Triterpenoid Saponins in Pulsatilla Plants

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Pulsatilla Plants

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Ginkgo Biloba: Sleep and Mood

Extracts of ginkgo biloba are widely available as tablets. Research shows that standardised extracts of ginkgo biloba are effective at increasing blood flow to the brain, and this provides a cognitive benefit. The ability of ginkgo biloba to alter brain function also makes the supplement a useful treatment for mood disorders and sleep disorders. For example, in one study researcher administered 120 mg per day of the standardised ginkgo biloba LI 1370 to a group of elderly subjects (age 68-69 years) for four months. The results of the study showed that the supplements of ginkgo biloba were effective at significantly improving the ease with which the subject could manage their daily activities, and this was accompanied by an improvement in mood and an improvement in sleep. Therefore extracts of ginkgo biloba show a wide range of benefits to mental health, and these effects have been shown to be particularly apparent in the elderly. The safety of ginkgo biloba is excellent as reported in many studies.

ginkgo biloba anxiety depression mood

Ginkgo biloba contains flavonoids and terpenes that may explain its beneficial effects. The flavonoids in ginkgo biloba may scavenge the free radicals which are thought to play a role in the neuronal changes that cause mood disorders. Terpenes have been shown to antagonise platelet activating factor which may be a causative factor in the development of inflammation in the brain.

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Cockle, S. M., Kimber, S. and Hindmarch, I. 2000. The effects of Ginkgo biloba extract (LI 1370) supplementation on activities of daily living in free living older volunteers: a questionnaire survey. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental. 15(4): 227-235
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Inflammation, Oxidative stress and Mood Disorders

The biochemical changes that occur to cause depression and anxiety are of interest to researchers because an understanding of these factors can allow treatments to be found. It is known that mood disorders such as anxiety and depression are triggered by exposure to environmental stress that results in the release of the stress hormones cortisol in humans and corticosterone in animals. Cortisol and corticosterone can trigger inflammatory pathways within the brain that results in the generation if free radicals, and chronic exposure to stress results in the development of considerable amounts of inflammation and oxidative stress in the tissues of the brain. This oxidative stress causes damage to tissues and this can lead to disruption of normal neurotransmission mainly within the hippocampus. It is this disruption that ultimately leads to the symptoms of depression or anxiety, depending on the genetic predisposition of the individual, the type of stress they are exposed to and the nature of the disruption.

antioxidants mood depression anxiety

If inflammation and oxidative stress are a cause of mood disorders, you may expect anti-inflammatories and antioxidants to be beneficial in the treatment of anxiety and depression. Extensive amounts of research shows that this is indeed the case, and that a plant based diet high in natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients are particularly beneficial at treating both anxiety and depression.

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Patki, G., Solanki, N., Atrooz, F., Allam, F. and Salim, S. 2013. Depression, anxiety-like behavior and memory impairment are associated with increased oxidative stress and inflammation in a rat model of social stress. Brain Research. 1539: 73-86
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Lettuce as an Anxiety Treatment

Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is a plant belonging to the compositae family of plants. Lettuce possesses a number of medicinal properties and that may relate to the phytochemicals it contains. Lettuce is an important source of nutrients and is perhaps best known for its high content of vitamin K. However other phytochemicals within the tissues of lettuce include flavonoids and polyphenols which may act as antioxidants. Isolation of specific compounds has revealed that lettuce also contains 15-oxalyl and 8-sulfate conjugates of guaianolide sesquiterpene lactones, lactucin, deoxylactucin, and lactucopicrin. The central nervous system effects of lettuce include a sedative and anticonvulsant action, and there may also be anxiolytic effects associated with the phytochemicals in lettuce. For example in one study, researchers administered lettuce extracts to rats via injection, and this was significantly effective at reducing the anxious behaviour of the rats. Lettuce extracts may therefore have particular anti-anxiety effects.

lettuce anxiety

Extracts of lettuce are anti-inflammatory in nature and this may explain their health benefits.

