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Friday, August 14, 2009

Natural Solutions for Mood and Stress Problems

What You Can Do About The Nutritional Basis of Depression, Anxiety, Anger, and Cognitive dysfunction.

(The Natural Advocate - Naples, FL) Recent research, resulting in the “orthomolecular” approach to mental health, has made some tremendous strides in finding nutritional solutions to emotional problems.

A growing percentage of our population is beginning to experience relief from anxiety or depression symptoms that seemed, until recently, to be uncontrollable without the simple fix of drugs, prescribed by doctors. Ground breaking work by Dr. Carl Pfeifer, Dr. George Samra, and others has given us some “nutri-ceutical” guidelines that consistently produce positive results.
At our clinic, we found that a percentage of our counseling clients seemed to respond to psychotherapy better than others. The common factor in those clients who quickly responded to psychotherapy was that they were “health conscious”. Upon introducing food supplementation to our other clients, we found a startling increase in the effectiveness of psychotherapy.

The reasons seem to be as follows:

People who have been under emotional stress for a month or more, or those who have placed their body under physiological stress through poor life style habits or incorrect nutrition, often experience cognitive problems or emotional symptoms which “won’t go away”.

Serotonin Crystal

Chronic stress depletes the level of serotonin (a neurotransmitter) in the brain which has a profound effect on cognitive ability and moods. Medication, such as Prozac, or the other SSRI (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor) medications, do not elevate the level of serotonin in the system. The amino acid tryptophan is the chemical precursor for serotonin production. Serotonin may be obtained from a variety of dietary sources, and is synthesized in situ from tryptophan through the actions of the enzymes tryptophan hydroxylase and aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase. The FDA has outlawed the sale of tryptophan as an isolated substance. Usually, it is not wise to separate an active ingredient from the other substances with which it occurs in nature.

Vitamin supplementation and other dietary solutions raise the levels of tryptophan and serotonin systemically without contraindications or side effects. Therapeutic doses of B-complex, in unison with other nutrients, are the most reliable method of replacing serotonin that has been depleted by chronic stress.

Michael J. Norden, MD, a Psychiatrist at the University of Washington, has written a very interesting book, “Beyond Prozac: Brain Toxic Lifestyles, Natural Antidotes & New Generation Anti Depressants” Please read it!

By way of a simple explanation, mood disorders and cognitive problems begin, or are worsened, because of shortages of vitamins and minerals that are critical to the correct functioning of the biochemical pathways of the brain. Such deficiencies create havoc in the transmission of signals in the brain. More rarely, excesses of hormones or neurotransmitters can cause the body to overcompensate. Ultimately, after a period of time in this state, the whole body begins to change, causing symptoms such as:

• Lack of energy—lethargy
• Depression
• Poor balance or episodes of dizziness
• Poor concentration and/or memory -i.e. thinking through “a fog”
• Poor perceptions — visual and auditory distortions, misinterpretation of events and reality
• Cravings for sweet foods, carbohydrates or alcohol
• High anxiety levels and mood swings, panic attacks
• Irritability and “hair trigger” anger

These symptoms eventually result in emotional disorders. The distress, and the resultant anxiety, create further biochemical imbalances that in turn cause more troublesome moods, which in turn .......

And so conditions worsen in a self reinforcing cycle. Over a period of time you are locked into an anxiety or depression cycle which seems impossible to break. In reality it is the biochemical reactions that sustain the mood problems; you are not going “nuts”!

You may think you are mentally ill when such biochemical imbalances cause suicidal and/or violent thinking. It is essential, therefore, that such physiological disturbances be treated immediately, so that psychotherapeutic changes can be made at a deeper level.

If physically induced symptoms are not dealt with first, psychological strategies are often ineffective or temporary. The first physically caused symptoms which occur after beginning psychotherapy will cause you to think the counseling is not working. That suggestion compounds itself.

Take the physiological reactions out of the equation and the beneficial effects of psychotherapy can be greatly increased.

