Shallots and Garlic As A Treatment for Mood Disorders

weight lossAnxiety and depression are debilitating mental disorders that affect a great number of individuals. Because of the widespread prevalence of mood disorders many choose to use herbal treatments or foods to help treat their disorder. This strategy makes sense because a large proportions of allopathic medical treatments are in turn derived from plant extracts or derivatives of these extracts. Vegetables of the Allium (garlic) family appear to have particular mood elevating effects. In this regard shallots (Allium ascalonicum) have been investigated for their ability to improve the mood of mammals. For example, in one study, researcher investigated the effects of aerial parts of shallot plants (also called spring onions) on the mood of mice. Mice were administered either diazepam or shallot extracts and the animals were then exposed to experimental stress to induce mood changes. The results of the study showed that the shallot extracts significantly reduced the symptoms of anxiety experienced by the animals.

garlic shallots anxiety depression

Allium vegetables contain a large number of phytochemicals that may explain their mood elevating properties. However it is not clear which phytochemicals are responsible for these effects. Analysis of the aerial parts of shallots showed that they contain alkaloids, tannins, glycosides, anthraquinones, phlobatannins and flavonoids. Both garlic and onions possess similar phytochemical profiles to other allium vegetables, including shallots.

As might be expected for a food, the administration of shallots to the mice orally produced no notable toxicity symptoms. Interestingly the shallot extracts showed similar effects to diazepam in a number of the experimental tests. As diazepam is the treatment of choice for  anxiety problems, this suggests that shallots may be a useful alternative to this and similar drugs in the benzodiazepine class. However, other allium vegetables also seem to possess mood elevating effects and this may relates to the fact that the phytochemicals in allium vegetables are similar. For example, in one study, researchers investigated the effects of oral garlic (Allium Sativum) extracts on the mood of mice exposed to experimental stress. After 14 days of consuming garlic extracts the mice experienced significantly less depressive behaviour indicating the extracts may have had an antidepressant effect. Evidence suggests that the extracts inhibited the monoamine oxidase enzymes, thus raising levels of brain monoamine neurotransmitters.

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Akindele, A. J., Sanni, H. A. and Edeh, P. C. 2012. Anxiolytic activity of aerial part hydroethanolic extract of Allium ascalonicum Linn.(Liliaceae) in mice. Functional Foods in Health and Disease. 2(11): 448-459
Dhingra, D. and Kumar, V. 2008. Evidences for the involvement of monoaminergic and GABAergic systems in antidepressant-like activity of garlic extract in mice. Indian Journal of Pharmacology. 40(4): 175
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Carvone and the Central Nervous System

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Bacopa Monnieri: Traditional Indian Mental Tonic

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Aniba riparia: South American Happy Herb?

weight lossAniba is a genus of flowering plant that belongs to the Lauraceae family. This plant group contains about 40 species and grows in the lowlands and semi-mountainous regions of South America. Aniba riparia is one species of this group that may have particular central nervous system activity. In this regard its unripe fruits contains a number of chemicals including methyl esters of tyramine, and these chemicals have been shown to cause smooth muscle relaxation due to inhibition of calcium ion influx. These effects cause a relaxation of smooth muscle and give the unripe fruit a spasmolytic effect. However, studies have also shown that the esters of tyramine in Aniba riparia may have mood elevating effects. For example, in one study researcher administered esters of tyramine isolated from Aniba riparia to mice and exposed them to experimental stress. The results of this study showed that the extracts of Aniba riparia conferred significant antidepressant and anxiolytic effects on the mice.

aniba riparia

Aged cheeses, meats and fish contain tyramine. But some plants also contain tyramine. Aniba riparia is one plant that is known to contain methyl esters of tyramine, and these may have central nervous system effects. In particular, methyl esters of tyramine may cause the relaxation of smooth muscle tissue and may also alter cell membrane permeability.

A similar study also investigated the effects of esters of tyramine extracted from Aniba riparia on the mood of mice. In this second study, there was also a significant anxiolytic effect for the extracts, supporting the previous study’s results. However, one interesting of these two studies was that oral administration of the Aniba riparia extract appeared to show greater effects that intraperitoneal injections of the same extract. This may be due to experimental differences, but it does provide evidence that oral administration may be as effective as directly injecting the compound into the blood. This suggests that the active ingredient in the extracts that are causing the effects, are bioavailable are are absorbed, at least in mice. Also studies have shown that intraperitoneal injections may be more toxic compared with oral administration. The overall pharmacological effects of Aniba riparia appears to be through changes to ion channels which in turn change the properties of the cell membranes and the nervous system activity.

