5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) As An Antidepressant

5-HTP is made from a natural substance that is found in the seeds of the Griffonia Simplicifolia plant. This particular plant is a climbing plant that comes from both Central as well as Western Africa. Hydroxytryptophan; which is actually extracted from the seeds of the plant plays an important and natural role in the synthesis of Serotonin. If you’ve been following this blog then you will learn that Serotonin can be very powerful in regulating both sleep and your mood.

Why Take 5-HTP

Some people may consider taking this as a natural supplement as a supplement to an actual, commercially viable anti-depressant. It is actually popular in some parts of Europe as a method to address depression. The reasons can be many, but some people may desire to support a more natural approach to health or have experienced side effects from their current SSRI medication. It’s also important to note that where you may have no or poor success with an anti-depressant med that trying another with the guidance of your health care professional may yield the results that you need.

5-HTP is one natural supplement to consider so long as you consult with your doctor first to make sure that it’s right for you. It can be found in most health food stores, but one thing to remember is that if you find a brand that works for you – stick with it. The truth is that natural supplements are not regulated by the FDA; which means that different natural supplement companies are free to maintain their own dosages of the supplement. Changing from one brand to another may not be a good idea. Always try to stick with one brand consistently.


5-HTP is taken to help with sleep disorders, eating disorders, depression, anxiety and migraines to name a few. Several trials have been conducted that revealed that taking 50 – 3000 MG consistently for 2 or more weeks can ease the symptoms of depression. Other studies have shown that 5-HTP may be just as effective as most, standard anti-depressant medications.

One thing that you don’t want to attempt is to take both an anti-depressant and Hydroxytryptophan alongside each other, because they can interfere with each other. 5-HTP helps to increase Serotonin production to the brain

5-HTP decarboxylates with Serotonin with an L-amino acid and with the help of vitamin B6 through both the liver (where the majority of Serotonin is produced) and nervous tissue.

Reflexology For Depression – A Good Fit?

An ancient Egyptian pictograph depicting four figures practicing body work healing.

An ancient Egyptian pictograph depicting four figures practicing body work healing.

Reflexology is a type of alternative medicine known as body work. Although it can include the hands, feet and ears; the majority of reflexology is performed on the feet.

Amazingly it can be traced back to ancient Egypt and has been used for thousands of years in various forms all around the world. In fact the earliest recording of this type of healing may be a pictograph dated 2,500 B.C. in The Physician’s Tomb in Saqqara, Egypt. In this image, four figures are shown working on each others hands and feet. However, the reflexology of today is no doubt quite a bit different than it was all those years ago.

How Does Reflexology Work?

reflexology-foot-pressure-pointsThe concept behind this type of pressure work is that certain zones on a foot correspond to certain anatomical parts of the body. The theory is that by applying pressure to these points; healing is promoted in certain areas of the body.

For example: The bottom of the pinkie toe is associated with the ear while the arch of the foot may relate to organs such as the pancreas, kidneys and bladder. When a practitioner uses thumb and finger techniques to apply a certain amount of pressure to these areas it is believed that there is a positive effect on the functioning of these parts of the body.

Reflexology isn’t that different from acupuncture in the fact that both methods are designed to work with energy pathways known as qi (chee). The difference is that acupressure consists of well over 800 pressure points that travel along meridian energy pathways.

With reflexology, the goal is to promote health in the organs and to release stress from the body. Although there isn’t a lot of research regarding reflexology depression techniques; this form of foot work is often used to address hormonal imbalances, PMS and stress related problems.

Does Reflexology Work For Depression?

acupressure-for-treating-depressionDepression creates a cacophony of feelings and undesired emotions about life and ones self. Any non-invasive and safe technique that can be used to maintain a healthy outlook on life is unarguably beneficial. So although there isn’t any concrete research to support that reflexology treats depression – it may be something to add to the toolkit of positive lifestyle techniques.

However, studies performed by the National Cancer Institute have suggested that reflexology could potentially diminish pain and psychological distress such as anxiety and depression.

According to reflexology-research.com, 29 studies showed that this kind of body work can aid in releasing stress, aches and tension in the body. It has also been very popular for some time now in Asia and Europe. In fact 20+% of the population of Denmark have reported using reflexology at least once in their lifetime and a fair number of Denmark-based companies have hired on site reflexologists for their employees.

One excellent component of reflexology is that you can learn to work on your own feet and hands if you choose not to visit a reflexologist. Although this naturally can take some study; reflexology is fairly straight forward and there are many books and charts to help you learn the technique. Some people are understandably hesitant about taking medication to treat depression. For such people there are more natural methods to leading a calm lifestyle.

Body work is one such approach that may help some people relieve worries and strong emotions that often come packaged with depression. Other techniques that might be of use may include meditation, EFT tapping and Qigong.