This information addresses only the nutritional basis of mood disorders and cognitive problems. By applying the mechanisms we are about to describe, most people will observe greatly reduced intensity and frequency of symptoms.

WARNING: Consult your physician before reducing existing medication. Your doctor can reduce medication on the basis of effective results being attained on the nutritional program. Take particular notice of the section on detox effects.


Your body is made up of tissues, which are made up of tiny cells. In appropriate environments each of these cells can survive and most varieties can replicate to produce more cells. Each cell has its own powerhouse to provide it with energy, and its own manufacturing plant to provide it with everything it needs to survive and reproduce. Some cells, like those in your stomach and intestines, replace themselves every few days. Others take longer.

In every case, the structure of the body - the circulatory system, the digestive system, the nervous system, the lungs and every other organ - work to keep up the supply of essential nutrients, eliminate wastes and create a state of harmony and balance.

Anything that upsets this state of balance can cause reactions which present themselves initially as changes in feelings, which we often ignore. Eventually we experience dis-ease.
Such disturbances can be caused by:

1. oversupply of hormones such as adrenaline, which the body tries to balance. Adrenaline causes the release of higher than normal levels of glucose so the muscles can go into “flight or fight” mode and get you out of danger! The pancreas tries to balance this by pulling the excess glucose out of the system. It becomes so good at this that eventually it takes more out than you can supply, and the brain starves for energy. The brain then drives you to find a quick fix of sugar or alcohol. You feel better for a while, then go back into feeling bad, until the next fix.

2. undersupply of essential nutrients. One common mistake that some nutritionists, and certainly the medical profession, make, is recommending dietary programs that do not supply the body with ALL the micro-nutrients needed to make the main biochemical reactions work. This is especially important for the nervous system where minor variations can cause such massive results! For example, very small changes in the proper “mix” of brain chemistry can cause signals in the brain to get “scrambled” and cause severe emotional problems. If you don’t supply all the nutrients required, or if you eat foods that strip the body of essential nutrients, then the appropriate reactions cannot occur and the entire system begins to fail.

We have been finding that processed grains, like white flour and rice, tend to strip the body of essential B vitamins. B3 and B6 are used in the energy system and in the development of neurotransmitters. If you don’t continuously supply more, your energy is depleted and the nervous system will not function as it should, often creating chronic depression or anxiety. Our clinical experience with chronic depression or hyperanxiety shows some common underlying historical problems.

1. There is usually an underlying high stress environment when the client is very young—often as simple as living in a house where the parents argue a lot, or where there is physical violence. Prolonged stress in young children causes biochemical abnormalities that persist in adulthood.

2. The high adrenaline levels often combine with poor diet, high in sugars and white flour, to create a serious biochemical imbalance over a period of several years. The symptoms first surface as low energy, mood swings and foggy thinking. This often raises anxiety levels.

3. Most clients suffer from cravings for sweet foods, coffee, white flour based products like bread, pasta, pizzas, or alcohol which is metabolized in a similar way to sugar.


1. Reduce your sugar and sweet food intake down to zero over a period of 3-4 days. Watch packaged foods carefully, and avoid those with high sugar content. Even cereals are often a problem!

2. Eliminate processed grain based foods and replace with whole grains. This includes pasta, bread, biscuits, cakes, pizza, etc. Vegetable pasta is fine.

3. Increase your protein intake immediately so your body can receive a more stable energy source. i.e. chicken, fish, beans, lentils, etc. Get a soy based high protein powder and mix a high energy protein drink. Have a protein hit when you get up in the morning and have regular high protein snacks during the day.

4. Have lots of fresh vegetables. Don’t overcook them. The closer to raw you can eat them the better, because our processing methods do destroy nutritional content. (By the way, if you are currently eating lots of fruit and vegetables you are not necessarily getting a lot of essential nutrients. Foods these days are grown for profit, not nutrition, and then often stored for weeks before the are marketed. Recent research showed the nutritional value to be reduced by as much as 85%! And on top of that we cook them!)

