Amaranthus spinosus: Antidepressant Herb

Amaranthus spinosus, commonly called spiny amaranth, spiny pigweed or thorny amaranth, is a plant that belongs to the Amaranthaceae family. The plant grows native to the tropics and is considered a weed. However, the plant is consumed as a food and is thought to have medicinal effects, which may include effects on the central nervous system. For example, in one study, extracts of Amaranthus spinosus were administered to rats and then the rats were subjected to experimental stress. The results of the study showed that the Amaranthus spinosus extracts were significantly able to attenuate the depressive-like effects of the stress. Phytochemical analysis of Amaranthus spinosus revealed the presence of flavonoids, saponins, glycosides, terpenoids, amino acids, alkaloids, carbohydrates, phenolic compounds and proteins. No toxic effects were noted by the researchers on the animals. Therefore Amaranthus spinosus appears to be rich in phytochemical nutrients that may explain its mood elevating effects. 

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Kumar, B. A., Lakshman, K., Velmurugan, C., Sridhar, S. M. and Gopisetty, S. 2014. Antidepressant activity of methanolic extract of Amaranthus spinosus. Basic and Clinical Neuroscience. 5(1): 11
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Antioxidants: Associated with Lower Anxiety Scores

Inflammation in the brain is associated with the development of mood disorders. This occurs because inflammation can cause damage to tissues via the generation of free radicals. A number of studies have shown that control of these free radicals, either through reductions in the cause of inflammation or through direct quenching of the free radicals is pivotal to the treatment of mood disorders such as anxiety and depression. Using food frequency questionnaires, studies have shown that total dietary antioxidant intake is inversely associated with depression. Further, those with the highest intake of antioxidants have a significantly lower risk of developing anxiety compared to those with the lowest intake of antioxidants. Total antioxidant intake is also associated with sleep, and those whose diets contain more antioxidants report significantly better sleep patterns compared to those with antioxidant poor diets. Eating high in antioxidants may therefore be protective of anxiety and depression. 

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Daneshzad, E., Keshavarz, S. A., Qorbani, M., Larijani, B. and Azadbakht, L. 2020. Dietary total antioxidant capacity and its association with sleep, stress, anxiety, and depression score: A cross-sectional study among diabetic women. Clinical Nutrition ESPEN. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.clnesp.2020.03.002
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Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) for Sleep and Well Being

Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that is used in Indian traditional medicine for its mood elevating effects. The herb has been extensively evidenced to attenuate the stress response, and in doing so alleviates the symptoms associated with stress, including insomnia and anxiety. In one study ashwagandha was administered to elderly subjects between the ages of 65 and 80 for 12 weeks at a dose of 600 mg per day. The subjects were then questioned about their mental alertness, sleep quality and well being. The results showed that ther ashwagandha extracts were significantly able to improve the wellbeing of the subjects. In addition, the subjects also reported improved mental alertness upon rising and improved sleep quality. Therefore ashwagandha appears to have significant positive effects on the quality of life of elderly subjects and may be effective as a treatment for mood disorders and insomnia. The authors also noted that the ashwagandha extracts were safe and had excellent tolerability. 

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Kelgane, S. B., Salve, J., Sampara, P. and Debnath, K. 2020. Efficacy and Tolerability of Ashwagandha Root Extract in the Elderly for Improvement of General Well-being and Sleep: A Prospective, Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study. Cureus: 12(2)
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Passionflower as a Sleep Aid

Mood disorder can cause insomnia, because they change the way the brain functions. In particular, neurones in the hippocampus become dysfunctional, and this has a whole range of knock on effects that include an inability to sleep normally. The disturbed sleep seen with anxiety and depression can be seriously debilitating and can reduce the quality of life for the sufferer. Therefore safe and effective traditional treatments for sleep disorders can be a useful way to treat some of the effects of mood disorders. Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is one traditional herbal remedy that may be effective at treating mood disorders. For example, in one study researchers administered passion flower extract or a placebo to insomnia sufferers for 2 weeks and then questioned them about their quality of sleep. The passion flower extract was significantly able to improve the quality of sleep in the subject, when compared to the placebo. This supports other evidence that passion flower extracts are effective insomnia remedies.  

