Pharmaceutical companies keep coming out with one drug after another for depression and anxiety, generating massive profits. Some of these medications are profoundly effective. But the storm of new medications misses one crucial fact: Supplements, when properly selected, can be just as effective for low mood, anxiety, low energy or lack of focus as medications—and without the daunting side effects.
Just take Curcumin. Curcumin is derived from the spice Turmeric, a plant in the ginger family long appreciated for its medicinal properties. Curcumin belongs to a class of molecules called polyphenols and is known to exert antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Oxidation and inflammation have been implicated as causative factors in the development of many chronic diseases and conditions. These include depression, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and fatigue.
Here’s something astounding: In more than one clinical trial Curcumin was found to be equivalent in efficacy to Prozac for the treatment of moderate depression. That’s without augmenting Curcumin with any of the other natural supplements known to enhance mood. And there’s no reason why Curcumin can’t be combined with these other supplements, just as psychiatrists combine one antidepressant with another to achieve greater effects.
Prozac is a multi-billion dollar drug first marketed by the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly. Many millions of people take the medication on a daily basis. It helps lots of them. But it also has potential side effects, including sexual dysfunction, sleeplessness and anxiety. Curcumin is not known to have any of these side effects, is far less expensive, requires no prescription and has been linked to increased longevity.
Interestingly enough, prescription antidepressant medications may actually work because they are also anti-inflammatory agents. Hence, Curcumin and Prozac may even share a key mechanism of action.
Other supplements also exert tremendously beneficial effects on mood and anxiety. These include Resveratrol, derived from red grapes, L-theanine, DHEA and a number of special probiotics.
The Covid pandemic has motivated people to think more than they ever did about how supplements increase immunity. It’s time to expand that curiosity into the realm of mood, anxiety, energy, focus and cognitive performance.
Natural remedies also extend beyond supplements. Bright light therapy (literally being exposed to bright light from inexpensive, desktop or portable devices) has been proven effective as a treatment for depression. In fact, the light can even be delivered through affordable earbuds that stream bright light, since the light reaches the brain through the eardrums.
Psychiatry’s near-monopoly on agents to effectively raise mood, lower anxiety, increase energy, increase stamina and increase focus is now, effectively, at an end.
Dr. Keith Ablow
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