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Sousa, F. C. F., Melo, C. T. V., Monteiro, A. P., Lima, V. T. M., Gutierrez, S. J. C., Pereira, B. A., Barbosa-Filho, J. M., Vasconcelos, S. M. M. and Viana, G. S. B. 2004. Antianxiety and antidepressant effects of riparin III from Aniba riparia (Nees) Mez (Lauraceae) in mice. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. 78(1): 27-33
de Melo, C. T. V., Monteiro, A. P., Leite, C. P., de Araújo, F. L. O., Lima, V. T. M., Barbosa-Filho, J. M.,  de Franca Fontales, de Vasconcelos, S. M. M., de Barros, Viana, G. S. and M. M., de Sousa, F. C. F. 2006. Anxiolytic-like effects of (O-methyl)-N-2, 6-dihydroxybenzoyl-tyramine (riparin III) from Aniba riparia (Nees) Mez (Lauraceae) in mice. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 29(3): 451-454
Castelo-Branco, U. V., Castelo-Branco, U. J. V., Thomas, G., De Araújo, C. C. and Barbosa-Filho, J. M. 2000. Preliminary Pharmacological Studies on three Benzoyl Amides, constituents of Aniba riparia (Nees) Mez (Lauraceae). Acta Farmaceutica Bonaerense. 19(3): 197-202
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Onion (Allium cepa): Anxiolytic Food?

weight lossOnion (Allium cepa) is rich in phytochemicals, particularly the flavonoid quercetin. Quercetin has been shown to interact with the GABAA receptor, and this may explain the anxiolytic effects of quercetin demonstrated in studies, as the GABAA receptors is known to be responsible in part for the control of anxiety. A number of studies have investigated the effects of onion extracts on anxiety. For example, in one study, researchers administered an methanolic extract of onion to mice and exposed them to experimental stress. Oral administration of the onion extract significantly reduced the anxious behaviour displayed by the mice, suggesting that onion extracts may confer anxiolytic properties on animals. In addition, there was a significant reduction in the negative effects of electroshock and drug induced convulsions, suggesting that the onion extract had anti-convulsant effects. As quercetin has been previously been shown to possess anxiolytic effects, there is the possibility that the quercetin in the onion favourably affects neurochemistry.

onions anxiety depression

Plants contain a large number of phytochemicals that appear to cause significant improvements in mental health. Of these the flavonoids appear to be particularly useful in treating anxiety. Onions are a rich source of the flavonoid quercetin. Red onions also contain another group of flavonoids that belong to the anthocyanin subcategory, and which give red onions their colour.

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Pitchaiah, G., Anusha, V. L., Hemalatha, C. H., Kumar, A. and Sravani, K. 2015. Anxiolytic and anticonvulsant activity of methanolic extract of allium cepa Linn (Onion) bulbs in Swiss albino mice. Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry. 4(3): 131-135
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Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium): Antidepressant Herb?

weight lossWormwood (Artemisia absinthium) is an aromatic perennial herb which grows natively in parts of North America, Eurasia and North Africa. The plant grows to about 1 meter in height with straight stems, which possess branches containing silvery green leaves. Wormwood has been used historically in traditional medicine, particularly in the Middle East. It is thought that some of its medicinal properties stem from its high concentration of antioxidant phytochemicals. In this regard the herb is used for its antihelminthic, antimicrobial, antifungal, choleretic, diuretic, digestive, and antiseptic properties. Researchers have also investigated the mood elevating properties of wormwood. In this regard, extracts of the flowering stage of the aerial parts of the plant were administered to mice and the mice were then exposed to experimental stress. The results of the study showed that the wormwood extracts conferred significant antidepressant effects on the mice and a dose dependent activity was present.

Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) depression anxiety

Wormwood contains high amounts of antioxidants including flavonoids. This may explain the antidepressant effects of the herb. In addition the terpenes in the essential oil may also contribute to the antidepressant effects.

The effectiveness of wormwood extracts to reduce depressive behaviour in animals is comparable to that of the antidepressant drug imipramine. It is not clear how wormwood confers its antidepressant activity, but this may relate to the high levels of antioxidant phytochemicals in the plant. Wormwood extracts have been shown to possess high levels of total phenolics and total flavonoids, and this may produce significant antioxidant effects that could either directly alter neurochemistry, or indirectly protect neurones from oxidative stress and damage. A high antioxidant potential has also been reported for extracts of wormwood essential oils. The major phytochemical components of wormwood essential oil are terpenes, and over 100 of these have been identified. It appears that the exact chemical composition of the oils varies depending on the geographical location of the plant, and this likely reflect growing conditions and genetic variation between different plants.

