It’s no surprise that people are starting to get a little more agitated lately due to the ongoing COVID pandemic.
Not only are we dealing with the biggest pandemic of our generation, but tack on the amplified systemic racism and political strife, and that makes 2020-2021 quite an intense year. Although most countries and states have lifted their lockdowns or strict regulations, tensions are still high. It’s important to continue taking care of ourselves (and others) through this change in lifestyle.
Throughout my life, I thought some people simply had depression and others did not, and that it was something one had to deal with. I then started to do some research on why some people have trouble regulating their moods and others do not. It is not so easy to explain, and that’s the reason I’m writing this today. Being sad, suffering from depression, and feelings of anxiety can happen to anyone. You have every right to feel all the feelings in this time of uncertainty! However, I think it’s important to understand your body and mind, and being able to take better care of yourself is a good first step in doing so.
Here are some supplements and herbs that I have tried and tested over the years that have helped me at different times in my life. They are not proven to work for everyone, but when paired with a healthy diet and exercise, many people have seen the benefits of adding these supplements to this daily routine.
Before we get into the supplements, here are a few disclaimers to keep in mind!
- Always consult a doctor before changing, adding, or taking away from your supplement routine.
- Consider taking the lowest possible dose when starting a new supplement. Work your way up as soon as you feel your body has adjusted.
- Consider any contraindications with your current medication or health status. It’s unlikely all 5 of the following supplements need to be added to your regimen, and if they can, make sure you get clearance from a doctor first.
Now, let’s get started!
This is a chemical by-product of the protein building block L-tryptophan, also found in Turkey meat!
It works in the brain and central nervous system by increasing the production of the chemical serotonin, which can affect sleep, appetite, temperature, sexual behavior, and pain sensation.
Those with depression and insomnia could benefit greatly from supplementing with 5-HTP. Although this supplement is great for boosting your mood subtly, please do not take this with an antidepressant, as both increase serotonin. Having too much serotonin can cause side effects such as shivering, heart problems, and anxiety.
Supplement Instructions: Most commonly, 150-800 mg daily is taken for 2-6 weeks, but start at the lowest dosage and then work your way up.
2. Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 Fish Oil is great to combat bipolar and major depression. These should not be used to replace antidepressants or other prescribed medicine, but these work great in conjunction with other meds since most of us are severely low in healthy fats that help us absorb other nutrients. The demonization of fats began in the 1960s by food producers, and is still fairly prevalent.
It is important to make sure you get a potent Omega-3 supplement. On top of that, your fish oil should be tested for heavy metals to ensure that it is ultra-pure and molecularly distilled. This means you should have virtually ZERO mercury, heavy metals, or other contaminants entering your system.
Supplement Instructions: For most healthy individuals, 250–500 mg per day of combined EPA and DHA should be enough. For those suffering from depression or anxiety, a naturopath may be able to better dose you so you’re feeding your brain the best ratio of EPA: DHA. It is advised to not exceed a 3g dose per day, as this could cause stomach upset. This supplement can be taken day or night because it won’t keep you up.
3. Melatonin & Valerian
Melatonin is a naturally occurring substance that helps shorten the time it takes to fall asleep and increase overall sleep amounts. Melatonin also may improve the quality of sleep and reduce daytime sleepiness and fatigue. Studies also show melatonin may increase REM sleep. Our Melatonin Gummies taste great and can be dosed to suit the needs of children and adults, alike.
Valerian is an herb that can help decrease anxiety and ease you into a restful sleep. It’s mild enough for children to take if they are having trouble falling asleep. It’s also been said to help in the symptoms of ADHD in children. Because it is a natural herb, it isn’t a quick fix. It could take up to a few weeks for this herb to take effect.
Both these herbs work similarly, but not quite the same, which is why I have included both. Melatonin is more commonly used for sleep on its own, whereas, Valerian is usually found in herbal blends or teas for its complementary role in sleep and relaxation.
Supplement Instructions: If you’d like to try melatonin, start with a lower dose of 0.5–1 mg, taken 30 minutes before bed. If that doesn’t work, you can increase your dose to 3–5 mg. The upper edge of your dose will likely be around 10mg. If you take any more than that, you may not benefit from this supplement.
Valerian can be taken by both children (3+) and adults. Adults may take up to 600mg per day.
Do not operate heavy machinery after taking either of these.
4. St. John’s Wort
This herbal plant helps those with mild or moderate symptoms of depression. It is quite gentle and may not do much for those with severe symptoms. It is recommended that you do not mix with antidepressants, as this combination can cause serotonin syndrome, many times causing more anxiety, agitation, and palpitations.
St. John’s Wort is most commonly used for depression and mood disorders, but is also popular among those experiencing menopause symptoms.
Supplement Instructions: Adults can take a dose of 900 mg to 1800 mg in a 24-hour period. This may even be safe enough for children to consume. This dose can be dispersed throughout the day for a slow and controlled release.
5. Folic Acid
Folate is a B vitamin (B-9, to be specific). When this is combined with an antidepressant, folic acid supplements can help boost symptom relief. As little as 400 mcg per day can help in reducing symptoms of depression. You can find folate in our B-12 Gummies, and in food, it can be found in leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, and beans.
Not only does folic acid help decrease symptoms of depression, but can also help prevent birth defects, treat folic acid deficiency, controls levels of homocysteine in your blood (high levels can leave you at risk of heart disease), and may help prevent dementia. If you are planning on having a baby, this is an important one for you to research!
Supplement Instructions: The recommended daily amount of folate for adults is 400 micrograms (mcg). Adult women who are planning a pregnancy or could become pregnant should be advised to get 400 to 1,000 mcg of folic acid a day.
With all supplements, herbal or synthetic, it is important to speak to a doctor before changing up your routine. With the internet, it’s easy to find information and make your own decisions, but you don’t quite know how a supplement will interact with other medications you may be taking or the foods you’re eating.
When it comes to using herbs or vitamins for mood regulation, always start low and go slow. This way, you can ensure you’re in control of how the medication is affecting you. Track how you’re feeling as you start to incorporate 1 or more of these recommendations.
It is not in my scope of practice to recommend any of these in particular, but these specific herbs/supplements have been instrumental in my mood regulation at different points in my life. None of the supplements above are meant to replace doctor-recommended, prescribed medicine.
This is your reminder to take care of yourself, especially as we make our way into the cooler Fall and Winter Season. We’re all in this together!