Whether it’s comparing yourself to the picture perfect holidays in popular television programs, ruminating on the past, or becoming consumed with doubts about the adequacy of your life, the holidays can be stressful and even depressing.
The expectation created by commercials to spend lots of money on gifts can make you feel like your life isn’t as full as the lives of those (fictional) characters on the screen. For others, this time of year can bring back painful memories of lost loved ones or other hurtful events.
So it’s no surprise that for some, the month of December brings on feelings of dread and anxiety.
Today we’re going to look at two completely safe and natural herbal extracts that recent studies have shown to be just as effective as Prozac, one of the most prescribed antidepressant drugs (a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor or SSRI) for improving mood and fighting depression.
Naturally Feeling Better
Last week, I shared information with you about the mood enhancing properties of probiotics, including their positive effect on anxiety, and more. You’re hopefully already taking probiotic supplements for all of their essential benefits, but maybe even while taking probiotics, you’re still feeling down.
And, as Savers know, Big Pharma is more than happy to create a ‘magic pill’ of questionable efficacy with potentially devastating side-effects. And doctors are quick to prescribe these drugs, even though there are evidence-backed, natural options that are just as effective and without the drawbacks. So let’s take an in-depth look at…
Saffron: Delicious And Useful
Saffron is a Middle Eastern spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus. The deep-hued crimson styles and stigmas of the flowers are collected and dried to become a rich and aromatic seasoning. While its culinary benefits have been well known for thousands of years, only recently has science uncovered its power as a natural antidepressant.
In a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial, saffron had a comparable positive impact on people with major depression to fluoxetine, the generic form of Prozac.1
Forty people took part in the study. For eight weeks half the participants took a supplement (15mg twice a day) containing petal of Crocus sativus and the other half took 10mg morning and evening of the generic form of Prozac. Then their depression symptoms and severity were rated using the Hamilton Scale for Depression.
This industry standard metric for evaluating depression, often abbreviated as the HAM-D, measures mood, suicidal ideation, insomnia, anxiety, weight loss and other common depression symptoms through a series of questions.
Saffron Is Just As Effective As Prozac
At the end of the study both groups saw significant improvement to their HAM-D scores. Amazingly, the researchers also observed the following:
“… in the both treatments, the remission rate was 25%.”
This isn’t the only study to verify saffron’s beneficial effects.2 It’s well known and well shown, and yet doctors continue to prescribe harmful and dangerous drugs. On top of which, saffron isn’t the only natural alternative…
Curcumin: Reduces Inflammation And Matches Prozac
The next evidence-backed all-natural mood improver is the primary active ingredient found in the Indian spice turmeric, curcumin, which offers powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Savers are already aware of how important managing inflammation is to building stronger bones. That is reason enough to include curcumin in your diet, but now seasonal depression and holiday anxiety offer another motivation to stock up on turmeric.
This study involved 60 patients with major depressive disorder divided at random into three groups: the first group received only standardized curcumin extract in 500mg doses twice a day, the second group received only the standard daily dose of 20mg of fluoxetine (Prozac), and the third group received a combination of the treatments.
By testing the severity of the participants’ depression before and after the 6-week treatment the researchers observed that the curcumin worked just as well as the prescription drug.3
Natural Solutions Are Healthy Solutions
Furthermore, the curcumin was reportedly well tolerated by all of the patients. These are the sort of statements you hear about safe and natural solutions, instead of the side-effect horror stories surrounding pharmaceutical products.
This particular trial used a patented curcumin extract known as BCM-95 that contains a standardized amount of active compounds called curcuminoids and purified turmeric essential oils. Which substance is creating the benefit is still unknown, but both are found in this extract of the readily available spice turmeric.
Depression Damages Your Bones
Of course we all want to feel less stress and enjoy the holidays as much as possible, but toughing it out without actively addressing the anxiety you experience is more than just hard to do: it can damage your bones.
Studies have shown that depressed women have a greater fracture risk, actually charting lower bone mass in the hips, than non-depressed women.4 Depression leads to the overproduction of IL-6, an inflammatory body marker, and this chronic inflammation has a negative impact on your bones.
Antidepressant Drugs Hurt Your Bones… And More
Prozac, the drug that was proven to be no more effective than saffron and curcumin, has a long list of drawbacks. Savers know that it’s not enough to single out one physical problem and solve it at the expense of the rest of your well-being.
Prozac’s side-effects include diarrhea, drowsiness, insomnia, nausea, tremor, weakness, headache, decreased appetite, weight changes, and anxiety.5 And those are just the common side-effects. It’s not unusual to experience symptoms like anxiety and insomnia, and even suicide risk while on this drug, all of which are problems that antidepressants are supposed to help alleviate.
Fluoxetine was the first SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), discovered by chemists at pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and pushed through the FDA approval process in 1987. Since then many more SSRI’s have come on the market. They are known to have a horrific impact on bone-health, as much as doubling the risk of “fragility fracture” when taken daily by people over the age of 50.
Eat To Heal Your Bones And Your Mood
How exciting that both of the compounds we learned about today are found in delectable spices!
This is further proof that nutrition has a huge impact on health. Both what we eat, and our habits around eating. Fortunately, you have the power (and the knowledge!) to turn how and what you eat into a force of positive impact on your health.
The holidays can entail a lot of cooking. It can be easy to feel trapped by unhealthy traditions, not knowing where to turn for better alternatives. But you don’t have to feel that way. You can branch out and try new bone-healthy dishes that are delicious and satisfying.
You see, I created Bone Appétit to make it easy to prepare mouth-watering bone-healthy dishes. With more than 200 recipes, you’re sure to find the perfect choices for your holiday meals. Use the power of foods like turmeric and saffron to improve your mood, improve your bone health, and improve your life.
Eat Your Way to Stronger Bones!
Discover over 200 mouth-watering bone healthy recipes for breakfast, smoothies, appetizers, soups, salads, vegetarian dishes, fish, and plenty of main courses and even desserts!
Don’t let the holidays overwhelm you. With Bone Appétit by your side, you can turn what could be a stressful task into an opportunity to take care of yourself and your loved ones this holiday season.
Till next time,
1 Afshin Akhondzadeh Basti, et. al. “Comparison of petal of Crocus sativus L. and fluoxetine in the treatment of depressed outpatients: A pilot double-blind randomized trial” Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry. Volume 31, Issue 2, 30 March 2007, Pages 439–442. Web: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278584606004040
2 Moshiri E1, Basti AA, Noorbala AA, Jamshidi AH, Hesameddin Abbasi S, Akhondzadeh S. “Crocus sativus L. (petal) in the treatment of mild-to-moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial.” Phytomedicine. 2006 Nov;13(9-10):607-11. Epub 2006 Sep 18. Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16979327
3 Jayesh Sanmukhani, et. al. “Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Phytotherapy Research. 6 July 2013. Volume 28, Issue 4 Pages 579–585. DOI: 10.1002/ptr.5025. Web: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ptr.5025/abstract;jsessionid=C47E4CE22986ED49AD66B1AFF7068607.d03t02
4 Farideh Eskandari, MD, MHSc, et al. “Low Bone Mass in Premenopausal Women With Depression” Arch Intern Med. 2007;167(21):2329-2336. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/91132.php