The Benefits Of St. John’s Wort For Depression & Anxiety

Despite a popular misconception, St. John’s Wort is not actually an herb like so many believe. In actual fact it’s a medicine that is made from the leaves and flowers of the actual plant (Hypericum perforatum). It’s native to Europe but is considered an invasive weed that has spread throughout the world where sub-tropical conditions are supported. It is backed by a fair amount of clinical evidence that supports the idea of using it for depression with beneficial results. It’s also considered to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties. St. John’s Wort is far from a new discovery. Even the Greek philosopher Hippocrates described it’s medicinal benefits and the name is taken from the fact that it tends to bloom somewhere around June 24th (John the Baptiste’s birthday).

Sometimes it is made into an oil that can be applied topically to the skin to treat insect bites, burns, etc – however; doing so can come with some risk as it can cause an increased sensitivity to sunlight in the epidermis. It is regarded in the medical research community as being likely effective in treating mild to moderate depression when taking it in it’s extracted form. However, it’s also important to note that it can cause interactions with other types of medications. It’s always important to discuss taking something like St. John’s Wort with your doctor first before trying.

Speaking of doctors – Dr. Kevin Curran; who is a plant biologist has put together a very complete article on St. John’s Wort.

According to the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine; Taking St. Johns Wort along with an antidepressant may be an effective means to treating short-term depression. Again, it’s very important to learn about the possible conflicts with certain types of medications and pregnant or breast feeding women are advised to stay away from this natural remedy. Studies have shown that St. John’s wort may be helpful in treating SAD. Thus far, research has shown that taking St. John’s Wort may be useful for controlling the symptoms associated with anxiety, inadequate sex drive and sleeping disorders associated with seasonal affective disorder.

Although it may have benefits when taken alone; some suggest that the combination of both St. John’s Wort and light therapy may be increasingly more effective in treating seasonal depression.

http://hypericum.com/ is a fascinating website that has a lot of thorough information on this medicinal flower.


7 Incredibly Powerful Ways To Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder


6 ways you can treat SADFor the millions of people around the world who suffer from S.A.D. it can be very difficult to get excited about the holiday seasons that are coming up soon. Those happy thoughts that relate to Christmas, Thanksgiving & Halloween suddenly creep to the back of the mind instead of being something to look forward to.

The good feelings that are usually associated with gift-giving, festive meals with the family and trick-or-treating are overrun with the fear of going back into a cyclical depressive state brought on by Seasonal Affective Disorder.

This debilitating mental state is made characteristic by unexplainable sadness, overeating do to the feelings of depression and this strong desire to just sleep through everything and miss out on life’s most precious moments. If you are one of the 500,000+ Americans who suffer from S.A.D., or are one of the millions who struggle with it around the world, then this article is for you.

Here Are 7 Very Good Ways To Keep Seasonal Depression At Bay…

When used in combination with one-another you have a better chance of staying happy during this difficult time of the year.

1.  Consume Foods That Are Mood Lifting

Berries are one food source that are powerful against depression.

Berries are one food source that are powerful against depression.

You need to be very mindful of what you eat. Although things like fast food are a convenience they do nothing for our moods. It’s important to keep a diet going of foods that are rich in essential minerals and vitamins. In particular, foods that aid in Serotonin production, Magnesium, Folic Acid, D vitamin and B vitamins will give you the most help.

Good Anti-Depression Foods Include

  1. Blueberries
  2. Broccoli
  3. Tomatoes
  4. Spinach
  5.  Sweet Potatoes
  6. Fish
  7. Yogurt
  8. Asparagus
  9. Avocados
  10. Cashews
  11. Chocolate
  12. Green tea
  13. Oranges
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Kiwi
  16. Walnuts
  17. Bananas
  18. Turkey
  19. Low fat cheeses and milk
  20. Tumeric
  21. Rosemary
  22. Licorice

These foods are a great source of either protein, healthy fats, potassium, trytophan and vitamins. Avoid a diet that may deplete these important nutrients.

2. Avoid Alcohol & Caffeine

Alcohol is a depressant that can make having depression much worse

Alcohol is a depressant that can make having depression much worse

Many of us can’t imagine living without a few “adult beverages” in the evening hours or having a few cups of coffee throughout the day, but consider the fact that both caffeine and alcohol (which is a stimulant) could be your major problem alone.

The issue with drinking alcohol throughout a bout of depression is that it amplifies the sadness and darker feelings. If you’re trying to take action and return to a more positive state, caffeine and alcohol consumption can work against your best efforts.

At least a 3rd of those with depression resort to alcohol as a form of self-medication and teens who struggle with serious depression for a long period of time are more likely to start drinking.

But most critically is the fact that alcohol is in itself a depressant. It can also impair your judgement and cause you to make hasty decisions that could further escalate your depressive state.


3. Get Active & Force Yourself To Be On Your Feet

Exercise is a great way to fight off depression

Exercise is a great way to fight off depression

It’s true that when you’re feeling depressed it’s very hard to have the motivation to get up and do things, but the truth is that the more you lie dormant the greater your depressive state can become.

The main issue for most people with Seasonal Affective Disorder is staying fit and active when it’s really cold out or you’re up to your neck in snow.

Here are some methods that you can take advantage of that are both creative as well as rewarding to the body and mind..

