Does Chewing Gum Relieve Anxiety?

Chewing is a necessary part of tooth health. Evidence from animals suggests that poor oral health, including tooth loss, is associated with declines in mental faculties. Evidence also suggests that in animals, biting during stress reduced the release of the catecholamine stress hormones during restraint. In animals at least, chewing and biting my have anti-stress and pro-cognitive effects. The effects of chewing on anxiety levels in humans has been investigated. In one study, researchers asked human volunteers to chew gum twice a day for at least 5 minutes, over fourteen days. The results of the study showed that the subjects chewing gum had significant reductions in anxiety and fatigue, and significant improvements in mood compared to a control group who consumed a mint flavoured paste with a similar taste to the gum. Therefore the act of chewing may confer anxiolytic effects in humans. One suggestion is that the anxiolytic effect is provided by an anti-stress effect of chewing, as has been evidence in animals previously.

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The ingredients of the gum used in this study were maltitol, syrup, calcium casein peptone-calcium phosphate, gum base, xylitol, aspartame, L-phenylalanine, acesulfame potassium, natural and artificial flavouring, gelatin, gum arabic, mannitol, candelilla wax, and soy lecithin. The ingredients of the mint paste used as a control were lemon juice powder, parsley seed oil, sorbitol, aspartame, L-phenylalanine, acesulfame potassium, flavouring, silicon dioxide fine powder, sucrose ester, gardenia yellow and green tea extract.

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Sasaki-Otomaru, A., Sakuma, Y., Mochizuki, Y., Ishida, S., Kanoya, Y. and Sato, C. 2011. Effect of regular gum chewing on levels of anxiety, mood, and fatigue in healthy young adults. Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health: CP & EMH, 7, 133
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The Anti-Anxiety Effects of Thymol

Thymol (2-isopropyl-5-methylphenol) is naturally occurring phenolic monoterpene. The compound is synthesised by plants from cymene. Thymol is found in a number of commonly eaten garden plants including Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) and Thymus sp. (thyme). Thymol is thought to have therapeutic effects because it can alter brain chemistry. In this regard the effects of thymol have been investigated in animals in order to determine its anti-anxiety effects. For example, in one study, researcher administered thymol to mice at various concentrations and then exposed the mice to various forms of stress designed to cause anxious behaviour. The results of the study showed that thymol, at the highest (20 mg per kg body weight) concentration, was significantly effective at reducing the anxious behaviour in the mice. However lower concentrations were not effective in this regard. Therefore thymol shows promise as a therapeutic agent to treat anxiety.

thymol anxiety depression

Thymol may have multiple biological activities that include antibacterial, antifungal, anti-oxidant, free radical scavenging and anti-lipid peroxidative effects. Taking advantage of these effects is straightforward as thymol is present in a wide range of different plants, within the essential oils. Origanum vulgare (origano), Thymus vulgaris (common thyme), Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary), and Citrus limon (lemon) all contain thymol.

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Bhandari, S. S. and Kabra, M. P. 2014. To evaluate anti-anxiety activity of thymol. Journal of Acute Disease. 3(2): 136-140
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Rosemary Extract as an Anxiolytic Agent

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a medicinal plant often used as a herb in cooking. Rosemary belongs to the mint or Lamiaceae family of plants. Evidence suggests that extracts of rosemary may have particular effects on the central nervous system, and this may make them useful in the treatment of mood disorders such as anxiety. In one study, researchers investigated the effects of rosemary extracts on the anxious behaviour exhibited by rats. The rats received intraperitoneal injections of various doses of rosemary extracts, and were then exposed to experimental stress in the form of manipulation intended to make them anxious. The results of the study showed that the rosemary extract caused a significant reduction in the anxious behaviour in the rats compared to the control rats who received no rosemary. This effect was observed to be in a dose dependent manner. The effects of the rosemary extract was similar to the effects seen for the anti-anxiety drug diazepam.

rosemary anxiety depression mood

The volatile oil in rosemary may contain phytochemicals that are able to alter brain chemistry, and this may be how it reduces anxiety in humans and animals.

