What is Leaky Gut Syndrome and Your Mental Health

What is Leaky Gut Syndrome and Why You Should Know About it

gut

This is a buzz word lately along with gut health and the microbiome. Why is this such as big deal?  Should you even be concerned, especially if you do not have any stomach digestive issues? 

The answer is yes, you should know how your gut health impacts many aspects of your health, not just physical but your mental health as well. It is a very common health issue today yet many people are unaware of it and traditional medical professionals do not address it typically, most likely because they have never been taught about it in medical school

What is Leaky Gut Syndrome? (LGS)

Leaky gut syndrome (LGS) and intestinal permeability mean the same thing.  When you have LGS, food particles that should normally be broken down into their parts (usually these are proteins) are instead passed through the gut lining in their unbroken down state.  They then travel through the blood stream and can wreak havoc in your body. While there they trigger an over stimulation of the immune system and allergic reactions. 

In a healthy gut, you would have tight junctions along the gut wall so that food gets digested and absorbed via the normal digestion process.  This gut lining can become inflamed (for many reasons-see list below) and these tight junctions can separate creating holes in this protective barrier.  The toxins are now passing through these tears in the intestinal wall.  Once they enter the blood stream they can trigger an immune response which is protective rather than a healing response. 

Think of LGS as intruders invading your home.  If the door stays open (LGS) the intruders will constantly enter with nothing to stop them. Thus, if your root causes for LGS are not addressed, that door will continue to stay open and more damage will be done to your home.  Over time then the issue become chronic. 

Once the issue becomes chronic, it places stress upon the liver. The liver attempts to clean up this toxic overload but the liver may now be overburdened and cannot keep up.  This burden will lead to even more consequences over time. 

Over time this leads to low grade infections within the body and can affect your gut health but can also affect your brain and your liver.  It can contribute to autoimmune disease, autism and allergies. It has been linked to MS, chronic fatigue syndrome, acne, eczema, psoriasis, and IBS to name a few. 

LGS Symptoms

  • Gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation
  • ADHD
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Autism
  • Bipolar
  • GERD
  • Poor immune functioning (get every cold that comes around or take a long time to recover form illness)
  • Brain fog, memory loss
  • Headaches
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Nutritional deficiencies (not absorbing your nutrients)
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Skin issues (eczema, psoriasis, acne)
  • IBS
  • IBD
  • Other autoimmune conditions such as Hashimotos, celiac disease, fibromyalgia
  • Arthritis, inflamed joints, chronic pain
  • Changes in mood, weight, and appetite

What to Do if Have a Leaky Gut

The first thing to do if you know you have leaky gut is to identify what is causing it.

 Some causes of leaky gut include (not an exhaustible list):

GMO

  • NSAIDS
  • Anorexia
  • Candida
  • Old age
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Chemo and radiation
  • Parasitic infection
  • GMO’s, pesticides, herbicides, glyphosate
  • Antibiotic use
  • Food allergies/food sensitivities
  • Standard American Diet
  • Diet high in refined sugar and processed, refined carbs
  • Gluten (today’s gluten is sprayed)
  • Pasteurized dairy
  • Meats from CAFO (confined animal factory operations)
  • Chronic elevated cortisol levels

 

 

When you Have Identified your Causes (often there is more than one) Then Follow a Step by Step Protocol:

  1. Remove the identifying causes from your diet (if you need to, work with a nutritional professional who can help you identify your root causes and possibly order testing such as IgG food allergy testing, Stool testing, Organic Acid tests, zonulin or lactulose tests ). I
  2. Add in supportive foods for your body, such as leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, quality fats and proteins. Eat whole foods as much as possible. Hydrate with filtered water and organic herbal teas. 
  3. Add in herbs and supportive supplements to promote gut healing and liver detox (it is best to work under the guidance of a professional at this point as some herbs and supplements can interact with meds or may not be suitable for some health conditions)
  4. Add in prebiotic and probiotic rich foods such as kefir, kimchi, fermented vegetables, miso and tempeh, raw onions and garlic, asparagus and Jerusalem artichoke.

How to Avoid LGS

The best way to avoid LGS is to avoid the list of roots causes above. In addition to that, supporting your gut health and your immune health is key with prebiotic and probiotic rich foods daily and stick to a whole foods diet as much as you can (I like an 80/20 plan).

Uses herbs and supplements as needed on an individualized basis.  I don’t recommend specifics here because everyone has different needs and a different constitution and thus each plan should be targeted for your health needs instead of generalized. 

Sources

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25734566
  2. https://chriskresser.com/how-stress-wreaks-havoc-on-your-gut/
  3. Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutics in Nutrition. CA: Bauman College
  4. Nichols, T. & Faas, N. (2005) Optimal Digestive Health. VT: Healing Arts Press.
  5. http://www.functionalmedicineuniversity.com/public/leaky-gut.cfm

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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Food Coloring and Dye Sensitivity in Your Child and the Association with Behavioral and Mental Health Issues

Food Coloring Sensitivity Symptoms: Could This Be Your Child?

cupcake

Could your child’s physical, mental, behavioral and emotional symptoms be connected to food colorings and dyes added to processed foods that are a part of your diet.  Typically, these children start showing symptoms around age 1 when foods are being introduced into the diet. 

Years later and many medications later parents are struggling to figure out what is causing all these issues.

Food dyes and colorings has been a controversial subject since pediatrician, Dr. Benjamin Feingold published his findings in the 19070’s and noted the link between hyperactive behavior and dyes.  But scientists and the government are not in consensus. Some studies do not state that these dyes cause behavioral issues but do state that dyes may contribute to making ADHD symptoms worse.

In 2004, the results from 15 studies concluded there was a modest worsening of behavior when children with ADHD consumed foods with synthetic dyes.  Since then the European Union commissioned 2 studies to clarify the situation.  The results were convincing enough that the European Union passed a law requiring a warning on foods that contain one or more of the suspicious dyes. 

What did the U.S. do? They decided it is up to our government to decide when these dyes cause harmful effects.  Thus, our products carry no warning label for parents.  For some children, they may be extra sensitive to even very small amounts of dyes and colorings. 

As a parent, you know your child best. If 8 or more symptoms below sound like your child, try a 2- week elimination of all dyes and colorings from your child’s diet.  The worst thing that can happen is that your child will eat a healthy nutritious diet for 2 whole weeks minus many of the processed junk food on today’s shelves. 

Food Dyes

cereal fruit loop type

  • Red 40 (this has been associated with aggressiveness and impulsive behavior in children, hitting, biting, kicking, tantrums)
  • Yellow 5 (most often associated with insomnia, hyperactivity and learning disabilities)
  • Yellow 6
  • Red 3
  • Blue 1
  • Blue 2
  • Green 3
  • Annatto (a natural food coloring)
  • Carmine (a natural food coloring)

Symptoms Your Child’s Behavior Could Be Related to Dyes/Colorings

child holding ears

  • Hyperactivity (the H in ADHD)
  • ADD symptoms (inability to focus, inattention)
  • Sleep issues
  • Mood swings (can be in a span of one day, several hours…)
  • Violence, aggression (i.e.: in kids; spitting, biting, kicking, growling, tantrums that can last an hour or longer)
  • Lack of impulse control (disruptive, interrupts when someone is speaking, excessive talking, difficulty in transitioning from one task, one activity to another)
  • Headaches, stomachaches, vomiting
  • Bed wetting, well past toilet trained age
  • Skin ailments such as eczema, hives, unexplained rashes
  • Breathing issues such as asthma
  • Compulsive: picks at his or her skin, repeats certain actions, pulls out his or her own hair, or eyebrows.
  • Not consistent: for instance, you think it could be due to sugar, but one day he eats sugar and he is fine and another day he eats a sugary food and he is off the wall with his behavior. In this case, it may not be the sugar!
  • Headbanging as a toddler, typically started when foods were introduced into the diet when an infant or toddler. Headbanging typically stops around age 3 once the child is larger with more weight on his body to “handle” the amounts of dyes in foods.
  • Has a diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder
  • Sensitive to bright lights, loud noises.
  • frequent bouts of crying
  • sensitivity can continue into adulthood and can be a cause for anger, depression and aggression

If you identify with one to three or four items on this list, it may not be a dye/coloring root cause.  Still it cannot hurt to remove dyes and colorings from the diet for 2 weeks to note any changes.  Most children that have a dye/coloring reaction identify with 8 or more on this list. 

The Good News

Manufacturers are listening to parents. Many have removed or are in the planning stages of removing dyes from their products.  Kraft has removed dyes from some, not all, of their products.  General Mills has removed dyes from Trix and Yoplait go-gurts.  Chick-fil-A removed yellow #5from its chicken soup, Frito lay has removed dyes from Lay’s seasoned and kettle cooked chips, Sun Chips and Tostitos, and Pepperidge Farm removed dyes from Goldfish Crackers.  Please note that Goldfish contain annatto which is a natural food coloring and some children are sensitive to this. 

What to Do If You Suspect a Food Dye/Coloring Reaction in Your Child?