  • If there’s snow on the ground, try to be a kid again. Build a snowman, fort or have a snowball fight with your kids and loved ones.
  • Join your local YMCA. This way you can use the indoor track for power walking or sign up for a very affordable class through the Y.
  • Pop a fitness DVD in your player and start working out with it
  • Use a fitness video game. These can be a lot of fun and put you through the paces. Plus some of them feature a virtual coach who can be quite motivating.
  • Take a ballroom dance, martial arts, yoga, Zumba or swim class.

4. Make Yourself Socialize More

Coffee shops, libraries and malls are good places to go when you're depressed

Coffee shops, libraries and malls are good places to go when you’re depressed

I know what you might be thinking. “I’m depressed”, “I don’t like people” or “I’m an introvert” and I hear ya! Truth be told you can be in a social setting without having to socialize or stress yourself out.

It’s important that you don’t isolate yourself from friends, family or even strangers, which is something that people with SAD tend to do. Here’s what to do..

  • Get a library card and make weekly trips to the library. Just sit and read there or get a routine going of checking out and renewing items.
  • Develop a ritual where you go to the coffee shop just to people watch. An OK dose of coffee won’t hurt you and you can relax in the ambiance of the shop.
  • Go window shopping in the mall. The mall can be a tiring place for many people, but 30 – 60 minutes walking around the mall can do wonders; mainly because of the stimulation and the abundance of lighting.
  • Start your holiday gift shopping early and refrain from doing all of it on the internet. Make a list of people to buy for and research online, but make sure to use going to physical store addresses to do your shopping as an excuse to get out and about.

5. Give Back To Others

Doing charitable work and volunteering is exceptional for boosting your mood

Doing charitable work and volunteering is exceptional for boosting your mood

You know the old advice that somewhere around the world right now there is a person who has it worse than you. Boy is that ever true and if you seek out ways to volunteer and help out it can be great therapy.

In fact, not only can helping those in need distract you from your depression it can lift your emotional vibrational state and elevate your mood. Here are some ways that you can make life about others and NOT your depression..

  • Get involved in a food drive
  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen
  • Seek part-time work at a Goodwill
  • Spend time with the elderly
  • Assist at an animal shelter and help with general care of pets
  • Sign up to help out at the local library
  • Get involved with habitat for humanity
  • Ask about ways to assist at museums
  • Become an usher for your local theater

Volunteering can help with your depression in several ways…

  1. It gets you out of the house and away from your “zone of depression”
  2. You can actually meet fantastic people networking in this way, and may find that some of them are volunteering for similar reasons
  3. Helping others raises your feel good hormone levels and makes you feel better about yourself, which if you are depressed is exactly what you need right now.

To learn more ways about how you can help out in your community, there is a fantastic website called Volunteer Match which can hook you up with great places to volunteer.

6. Take Advantage Of Light Therapy

Light therapy is excepted as a method for treating SAD

Light therapy is excepted as a method for treating SAD

One of the most affective ways to treat SAD is to use a light therapy box. SAD lamps, or SAD lights as they are called put out light that imitates natural sunlight. The idea is to sit within a foot or so of this source of light for 15 – 60 minutes depending on the intensity.

Intensities vary depending on the make, brand and model, but usually the output is measured in LUX, which is a light measurement. The ranges are usually 2,500 – 10,000, and many models have different settings.

Even doctors have been prescribing these devices for several years now and many patients report great results. The key is to start early in the season and continue your therapy. You’re not supposed to look directly at the light, but being within it’s glow will allow the source to enter in through the pupils and benefit brain waves.

It’s also important that you get on a routine and stay vigilant to it. Some people may report that using light therapy at night stimulates their brain too much, making it difficult for them to sleep. The best time may be in the morning.

Medical experts aren’t completely sure why light therapy works, but it may have something to do with low vitamin D levels and the fact that the sun’s light has many healthy benefits for our mood.

7. Supplements That May Help With Depression

Some supplements may be of great use to those with depression

Some supplements may be of great use to those with depression

The following supplements are inconclusive in their efficacy during key, clinical research studies, but they are worth giving some thought and everyone is a little bit different. You should however consult your doctor first before trying any of these to make sure that there will not be any complications with any medications that you might already be taking and to make sure that any conditions you might already have will not be affected.


Gamma -Aminobutyric acid or GABA for short is a chemical that is naturally made in the brain. However you can also take it in pill form to relieve stress and boost mood. It works by blocking certain neurotransmitters and could potentially help in quieting the mind.


SAMe is produced by the body using a combination of an amino acid called methionine and an energy molecule known as adenosine triphosphate. It has been studied widely for it’s possible help in treating depression and osteoporosis, but evidence and research are not up to speed as they should be.

When compared to the benefits of anti-depressants, SAMe has not received the attention needed. To determine whether or not an anti-depressant may be affective in treating depression, 4 – 6 weeks are required for conclusion, where as SAMe has only received 3 weeks when comparing it to antidepressant medications.


L-Tyrosine is a precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is commonly known as the “feel good” neurotransmitter. When taking L-Tyrosine on an empty stomach it can work much faster than antidepressant medication, but you should beware. It can increase blood pressure for people who deal with hypertension and may cause anxiety.

But for others it has the potential to combat depression and have a calming effect.