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Noori Ahmad Abadi, M., Mortazavi, M., Kalani, N., Marzouni, H. Z., Kooti, W. and Ali-Akbari, S. 2016. Effect of hydroalcoholic extract of Rosmarinus officinalis L. leaf on anxiety in mice. Journal of Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 21(4): NP85-NP90
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Cow’s Milk and Nutrition

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Boron and Testosterone

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Can Glucosamine Sulphate Be Used As An Antidepressant?

Mood disorders including anxiety and depression are likely initiated by stress. The stress causes the release of cortisol, and the cortisol then causes cellular changes including the activation of inflammatory pathways. These pathways have a physiological function, and are required to combat infection or injury. However, if the stress is chronic or severe, inflammation associated with the large amounts of cortisol can have a number of detrimental effects including damage to brain tissue. Compounds with anti-inflammatory effects may be beneficial at treating mood disorders because they limit ior totally prevent this damage to brain tissue. Evidence suggests that glucosamine sulphate is an anti-inflammatory but it is unclear if it is beneficial against anxiety and depression. Taking glucosamine sulphate could potentially reduce mood disorders, or may provide protection from the detrimental effects of chronic stress. 

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Humulus lupulus: Bitter Acids, Inflammation and Mood

Humulus lupulus is a plant that produces some nutritionally interesting phytochemicals. These phytochemicals are named hops acids, and they are a group of bitter acids that are bioavailable in humans and animals. Studies have reported a wide range of effects from the hops acids including mood elevating, anticancer, anti inflammatory and detoxification activity. The ability of hops acids to affect inflammation is interesting as it may explain their potential mood elevating effects. Inflammation is one of the processes that is activated during the development of anxiety and depression. This results from the secondary pathways that are activated by the stress hormone cortisol, which can be released during times of perceived stress. Anti-inflammatory compounds can inhibit this inflammatory process and in doing so may limit the cellular changes and detrimental effects to neurones in the brain. Some of the effects of inflammation include modification to the normal neurotransmitter levels in certain parts of the brain. 

Lupulin is a compound secreted by the female hops plants as a yellow resinous powders. Hops bitter acids may make up to 30 % of the total lupulin content, making then medicinally important parts of the hops plant. The bitter acids comprise α-acids (humulones) and β-acids (lupulones). The compounds n-humulone, cohumulone and adhumulone are the main constituents of α-acids, representing 35-70 %, 20-65 %, and 10-15 % of the total levels, respectively. The main constituents of β-acids are lupulone and colupulone, which equally make up around 20-55 % of the total β-acids. Adlupulone makes up around 10-15 % of β-acids. Hops acids may effectively inhibit the cyclooxygenase enzymes involved in initiating inflammatory pathways. As well as their anti-inflammatory effects, β-acids may also affect the GABA system in the central nervous system. A combination of 250 mg of the herb valerian with 60 mg of hops has been shown to be significantly beneficial in inducing sleep in a number of studies. 

hops mood anxiety depression

As well as hops bitter acids, hops contains a number of polyphenols such as xanthohumol and 8-prenylnaringenin. Polyphenols have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, and these polyphenols may therefore contribute to the anti-inflammatory effects shown by hops. Tannins are also present in the hops plant, and may also have anti-inflammatory effects. The polyphenol and tannin content of lupulin may be between 3 and 6 %. Lupulin also contains a volatile oil, of which around 90 % comprises of terpenoids such as β-myrcene (30-50 %), humulene (15-25 %), β-caryophyllene, and farnesene. Terpenoids may also possess anti-inflammatory effects. Hop leaves also contain a number of phenolic acids, condensed tannins, and flavonoid glycosides.

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Van Cleemput, M., Cattoor, K., De Bosscher, K., Haegeman, G., De Keukeleire, D. and Heyerick, A. 2009. Hop (Humulus lupulus)-derived bitter acids as multipotent bioactive compounds. Journal of Natural Products. 72(6): 1220-1230
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Chlorella as a Source of Lutein

Chlorella species is a group of freshwater microalgae that photosynthesise in a similar way to plants. Like plants chlorella produce a number of phytochemicals that are accessory pigments to photosynthetic chlorophyll, including the carotenoid lutein. Lutein is the most abundant carotenoid in nature and evidence suggests that chlorella supplements may be able to supply significant amounts of lutein to the consumer. In one study, researchers investigated the bioavailability of lutein from chlorella in order to determine if the chlorella was bioavailable. Human subjects consumed 3 or 6 grams of chlorella in the form of tablets. After 1 day of this regimen, there was a significant 34 % increase in blood levels of lutein for the 3 gram dose, and a significant 66 % increase in blood levels of lutein after the 6 gram dose. Therefore chlorella is a rich source of bioavailable lutein and this may explain some of the antioxidant capacity of chlorella. This antioxidant capacity may contribute to the health effects of chlorella supplements.

