Vitamin D and Depression

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Green Tea Catechin Chemistry

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Kanna (Sceletium tortuosum) as a Treatment for Stress and Depression

Kanna (Sceletium tortuosum) is a succulent plant native to South Africa. Kanna is also often referred to as channa. A medicine made from kanna called Zembrin is also available. Kanna is used in traditional medicine as a treatment for both stress and depression, which suggests that it contains phytochemicals that affect the central nervous system. A fermented form of kanna called kougoed is also produced and used medicinally for this reason. A number of studies have investigated the claims that kanna is an effective treatment for stress and depression. Most of these have involved animal experiments. For example, in one study, researchers administered kanna to rats and then applied to stress to them by restraining them. Low doses of kanna caused reductions in anxiety and a lowering of corticosterone levels, however this was accompanied by some depression of the immune function of the rats. Case studies on humans have also been reported. In one case 50 mg of Sceletium caused significant decreases in anxiety and improvements in mood and in another case the same does lifted mood and improved sociability.   

kanna anxiety depression stress

Sceletium plants produce a range of alkaloids that may explain their pharmacological activity. Sceletium tortuosum has been shown to contain a number of alkaloids including mesembrine, mesembrenine and mesembrine. However the alkaloid chemistry is complex and there are many alkaloids and their chemistry and biological effects are not fully understood. The alkaloid mesembrine may act as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor in animals. However it may not prevent the reuptake of noradrenaline and dopamine. In addition, mesembrine may also inhibit the enzyme phosphodiesterase, and in this regard may potentiate the activity of the cyclic AMP second messenger systems in cells. This may also produce central nervous system affects. Case studies on humans show that 50 Sceletium can cause improvements in major depressive disorder within a few days, and may also improve sleep patterns. Image is of a kanna plant. Image from: By H Brisse (upload by Abalg) – from the aforementioned site, CC BY-SA 3.0, https:// commons.wikimedia.org/ w/ index.php?curid=3772389.

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Smith, C. 2011. The effects of Sceletium tortuosum in an in vivo model of psychological stress. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 133(1): 31-36
Gericke, N. and Viljoen, A. M. 2008. Sceletium—a review update. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 119(3): 653-663
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Does Myricetin Reduce Anxiety and Depression?

weight lossMyricetin is a flavonoid synthesised by plants. Myricetin belongs to the flavonol group of flavonoids. Other flavonnols found in plants include quercetin, kaempferol and galangin. The chemistry of the flavonols makes them biologically active and they may possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune modulatory activity. A reasonably large body of evidence suggests that quercetin and kaempferol have mood elevating effects in animals, and this might suggest that myricetin was also beneficial in this respect. In fact a few studies have investigated the effects of myricetin and found it to possess some mood elevating properties. For example, myricetin extracts from Vitis vinifera (grapevine) have been shown to exhibit significant anxiolytic effects on mice when the animals are exposed to experimental stress. The authors suggested, based on observations of interactions with drugs, that myricetin may have been modifying the serotonin systems of the brains of the mice.

In another study researchers investigated the effects of myricetin on depression. Mice were administered myricetin and then exposed to experimental stress. The mice receiving myricetin showed behavioural changes that were consistent with a reduction in depressive symptoms. Myricetin is a potential antioxidant in animal, and the researchers noted that administration of myricetin to the mice significantly increased cellular level of glutathione peroxidase in the animals, suggesting a positive antioxidant effect. The levels of glutathione peroxidase were increased in the hippocampus, suggesting this antioxidant effect was present in brain tissue. Myricetin also normalised elevated levels of corticosterone in mice and decreased levels of brain derived neurotrophic factor in the mice, suggesting that it has had an anti-stress effect. Myricetin, like quercetin and kaempferol may therefore have beneficial effects on mood disorders, by exerting beneficial changes to brain chemistry and stress levels.  

myricetin anxiety depression

Galangin, kaempferol, quercetin and myricetin are flavonols. They are found in high concentrations in many fruits and vegetables. The flavonols act as biological antioxidants because they contain hydroxyl groups. Galangin, kaempferol, quercetin and myricetin possess 1, 2, 3 and 4 hydroxyl groups, respectively. The more hydroxyl groups a compound contains, the better its antioxidant potential, as it is the hydroxyl groups that acts to quench free radicals. Image is myricetin. Image from: By Edgar181 – Own work, Public Domain, https:// commons.wikimedia.org/ w/ index.php?curid=3092575.

