Tag Archives: depression

Interview with Barbara Clark continued.

Dr. Babbel:

I often ask my clients who suffer from depression and/or anxiety to get a neurotransmitter test to make sure their concerns are not based on some kind of nutritional deficits. Could you briefly explain 1) what neurotransmitters and Beta Endorphins are, 2) how they relate to depression and anxiety and 3) what to look for in a neurotransmitter test?

Barbara Clark:

The center of the nervous system is the brain, which contains over 100 billion specialized cells called neurons. The nervous system also contains very important chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. The brain uses neurotransmitters to tell the heart to beat, the lungs to breathe, and the stomach to digest. Neurotransmitters are also necessary for thought processes, emotions, and other essential body functions including sleep, energy, and fear.

Depressive and anxiety disorders are among the most common neurotransmitter-related conditions. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that relay signals between nerve cells, called “neurons”. They are present throughout the body and are required for proper brain and body functions. Serious health problems, including depression and anxiety, can occur when neurotransmitter levels are too high or too low.

Every neurotransmitter behaves differently. Some neurotransmitters are inhibitory and tend to calm, while others are excitatory and stimulate the brain. Deficiencies involving the central nervous system’s neurotransmitters – serotonin and norepinephrine- appear to be involved in the development of depressive disorders. Disruptions in other neurotransmitters, like GABA (the central nervous system’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter), epinephrine, glutamate and histamine may be associated with anxiety disorders.

Environmental and biological factors – including stress, poor diet, neurotoxins, or genetics – can cause imbalances in the levels of neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain. These imbalances can trigger or exacerbate depressive symptoms.

Endorphins are endogenous opioid polypeptide compounds. They are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus in vertebrates during strenuous exercise, excitement, pain and orgasm and they resemble the opiates in their abilities to produce analgesia and a sense of well being. Endorphins work as “natural pain relievers “and they are actually a complex of at least fifteen potent brain and body chemicals that all amplify pleasure and make pain tolerable. Endorphin depletion is caused by physical or emotional pain, or both.  You could have been born with an endorphin deficiency, too much stress may drain the endorphins, and typically women have lower endorphin levels than men. Taking a supplemental blend of the 9 essential amino acids under the supervision of a health care provider, a good multivitamin, B vitamins and eating a protein-rich diet (proteins are precursors to amino-acids) can help get the endorphins into a more balanced state. Ideally these steps need to be supervised by an appropriate health care provider.

Neurotransmitter test:
There are laboratories who do urine testing for neurotransmitter (Neuro Science, www.neuroRelief.com) and there are laboratories who have testing available for blood platelet serotonin and catecholamines

(Vitamin Diagnostics) www.integrativepsychiatry.net/blood_platelet_neurotransmitter_test.html

Hello Barbara,

By observing my clients, I have found that most health problems are related to psychological stress and may not go away until the right solution has been found. As I explained in the article “Physiology of Trauma”, during a traumatic event the body excretes hormones to help the body not only to prepare a person to fight, fight, or flee a situation but also to block out pain. Often, even though ones traumatic experience happened a long time ago, their nervous system still produces stress hormones and acts as if they are in the same situation. As a result, one might not only experience psychological symptoms such as depression and anxiety but also might experience physical symptoms such depleted adrenal glands, constipation, numbness, headaches, and memory loss. In my practice, I help people to restore a balanced nervous system by addressing their psychological issues. What nutritional advice could you give people to boost their body after a long stretch of stress on their body?

Barbara Clark:

I have seen good results with what I call the” Low Stress Diet”. The objectives are to minimize metabolic stress, support detoxification, and enhance overall health.

General Rules:

·  Eat whole foods as provided by nature; vegetables are especially beneficial, organic whenever available.

·  Eat raw foods with every meal. The best raw foods are salads. (The enzymes in raw foods help digest your food)

·  Eat small meals, but eat as often as you are hungry. (To keep your blood sugar balanced) Many people overeat at one particular meal and overload their digestion! The same amount of food eaten in smaller quantities, several times per day, would not impose a burden.

·  Best between-meal-snack: vegetables. Best dessert: fruit.

·  To improve a poor appetite, normalize excessive appetite or lose weight, eliminate sugar and starches.

·   Drink lots of pure water (free of chlorine and fluorides)-1/2 your body weight in oz. every day, example: 150 lbs:2=75 oz of water, which is about 2 quarts or roughly 9 glasses.

·  The less sugar, refined carbohydrates and processed foods you eat, the healthier you will become.

Important! Eliminate foods that contain:

· Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats

· Preservatives

· Artificial sweeteners

· High fructose corn syrup

I suggest this diet as a first step to regenerate physical health. Lifestyle, appropriate exercise and a healthy sleeping patterns are just as important. I may suggest testing for food intolerances or biochemical imbalances such as neurotransmitters or hormones. I also may suggest certain high quality nutritional supplements which will be tailored to the individual needs. However, a good basic plan will include a multivitamin, B vitamins and fish oil. Digestive enzymes and herbs for adrenal support are often also part of the protocol.

Dr. Babbel:

Could you explain why it is called a low stress diet and why does this diet might help someone who is depressed?

Barbara Clark:

We live in a junk food epidemic, and most everybody is undernourished on a cellular level as never before. We often can’t limit our consumption of stressful sweets, high fructose sodas, caffeine and other fast foods, and often we don’t eat at all. But the more stress we are under the better we have to eat to keep our strength. Most fast food is low in nutrients and high in system shocking sugar, rancid fats and chemicals, so it actually adds to our stress load instead of subtracting from it.

Keeping your blood sugar steady is very important for optimal functioning of serotonin and Beta Endorphins.
-Eating whole, unrefined foods is important for our physical body and brain to get the benefit of all necessary protein, vitamins and minerals for optimal function.
-Proteins are building blocks to amino acids which are necessary for proper neurotransmitter functioning.
-Fruits and vegetables supply the necessary vitamin and minerals.
-Good fats (such as olive oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, limited amount of organic butter, fish oil, avocados, nuts and seeds) are also necessary to feed our brain properly which consists of approx. 70% fat. Sugar and simple carbohydrates are mostly devoid of any kind of good and necessary nutrients.

I hope that the above suggestions will be helpful to your readers. For more information I offer your readers to visit my website www.marinnutrition.com where they can find my contact information.