Whether it’s an occasional bout of the blues or a dive into depression, advances in scientific research offer alternatives to medication for alleviating symptoms.
The golden years can get tarnished at times. Monumental life changes — an empty house, feeling a lack of purpose after retirement, health issues, or divorce — often leave us struggling with our mental well-being. By doing a little research (or reading this blog post) you’ll find there are a wide variety of natural remedies available to enhance your mood.
B6 and B12, when taken in tandem, are a mood-boosting dynamic duo.
Do you tend to feel a little melancholy during the fall and winter months? It’s called seasonal affective disorder. The aptly called “sunshine vitamin” shows potential in reducing the symptoms during those bluesy months.
St John’s Wort
Widely prescribed in European countries for depression, studies in the U.S. have mixed results. Although it’s not recommended for severe depression, St John’s Wort demonstrates positive effects for reducing anxiety and mild depression. (Caution: Always consult with your physician before starting any new treatment. St. John’s Wort has been known to have negative reactions with antidepressant medications.)
In addition to its most common use — alleviating insomnia symptoms — this centuries-old remedy may also reduce anxiety caused by stress. (Bonus for the ladies: Research shows that valerian root decreases postmenopausal symptoms like hot flashes.)
Most of us are already sold on the awesome benefits of this fabulous fatty acid: strong nails, shiny hair, glowing skin and a reduced risk of heart disease. New evidence reveals an additional benefit. Omega-3s improve blood flow through the brain, which can be directly related to mood improvement.
These life-changing benefits are available through eating foods containing healthy fats. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include wild-caught salmon, oysters, sardines, walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds and soybeans. If these aren’t part of your regular diet, omega-3s also come in supplement form.
The use of botanicals in meal preparation and as beauty treatments is centuries old. (The first recorded use dates back to ancient Egyptian times where it was used in the mummification process.) Over the last decade using essential oils for all sorts of conditions has gone mainstream.
Science-backed evidence of the effectiveness of certain essential oils for relieving symptoms of depression point to the main way they enter our body: smell. Of the five senses, smell is the only one with a direct connection to the brain. And further research concludes that smell has a strong effect on our mood.
Essential oils that have been proven to be very effective as mood boosters include lavender, bergamot, ylang-ylang, vetiver, roman chamomile and frankincense.
Exciting developments in research have the scientific community buzzing. It seems there is a direct link between gut health (our microbiome) and the health of our brain. When good bacteria outnumber the bad bacteria, our digestive tracts are in optimal condition. In turn, the digestive tract (via the gut-brain barrier) sends positive vibes directly to the brain.
That means a happy gut can help get your brain get to its happy place!
Of course, it goes without saying that one of the most natural (and time-tested) mood-boosters is our good ol’ friend exercise.
And if your happy place happens to include soft, fluffy things, make sure to read Pooch Partners to learn about the undeniable and amazing benefits of pet ownership.