Dog Rose (Rosa canina) And Depression

The dog rose is a climbing plant found in Europe, Africa and Asia, with pale pink or white flowers. The plant is known to possess medicinal effects because of the phytochemicals it contains, and is particularly high in antioxidants, including vitamin C. This may explain some of the medicinal effects of the plant. The plant produces red berries that are called rose hips and these are often used to make vitamin C supplements. Evidence suggests that dog rose may have mood elevating properties, which is not surprising because it contains high amounts of antioxidants. For example, in mice, administration of extracts of dog rose significantly reduced the depressive-like behaviour, suggesting that the plant may have antidepressant effects. Whilst dog rose can be taken as a medicinal plant, it is also considered a food, and the berries are used to make a number of foods and drinks which are consumed in many parts of the world. Eating vitamin C rich rose hip extract is therefore a good way to improve health. 

The characteristic pink flowers of the dog rose.

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Nikfarjam, M., Bahmani, M. and Heidari-Soureshjani, S. 2016. Phytotherapy for depression: A review of the most important medicinal plants of flora of Iran effective on depression. Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences. 9(3): 1242-1247
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Vegetable Proteins: Caveat Emptor

Vegetables protein powders have become popular in recent times. A large number of protein powders made from oats, peas and other vegetables have been formulated and marketed. Generally these are useful to the vegetarian or vegan as they provide a useful source of protein that can be used to supplement the diet. This may be particularly relevant where the consumer does not want to consume proteins of animal origin. However, care must be taken when purchasing and using vegetable proteins as many are based on, or contain, soy protein. Soy protein can be damaging to the health because soy contains phytoestrogens that may cause hormonal imbalance, particularly in men. In addition, soy often contains enzyme inhibitors and some evidence suggests these may disrupt thyroid function. Generally using a vegetable protein that does not contain soy is recommended. Soy products should only be consumed in their traditional fermented state, as with the preparations misu or tofu, for example. 

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Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum graecum) As An Antidepressant

A number of amino acids are known to help regulate neurotransmitter function. Some of these such as l-tyrosine and l-tryptophan can be direct precursors to neurotransmitters, whilst other amino acids such as GABA and l-glutamate act as neurotransmitters themselves. Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum graecum) is a source of the amino acid 4-hydroxyisoleucine, an amino acid that may play a role in regulating mood in animals and humans. 4-hydroxyisoleucine is structurally similar to the branched chain amino acids, but is only found in fenugreek seeds. It is known that isoleucine and leucine, two of the branched chain amino acids synthesised by mammals, are able to regulate serotonin synthesis, and therefore may play a role in mood. Levels of both isoleucine and leucine drop significantly during depression. In mice, 4-hydroxyisoleucine has been shown to enhance serotonin turnover when the mice are exposed to experimental stress, and to provide concomitant antidepressant effects. 

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The structure of 4-hydroxyisoleucine.

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Gaur, V., Bodhankar, S. L., Mohan, V. and Thakurdesai, P. 2012. Antidepressant-like effect of 4-hydroxyisoleucine from Trigonella foenum graecum L. seeds in mice. Biomedicine and Aging Pathology. 3(2): 121-125
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Anxiety Part 1: What Is It?

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Black Chokeberry for Anxiety

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Fenugreek Seed Extract and Anxiety

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) may have a number of medicinal effects on account of the phytochemicals it contains. One of the phytochemicals contained in the seeds of the fenugreek plant is 4-hydroxyisoleucine, an amino acid. Evidence suggests that 4-hydroxyisoleucine plays a role in depression. The content of 4-hydroxyisoleucine in fenugreek seeds may therefore contribute to the apparent mood elevating effects of the seeds. Studies have investigated the effects of 4-hydroxyisoleucine on the depressive symptoms of rats. In one study, rats were administered 4-hydroxyisoleucine  or the antidepressant drug fluoxetine for 14 days and then exposed to experimental stress designed to cause depressive-like symptoms. The results of the study showed that 4-hydroxyisoleucine showed dose dependent antidepressant effects in the rats and had a neuroprotective effect in the brain. While the 4-hydroxyisoleucine was able to suppress release of the stress hormone corticosterone, fluoxetine did not have this effect. 

It is unclear why fenugreek seeds are able to have antidepressant effects, but it may relate to the ability of the amino acid 4-hydroxyisoleucine to lower stress hormone levels. Stress is a significant factor in the development of depression. Image from: By Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thoméderivative work: Ninjatacoshell (talk) – Illustration_Trigonella_foenum-graecum0.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7632015.

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Kalshetti, P. B., Alluri, R., Mohan, V. and Thakurdesai, P. A. 2015. Effects of 4-hydroxyisoleucine from fenugreek seeds on depression-like behavior in socially isolated olfactory bulbectomized rats. Pharmacognosy Magazine. 11(Suppl 3): S388
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Lepidium meyenii (Maca): Herbal Antidepressant?

