Natural remedies for depression

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Of all the natural remedies for depression perhaps one of the most effective yet least discussed is natural progesterone. The link between progesterone and depression is primarily through the action of the enzyme monoamine oxidase.

Depression is usually divided into two categories. Reactive, if it is the result of a death for example, and endogenous or clinical when it occurs for no external reason. The latter is also referred to as a depressive illness.

Depression is on the increase. Figures for the UK show 10% of the population have mental health problems. In America approximately seventeen million people are affected by it.

Research indicates that the causes are many. The majority of these support the linkage between low levels of progesterone and depression. One in four people become depressed because of allergens within food. A low level of cholesterol increases the risk, hypoglycaemia is another cause. Any stressful event, thyroid malfunction, a low level of serotonin and environmental estrogens are all know to contribute to the problem.

But what of its treatment? Asdide from progesterone nutrition is one of the most widely ignored of the various natural remedies for depression. It can play a major role in overcoming the condition, with a success rate of over 80%.

Twice as many women as men suffer from it, and more women are affected by seasonal affective disorder (SAD) than men. In the latter case the cause may be either excessive estrogen or a low level of progesterone, as progesterone levels drop during dull or cloudless days. This is particularly noticeable in higher latitudes during the winter months. Some of the symptoms of SAD are weight gain, cravings, panic attacks, lack of energy and low libido. Progesterone is involved in sugar metabolism and in increasing libido and energy.

Increasingly progesterone is helping women and men to overcome depression. It acts as a natural remedy for depression by inhibiting the action of the enzyme monoamine oxidase (MAO) which oxidises the amines rendering them ineffective. It has none of the adverse side effects that the synthetic MAOI's (such as Prosac) have.

Progesterone's action as one of the most effective natural remedies for depression is its influence in the metabolism of serotonin and dopamine, both known to play a role in depression.

Serotonin, melatonin, dopamine, adrenaline and noradrenaline are known as monoamines. The amino acid tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin and melatonin while phenylalanine and tyrosine are precursors to dopamine, adrenaline and noradrenaline. A derivative of the amino acid methionine, S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) has anti-depressive properties, but is extremely expensive.

Methionine, together with the co-factors folic acid and vitamin B12 is an effective and affordable combination of natural remedies for depression. SAMe, folic acid and vitamin B12 influence serotonin metabolism.

Depressed people have been found to have low levels of these B vitamins: 1,3,6,12 and folic acid, a higher incidence of hypoglycaemia and an excessive excretion of cortisol.

Progesterone and depression are linked through the interaction of the following drugs which cause an imbalance between the monamines...

  • beta-blockers
  • caffeine
  • contraceptives
  • corticosteroids
  • nicotine

...while estrogens and cortisol affect mood by disturbing tryptophan metalbolism. Progestins are sometimes thought of as natural remedies for depression. This is a grave mistake as they are the synthetic "progesterones" found in HRT and the Pill and are known to lower levels of natural progesterone and serotonin manufactured in the body.

Women suffering from PMS are the victims of a lack of progesterone and depression is a common result. They have been found to have low levels of serotonin in their blood.

Ten per cent of women get either acute or chronic postnatal depression (PND) after giving birth, the reason being a sudden drop in progesterone levels once the placenta has come away. A few rare cases (0.5%) develop postnatal psychosis. This is a temporary disorder that is also helped by progesterone.

There are many mental and physical symptoms associated with depression. The milder problems in women manifest themselves in PMS and menopause, while the severest appears in PND and pre-menstrual and post-natal psychosis. In very rare cases the latter ends in infanticide, murder or self-mutilation.

All the above mentioned natural remedies for depression can alleviate all or any of the following symptoms...

  • mental - loneliness; feelings of uselessness; endless crying; irrational behaviour; confusion; feelings of unreality; guilt; feelings of worthlessness; anxiety; agitation; panic attacks; agoraphobia; claustrophobia; irritability; aggression; anger; rage; violent mood swings; rejection of the baby; delusions; hallucinations; visions; voices in the head; suicidal thoughts; paranoia; changed personality, manic depression
  • physical - asthma; bingeing; bloating; epilepsy; exhaustion; dizziness; hunger; insomnia; migraine; muscular weakness; sinusitis; thirst

Progesterone can help prevent and reverse the above symptoms in both sexes and through all age groups. It is particularly helpful for women during puberty, for PMS and menopause symptoms. It is essential to maintain adequate levels.

An underactive thyroid can be the cause of depression, so a test is advisable. If this is diagnosed then supplimental progesterone can help increase thyroid metabolism especially if used in conjunction with the nutrient based natural remedies for depression.

The following nutrients are essential on a daily basis...

  • 15 to 60ml Omega 3 flax oil
  • 50mg zinc (extremely important for PND)
  • 100 to 1000mg niacin (vitamin B3)
  • 100 to 200mg vitamin B6
  • 500mg inositol
  • 500mg choline
  • 1000 to 3000mg vitamin C
  • 10 to 20mg manganese
  • 200mcg chromium picolinate
  • 500-1000mg magnesium
  • 400mcg folic acid
  • 300mcg vitamin B12
  • 500mg-6gm of the essential amino acid tryptophan for the manufacture of serotonin
  • 500mg-2gm tyrosine and 400mg DL- phenylalanine for the production of dopamine
  • 500mg methionine
  • 500mg GABA to relax and calm

The following natural remedies for depression can be taken initially, but should be discontinued once the nutrients take affect...

  • 500mg kava-kava (a natural relaxant)
  • 500-1000mg of St John's Wort (an effective natural anti-depressant with very few adverse side effects - unlike the synthetic SSRI's (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). It works in the same way - by curing the symptom not the cause
  • Ignatia amara (a herb that helps with grief)

It is essential that the "Metabolic Type" of any depressed individual be discovered ie. whether they are primarily a Protein, Mixed or Carbo "Type". Once this is ascertained and the correct dietary program adhered to, then health will improve dramatically.

Food should be natural and unprocessed and include organic protein and fibre, particularly complex carbohydrates as this leads to increased tryptophan uptake. At least 50-75% of all food consumed should be raw.

Follow the "glycaemic" diet to prevent hypoglycaemia: avoiding grains, roots and fruits, except berries. Keep meals small and frequent. An interesting fact is that after a large meal progesterone levels drop.

Increase intake of cold-water fish such as mackerel, tuna, salmon, and herring, avoiding those with high levels of mercury.


  • all forms of estrogen
  • the Pill (change to another form of contraceptive)
  • HRTT
  • amoxifen
  • all non organic dairy products and meat, including chicken, as these often contain estrogenic growth hormones
  • sugar
  • oxidised fats, i.e. margarine, refined oils, saturated fats and fried foods, in particular fried animal protein
  • milk
  • coffee
  • reduce sodium intake
  • wheat, as the protein in wheat has been linked to depression
  • all sodas, in particular diet drinks and sweeteners containing aspartame, which blocks the manufacture of serotonin
  • alcohol

To find out more about progesterone therapy in general and how it benefits health issues other than its role as one of the effective natural remedies for depression, please click here.

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