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Lee, J., Jung, H. Y., Lee, S. I., Choi, J. H. and Kim, S. G. 2020. Effects of Passiflora incarnata Linnaeus on polysomnographic sleep parameters in subjects with insomnia disorder: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled study. International clinical psychopharmacology. 35(1): 29-35
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Silver as a Bactericidal Agent

A number of metals have been shown to have useful health effects. Silver is one metal that has some interesting health properties. In one role, silver appears to be an effective agent at killing bacteria. In particular, colloidal silver has been shown to have a number of effects against bacteria. Studies investigating the effects of nanoparticle silver on bacteria have shown that a suspension of nanoparticle silver is able to inactivate a number of bacteria that have become resistant to other drugs. The mechanism by which this happens has been suggested to be via a bactericidal (kills the bacteria) rather than a bacteriostatic (stops the bacteria reproducing) action. It is thought that silver particles may inhibit cell wall synthesis in bacteria, and thus leave the bacteria open to damage from environmental conditions. Use of topical nanoparticles of silver are increasingly being researched for their ability to inhibit bacterial growth, suggesting that silver may offer an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs as effective bacterial control agents.  

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Lara, H. H., Ayala-Núñez, N. V., Turrent, L. D. C. I. and Padilla, C. R. 2010. Bactericidal effect of silver nanoparticles against multidrug-resistant bacteria. World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology. 26(4): 615-621
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Beetroot as a Source of Nitrates

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Walnuts as a Source of Alpha Linolenic Acid

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Erythrina variegata: Antidepressant

Erythrina variegata is a plant that belongs to the Fabaceae or legume family. Erythrina variegata is a deciduous tree that is commonly referred to as tiger’s claw or the Indian coral tree. The plant is native to parts of Asia including India and China, and is also found in Africa and Australia. Erythrina variegata is known to possess central nervous system effects including anti-convulsant effects, and this may suggest that it is able to interact with the GABA system in the brain. As GABA is involved in mood, this may suggest that Erythrina variegata is able to modulate mood. Researchers have investigated the mood elevating effects of Erythrina variegata on laboratory animals. In one study, researchers administered bark extracts of Erythrina variegata to mice and then exposed the mice to stress. The results showed that the bark extracts of Erythrina variegata were significantly able to reduce the depressive-like activity in the mice, and were also able to inhibit monoamine oxidase A and B activity, in a similar way to antidepressant drugs.   

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Martins, J. and Brijesh, S. 2020. Antidepressant activity of Erythrina variegata bark extract and regulation of monoamine oxidase activities in mice. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 248: 112280

 

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Sphaerococcus coronopifolius: Antidepressant 

Sphaerococcus coronopifolius is a red algae that may have health effects when consumed. In particular, Sphaerococcus coronopifolius may have significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. These effects may make Sphaerococcus coronopifolius an effective mood elevating treatment. For example, in one study researchers administered Sphaerococcus coronopifolius extracts to laboratory rats as an injection for 14 days. The rats were then exposed to experimental stress designed to cause the rats to have depressive-like symptoms. The results of the study showed that the Sphaerococcus coronopifolius has significant mood elevating and antidepressant effects in the rats. The authors suggested that the effects of Sphaerococcus coronopifolius were likely conferred through the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of the algae. As mood disorders are thought to involve significant inflammatory damage, the anti-inflammatory effects of the algae may have directly reduced the cause of the depression. 

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Fellah, F., Djenidi, R. and Chebout, I. 2020. Protective Effect of Sphaerococcus coronopifolius Crude Extract in Combination with Bacillus Calmette-Guerin on Ligature-Induced Depression in Female Wistar Rats. Psychiatry Investigation. 17(2): 130
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Poria cocos: Medicinal Mood Mushroom

Poria cocos is a mushroom belonging to the Polyporaceae family. In Chinese medicine the mushroom is known as Fu ling. Evidence suggests that Poria cocos has significant medicinal effects that may result from its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions. Poria cocos is found in formulations that are used to treat mood disorders, suggesting that it may have mood elevating effects. In one study researchers investigated the mood elevating effects of Poria cocos in rats. The rats were administered Poria cocos extracts for 5 weeks and then exposed to experimental stress in the form of a forced swim test. The results of the study showed that the depressive-like symptoms that can often accompany forced swimming in rats were ameliorated by the mushroom extract. The authors also noticed a significant reduction in the inflammatory response in the prefrontal cortex of the rats. The beneficial mood elevating effects of Poria cocos may therefore originate from its anti-inflammatory effects. 

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Huang, Y. J., Hsu, N. Y., Lu, K. H., Lin, Y. E., Lin, S. H., Lu, Y. S. Liu, W., Chen, M. and Sheen, L. Y. 2020. Poria cocos water extract ameliorates the behavioral deficits induced by unpredictable chronic mild stress in rats by down-regulating inflammation. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2020.112566
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