The first thing to do is to start clearing out your home of all foods that contain dyes and colors. This is a big task as it will require you to read labels on everything. Dyes and coloring are added to foods you would not think of such as your jar of pickles.  Some more obvious foods include cereals, processed American cheese and colored beverages. It is not just in that rainbow-colored cupcake icing, m and m’s, skittles or starbursts but it can be hidden in salad dressings, crackers, chips, soups and much more.

Once you have cleaned out your pantry, then it is time to shop.  Go when you know you have the time to read labels and plan for more than an hour in the store. Once you get the hang of products that are safe and your child likes, the process will become easier. 

Your child can also react to food dyes in toothpaste, vitamins and medications!  Don’t forget to check these products too.

What ends up happening is that these children exceed the safety limit due to overconsumption of foods with dyes and colorings.

If you do not see any significant positive changes within the 2 weeks, this may not be the root cause.  If this symptom list still sounds like your child, you may want to then explore a preservative free diet and look for labels that contain sodium benzoate (to start) which has been linked to hyperactivity in children. 

Is It Impacting Your Child’s Gut Health?

Unfortunately, I cannot find any direct links or studies showing that a sensitivity to artificial dyes and colorings could impact gut health.  However, just because the information is not out there, does not mean it does not exist.  If food sensitivities, such as one to dairy or gluten can cause leaky gut syndrome then at this point I must believe that a dye sensitivity can do the same. 

What this means is that once you remove these suspected foods and have a routine with your new diet, the next step is to address gut healing.  I like to do this with a product called Restore along with fermented foods and other targeted supplements if necessary. 

What to Do Next

If removing artificial and natural colorings did not help, don’t give up. Slowly remove other additives, removing only one at a time such as:

  1. Benzoates (in juices, soft drinks, syrups, meds)
  2. Sorbates (in margarine, dips, cakes, fruit products)
  3. Sulphites (in dried fruits, fruit drinks, sausages and more)
  4. Nitrates (processed meat products)
  5. Propionates
  6. Flavor enhancers (MSG 621 and other in the 600 range)

For a more complete list of possible additives that your child may be reacting to, go to fedup.com.au and use that as a good resource to guide you. 

Bottom Line: Your child does not have to suffer. Work with a holistic nutrition professional to help you figure out the root cause for your child’s behavioral, mental and emotional issues. 

Did removing dyes from your child’s diet make a difference? If so I would love to hear from you!

 

Sources

  1. https://www.scientificamerican.com/articles/does-artificial-food-coloring-contribute-to-adhd-in-children/
  2. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/05/22/artificial-food-dyes.aspx
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3441937/
  4. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laurie-david/post_1891_b_843577.html
  5. http://www.fedup.com.au/factsheets/symptom-factsheets/head-banging
  6. http://www.happymothering.com/02/health-2/nutrition-health-2/beyond-allergies-why-food-dyes-may-cause-child-behavioral-problems/
  7. https://cspinet.org/eating-healthy/ingredients-concern/food-dyes/testimonies
  8. Dorfman, K. (2013) Cure Your Child with Food. NY: Workman Publishing Group

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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Blood Sugar and your Mental Health

Blood Sugar Imbalance and its Impact on your Mental Health

roller coaster

Riding the blood sugar roller coaster day after day can impact your mental health.  The highs followed by crashes may accentuate the symptoms of a mood disorder.  Research has tied processed, refined sugar consumption to an increased risk of depression and can worsen the outcomes of schizophrenia. 

Blood sugar in the form of glucose is the basic fuel for all brain operation and activity.  If it is inadequate, mental health systems can start to shut down.  Glandular imbalances will result as the glands struggle to regulate the sugar level. This can cause symptoms such as high adrenaline which can look like anxiety, panic attacks or violence. 

Just by making tweaks to your diet you can improve your blood sugar regulation and your mental health.

The Impact of Blood Sugar Dysregulation on our Mental Health

By now, most of know that sugar and processed foods are bad for our heart, cholesterol and waistline.  But not as much attention is giving to what it does to our brain. 

Here is what Happens

bread pasta rice

  1. You eat a meal or have a drink with excess sugar. Say you start your day with a bagel, muffin or donut, or have cereal with milk, banana and some OJ.
  2. The pancreas releases insulin to bring glucose to the cells but because of the high amount of sugar, the insulin response is excessive
  3. About 2 hours later so much sugar has been put into storage that you now have low blood sugar and are feeling weak, shaky, brain fog, fatigue, change in mood (depression) and cravings
  4. The body responds to this as an emergency so it dumps adrenaline into the system. This causes anxiety, racing heart, irritability, anxiousness, panic, outbursts and more
  5. You reach for a processed carb or sugar product to get your sugar levels back up. Thus, the cycle begins again.

This cycle contributes to chronic inflammation in the body.  Chronic inflammation is not only associated with physical health conditions such as heart disease but also with brain function such as depression and brain fog. 

A surge of adrenaline is not always a bad thing. In prehistoric times if you were being chased by a wild animal you got a surge of adrenaline to run away.  Adrenaline prepares you for vigorous muscular activity.  It raises your heart rate and turns off digestion so now you are prepared for fight or flight.  In modern society it is not the wild animal that raises our adrenaline but instead the constant demands we put on our body such as stress from our processed, nutrient deficient, highly processed diet.

   Symptoms of Imbalanced Blood Sugar (highs and lows)

  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Abnormal weight (too high or too low)
  • waking after 2-3 hours of sleep at night and cannot fall right back to sleep
  • Dizziness, feeling faint
  • headaches
  • irritability if meals are missed
  • nervous habits
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • phobias
  • violent outbursts
  • OCD
  • Unable to concentrate (ADD)
  • Anti-social behavior
  • Crying spells
  • Nightmares
  • confusion
  • tightness in chest
  • constant hunger
  • tremors
  • obsessive compulsive behavior
  • poor word finding ability
  • brain fog
  • blurred vision
  • insomnia
  • cravings for sugar, sweets, soda, coffee, alcohol, refined carbs
  • fainting
  • cannot tolerate bright lights or loud sounds
  • joint pain
  • no appetite at breakfast, may wakeup feeling nauseous, skip breakfast
  • highs and lows/mood swings within a one day period

 

What Causes Blood Sugar Dysregulation (in addition to diet)

fast food burger

  • Standard American diet
  • Inadequate physical activity
  • Irregular eating patterns
  • Skipping meals
  • Eating imbalanced meals (meals with mostly refined carbs and little in the way of quality protein/fats)
  • Refined carbs (bagels, pasta, muffins, cookies, pastries, donuts, bread, rolls, etc.)
  • Gluten intolerance and other food allergies/insensitivities
  • Excess caffeine intake
  • Alcoholism
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Thyroid disorder
  • Stress
  • Excess blood sugar lowering medication
  • Insulin resistance
  • Birth control pills
  • Fructose

Physical Symptoms of Blood Sugar Imbalance

  • Darkened skin along jawline or neck (this occurs due to elevated insulin levels present with elevated blood sugar)
  • Extra abdominal fat-this can include fat on back, chest, sides of waist and shoulder blade area
  • Base of neck fat pad-this fat tends to be very inflammatory
  • Enlarged breasts in men (elevated blood sugar in men stimulates activity of enzymes that shifts testosterone to estrogen which promotes growth of breast tissue)

How to Balance Blood Sugar

balanced meal

Some foods that will help to balance blood sugar include almonds (very filling), quinoa (great substitute for rice), millet (it has a combination of fiber and phytonutrients), hummus (protein packed), avocado (filled with healthy fat), lentils (good source of protein) and walnuts (make a great snack with omega 3’s).

Consume foods that release energy slowly into the blood stream such as vegetables, legumes, berries, whole grains and nuts and seeds.

 

Treatment of blood sugar imbalances involves a combination of dietary and lifestyle measures that minimize the shock to the pancreas and the adrenal glands and stabilize carbohydrate metabolism.  It is better to address it now because highs and lows in blood sugar will eventually lead to highs only (meaning diabetes and insulin resistance)

  • Decrease the consumption of simple carbs and sugars, caffeine, alcohol,
  • Eat three meals per day and at least 2 additional snacks. DO NOT SKIP MEALS (once you have balance blood sugar then you can try intermittent fasting)
  • Provide a balance at each meal/snack of protein, complex carbs, healthy fats and fiber.
  • Eat foods closer to the form they are found in nature.
  • This can look like:

o   a protein smoothie with avocado and greens included for breakfast (skip the fruit or add in berries or ½ a banana)

o   snack on handful of almonds mid-morning

o   for lunch have tuna fish on a bed of lettuce (if you must have bread, opt for one slice only) with a Bubbies pickle and a side salad

o   mid-day snack on raw vegetables and hummus

o   for dinner have salmon, roasted sweet potato and a vegetable such as asparagus, broccoli or cauliflower. 

o   AVOID packages foods, sugary foods, artificially sweetened foods and drinks, refined carbs such as pasta and bread, white rice, dried fruits such as banana or apple chips and processed corn products

 

 