Lepidium meyenii (maca) is a herbal plant that grows at high altitudes in parts of South America. Thirteen varieties of maca have been described based on the colour of their hypocotyls. Evidence suggests that maca is able to alter physiological function in animals and humans in a positive way. One property of maca that has been noted in studies is its antidepressant effect. A number of studies have used animal models to assess the antidepressant effects of maca. For example, in one study, researchers administered yellow, red and black maca to experimental mice for 21 days, and then exposed to mice to stress that was designed to cause depressive behaviour. The results of the study showed that all three varieties of maca were significantly effective at preventing depressive behaviour in the mice. Interestingly, only the balck maca was able to improve the learning of the mice, suggesting that differences exist between the varieties of maca, perhaps because of phytochemical variation.  

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Rubio, J., Caldas, M., Dávila, S., Gasco, M. and Gonzales, G. F. 2006. Effect of three different cultivars of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on learning and depression in ovariectomized mice. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 6: 23
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Maca (Lepidium meyenii) and Its Effect on Mood

Lepidium meyenii is commonly called maca. It grows in the high altitude regions of Peru and Bolivia, where it is harvested for its various medicinal effects. Maca is renowned for its effect on fertility and reproduction, and is considered by some as an aphrodisiac. However, there is evidence that maca may also have beneficial effects on mood, and may reduce anxiety and depression. For exasmple, in one study, researchers gave 3.3 grams per day of Maca for 6 weeks to a group of postmenopausal Chinese women. The results of the study showed that after 6 weeks, hormonal levels remained relatively unchanged, but there was a significant reduction in the blood pressure of the women, and also in the severity of their self reported depression. This study supports other studies that suggest that maca possesses mood elevating effects. Maca contains a number of phytochemicals that may be responsible for the effects including β-sitosterol, alkaloids, isothiocyanates and glucosinolates. 

Maca (Lepidium meyenii) anxiety mood depression

Maca contains the glucosinolate indoly-3-methyl (glucobrassicin). Indoly-3-methyl has been shown to modulate the androgen receptor in animals. This occurs when the compound is enzymatically hydrolyzed to 3,3-diindolylmethane (DIM), as this metabolite is known to be an antagonist of the androgen receptor. Image is of maca plants. Image from: By Vahe Martirosyan – https://www.flickr.com/photos/vahemart/29354035645/in/photolist-Lq4Xq7-KUBFMH-KUBDQM-KUqMKC-KUBBVV-LJv7uH-LyoM5o-KLS6Bs-LHV7yn-LHV77R-LAYZik-LHV6gc-LHV5tk, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54408048.

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Stojanovska, L., Law, C., Lai, B., Chung, T., Nelson, K., Day, S., Apostolopoulos, V. and Haines, C. 2015. Maca reduces blood pressure and depression, in a pilot study in postmenopausal women. Climacteric: the Journal of the International Menopause Society. 18(1): 69
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Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) As An Anxiolytic Herb

Fenugreek is a plant that is used in Traditional medicine for its beneficial therapeutic effects. It is also used in cuisine for its nutritional properties. The plant is part of the Fabaceae (legume) family and is characterised by small ovate to oblong leaves. Evidence suggests that fenugreek may have mood elevating properties on account of the phytochemicals the plant contains. In particular, the seeds are rich in phytochemicals that are known to be responsible for anxiolytic effects in other plants. Animals exposed to experimental stress have been shown to demonstrate behavioural adaptations that indicate a decrease in anxious behaviour when fed fenugreek seed extract for 15 days. However, this reduction in anxious behaviour was not accompanied by any sedation, although a mild muscle relaxing effect was observed. Fenugreek seeds therefore appear to possess anxiolytic effects in animals. However, it is not known which of the phytochemicals within the seeds are responsible for this effect. 

fenugreek anxiety depression mood

Fenugreek seeds contain a large number of phytochemicals that may possess biological activity in humans and animals. These include saponins, β-carotene, alkaloids (trigonelline, gentianine, carpaine) and flavonoids. The seeds are also nutritionally rich, containing protein, starch, natural fiber, gum, lipids, vitamins (thiamine, choline) and minerals (Ca, P, Mg, Fe, Zn and Mn).

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Assad, T. and Khan, R. A. 2017. Effect of methanol extract of Trigonella foenum-graecum L. seeds on anxiety, sedation and motor coordination. Metabolic Brain Disease. 32(2): 343-349
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Poisonous Plants of The United Kingdom

Plants contain phytochemicals, many of which play an important role in the growth and development of the host plant. Many phytochemicals are beneficial to the health, and some examples of these include flavonoids, alkaloids, terpenoids, saponins, sterols and carotenoids. Eating a high plant diet has been shown to cause significant health improvements. However, plants can also produce phytochemicals that have detrimental health effects, and this often makes part or all of the plant poisonous. Poisonous plants are often poisonous because they contain alkaloids that interfere with cellular metabolism. For example, the foxglove plant (Digitalis purpurea) contains the alkaloid digitalis that can have toxic effects in humans and animals.  Hemlock (Conium maculatum) contains the poisonous alkaloid coniine. Laurel contains cyanolipids, and upon chewing these can form cyanide and benzaldehyde, both of which are poisonous. Therefore care must always be taken when collecting and consuming wild plants. 

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