Supplements – Use Caution

We are once again reminded that it’s important to be cautious when using supplements since they are essentially unregulated in this country. There is only one company that does independent testing  and we strongly encourage people who are using supplements to subscribe  to Consumer Lab. In an article from Consumer Reports about “Supplement Seals” (July 28, 2016) a comparison chart …

Phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylserine may help protect the body against stress and may improve memory and prevent Alzheimer’s dementia. For the last month I have been examining some of the literature on this topic and working with some people in my practice to see if phosphatidylserine seems to be a useful natural supplement. The research literature on phosphatidylserine is intriguing. But first a …

Fish Oil for Depression

Is fish oil effective for treating depression? Just this past week a new patient in my practice asked me that question and I said that I didn’t know. I mentioned that ever since a study of people with bipolar depression was published in the Archives of General Psychiatry (the leading journal in psychiatry) by Andy Stoll in 1999 there has been …

S-Adenosyl-Methionine Update

SAM-e S-adenosylmethionine, or SAM-e for short, is one of the few nutritional supplements that has good clinical research to support its safety and effectiveness. Although SAM-e is used for many purposes, we are particularly interested in it as a compound that may have antidepressant properties. Clinical Significance S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) is involved in many reactions that involve methylating chemicals (transferring a methyl …

St. John’s Wort for Depression

A recently published study raises questions about whether the natural supplement St. John’s wort is actually associated with fewer adverse effects than commonly prescribed SSRIs. Living in the Bay Area it is common for me to run into a strong conviction that any natural supplement is bound to be safer than any manufactured medication. Perhaps the most problematic of these …

Natural Supplements and Insomnia

  There are two herbs or supplements that have the best data supporting their effectiveness. Both appear to be safe but have modest effectiveness. Melatonin Valerian (Alone or Combined with Hops or Melissa) Melatonin: Rapid Effect on Sleep The body uses melatonin as part of the way it regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Levels of melatonin increase as light decreases (at …

L-Methylfolate for Depression

Methylfolate is the active form of folic acid – which is an essential B vitamin. Methylfolate is essential for the brain to make the neurotransmitters that prevent depression (norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine). In other words, a low level of depression can cause or worsen depression because it leads to lower levels of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. Most of us are able to get plenty …

Supplement Update

We got this update from Consumer Labs which reminded us why we think it is a great resource for anyone serious about taking supplements. New Review: Fish & Marine Oils High Quality Fish Oil Supplements Found, But Pitfalls Exist:   We recently completed tests of fish, krill, algal, calamari and green-lipped muscle oil supplements. Although we identified many high-quality supplements (some costing just pennies per day), several others …

Zinc Might Prevent Depression

In several animal studies, zinc deficiency can cause behavior that looks like depression. In other animal studies, giving  zinc can have antidepressant-like activity if the animals are zinc-deficient. And there is some clinical evidence that zinc might boost the effectiveness of antidepressants in humans. Now a large meta-analysis of studies that looked at zinc blood levels in people with depression (Swardfager, et …

EmPowerPlus – Placebo or Nutritional Treatment for Bipolar?

  I have been surfing the web looking for other blogs on the topic of bipolar. It is an interesting and humbling experience. There are so many brave and thoughtful people writing about their struggles (or victories) living creatively with moods. If you haven’t done some surfing (of the web) I encourage you to do so. One of the sites …

Herbal Supplements Often Not What They Claim

A recent study concluded that herbal supplements are often not what they claim to be. The study was published in the journal BMC Medicine and it got front-page coverage on the New York Times website. Using DNA analysis, researchers tested 44 products from a dozen companies. The DNA signatures were compared with samples obtained from horticultural greenhouses. The study was summarized in the New …

Ginseng

If you are a ginseng believer, then ginseng is the one supplement that all of us should be taking. Russian scientist Israel Brekhman coined the term “adoptegens” to refer to agents that helped individuals deal with stress. The prime example of this, in his view, was ginseng. [If you are interested in an example of the controversy that surrounds many …

Autism Spectrum Disorder: An inside look to CATs

Recently there has been discussion about alternative treatments for Autism Spectrum Disorder.  The acronym CAT is used to describe these complimentary and alternative treatments. CAT is a great approach to treatment for individuals that are concerned with potential negative effects of taking medication. Some examples of CATs include melatonin, RDA/RDi multivitamin/mineral, massage therapy, acupuncture, exercise, music therapy, and animal-assisted therapy. …

Iron for PMS

A recent study suggested that women who consumed higher amounts of iron (from plant not animal sources) had a lower rate of premenstrual symptoms. Those who consumed more than 20 milligrams per day had about a 30% reduction in PMS symptoms compared with those who consumed less than the average amount  (average intake of 9.4 milligrams per day). This study …

St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort is a plant which has been shown in many well controlled clinical trials to be more effective than placebo in treating mild to moderate depression (not transient sadness). In fact the evidence supporting its effectiveness is better than the evidence supporting the effectiveness of some FDA approved anti-depressants.  It does not, in our experience, work as well …

Fish Oil Update

Since so many people with bipolar and depression take fish oil we thought we would pass on some information in a summary form from Consumer Labs. The full information is available if you subscribe. Consumer Labs is the only source of reliable information about supplements (the only place that does any testing) and if you take supplements we strongly encourage …

Something Fishy

Journal Watch (which is published by the very well respected New England Journal of Medicine) recently reviewed the evidence about omega – 3 fatty acids and depression. The editors concluded that fish oil can be helpful but the key to effectiveness is the amount of one of the two fatty acids that are the primary ingredients in fish oil. The …