  Beneficial Nutrients

  • Protein: it is used to mitigate the symptoms of hypoglycemia because it can keep sugar stable while keeping metabolism high. Protein takes longer to be digested than simple carbs and this will prevent sudden drops and spikes in blood sugar levels.  The glucose from digested protein (and from complex carbs is released into the bloodstream gradually which helps to regulate blood glucose levels.)  Consume 2-4 ounces of animal protein or 4-6 ounces of plant protein at each meal. For snacks reduce the amount to half.  Protein amounts at breakfast can be slightly increased.  High quality sources of protein include grass fed meats, wild caught fish, bean/legumes and raw dairy. 
  • Cobalamin (B12): along with other B vitamins helps to convert consumed foods into glucose that can be utilized by the body.  Thus, a B12 deficiency can result in low blood sugar levels. Eating foods rich in B12 will help to increase energy levels by converting food into glucose.  In supplement form take 300 mcg. 3 times daily on an empty stomach.  Best forms include methylcobalamin, adenosycobalamin and hydroxocobalamin.  Most B complexes do not contain enough B12 so it is best to take an additional B12 supplement. Food sources include grass fed beef, lamb, chicken, wild game, organ meats, grass fed milk, cottage cheese and fish/shellfish.
  • Niacin (B3): It is needed to produce insulin.  It helps to promote proper digestion by helping with the production of stomach acid used in the metabolism of carbs.  It can also be useful for treating depression and anxiety associated with hypoglycemia.  Niacin will cause a “flush” within minutes of ingesting.  Food sources include fish, meats, peanuts, whole grains mushrooms, seeds, eggs and almonds. Supplement form take 100 mg. 2 timers per day with meals.  Check with your doctor. before taking, as it can interact with some medications.

 

Bottom Line:

just because you do not have diabetes does not mean you are safe from blood sugar ups and downs.  Balance your blood sugar by eating protein and fat along with your complex carbs.  Don’t skip meals and opt for a diet of 80% whole foods and 20% of your processed, junk food.  If you are suffering from any mental health disorder, this is a simple step to take. 

 

References

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/where-science-meets-the-steps/201309/4-ways-sugar-could-be-harming-your-mental-health
  2. http://www.alternativementalhealth.com/conquering-anxiety-depression-and-fatigue-without-drugs-the-role-of-hypoglycemia-2/
  3. http://diabeteslibrary.org
  4. http://www.askdrmaxwell.com/hypoglycemia-causes-and-natural-treatments/
  5. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/12/22/how-eating-sugar-can-cause-mental-illness.aspx
  6. Golan, R. (1995) Optimal Wellness. New York: Ballantine Books.

 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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What to look for in a Omega 3 Supplement

What to look for in an Omega 3 Supplement

fish oil supplement

Fish oil is a rich source of EPA and DHA which are needed for our health for many reasons that will be listed in this article.  These needed nutrients are found in the fatty tissue of cold water, oily fish. These are essential fatty acids and the body cannot make them thus we need to get them from food or supplement (1)

It has only been in the past 15 years that the actions of EPA and DHA have come to be understood. (3)   Until now there is still more research on DHA than there is on EPA (2). Because of research we have a better understanding of how these fatty acids work in isolation and in combination. 

This article will discuss the benefits of both EPA and DHA and ways to get them in your diet including vegan sources. 

Do You Need More Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids in Your Diet?

Most Americans are deficient in omega 3’s and instead consume an abundance of omega 6’s. While we need some omega 6’s in our diet, the current ratio contributes to inflammation and chronic disease. Add to that they most Americans are consuming their omega 6’s from processed, rancid oils instead of oils such as evening primrose. 

 

Signs you May Be Deficient in Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids

  • Growth retardation
  • Behavioral changes
  • ADD
  • Poor motor coordination
  • Poor vision
  • Poor learning ability
  • Excessive blood coagulation
  • Edema
  • Weakness
  • High blood pressure
  • Inflammation
  • Tingling in the arms and legs
  • Low metabolic rate
(8)

Why You Need Both EPA and DHA

mom with baby

  • EPA

o   Products that contain more EPA than DHA have been shown to be beneficial for depression. Supplements that had a lower ratio or EPA to DHA were judged to be ineffective.  Studies that showed promise had used 1 gram of EPA daily. (2)

o   EPA may also be helpful for heart disease and may aid to lower triglyceride levels due to its anti-inflammatory effects. (2)

o   Children with development problems may benefit from a product containing only high amounts of pure EPA (3)

o   After the age of 5 the development of the brain and the central nervous system starts to reduce the body’s need for DHA and the need for EPA increases (3).

o   EPA has been shown to help children with academic performance, focus, attention and reducing aggression.  (3)

o   Dry skin, allergies and eczema can also benefit from EPA use as it will help to reduce inflammation.

o   EPA has been shown to reduce cognitive decline and dementia

o   Aids in joint health (4)

o   Regulates insulin levels (4)

o   In one study, those with increased anxiety were given 2 grams of EPA daily and there was a statistically significant reduction in anxiety compared to those in the placebo group.  (11)

o   Increased EPA may help you to handle stress and may improve mood in the general population.  (11)

 

  • DHA

o   DHA is needed for healthy brain development and for the aging brain.  Low levels of DHA have been associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s Disease (6)

o   Children require DHA for growth and development

o   Once dementia has set in and there is brain damage, at this point DHA becomes important again.  Look for a product that contains 250 mg. of DHA. (3)

o   A 12- week study of DHA supplementation was found to improve blood flow to the brains of healthy young adults during cognitive tasks.  (6)

o   For women, low DHA is thought to be responsible in many cases of postpartum depression. (6)

 

  • EPA and DHA

o   Both are needed for pregnant women to ensure optimal brain and nervous system development of the fetus (1)

o   The average adult should look for a fish oil supplement containing 700-1,000 mg. of EPA and 200-500 mg. of DHA (1)

o   ADHD: children may benefit from one gram total

o   These long chain omega 3 fatty acids can affect metabolism of mood related neurotransmitters such as your serotonin and your dopamine.  Since both EPA and DHA have anti-inflammatory effects both can contribute to reducing depressive symptoms (6)

o   Both EPA and DHA have been shown to improve symptoms of Bipolar. (9) One study showed that omega 3 supplementations reduced mania and depression in youths with bipolar.  The dose in the study was 360 mg. EPA and 1560 DHA for 6 weeks. (10)

  • Bottom Line: for your health, you need to opt for a product that contains both EPA and DHA or eat fatty fish.

Food Sources

abstract-1238248_1280 (1)

If you want to avoid consuming fish oil, consume 3 ounces of fatty fish 3 times per week for general health.  Check your sources when buying fish as fish can be very contaminated.  A good place to look is www.seafoodwatch.org (for you sushi lovers, they also have a great list of which sushi options are the best and which to avoid)

 If I know I am going to eat, say salmon for dinner that night, I will skip taking my fish oil on that day. 

  • Wild caught Alaskan Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines (I like Wild Planet Brand)
  • Herring
  • Black Cod
  • Omega-3 enriched eggs
  • Anchovies
  • Cod liver oil

What If I have a Seafood Allergy?

If you have an allergy to shellfish, you may be able to still consume fish oil.  Fish allergies are typically a reaction to the proteins and thus a purified true fish oil should still be safe. (7)  But if you have a serious allergic reaction to fish such as anaphylactic shock, I would avoid fish oil to be safe and use non-fish sources instead. 

Plant sources

flax seeds

If you are a vegan or vegetarian (or have a fish allergy) and do not eat fish or take a fish oil supplement, you can take an algae supplement for your DHA.  But you will still need a source for your EPA. (4) 

You can get ALA from plant sources such as flax seeds and flax seed oil, walnuts, hemp, purslane and chia seeds but the conversion rate of ALA to EPA and DHA is small.  The conversion of ALA to EPA is anywhere from 3% to 20%. The proportion of ALA converted to DHA is small. (5) 

A study measuring blood EPA and DHA in a vegan population showed that 64 % had insufficient amounts and some were severely deficient.  This population’s intake of ALA was above the recommended intake as well.  (6)

We need an enzyme called Delta 6 Desaturase to make the conversion from ALA to EPA and DHA.  This conversion process can be blocked by alcohol, caffeine, high refined carb diet, trans fats and poor quality oils such as canola and vegetable oil, meds and street drugs, deficiencies of B6, B3, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc; toxins and certain conditions such as diabetes and aging.  (8)

A newer plant oil called Ahiflower oil from Buglossoides arvensis, has reportedly the highest level of non-GM omega-3 essential fatty acids.  The plant oil combines ALA with stearidonic acid.  The stearidonic acid converts EPA at a ratio of 30-35%.  This may be a good option to consider if you are a vegan or vegetarian.  (5). However, keep in mind what can block the conversion from plant oils into essential fatty acids. 

 

When to Use Caution

  • If you are going in for surgery stop taking fish oil supplements and tell your doctor of your supplements
  • If you have a fish allergy avoid all fish oil products to be safe
  • Fish oil supplements can affect blood clotting so if you are on a blood thinner, talk to your doctor first before supplementing.
  • If you are pregnant or breast feeding, research brands and where your fish is from to avoid contaminants.
  • Go slow when using fish oil as starting out on a high dose may cause stomach and digestive issues.  Start low and work your way up slowly
  • Always take fish oil with a meal that contains fat. It is best to take fish oil with your biggest meal of the day.  Since it is a fat soluble nutrient it needs fat in order for you to absorb and utilize it.