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Komaki, A., Nasab, Z. K., Shahidi, S., Sarihi, A., Salehi, I. and Ghaderi, A. 2014. Anxiolytic Effects of Acute Injection of Hydro-Alcoholic Extract of Lettuce in the Elevated Plus-Maze Task in Rats. Avicenna Journal of Neuropsychophysiology. 1(1): e18695
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Lettuce Seeds as a Sleep Aid and Anxiety Treatment

Garden lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is a member of the Compositae family, and is a popular food that is consumed all year round. Commonly the leaves of the plant are eaten in salads, but traditional medicine uses the seeds of the plant for the treatment of a variety of disorders. Studies suggest that lettuce seeds have a dose-dependent analgesic effect and a dose-dependent anti-inflammatory effect. Lettuce seeds are also thought to be useful as a treatment for sleep and mood disorders, and studies have investigated the effects of consuming lettuce seeds on subjects with or without anxiety. The results of the study showed that those subjects receiving lettuce seeds had significantly improved sleep compared to other subjects consuming a placebo. In addition the lettuce seeds were significantly effective at reducing the anxiety of the subjects. No side effects were reported by the authors of the study, suggesting that lettuce seeds are an effective and safe treatment for anxiety and sleep problems.

lettuce seeds anxiety sleep

Lettuce seeds have an anti-inflammatory effect. As mood disorders are caused by brain inflammation, this may explain the beneficial effects of lettuce seeds on anxiety. Reducing anxiety may then improve sleep, and this could explain, at least in part, the sleep enhancing effects of lettuce seeds.

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Yakoot, M. and Fawal, K. 2011. Pilot study of the efficacy and safety of lettuce seed oil in patients with sleep disorders. International Journal of General Medicine. 4: 451-456
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Tualang Honey as an Anxiety Treatment

Tualang honey is a pure honey from Malaysia. The honey is made from a wide range of plants by Asian rock bees (Apis dorsata). In the process of creating their honey, the bees build a large honeycomb on branches of the very tall Tualang trees (Koompassia excelsa) in the rain forest of Northern Peninsular Malaysia. Evidence suggests that Tualang honey has a very high antioxidant capacity, and has been compared to Gelam honey, Indian forest honey, and Pineapple honey and found to be superior. Honey is known to reduce oxidative stress in humans and animals, and this relates to the phytochemical antioxidants it contains. As mood disorders such as anxiety and depression are caused by oxidative stress, it might be expected that honey is beneficial at treating these disorders. In fact, evidence suggests that Tualang honey modulates anxiety-like behavior in animals. Studies show that the mechanism by which honey is protective may relate to the antioxidant activity it confers on the consumer.

honey mood anxiety depression

Tualang honey has a very high antioxidant capacity compared to other honey, and this has been shown to relate to the high levels of phenolic phytochemicals in the honey. This high level of phenolic compounds may explain the health benefits attributed to the honey, and may explain its beneficial effects on mood.

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Al-Rahbi, B., Zakaria, R. and Othman, Z. 2014. Protective Effects of Tualang Honey against Oxidative Stress and Anxiety-Like Behaviour in Stressed Ovariectomized Rats. International Scholarly Research Notices. Volume 2014, Article ID 521065
Kishore, R. K., Halim, A. S., Syazana, M. N. and Sirajudeen, K. N. S. 2011. Tualang honey has higher phenolic content and greater radical scavenging activity compared with other honey sources. Nutrition Research. 31(4): 322-325
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Portulaca oleracea

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Gamma-Linolenic Acid In Spirulina

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Superoxide Dismutase As a Marker of Mood

Superoxide dismutase is an enzyme that acts as an antioxidant in cells. Superoxide dismutase is present in humans in two forms. One form uses manganese as a cofactor and one form uses copper and zinc as cofactors. The superoxide dismutase enzymes play a key role in neutralising the superoxide radical, and thus protect the cells from free radical damage. Evidence suggests that elevated blood levels of the zinc and copper form of superoxide dismutase may occur in individuals with anxiety, and this could be used as a marker to identify the disorder. Oxidative stress is known to be elevated in individuals with mood disorders, largely because free radicals are generated as a by-product of inflammation, and inflammation in a primary cause of the brain changes that lead to anxiety and depression. This suggests that individuals suffering from anxiety may have elevated levels of superoxide dismutase in their blood in response to increased levels of oxidative stress, as a result of the pathogenesis of their disorder.

antioxidants mood anxiety depression

As superoxide dismutase may be involved in the body’s reaction to mood disorders, optimal intakes of zinc and copper should be maintained to optimise enzyme function. Evidence suggests that some dietary polyphenols have both anxiolytic and antioxidant effects, and this also makes them beneficial to ­anxious subjects. A diet high in polyphenol antioxidants and essential minerals is therefore a good strategy to treat anxiety related disorders.

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Russo, A. J. 2010. Increased Serum Cu/Zn Superoxide dismutase in individuals with anxiety. Proteomics Insights. 3: PRI-S5180
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