chorella anxiety depression

Carotenoids such as lu6ein are absorbed from the small intestine in fat droplets because carotenoids are lipid soluble. Therefore calculating the carotenoid content of foods is not enough to determine bioavailability. Other factors, such as the amount of lipids in the foods, can modify carotenoid absorption, and so the measure of bioavailability of carotenoids from food should always occur through measurements of the blood following ingestion. Two grams of chlorella may supply as much as 6 to 10 mg of lutein, and most of this can be absorbed if consumed with enough dietary fat.

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Shibata, S. and Hayakawa, K. 2009. Bioavailability of lutein in Chlorella powder: A single ingestion of Chlorella powder raises serum lutein concentrations in healthy human volunteers. Food Science and Technology Research. 15(4): 449-452
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Is Chlorella A Good Source of GABA?

Chlorella is a freshwater algae that is a rich source of many nutrients., These nutrients give chlorella particular health effects. Animals and plants have the ability to synthesise GABA, an amino acid that is used in animals as an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. In some cases the GABA content of foods can be increased through manufacturing techniques and this high GABA food may be beneficial to the health because it can alter normal physiological parameters such as blood pressure. In the case of chlorella, growth of the algae in high glutamic acid media allows the algae to produce high amounts of GABA, as glutamic acid is the precursor to GABA. Studies show that administration of such high GABA chlorella to human subjects is significantly effective at reducing high blood pressure. These results suggest that algae like chlorella can be used as a vehicle for GABA and that when consumed there are tangible and measurable changes to the physiology of the subject.

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Shimada, M., Hasegawa, T., Nishimura, C., Kan, H., Kanno, T., Nakamura, T. and Matsubayashi, T. 2009. Anti-hypertensive effect of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-rich Chlorella on high-normal blood pressure and borderline hypertension in placebo-controlled double blind study. Clinical and Experimental Hypertension. 31(4): 342-354
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Controlling Inflammation is the Key to Mood Improvements

The cause of depressed mood is considered to be stress. External stressors are able to cause changes to the delicate tissues of the brain that include the development of inflammation. This inflammation then leads to oxidative stress via the generation of free radicals, and this causes detrimental changes to brain chemistry. Targeting inflammation is therefore a major route to treating mood disorders therapeutically. The benefits of reducing inflammation in the treatment of mood has been investigated in spinal cord injury patients with depression. The subjects received either 12 weeks of an anti-inflammatory diet, or 12 weeks of a control diet, and during this period their mood and their levels of inflammation measured. The results of the study showed that the anti-inflammatory diet was significantly effective at reducing inflammation in the subjects and this was accompanied by improvements in mood and improvements in the levels of neuroactive compounds relating to serotonin synthesis in the blood.

inflammation mood anxiety depression

The anti-inflammatory diet eaten by the subjects in this study was designed to remove foods that might be a cause of inflammation. Food removed from the diet included high glycemic index starch, refined wheat products and refined sugars, commonly intolerant foods such as cow’s milk, as well as foods which may negatively influence cardiovascular health such as hydrogenated vegetable oils. The subjects in the study also consumed supplements including omega-3 softgels (containing 500 mg EPA and 250 mg DHA, at a dosage of three per day), 6000 mg chlorella per day, an antioxidant (containing 100 mg coenzyme Q10, 200 mg n-acetylcysteine, 150 mg mixed tocopherols, 100 mg alpha lipoic acid, 60 mg green tea extract, 5.5 mg zinc, and 100 μg selenium, at a dosage of two per day), and 400 mg curcumin (at a dosage of three per day). Subjects also took a scoop of vegetable-based protein powder each morning.

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Allison, D. J. and Ditor, D. S. 2015. Targeting inflammation to influence mood following spinal cord injury: a randomized clinical trial. Journal of Neuroinflammation. 12: 204
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