It is unclear if flavonols act as anxiolytic agents themselves or are metabolised to other compounds prior to having biological effects. Flavonols such as quercetin, kaempferol and myricetin are metabolised by gut bacteria to their corresponding hydroxphenylacetic acids. In one study, when quercetin and kaempferol were injected into animals, the anxiolytic effect were not present. However, oral administration did produce anxiolytic effects. Therefore, the metabolism of kaempferol and quercetin to their respective hydroxyphenylacetic acids, para-hydroxyphenylacetic acid and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid may be a requirement of the anxiolytic effects. In this regard the hydroxyphenylacetic acids, para-hydroxyphenylacetic acid and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid did show anxiolytic effects after injection. Further after sterilisation of the gut with antibiotics, the anxiolytic effects of kaempferol of quercetin were attenuated, suggesting they must be metabolised before anxiolytic effects become apparent.

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Mohan, M., Jadhav, S. S., Kasture, V. S. and Kasture, S. B. 2009. Effect of myricetin on behavioral paradigms of anxiety. Pharmaceutical Biology. 47(10): 927-931
Vissiennon, C., Nieber, K., Kelber, O. and Butterweck, V. 2012. Route of administration determines the anxiolytic activity of the flavonols kaempferol, quercetin and myricetin—are they prodrugs? The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 23(7): 733-740
Ma, Z., Wang, G., Cui, L. and Wang, Q. 2015. Myricetin Attenuates Depressant-Like Behavior in Mice Subjected to Repeated Restraint Stress. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 16:  28377-28385
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Sesbania grandiflora (Vegetable Hummingbird): Mood Stabiliser?

weight lossSesbania grandiflora is commonly called the vegetable hummingbird, hummingbird tree, katurai, corkwood tree or caturay. Sesbania grandiflora is a member of the Fabaceae (pea) family of plants. The tree is small (5 to 10 meters in height), fast growing and can be found in parts of Southeast Asia, India and Australia. The tree produces distinctive bean shaped flowers and pods that are edible and often added to salads. The tree has been used in traditional medicine for its therapeutic effects, and in this regard may be beneficial against formation of glycation end products that often form as a result of diabetic complications. Sesbania grandiflora may have particular effects on mood because of its ability to raise brain levels of GABA and serotonin. For example, in one study researchers exposed mice to experimental stress after administration of leaf extracts of Sesbania grandiflora. In response, the mice were less anxious and exhibited greater desire to expose themselves to open spaces compared to control mice.

sesbania grandiflora anxiety depression

Research has shown that the flowers, seeds, rachis (stem) and leaves of Sesbania grandiflora are rich in saponins. The flowers, seeds and leaves are rich in alkaloids. The rachis, seeds and leaves also contain sterols, but sterols are present in higher concentrations in the flowers. The leaves of Sesbania grandiflora are also rich in tannins and may be particularly rich in triterpenes. The flowers also contain kaempferol 3-rutinoside. Therefore the pharmacological profile of Sesbania grandiflora varies between different plant tissues. Flower extracts and leaf extracts of Sesbania grandiflora have been shown to elongated sleeping time in mice, thereby confirming the extracts have central nervous system depressing effects. The tissues of the plant may also possess anti-inflammatory effects which may explain their benefit against anxiety in animal models.

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Kasture, V. S., Deshmukh, V. K. and Chopde, C. T. 2002. Anxiolytic and anticonvulsive activity of Sesbania grandiflora leaves in experimental animals. Phytotherapy Research. 16(5): 455-460
Fojas, F. R., Barrientos, C. M., Capal, T. V., Cruzada, S. F., Sison, F. M., Co, Y. C., Chua, N. G and Gavina, T. L. 1982. Preliminary phytochemical and pharmacological studies of Sesbania grandiflora (L.) Pers. Philippines Journal of Science. 111(157181): 157-181
Wagh, V. D., Wagh, K. V., Tandale, Y. N. and Salve, S. A. 2009. Phytochemical, pharmacological and phytopharmaceutics aspects of Sesbania grandiflora (Hadga): A review. Journal of Pharmacy Research. 2(5): 889-892
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Sphaeranthus indicus as an anxiolytic Herb