5. Cut out tea and coffee (over a few days to prevent withdrawal headaches!)) Replace with mineral water or herbal teas (chamomile is good for anxiety).

6. Drink a couple of liters of filtered water per day. This helps with the detox process and eliminates the build up of toxic biochemical waste that we produce as a normal part of our biochemistry.

7. Get a high dose Vitamin B COMPLEX into your system on a regular basis. It should have a balanced B vitamin mix, including a minimum of 50mg B3 (niacinamide) and 25mg B6. The bottle will probably say take only one or two a day. Not enough! Experience shows most people need TWO with each meal. SIX per day is minimum maintenance dose for the stress filled lives of most of us. Therapeutic dosages are higher —ingesting with food may help minimize a brief hot flush.

8. A common problem with modern water supply is metal toxicity which is caused by the copper that leaches out of copper water pipes. Many drugs often have high levels of copper. Copper has been shown to cause anxiety, depression, and high levels of anger in some sensitive people. To combat this we use 1000mg x 3 times per day of Calcium Ascorbate a form of Vitamin C found to be very effective in dealing with copper. Even if you do not have a copper toxicity vitamin C will boost your immune system, and it is used in almost all biochemical reactions in the body in one form or another. Use it!


If you maintain the suggested regimen this is what you will probably find:

1. In the first few days you may feel a little “spacy” as you detox. Make sure you drink plenty of water to flush the system -- 6 - 8 glasses per day.

2. After that, usually within 7 -- 10 days, thinking will start to clear, energy levels will increase, biochemically caused anxiety and/or depression will start to disperse.

3. Within two to three weeks you will find you are handling difficult situations better than you have for years. You will be thinking clearly enough for psychotherapy to be more effective.

4. In three months the combination of mega-nutrition and psychotherapy will have given you the opportunity for a rich, satisfying life.

Warning: There is much misinformation and lack of knowledge about vitamin supplementation. Below is a helpful summary of research done by Dr. Michael Pazdon, at the University of New Hampshire. His report is as follows:

“Of the vitamin supplements being marketed in the United States today, we found that there are basically three types (1) Synthetic (chemical), (2) Crystallized (heat processed) and (3) Lyphoilized (low temperature dehydration).

These three types were tested by chromatograms prepared by the method of Pfeiffer (BioDynamics 50, 2t), with slight modification.

SYNTHETIC: A chemical vitamin isolate made from inorganic materials, i.e., petroleum by-products. Sold mainly in drugstores and grocery stores, these vitamins act as drugs in the body. They may set up toxic reactions, and thereby rob the body of its own storehouse of antibodies.

CRYSTALLIZED: Commonly labeled “organic” or “natural”, these vitamins are isolates derived at least partly from a whole food (organic) source by a High Temperature process (products need be only 10% organic to legally carry the label “natural ingredients”). Most of the live enzymes necessary for absorption into the body have been destroyed in this type of vitamin. (Example: If we labeled a dead horse “natural and organic”, our label would be correct. If we wanted to ride him to town, however, we would be out of luck. “Organic and Natural” do not necessarily mean “alive”.) This is the type of vitamin sold in some drug stores and most health food stores.

LYPHOILIZED: Whole food is dehydrated by a cold process (similar to freeze-drying), preserving the complex of vitamins, bioflavinoids and enzymes found in nature. Enzymes necessary for absorption into the body remain intact. The only company we could find marketing this type of supplement is Shaklee Corporation. Shaklee products are sold by independent distributors and are not available in retail stores.

Sam and Bunny Sewell are authorized Independent Shaklee Distributors
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For a more complete discussion see the famous Chapter 16 from "I Fired My Doctors" that has become a "best seller" as a separate publication.

Stress and Mood Management - Chapter 16

"The stress management chapter alone is worth the price of the book.”
Selwyn Mills, PhD

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