Bottom line

When choosing an essential fatty acid supplement, choose one that contains both EPA and DHA as you will benefit from having both.  Much of your brain is made up of DHA fats and EPA fats are found in every cell in your body. 

 

 

Resources

  1. https://ww.drweil.com/vitamins-supplements-herbs/vitamins/fish-oil-and-omega-3/
  2. http://ww.nutraingredients-usa-com/Researach/EPA-stands-alone-as-a-depression-fighter
  3. https://igennus.com/nutrition/omega-3-science/epa-vs-dha/
  4. https://www.totalwellnesschoices.com/algae-vs-fish-oil-supplements/
  5. https://www.nutraingredients-usa-com/Markets/Powerful-PUFAs-The-many-health-benefits-of-omega-3s/?
  6. https://uintacountyherald.com/article/omega-3-fatty-acid-good-for-adult-elderly-brain-health
  7. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fish-allergies-omega-3/
  8. Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Foundations of Nutrition. CA: Bauman College   
  9. http://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/there-strong-evidence-omega-3-fatty-acids-have-beneficial-effect-bipolar-disorder
  10.   http://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/omega-3-polyunsaturated-fatty-acid-supplementation-associated-reduced-mania
  11. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-the-zone/201201/anxiety-and-omega-3-fatty-acids

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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Digestive Issues and How to Tell if it is an Issue with Casein or Lactose

Is Casein Or lactose Causing Your Digestive Problems?

milk

Many people assume that if they experience gas or bloating and pain after consuming dairy that they are lactose intolerant. This may not always be the case.  This can occur for other reasons as well. 

A lactose intolerance usually affects just the digestive system while a casein sensitivity can have an impact in other areas of health as well. 

How to Know if you are Lactose Intolerant

If you are lactose intolerant, this means that you lack the enzyme, lactase, to break down the sugar, lactose in your dairy products. 

  • Signs and symptoms typically occur about 30 minutes after ingesting the food containing dairy. (but can occur up to 2 hours later)
  • You may experience gas, bloating, loose bowels, sinus congestion, cramps and nausea.
  • Typically, those who are lactose intolerant can still eat most cheeses and not experience symptoms. This is because in the process of making cheese, lactose is converted into lactic acid which is easy to digest. 
  • Cream, butter and yogurt have little to no lactose (full fat heavy whipping cream has none) so these are still okay for those with lactose intolerance. Heavy whipping cream also does not contain casein.
  • Skim milk does contain lactose.
  • Fermented dairy such as kefir has less lactose so you may be able to tolerate it.
  • Even if you are lactose intolerant you may be able to digest small amounts in a single meal.
  • Yogurt contains less lactose than milk.
  • Raw cheese has only small amounts of lactose and casein.

Pay attention to which dairy foods give you trouble.  Is it just milk?  Is it only when you consume large amount of dairy?  This may help you to figure out if your issue is with lactose.  If it is an issue with lactose then taking a digestive enzyme that contains lactase 30 minutes prior to the meal may help, along with consuming smaller amount of dairy at your meals or eliminating it from your diet (you don’t need dairy to meet your calcium needs-see more information below). 

The brand of digestive enzyme I like is Enzymedica. 

Which Cheeses have less lactose?

cheese

If you aren’t ready to give up dairy, here are some cheeses you can still eat if you are lactose intolerant

  • The fresher the cheese the more lactose it will have; aged cheeses are a better choice.
  • You want to opt for cheeses that have less than 3% lactose range. (whole milk has 3.7-4.8%)
  • Muenster, camembert, brie, cheddar, provolone, gouda, blue, parmesan and swiss are all good choices.
  • AVOID: Feta, ricotta, Colby, American and Velveeta (why would you eat these last two processed cheeses anyway?).
  • Opt for organic, raw and grass fed cheeses if you can. (see below for more information as to why)

Signs It May Be the Casein and Not the lactose in your Dairy

Casein is the main protein in dairy and is also added to other foods used as a binding agent.  Casein is found in milk and in lactose free dairy products.  So, if you consume lactose free products and still experience symptoms it may be the casein and not lactose that is causing your issues. 

In addition to gut and digestive symptoms, a casein sensitivity has been linked to ADHD, autism, brain fog, asthma, aggression, anger and excess mucus production.  It can also cause headaches, ear infections, eczema and skin allergies. 

Ask yourself, in addition to your digestive issues are you suffering from any of the issues mentioned above?  If so, it may be the protein in the dairy.  If you are still unsure you may want to do food allergy testing.  Tests range from stool samples to blood tests.  Butter contains very little casein and heavy cream does not contain casein.  The dairy foods that have the most protein will contain more casein. 

If it is casein and not lactose that is an issue for you, removing casein from the diet is a good first step.  However, if you have been reacting to it for a long time there may be other issues that will need to be addressed such as possible intestinal permeability and systemic inflammation. 

What You Need to Know About Your Dairy

milk jug and glass

Pasteurization is a process that heats the milk to kill off bacteria, microbes and pathogens.  However, the process also kills off the good bugs.  It also destroys enzymes that are needed to break down fats, and proteins and to deliver vitamins and minerals. 

Ultra- Pasteurized milk is heated to 275 degrees and destroys everything!  It is best to avoid this type of milk. 

Pasteurized milk is heated to 160 degrees and preserves some of the good bacteria. 

Vat-Pasteurized is heated to 135 degrees and preserves the good bacteria and many of the enzymes.  This is the best commercial choice.  Organic Valley brand has a whole milk that is vat pasteurized.  Kalona Farms brand offers vat pasteurized products as well which can be found at Whole Foods. 

Opt for organic milk to avoid antibiotics, growth hormones and pesticides that are carried in the fatty portion of the milk.  While I don’t recommend skim milk, if you don’t buy organic this would be your safer bet since it does not contain the fat and thus will not be contaminated with the hormones, antibiotics and pesticides that milk with fat would contain.  But skim milk is also harder to digest and lacks beneficial fats. 

If you consume large amounts of milk, you may want to consider raw milk shares.  Go to realmilk.com to find a local farm.  If you have a casein sensitivity, even raw milk may not be for you.  There is a brand called A2 which many with a casein sensitivity can tolerate. The downside however is that it is not organic.  If you are lactose intolerant you may want to opt for milk alternatives such as nut milks, hemp milk or coconut milk. 

Keep in mind that “You are what your food eats”.  If you consume dairy products from a CAFO (confined animal factory operation), you will be consuming some of the hormones, antibiotics, GMO feed etc. that is given to these cows that may never see the light of day and never leave their confined very small indoor space. 

There are many small local farms that you can support. They may not have the organic label but do follow organic and humane practices.  Visit your local farmers market in the summer and stop and talk to those at the booths to find out how you can get their products year-round. 

Non-Dairy Calcium Sources

Nutrition

Many people still think that the only way to get their calcium is via dairy products.  This is just not true!  There are many non-dairy calcium sources.  And in fact, there are numerous cultures around the world that do not eat dairy and yet still have healthy bone density.  To absorb your calcium, you need adequate amounts of vitamin D3.  Most dairy products are fortified with vitamin D2 which is synthetic and not as easy to absorb and assimilate.  Take a vitamin D3 supplement or get some sunshine if your blood work shows that you are low. 

Non-dairy Calcium Sources

  • Dark leafy greens such as collard greens, spinach and kale
  • Dark green vegetables such as broccoli
  • Legumes
  • Sesame seeds
  • Almonds
  • Canned salmon with bones
  • Sardines
  • Rhubarb
  • Okra
  • Edamame
  • Black eyed peas

Is It Better to Consume Fermented Dairy (kefir) and Goat Dairy?

 

Kefir fermentation breaks down proteins in the dairy and thus those with a casein sensitivity may be able to tolerate kefir.   The kefir microorganisms ferment milk lactose.  Kefir contains a lot of bacteria that aid lactose digestion.  These bacteria may help to digest lactose.  The plus is that kefir also has a broad range of nutrients and due to its probiotic content is supportive for gut an immune health. 

Lifeway kefir states that their kefir is 99% lactose free and this is due to the fermentation process.  The cultures break down the lactose.  Lifeway states that not all kefirs are 99% lactose free so you may want to contact the company before you trying other brands. 

Kefir may be a good option if you cannot tolerate casein or are lactose intolerant.  Better yet, opt for goat milk kefir since goat milk is known to be easier to digest. 

 

Bottom Line: Experiment with various dairy foods to see which you can tolerate and which that you cannot. If you have any mood or skin issues in addition to the digestive issues, it may be best to work a professional to work on gut healing, addressing possible leaky gut and nutrient deficiencies.  A nutrition professional can guide you as to which foods you can safely tolerate.  While Americans love their dairy, it is not a necessary food group to maintain optimum health and in reality, may be causing some of your chronic health issues. 

