. Pistachio cooking oil will add a delicately sweet nutty flavor to your favorite recipes.
Pistachio Crusted Rack Of Lamb
Tired of the same old winter dinner? Break out of your rut – and make a tasty impression at your next dinner party – with this scrumptious, but simple to make, meal. All it takes is seasoning, searing, layering on the nut crust, heating in the oven, then – ta-da! Slice, serve and enjoy! Consider pairing with steamed veggies and roasted purple potatoes.
- 4 racks of lamb, trimmed
- 2 t. herbes de Provence
- 2 T. vegetable oil
- 1 1/4 cup chopped unsalted pistachio nuts
- 3 T. panko bread crumbs (gluten free can be used)
- 2 T. melted butter
- 2 t. olive oil
- 6 T. Dijon mustard
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 °F (200 °C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Generously season each rack of lamb with herbes de Provence, salt, and black pepper.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Place lamb in skillet and cook, browning on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer lamb to foil-lined baking sheet; set aside.
- Stir pistachios, bread crumbs, butter, olive oil, and a pinch of salt and black pepper in a bowl. Spread mustard on the fat-side of each rack of lamb. Pat pistachio mixture on top of mustard. Bake in the preheated oven until the crust is golden and lamb is pink in the center, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.
SAM-e: Natural Support for Healthy Brain Chemistry
The body is miraculous in its ability to manufacture many different substances that are involved in maintaining good health. SAM-e (S-adenosyl-methionine), which the body makes from the amino acid methionine, is one example of a molecule that is important to the moods we experience. SAM-e helps form, activate, or breakdown hormones, fats, proteins, neurotransmitters, and medications. The brain and the liver usually make the necessary amount of SAM-e, but for people experiencing depression, this process may be impaired. Low levels of SAM-e results in decreased levels of serotonin, dopamine and other neurotransmitter activity commonly seen in clinical depression. SAM-e can help boost neurotransmitter activity, bringing about improvement in mood and relief from depression.
Since the 1980s, European countries, including Italy, Spain, and Germany, have been testing and using SAM-e (pill form or injection) to treat depression anxiety, chronic pain, and other health conditions. SAM-e is available in the United States as a dietary supplement, but it can interact with other medications. In research and in clinical practice, SAM-e is well tolerated by most adults, but is not recommended for children, or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Therefore, it is best to use SAM-e while in the care of a licensed holistic health practitioner.
Saint John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
Saint John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) has been used for centuries by European herbalists and, today, is prescribed by doctors in Europe and the U.S. to treat depression. Standardized extracts of St. John’s Wort (SJW) have been tested in treatment of thousands of patients, making it among It’s the most thoroughly researched botanical medicines for moderate to intense depression
St. John’s Wort can improve many psychological symptoms associated with depression, including sleep disturbance, anxiousness, insomnia, apathy, and feelings of worthlessness. Researchers believe the active ingredients hypericin and hyperforin may be responsible for these benefits. These compounds appear to increase the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain (serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline), which help improve and regulate mood.
In some studies SJW has been shown to be as effective, or more effective, than prescription antidepressants for patients with mild forms of depression. However, it may not be strong enough for people experiencing chronic or severe depression.
Saint John’s Wort is a flowering plant recognizable by its bright but dainty yellow petals. The plant name comes from the fact that it blossoms in June, the birth-month of St. John the Baptist. The flowering tops of SJW are used to prepare teas, tablets, capsules, and liquid extracts.
Many medications and herbs can interact with SJW so if you are taking this supplement be sure mention it to your doctor. Also, you can become more sensitive to the sun while taking SJW and you should use extra sun protection including wearing a hat. Consult with your holistic physician before using St. John’s Wort to establish if this is something for you and the appropriate dosage for your emotional health needs.
Homeopathy and Depression
Homeopathic medicines consist of very small doses of natural substances that can stimulate the body’s inherent self-healing response without side effects. Homeopathic remedies restore balance to a person’s vital life force so that the body can correct imbalances causing symptoms and begin to function as it should, free of the symptoms of illness.
A variety of homeopathic medicines can be used to treat someone suffering from the wide range of symptoms associated with depression. Because treatment is highly individualized to the needs of each person, the homeopathic medicines used may be different for each person. Depending on the severity of depression and the presence of other medical conditions, homeopathic remedies may be used alone or along with herbs or conventional prescription drugs.
Homeopathic remedies are best prescribed by a practitioner who has extensive training in homeopathy (including certification and/or licensure) and experience in treating depression. The practitioner will conduct an extensive interview with a patient, identify potential remedies, and closely monitor a patient’s progress until the person is well.
If you’re suffering with depression, talk with your health practitioner about homeopathic treatment.