weight lossSphaeranthus indicus Linn. is a species of flowering plant that belongs to the Asteraceae (daisy) family of plant. In this regard it is in the same family as chamomile. Sphaeranthus indicus can be found growing in India, and common names for it here include Gorakhmundi, its Hindu name. The plant is a highly branched spreading herb, and can be found growing in wet areas, where it is harvested and used for its medicinal properties. Studies have shown that the plant contains a number of active constituents which may explain the therapeutic antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory action of the herb in humans and animals. Studies indicate that the flowers from the plant may possess anxiolytic effects. For example in one study, researchers administered flower extracts of Sphaeranthus indicus to mice and observed significant anxiolytic effects for the extracts. The behavioural changes were similar to those observed for the anxiolytic drug diazepam, but not as pronounced.

Sphaeranthus indicus anxiety depression

Phytochemical analysis of Sphaeranthus indicus indicates that it contains carbohydrates, reducing sugar, monosaccharides, pentose sugars, hexose sugars, proteins, proteins containing tyrosine and tryptophan, protein containing sulphur amino acids. tannins and phenols, glycosides, cardiac glycosides, anthraquinone glycosides, saponins, sesquiterpene lactones (including and eudesmanolides) flavonoids, alkaloids, steroids. fats and oils. Image from: By Mark Marathon – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https:// commons.wikimedia.org/ w/ index.php?curid=63122329

In another study, researchers administered extracts of Sphaeranthus indicus, including flowers, to mice. The mice were then exposed to experimental stress. The results of the study showed that the Sphaeranthus indicus extracts significantly reduced the anxious behaviour displayed by the mice. Further, the researchers also demonstrated that the plant extracts also had both anticonvulsant and central nervous system depressant effects on the animals. In another study, researchers investigated the cognitive effects of Sphaeranthus indicus flower extracts on mice. The results of the study showed that the extracts possessed significant acetylcholinesterase activity in mice, and were able to decrease memory impairment in the animals. The extracts were high in sesquiterpene lactones, which the authors concluded may be responsible for the pharmacological activity. Therefore Sphaeranthus indicus may possess anxiolytic  effects in animals, which supports the traditional use of the herb as a medicine.

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Galani, V. J. and Patel, B. G. 2010. Effect of hydroalcoholic extract of Sphaeranthus indicus against experimentally induced anxiety, depression and convulsions in rodents. International Journal of Ayurveda Research. 1(2): 87-93
Ambavade, S. D., Mhetre, N. A., Tate, V. D. and Bodhankar, S. L. 2006. Pharmacological evaluation of the extracts of Pharmacological evaluation of the extracts of Sphaeranthus Sphaeranthus indicus flowers on anxiolytic activity in mice flowers on anxiolytic activity in mice. Indian Journal of Pharmacology. 38(4): 254-259
Patel, M. B. and Amin, D. 2012. Sphaeranthus indicus flower derived constituents exhibits synergistic effect against acetylcholinesterase and possess potential antiamnestic activity. Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine. 9(1): DOI: 10.1515/1553-3840.1618
Makhija, I. K., Richard, L., Kirti, S. P., Saleemullah, K., Jessy, M. and Annie, S. 2011. Sphaeranthus indicus: A review of its chemical, pharmacological and ethnomedicinal properties. Int Journal of Pharmacology. 7(2): 171-179
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Damiana (Turnera Aphrodisiaca): Mood Elevating Herb

weight lossDamiana (Turnera Aphrodisiaca) is a woody shrub that is native to the Southern United States, and parts of Central and South America. The flowers of the plant are aromatic, and produces a fruit that is similar in taste to figs. Damiana leaves have been used in traditional medicine as a treatment for a number of conditions including mood disorders. Studies have identified the flavonoid apigenin in the tissues of the plant and this may explain the therapeutic effects of the plant. Studies have investigated the effects of apigenin extracted from damiana leaves on the behaviour of mice, and these studies show that administration of various extracts of daminan to mice caused changes that were associated with a reduction in anxiety. Analysis of the extracts showed that apigenin was the likely component that was likely responsible for these effects. Studies investigating the effects of isolate apigenin have showed that it possesses significant anxiolytic and sedative effects in mice.