 

Sources

http://bodyecology.com/articles/2-signs-of-enzyme-deficiency-that-you-can%E2%80%99t-miss

http://www.stevecarper.com/li/list_of_lactose_percentages.htm

http://milkgenomics.org/article/kefir-microorganisms-break-down-milk-proteins/

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/natural-health/how-consuming-dairy-can-impact-your-mood

www.lifewaykefir.com

www.kefir.net

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2003/03/26/pastuerized-milk-part-one.aspx

http://dontwastethecrumbs.com/2013/10/whats-the-difference-between-all-those-types-of-milk-in-the-grocery-store/

www.safeharbor.com

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Foundations of Nutrition. CA: Bauman College.

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

 

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Use These Herbs for Perimenopause and Menopausal Symptoms

11 Herbs for Menopause and Perimenopause

lemon-balm

Around the age of 40 women begin perimenopause and the transition to menopause.  During this time levels of estrogen, progesterone and the androgens fluctuate.  Your body will spend years gradually and naturally going through this process. This transition can last 5 to 10 years and for some up to 13 years.   Menopause typically occurs between the ages of 45-55.  During this time your periods may stop and then start again or may occur more frequently and may increase or decrease in intensity and flow. You are officially in menopause when your period has stopped for one full year.

Herbs to Ease Perimenopause/Menopause Symptoms

black-cohosh

Note: Always check first with your health professional when adding in herbs to your regimen. Some herbs interact with meds and some are not safe to take with certain health conditions. 

Motherwort: This herb can be your ally in reducing irritability and anxiety that may occur during the transition time.  It can calm the heart during perimenopause heart palpitations.  If you have heavy bleeding during perimenopause, then don’t overdo the use of this herb.  It can aid in menopausal insomnia. Avoid this herb if you have low blood pressure.  Take in tea or in tincture.  50-80 drops 2-4 times per day in tincture form.  As a tea use 1 tsp. of dried herb.  Drink 4 oz. three times per day. 

Shatavari: This herb is a wonderful one to use during these times of transition. It is useful for hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, anxiety and memory loss.  It also is known to increase libido.  Use 30-60 drops 1-2 times per day depending on the severity of your symptoms.  As a tincture, use 40-80 drops 3x per day.  As a tea use of dried root and consume up to 2 cups per day.  Avoid if you have diarrhea and bloating or add ginger and consume as a tea only. 

Passion Flower: This herb has many uses and it is useful for menopausal mood swings.  It can aid in reducing panic attacks, calms irritability and helps with stress relief.  If you can’t turn your mind off at night, use passion flower.  Use in tea blend or take 60-80 drops of tincture 3 times per day.  Avoid with bipolar, schizophrenia and manic phases.  Do not use with MAOI’s.

Sage: This is beneficial for stimulating memory and is useful for the brain fog that is sometimes associated with perimenopause.   It is also good for excessive sweating which means it can be supportive for those with night sweats during perimenopause. It is also used for anxiety, hot flashes and fatigue associated with menopausal symptoms. Take in tincture 30-60 drops 2-3 times per day or use 1 tsp. in a tea blend 3 times per day. 

Fennel: While many of you may be familiar with fennel for digestive issues, fennel is used to offer hormonal support as well.  One of its main components appears to have natural hormone like actions.  It can be useful for bloating, menstrual pain and hot flashes.  As a tea use 1-2 tsp in one cup hot water. 

Skullcap: This herb is considered a brain tonic and is useful for ADD, poor memory and mental fatigue. It is also useful for PMS, menstrual pain/cramps, menopausal depression and mood swings, hot flashes and irritation.  Use in a tea blend or take ½ t. of tincture as needed.  Avoid with bipolar, schizophrenia and manic phases. 

Kudzu root: This herb is beneficial for PMS and peri menopausal symptoms such as acne, hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings.  Take in tincture form of 60 drops 2-3 times per day. 

Lemon Balm: Use this herb for menstrual cramping and depression associated with perimenopause.  This is considered a very safe herb and safe for children as well. However, if you have low thyroid uses it is best to minimize the amount of lemon balm you consume as it can lower thyroid function. 

Hops: This herb is used for menstrual cramping. This is best used in tea or tincture. It also has a sedative effect.  As a tincture, take 30-60 drops 2-3 times per day.  Avoid with usage of sedative medication.  Do not use if you have depression. 

Black Cohosh: This herb has been popularized for use for hot flashes yet it also has many other beneficial uses. This herb can also be useful for those with depression.  Avoid use of this herb if you have liver disease.  Take 20-40 drops of tincture per day. 

Chaste Tree Berry: Some of you may be familiar with Chaste Tree (Vitex) for hormonal support, however a word of caution-it is very easy to overdo it with this herb. Taking too much may increase progesterone levels and thus increase your symptoms.  If using this herb, take only one capsule per day in the morning or 15 drops of tincture in the morning.  Avoid usage if you are taking antipsychotic medications. 

Pycnogenol:  (actually it is 12 with the addition of this one but Pycnogenol supplement is not an herb per se rather an extract) This is a branded, registered trade form of  French maritime pine bark extract and has a number of uses.  It can be useful for endometriosis, painful periods, menopausal symptoms and can reduce fine lines and wrinkles (at 100 mg. per day).  A recent study builds upon evidence from previous studies showing that it can reduce elevated cardiovascular risk factors that are often related to perimenopause such as increased triglycerides, elevated blood pressure and blood sugar.  Those participating in the study also had reduced hot flashes, reduction of night sweats and mood improvement. 

Going Beyond Herbs to Reduce Symptoms

basket of veggies

For some of you with mild symptoms, an herb or two may do the trick.  For those of you that continue to struggle with symptoms your body may need more support than just a few herbs.  Addressing and identifying imbalances in the body will be key for you, such as addressing blood sugar, adrenals, thyroid, digestion and/or other areas to restore balance.  Dietary changes along with targeted supplementation may be needed depending on your current diet and symptoms.

For instance, some of you may enter perimenopause sooner than others due to poor health or due to your diet. 

Estrogen dominance becomes an issue along with its side effects during perimenopause for some due to low progesterone levels.  The key is to find out what is the issue for you and then address it. 

The bottom line is yes, there is something you can do instead of having to put up with these symptoms for years!

If you live in Colorado you may want some of my organic herbal tea, Seasons of Change, for perimenopause/menopause relief.  http://trufoodsnutrition.com/trufoods-herbal-tea-blends/

 

Sources

Blankenship, V. (2016) Sage Herbal Foundations Program. Colorado Springs, CO. (notes from)

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutic Nutrition.  CA: Bauman College

Cech, R. (2016) Making Plant Medicine.  Oregon: Herbal Reads

Crow, D. (2016) Medicinal Plants & Spiritual Evolution Intensive.  Online Program (notes from)

Mars, B. (2007) The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine.  CA: Basic Health Publications, Inc.

Skenderi, G. (2003) Herbal Vade Mecum.  NJ: Herbacy Press

Winston, D. & Maimes, S. (2007) Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief.  VT: Healing

   Arts Press.

http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/product-innovations/pycnogenol-R-Normalizes-Cardio-Risks-During-Perimenopause?

 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

 

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Stop the Mental Health Madness in our Youth: Here is How

Stop the Mental Health Madness in Our Youth

Here is How You Can Help Your Child

Our children are getting diagnosed earlier and more often with mental health issues and some are placed on medication for these disorders as early as three years of age.  What are we missing?

boy looking out train window

Could Nutrition Education Help One’s Emotional State?

slicing pepper for cooking

The answer is YES!   A study called SMILES which was done over the course of 12 weeks in Australia found that those who received 7 hours of nutrition education had improved mood while those who received social support did not have significant improvements. These people had to meet the criteria for a major depressive disorder and had to meet the criteria for a nutrient deficient diet such as one of mostly processed foods. They did not provide a diet to follow and did not advise them to go gluten free or dairy free but rather educated them on the importance of whole foods.  (sources: https://www.madinamerica.com/2017/02/smiles-study-depression-nutrition/  and Jacka; FN, et. al. A randomized controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (The SMILES trial). BMC Med. 2017 Jan. 30;15(1);23)

This study shows us great hope and promise just by changing the diet. But this study also raises some questions-what about targeted and individualized nutrition-do some need to avoid certain food groups, do some need extra nutrients and should some address gut health and so forth?  Would their results have been even greater with targeted/individualized nutrition addressing root causes?

The Plan

food-journal-menu

I have created a plan below that targets the mental health of your adolescent or teen.  If you want to help your child but don’t know where to go to get the holistic help you want and don’t know what to do-scroll below for plan options so that your child can get the nutritional and holistic support he or she needs. 

I have plans to make this as easy as possible for you and your child.

Not only am I a holistic nutrition and herb professional (along with an MSW) but prior to my career change I was a mother with a teen with a mood disorder.  I have been where you are and I want to help you.

We can do this together to get your child feeling better. 

  • Are you exhausted and depressed just by seeing your child struggle and suffer?
  • Are you stressed and don’t know what to do to help him or her?
  • Do you feel like you have tried everything and seen every doctor out there?
  • Are you worried about the future of your child?
  • Are you tired of meeting with teachers and counselors and getting calls from school?
  • Is every day an effort just to get through?
  • Do you feel hopeless and don’t know what else to do to help your child?

Scroll down for The Stop the Madness plan

What Does This Mean for You?