damiana anxiety depression

Studies have investigated the phytochemistry of daminan plants and found a range of phytochemicals within the plant tissues. These include apigenin, tetraphyllin B (cyanoglycoside), gonzalitosin I (flavonoid), arbutin (phenolic glycoside), damianin, a volatile oil containing a-pinene, b-pinene, p-cymene, and 1,8-cineole, β-sitosterol (phytosterol) as well as the hydrocarbons tricosan-2-one and hexacosanol. Of these apigenin appears to show the greatest anxiolytic effect in animals models of anxiety. There is evidence that apigenin can interact with the GABA receptor in animals and this may have a calming and relating effect. Image of daminana plant. Image from: By H. Zell – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https:// commons.wikimedia.org/ w/ index.php?curid=11426568

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Kumar, S., Madaan, R. and Sharma, A. 2008. Pharmacological evaluation of bioactive principle of Turnera aphrodisiaca. Indian journal of pharmaceutical sciences. 70(6): 740-744
Kumar, S. and Sharma, A. 2006. Apigenin: The Anxiolytic Constituent of Turnera aphrodisiaca. Pharmaceutical Biology. 44(2): 84-90
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Foods that Heal, Foods That Kill

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Creatine and Mood

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Tilia Americana (Basswood): Anxiety Treatment?

weight lossTilia Americana is a species of tree from the Malvaceae (mallows) family of tree. Common names for this tree include American basswood or American linden. This family contains a number of trees of economic importance including cotton and cacao. The tree is a deciduous tree that grows to a height of between 20 to 40 meters and has a trunk diameter of 1 to 1.5 meters. American basswood grows fast compared to other North American hardwoods. American basswood trees are known to possess medicinal properties, and in this regard the flowers, bark and leaves may be used as traditional medicines. The flowers of the tree contain a volatile oil which has medicinal properties, and the tissues of the tree also contain a range of phytochemical components including flavonoids, which may act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents in humans and animals when consumed. Traditionally basswood flowers are added to baths to provide an anxiety cure, and this effect may relate to the essential oils in the flowers.  

tilia americana linden anxiety depression

American basswood has been shown to contain a number of flavonoids including quercetin, kaempferol and a number of quercetin glycosides. These flavonoids may be responsible for the anxiolytic effects of American basswood. Evidence shows that extracts containing these flavonoids may cause modulation to serotonin receptors suggesting that one way American basswood may elevate mood is through modulation to serotonin receptors.

A number of studies have investigated the anxiolytic effects of basswood extracts on animals. For example, in one study, researchers administered aerial parts of the basswood tree to mice and exposed them to experimental stress. Methanol extracts of the tree, but not hexane extracts produced significant anxiolytic effects in the mice. This suggests that the anxiolytic components were not soluble in hexane, but were soluble in methanol. Analysis of the methanol fraction showed that it contained four flavonoids which were identified as tiliroside, quercetin, quercitrin, kaempferol. These flavonoids may therefore be responsible in part for the anxiolytic effects of American basswood. In another study, researchers isolated four fatty acids and a triterpene that was identified as β-sitosterol from American basswood. These components were then shown to have anxiolytic and sedative effects in mice. Therefore flavonoids, fatty acids and triterpenes may all contribute towards the anxiolytic effects of American basswood.

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Herrera-Ruiz, M., Román-Ramos, R., Zamilpa, A., Tortoriello, J. and Jiménez-Ferrer, J. E. 2008. Flavonoids from Tilia americana with anxiolytic activity in plus-maze test. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 118(2): 312-317
Aguirre-Hernández, E., Rosas-Acevedo, H., Soto-Hernández, M., Martínez, A. L., Moreno, J. and González-Trujano, M. E. 2007. Bioactivity-guided isolation of β-sitosterol and some fatty acids as active compounds in the anxiolytic and sedative effects of Tilia americana var. mexicana. Planta Medica. 73(11): 1148-1155
Noguerón-Merino, M. C., Jiménez-Ferrer, E., Román-Ramos, R., Zamilpa, A., Tortoriello, J. and Herrera-Ruiz, M. 2015. Interactions of a standardized flavonoid fraction from Tilia americana with Serotoninergic drugs in elevated plus maze. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 164: 319-327
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