If you or a family member is struggling with a mood issue, this is great news.  Just by improving one’s diet, mood issues can decrease. 

As a nutrition professional who specializes in nutrition for mental health, this means you can get the education you need.  Did you know that “Nutrition Education” for a health issue can be applied to your flexible spending account as well?

But what do you then do with all that education? Don’t know where to start? 

Is It Still Too Overwhelming?

stressed person

If you have an adolescent or teen struggling with a mental health issue and you don’t know where to begin, I am here to tell you that it can be much easier than you think is possible. I have been where you are and I have learned a great deal along the way. 

When my son went through severe depression, it was overwhelming to say the least-everything from a complete overhaul of our diet, removing foods, adding in supplements and ripping apart my pantry.  It was a lot or work I admit, but that is why I want to break it down and make it simple for you.

 I took a leave of absence from work during that time and spent hours’ day after day doing research-most of us cannot do that so I am here to help you!  I can show you what to do or I can also do a lot of the work for you-you decide! 

If you are trying to help your family member, they don’t have to attend sessions. I’m sure your youth or teen has been dragged to so many appointments-they don’t need to go to one more.   I can guide and assist you to make this as easy and simple as possible.  Nutrient dense meals and adding in targeted supplements and herbs into meals can be done.  They don’t have to swallow a bunch of pills or live on greens all day long. 

I can guide you every step of the way from laying out a step by step plan, to showing you how to cook simple, nutritious meals to making over your pantry and knowing what to look for in the grocery store. 

Your family member’s mental health state can improve and you can do this using natural ingredients. 

Are you exhausted and stressed by this situation going on in your home? If so, see if a plan below fits your needs. 

 Stop the Madness Plan

person sunset background

If you want to feel better or want to see your child not suffer any longer than view my plans below to get results.  Call me with any questions or to sign up. 303-522-0381

 

Option 1: For local Castle Rock , CO Area families

  • Initial assessment
  • One follow up consult
  • One cooking workshop
  • One pantry makeover
  • One grocery store outing
  • One plan of action-step by step guide (including a 5 -day sample menu plan)
  • List of targeted supplements and herbs with dosing and suggestions
  • Informational/educational handouts specific to your child’s needs
  • Recipes provided
  • 2 email follow-ups included

Option 2: For Distant Clients

  • Initial assessment (can be phone or skype)
  • 2 follow up consults
  • One plan of action -step by step guide (including a 5-day sample menu plan)
  • List of targeted supplements and herbs with dosing and suggestions
  • Informational/educational handouts specific to your child’s needs
  • Guide for cleaning out your pantry and what to replace
  • Recipes
  • 2 emails follow-ups included

Option 3: For local clients

If you feel like you cannot do this alone or don’t have the time on your plate, call me and we can discuss options such as in your home cooking, shopping and pantry clean out assistance and in home consults.  I want to make this as easy as possible for you. 

Option 4: For local and Distant Clients

Nutrition education only-hourly rate. 

 

What is the best option for you?

Call me to discuss and I can guide you to the best option for you and your family.  Pricing discussed during this free initial phone consult. 303-522-0381

 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

 

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Top 3 Foods to Eat Every Day

3 Foods You Should Eat Every Day and Reasons Why

 

Cruciferous Vegetables

broccoli-sprouts

 

  • This includes broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli sprouts, kale, bok choy,
  • These vegetables contain sulforaphane which is known for its anti-cancer properties.
  • Sulforaphane may have anti-depressant and anti-anxiety properties
  • This compound in cruciferous vegetables may also reduce inflammation and pain associated with chronic health conditions such as fibromyalgia.
  • Sulforaphane is shown to be cardio protective
  • These vegetables are rich in antioxidants
  • We are exposed to toxins daily and these vegetables can aid in the body’s natural detox process.
  • Try to add in a mix of raw and cooked cruciferous vegetable into your daily diet

Green Leafy Vegetables

salad picture

  • This group includes foods such as spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, mustard greens, red and green leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce and kale, (some leafy greens also fall into the cruciferous list)
  • They are a rich source of beta carotene which can be converted into vitamin A and can also improve immune function.
  • They have been shown to influence intestinal health- these studies were done in lab animals and more research is needed, however preliminary findings are exciting. (if you read my other posts, you know by now that gut health plays a large role in our immune health and our mental health as well)
  • Low in calories, but rich in fiber, folate, and magnesium
  • They can aid in reducing your risk of cancer and heart disease and should be added in for those with type 2 diabetes. 
  • They are rich in antioxidants which are brain protective
  • Consuming your greens raw will give your body the enzyme boost it needs.  Raw foods have the most active and alive enzymes and we need enzymes to breakdown and digest our food and get the nutrients from those foods. 
  • Add to a salad or a green smoothie to make it simple, or sauté some greens to serve with eggs or mix them into a frittata

Herbs and Spices

herbs to plant pic

  • Unfortunately, in the US many people still are unaware of the value of plants as medicine. In Europe and Asia herbs tend to be more appreciated for their therapeutic properties. 
  • Herbs are the leaves of herbaceous plants.
  • Spices may be the bark, root, bud, fruit or berry of a plant
  • Get past the salt and pepper and add a variety of spices into your daily diet
  • While each spice and herb may have its own unique benefits, the point is that by adding in even small amounts daily can impact your health.
  • If you are unsure how to use spices, start with pre-made spice blends.
  • To save money, buy spices in bulk or start your own herb garden
  • Fresh herbs will tend to add a more delicate flavor to foods than dried herbs. When substituting dried herbs for fresh use 1 teaspoon dried for 1 tablespoon fresh. 
  • Unless it says it is organic, assume it has been irradiated or sterilized per FDA ruling. An organic herb or spice will use a flash-freeze or steam process to sterilize as opposed to using fumigants. 
  • Drink a variety of herbal tea blends.

Bottom Line

By adding in a salad, a vegetable to your meal and/or snack and adding spices to your meals you should be able to reap the health benefits of these foods.  Don’t eat the same green, veggie and herb every day-mix it up and add variety into your diet to reap all the benefits these foods have to offer. 

Sources

Murray, et. al. (2005) The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. NY: Atria Books

Wood, R. ( 2010) The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia.  NY: Penguin Books

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=btnews&dbid=126

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blogs/top-10-reasons-eat-your-cruciferous-veggies

http://www.babraham.ac.uk/news/2011/10/green-vegetables-directly-influence-immune-defences-and-help-maintain-intestinal-health

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Herbalist

Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition®

Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC

www.trufoodsnutrition.com

303-522-0381

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Adaptogenic Herbs for Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Fatigue and Immune Support

 

Adaptogens for a Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Fatigue and Immune Support

ginkgo-flower-picture

What are Adaptogens

Adaptogenic herbs are herbs that allow the body to adjust to stress.  It essentially helps you resist the stress, whether it be physical or a biological response. For example, adaptogens can be useful for those coping with daily work stress, anxiety or depression, stress from training/long bouts of exercise or the stress placed on the body during injury, healing and surgery. 

They can enhance the body’s natural response, and help balance the body.  Some of these herbs can have a strengthening effect on the adrenal glands.  This is important because the herb can have the action of relieving stress. 

These herbs can affect the brain, nerves, endocrine glands, and the immune system by helping re-regulate, normalize and enhance function.  There are multiple theories as to what is occurring and even scientists are unsure of how these substances work.

Adaptogenic Herbs  for Stress and Mood Support

As you will see from the list below, you can kill two birds or more with one herb meaning you may be able to choose one herb to address your depression, fatigue and immune system.  While medications often have one purpose, herbs can be used for many different conditions and ailments. 

There are many supportive Adaptogenic herbs; this is a short list of some of the more well-known herbs.  For anxiety and depression, a class of herbs called nervines can also be very useful. 

Check with your doctor prior to adding in any herbs to your regimen as herbs can interact with medications. 

What You Should Know About Herbs Before You Make a Purchase

tincutre bottles

Always start with one herb at a time.  It is best to do this rather than buy a blend.  Often the blends have lower doses of each herb or have extra ingredients you may not need.  Also, if you have a reaction to the product you won’t know which herb it was.  Start low and slow.  Work up to the amounts mentioned. 

Adaptogens are best used for 12 weeks and then take a 2-week break or switch to a different adaptogen, as your body can adapt to the herb over time, thus reducing its effectiveness for you.  We all react differently to herbs so it may take a few tries to find the right herb for you and your health concern. 

Purchase a reliable product.  Many cheaper or store brand herbal products have been found to not contain the amount stated on the label and in other instances they do not contain the correct parts of the herb. For instance, if you are going to use Rhodiola, you want a product that uses the root, not other plant parts. Brands that I like include Gaia herbs, Herb Pharm, and Bayan Botanicals.  I’m sure there are other high quality brands but it pays to do some research first.  The dropper on a one ounce tincture bottle is equal to 30 drops.  This way you don’t have to constantly count drops!

Don’t rely on just herbs. If your body is under a great deal of stress, support the body with whole nutrient dense foods as well.  While an herb can do wonders, it needs the support of a nutrient rich diet too. 

All the herbs or supplements in the world won’t help you if you continue to “eat like crap”. 

Adaptogens for Depression

Since herbs can have a direct effect on the nervous system they can enhance mood

  • Asian ginseng root (less frequently leaf): This is one of the most studied herbs in the world. It is considered one of the most stimulating herbs.  For this reason, it makes a great herb for those who are exhausted.  Use it for insomnia, fatigue and depression.  Tincture: take 20-40 drops up to 3x per day.  Capsule: powdered herb take 2 400-500 mg. caps 2-3x per day. For powdered extract take one capsule of 400-500 mg. 2 times per day.  Start out with a lower dose and work up to the 400-500 milligram dose as for some people who have anxiety or insomnia this herb may be too stimulating.  Speak with your doctor first if you are taking warfarin, MAOI antidepressants, or blood sugar medications. 
  • Holy basil plant (Tulsi): Use of holy basil can prevent increased corticosteroid levels that indicate elevated stress levels. It can be used as a “natural antidepressant” for situational depression such as coping with a traumatic event such as death of a loved one.  Tincture: 40-60 drops 3 times per day.  Tea: add 1 tsp. of dried leaf to 8 oz. of hot water. Let it steep for 5-10 minutes. For therapeutic benefits, drink the tea up to 3 times per day. 
  • Rhodiola root: This herb is known to enhance energy, improve alertness, reduce fatigue and improve depression. It can be a good herb to use also for ADHD and for someone who is recovering from a head injury.  It can support someone who has a depleted immune system due to chemotherapy, radiation or from excessive physical training.  It can be useful for someone suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome.  Tincture: 40-60 drops 3x per day.  Avoid Rhodiola if you have bipolar, or are paranoid.  From some it can cause insomnia. 

Adaptogens For Anxiety

Adaptogenic herbs, because of their effect on the nervous system, can relive stress and anxiety

  • Ashwagandha root: This is one of my personal favorite herbs. This is a calming adaptogen and is also useful for stimulating the thyroid gland. It is useful for anxiety, fatigue and stress induced insomnia.  Avoid this herb if you are sensitive to nightshade plants as this herb is in the nightshade family.  Do not use it if you have hyperthyroidism.  It can increase the effects of barbiturates. Tincture take 30 drops 3-4 times per day, as capsule take 400-500 mg. twice a day. 
  • Schisandra (fruit and seed): This herb is calming and can aid in stress induced asthma or stressed induced palpitations. . It can provide a feeling of alertness without the stimulating effects that you would get from caffeine.    It also supports the immune system. (People who suffer from acute and chronic stress can have a weakened immune system).  Tincture: 40-80 drops 3-4 times per day.  Capsules: 1-2 400-500 mg caps, 2-3 times per day. Do not take if using barbiturates. 

For Fatigue

 

  • American ginseng (root and less often leaf): This can be useful for those with mild to moderate adrenal fatigue. It can also be useful to reduce symptoms of jet lag. Tincture: 60-100 drops 3 times per day. Capsule: 2, 500 mg. caps 2 times per day.  Do not use if taking warfarin.
  • Ashwagandha: see information under anxiety
  • Asian ginseng: see information under depression
  • Eleuthero root and stem bark: This is a mild herb and thus good for the young and the old. It is unlikely that it will cause overstimulation and this is an herb that can be taken long term.  It strengthens the immune system and provides stamina.  You can use it when under a great deal of stress at work. It can help improve alertness and cognitive function when dealing with work related stress.  Tincture: 60-100 drops 3-4 times per day.  Do not use with cardiac medications
  • Shatavari root: this is a good herb to try for fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome, and to support the immune system. It is also considered a nutritive tonic.  It is also a diuretic.  Tincture: 40-80 drops 3 times per day.  Avoid if you have diarrhea and bloating. 

For Immune support

Stress weakens our immune system.  Adaptogenic herbs can help strengthen the immune system and improve the immune response.

  • Eleuthero: see information under fatigue
  • Holy basil: see information under depression
  • Rhodiola: see information under depression
  • Shatavari: see information under fatigue
  • Schisandra: see information under anxiety

 

Bottom Line

Choose an herb that can address more than one issue you are having.  Start out with one herb only and start out low and slow. Seek guidance from your holistic health professional or doctor before adding in herbs to your regimen.  When adding in herbs, give it time.  Support the body with a whole foods diet too. 

Sources

Balch, P. ( 2012)   Prescription for Herbal Healing.  2nd Edition.  NY: Avery Publishing

Cech, R. (2016) Making Plant Medicine.  Oregon: Herbal Reads

Gaby, A.(2006) The Natural Pharmacy. Revised and updated 3rd edition.  NY: Three Rivers Press

Hoffman, D. Medical Herbalism. (2003) The science and practice of herbal medicine.  VT: Healing Arts   

   Press.

Mars, B. (2007) The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine.  CA: Basic Health Publications

Moore, M. (1996) Herbal Tinctures in Clinical Practice.  3rd Edition.   AZ: SW School of botanical Medicine

Skenderi, G. (2003) Herbal Vade Mecum. NJ: Herbacy Press

Winston, D. & Maimes, S.(2007) Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief.  VT: Healing

   Arts Press.

 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

Share this:Share on YummlyShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on VKShare on RedditEmail this to someonePrint this page

Saffron for Depression and Anxiety

Saffron for Moderate to Severe Depression (and anxiety too)

saffron-pic-2

When thinking of herbs, I think most people think of St. John’s wort for depression. However, there is another herb that is starting to get attention and shows great promise. 

While most of my research was on saffron for depression, saffron has been shown to be helpful for anxiety as well.

What is Saffron

saffron-pic-1

This is considered the most labor intensive herb to harvest and thus the reason for the high price for purchase.  Because it is so expensive, beware of cheaper substitutes that may be passed off as the real thing.  In an analysis of 151 samples of saffron, results showed that up to 90% contain one or more foreign substances. 

The reason that it is so expensive is because it takes 150,000 flowers to produce 2.2 pounds of the yellow staining saffron spice which comes from the pistil, the orange-red stigma and styles in the center of the bloom.  The pistils need to be removed and dried by hand and then are sold whole or in a powder that dissolves and turns bright yellow in water. 

It is known in traditional Chinese medicine as fan hong hua, and prescribed for depression.  The saffron tea is said to lift the spirits and calm the nerves. 

 The safranal, which is an essential oil in the plant, is said to me the main constituent that is effective for depression. 

What the Research Shows

The recent interest in saffron for depression is due to some clinical research done in 2005 and 2006.  The Hamilton Depression score was used to determine the subject’s level of depression.  Double blind randomized trials were carried out.  2% safranal saffron extract was orally given in tablet form.  This was in doses of 30 mg./divided, given 2 times daily.  The first trial was small and compared the dose of saffron versus the placebo in 40 subjects.  The effects were noticed within the first week and increased during the 6-week trial.  The average Hamilton Depression score at the start was 23 and at the end it was 10.  The placebo group averaged an improvement down to 18 on the Hamilton Depression score. 

Saffron was then compared to imipramine (common name Tofranil) and fluoxetine.  (Fluoxetine is the active ingredient in Prozac).  Two randomized double blind trials were carried out over a period of 6 weeks with 30 subjects in the imipramine trial and 40 in the fluoxetine trial.  In the imipramine study the subjects were given 100 mg. doses and in the other trial they were given 20 mg. daily.  A significant improvement was noted again almost immediately after treatment with the saffron.  There were no adverse side effects from those taking the saffron but in the subjects taking the drugs they noted sweating and dry mouth as common side effects. 

Two more recent studies looking at the hydro-alcoholic extract of the saffron petals on those with mild depression.  The first study was published in 2006.  It was a double- blind placebo controlled trial conducted on 40 people over a 6 -week period.  The petal extract was given in 30 mg. doses per day.  Improvement in the saffron group was noted in the first week while no significant improvement was noted in the placebo group.  During the 6 -week trial period the saffron petal extract proved to be significantly more effective than a placebo. 

Another study using the petal extract was done in 2007.  This study compared the petal extract once again to fluoxetine. The trial was conducted over an 8- week period with 40 people in the study who had Hamilton Depression scores that averaged at 22.  30 mg. of the petal extract and 20 mg. of the fluoxetine were administered in tablet form twice daily. 

Again, the effects of the saffron were noted right away, within the first week.  Scores dropped down to 10 in both groups.  (anti-depressants usually take 6 weeks to take effect)

My Thoughts on Saffron Use for Depression/Anxiety

couple of people

 

Saffron appears to be better than a placebo and just as effective as fluoxetine but may act quicker and without any side effects.  Saffron petal may be just as effective as the stigmas

These studies are not large but are promising.   Saffron has been used and shown to be effective in those with moderate to severe depression and is fast acting.    Saffron is also good for those with anxiety, stress and OCD.  Often one or more of these other conditions coincide with depression.

 

Further research is needed with more test subjects than just 40 in a trial. However, effects were noted within the first week and improvements continued through the trials and without side effects. 

I would like to know where the saffron was sourced from, which product brand they used since it can be challenging to find a reputable brand.  I would also like to see more studies using the saffron petal as perhaps this can be just as effective as the stigma thus less costly. 

 

Where to get Saffron

For me personally, I am still trying to locate a reputable source for the pistils and petals to make a tincture but until then I have been using the Life Extension capsule saffron. 

  • Saffr’ Activ ® is an extract derived from the red stigma of the saffron. (www.saffractiv.com)  (cultivated in Iran, N. Africa and Greece) It comes in liquid and tablets.  It is NOT available in the US.  If you are outside the US and have used this brand or will try this brand, I would love to hear your results with the product. 
  • Other products are based on roughly 88.5 mg. tablets of saffron extract standardized to a minimum of .3% safranal (Vitacost, Biotrust, Swanson, Pure Formulas, Life Extension).  These products are touted on weight loss and decreased snacking. 
  • Consumerlabs.com is a good site to use to check if a product has the ingredients is says it has on the label. For herbs, many generic products seem to not have what it says on the label. When in doubt, purchase a quality brand and not a big box store brand when it comes to herbs. (to look up supplement ingredients on consumer labs there is a yearly small fee)
  • Know what parts of the herb are used: Saffron pistils and petals have shown to help depression in studies.  When I researched products, some say they contain leaf and stem.  This would be a waste of your money 

Should you Try it?

First make sure you are using a product from a reputable source.  When in doubt, call and ask questions.  If they can’t or don’t respond to your questions, then it may be best to avoid that product.  Always speak with your health care person prior to herb use as herbs can interact with some medications. (Although in my research it appears that saffron is safe to use with medications) Since saffron may increase serotonin, discuss its usage first with your doctor if you are currently taking an SSRI.  (I could not find any warnings in regards to this, but best to play it safe).  Based on what some research states, you may want to limit your intake to a short time of 26 weeks or less. Because these products are at a higher dose than what depression studies have used, you may want to try this instead-the Life Extension product is in a capsule.  Open it up and take only one half in the morning and the other half at night, or start with even a lower milligram amount and take only 1/2 a capsule per day. 

Beware of Imitation Saffron Products

saffron-pic-3

While you may be purchasing your saffron in capsule form, here are some things you can look for if using whole pistils.

o   There are several ways to tell if you have the real thing versus a fake product

  • the pistil should have a trumpet shape at the end
  • if the pistil is perfectly straight then it is a fake
  • Smell it-it should have a woody aroma. A fake often has sandal wood added to it.
  • Add it to water-the saffron will turn the water a golden sunny yellow color. The fake will turn it a more reddish color. The coloring is a gradual process for the real saffron and the coloring effect is immediate in the fake product. 
  • The fake threads will dissolve as you rub it between your fingers, the real saffron will not.
  • The Kashmir saffron is the best quality. The Iranian saffron is shorter, a bit more brittle but still good to use. 
  • Fake saffron is often made with corn silk links and then dyed.
  • Some powdered products are saffron mixed with more affordable herbs such as marigold and safflower.

When to Use Caution

  • long term use may cause kidney damage and central nervous system damage (B. Mars, A.H.G in The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine and Hosseinzadeh, et. al.,)
  • large doses may cause coughs or headache (B. Mars, A.H.G in The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine)
  • Avoid during pregnancy and breastfeeding (B. Mars, A.H.G in The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine)
  • Some do say that more than the 30 mg. per day and for long periods could be toxic and that 1200 mg. or more per day may cause nausea and vomiting. (long periods were defined as anywhere from 26 weeks to 6 months weeks)  (examine.com; naturaldatabase.therapeuticresearch.com-this is a paid site)
  • Others say that 1.5 grams per day and up to 5 grams per day is safe (livestrong.com)
  • The only side effect that was noted in the Saffron studies was less snacking! This could be due to the elevated serotonin action in the body.

Overall it appears that saffron is safe to take for 8 to 26 weeks but after that it may do more harm than good.  Just because it is an herb, not a medication, does not mean it is safe.   Always use caution and seek the help of a professional when using herbs. 

My Experience with Saffron

Before having my clients try a product I am not familiar with, I often like to use myself (or family) as guinea pigs.  I purchased one bottle of the Life Extension product.  I took one capsule two times per day until the bottle was finished.  I missed several days of the second dose and two days did not take any over the course of supplementation. 

I did notice an overall improved mood and a sense of calmness.  Please note that I do not have moderate or severe depression but have had some stressful events recently that I can say have been impacting my mood.  The saffron was supportive.  I used to suffer from anxiety as a child and teen and what helped was changing my diet and balancing my blood sugar and hormones. However, I must admit I am still not the most mellow person in the world!  What was interesting recently is that when my husband and I were talking about an upsetting event he said “I am sick to my stomach over this.  Doesn’t it bother you?  How can you be so calm?”  My husband is usually not one for feeling overly anxious.  Maybe I need to give him some saffron!

In addition to that, saffron is touted as a product to curb cravings.  I did notice less of an appetite and did snack less mid-day and in the evening. 

I contacted Life Extension to ask about their product.  While their product bottle does say for positive mood enhancement, it also says it supports healthy eating habits.  The company responded to my questions right away.  The reason for the higher milligram dose is because they are basing it off a study using saffron to curb snacking, not studies looking at its use for depression which used a different dose.  You can find the abstract to that study here. Their product uses Satiereal® which is derived from the stigmas of the saffron flower.  Satiereal is a registered trademark product of INOREAL. Life Extension also provided to me a great deal of information of their standards in regards to quality and testing of their products.  So, I trust their product and their other products as well.  My next step is to contact INOREAL! 

I still have questions about the high dose of the Life Extension product and the possible contraindications if used for long periods of time.  I believe this product can be helpful to use for short periods of time while you are focusing on other aspects to address your anxiety and depression. 

Lastly, if you are anxious or depressed and have a reduced appetite, a product with a milligram dose higher than 15-30 mg. may not be for you.  You don’t need to take a saffron product that will reduce your appetite even more.  However, could the product reduce your anxiety and depression to the point that you would regain your appetite?  If you try products with the higher milligram dose I would love to hear your results!

In the end, I feel that if you are struggling with a mental health issue, it is best to seek the support of a professional who can assist you to see if saffron (and if so, which saffron product) is right for you. 

Bottom line

Keep in mind, an herb is not a magic pill.  Herbs rather support the body and allow your body to do what it needs to do.  My philosophy is to combine herbs with a diet that is right for your body. If you continue to consume a diet filled with refined, sugary, starchy, nutrient deficient foods, then you need to work on that. All the herbs (or supplements for that matter) in the world will not help you if you continue to put the wrong foods for you into your body. 

 

 

Sources:

Akhondzadeh, S. et. al., Comparison of Crocus sativas L. in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a

   double-blind, randomized and placebo controlled trial.  Phytotherapy research, 19(2005)148-151

Akhondzadeh, S. et. al. Comparison of Crocus sativas L. and imipramine in the treatment of mild to moderate

   depression: a pilot double-blind randomized pilot trial, BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 4 (2004)

   12-16.

Balch, P. Prescription for Herbal Healing.  2nd Edition NY: Avery

Basti, A.A. et. al. Comparison of petal of Crocus Sativus L. and fluoxetine in the treatment of depressed out-

   patients: a pilot double-blind randomized trial. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry,

   31 (2007) 439-42.

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2013) Therapeutic Nutrition. Pengrove CA: Bauman College

Boon, H. & Smith, M. (2009) 55 Most Common Medicinal Herbs. Second edition. Canada: Robert Rose Inc.

Gladstar, R. (2012) Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs.  A beginners Guide.  MA: Storey

   Publishing. 

Gleen, L. (2/28/06) Saffron: Crocus sativas. cms.herbalgram.org

Gregor, M. (10/19/12) Saffron vs. Prozac. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/saffron-vs-prozac/

Gregor, M. (10/18/12) Wake up and smell the Saffron. 

   http://nutritionfacts.org/video/wake-up-and-smell-the-saffron/

Hoffman, D. (2003) Medical Herbalism.  The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine.  VT:

   Healing Arts Press. 

Hosseinzadeh, et. al. Acute and Sub acute Toxicity of Safranal, a Constituent of Saffron in mice and rats.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3813202/

Mars, B.(2007) The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine.  CA: Basic Health Publications, Inc.

Moshiri, E. et. al. Crocus sativas L. (petal) in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind,

   randomized and placebo controlled trial.  Phytomedicine, 13 (2006) 607-11. 

Noorbala, A.A. et. al. Hydro-alcoholic extract of Crocus sativas L versus fluoexetine in the treatment of mild to

   moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized pilot trial. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 97 (2005) 281-84.

Phillips, B. (2006) The Book of Herbs. Utah: Hobble Creek Press

Schar, J. (2/12)A taste of good cheer: Saffron for treatment of Cancer related depression. www.naturopath.com/

   saffron.html

Uddin, R. (9/23/15) Saffron Poisoning. http://www.livestrong.com/article/255826-the-benefits-of-saffron-root

___(nd) Saffron.  https://examine.com/supplements/saffron/ 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Herbalist

Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition®

Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC

www.trufoodsnutrition.com

303-522-0381

Share this:Share on YummlyShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on VKShare on RedditEmail this to someonePrint this page