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Mahmoudi, M., Ebrahimzadeh, M. A., Ansaroudi, F., Nabavi, S. F. and Nabavi, S. M. 2009. Antidepressant and antioxidant activities of Artemisia absinthium L. at flowering stage. African Journal of Biotechnology: 8(24): 7170-7175
Juteau, F., Jerkovic, I., Masotti, V., Milos, M., Mastelic, J., Bessiere, J. M. and Viano, J. 2003. Composition and antimicrobial activity of the essential oil of Artemisia absinthium from Croatia and France. Planta Medica. 69(02): 158-161
Orav, A., Raal, A., Arak, E., Müürisepp, M. and Kailas, T. 2006. Composition of the essential oil of Artemisia absinthium L. of different geographical origin. Proc. Estonian Academy of Science and Chemistry. 55(3): 155-165
Canadanovic‐Brunet, J. M., Djilas, S. M., Cetkovic, G. S. and Tumbas, V. T. 2005. Free‐radical scavenging activity of wormwood (Artemisia absinthium L) extracts. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture. 85(2): 265-272
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Is Onion (Allium cepa) and Effective Antidepressant?

weight lossPlants high in antioxidants tend to be effective at treating mood disorders. One reason for this is that plants with high levels of antioxidants tend to contain flavonoids, and flavonoids have been shown to favourably alter brain chemistry. The beneficial effects of flavonoids may derive from their ability to interact with the GABA receptor and a general antioxidant effect that reduces neuronal inflammation. Onion is a vegetable that is consumed worldwide and which is a staple food in many countries. Onion contains an interesting phytochemical profile that includes a range of sulphurous compounds and very high concentrations of the flavonoid quercetin. Quercetin has been shown to interact with the GABAA receptor, and may have mood elevating effects. This has lead to suggestion that onion may be a useful food in the treatment of mood disorders. In this regard, researchers have investigated the effects of onion extracts on the mood of animals in animal models of depression.

onion allium cepa depression anxiety

Onions are high in antioxidants, particularly the flavonoid quercetin. Quercetin has been shown to confer mood elevating effects perhaps because it interacts with the GABA receptor, and perhaps due to a general antioxidant effect that modulates detrimental neurochemical changes.

For example, in one study, researchers investigated the antidepressant effects of onion extracts on rats exposed to experimental stress. The rats were administered powdered onion extracts for 2 weeks and then subject to a forced swimming test. The powdered onion extracts cause significant reduction in the depressive symptoms experienced by the rats as measured by a reduction in the time spent immobile. The exposure to stress increased dopamine turnover in the brain of the rats, but administration of onion significantly reduced this turnover of dopamine. Onion may therefore have antidepressant effects on animals. Onion extracts have also been shown to protect neuronal cells from oxidative stress through changes to cellular signalling system. This suggests that onion extracts may possess general protective effects against neuronal damage through the support of endogenous antioxidant systems. Taken as a whole these results show that onion extract may have mood elevating effects and could be effective in the treatment of depression.  

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Sakakibara, H., Yoshino, S., Kawai, Y. and Terao, J. 2008. Antidepressant-like effect of onion (Allium cepa L.) powder in a rat behavioral model of depression. Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry. 72(1): 94-100
Lee, B. K. and Jung, Y. S. 2016. Allium cepa Extract and Quercetin Protect Neuronal Cells from Oxidative Stress via PKC-Inactivation/ERK1/2 Activation. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. Article ID 2495624, 9 pages
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Albizia lebbeck: Anti-Anxiety Herb

Evidence shows that Albizia julibrissin (mimosa) is an effective treatment for mood disorders. However, other species of Albizia may also possess mood elevating properties. For example, evidence suggests that Albizia lebbeck is also able to confer mood elevating properties on those who consume it. One group of researchers investigated the mood elevating effects of Albizia lebbeck by administering leaf extracts to mice. The mice were then exposed to experimental stress. The results of the study showed that animals receiving the Albizia lebbeck leaf extracts displayed significantly less anxious behaviour compared to control animals. The researchers then assessed the possible neurochemical effects of the Albizia leaf extracts and determined that the extract was likely having an effect on the GABA neurotransmitter system in the brains of the mice, possibly because of the presence of saponins in the leaf extracts. There was also no evidence of sedation in the animals at the doses of extracts they were administered.

albizia anxiety depression

A certain degree of variance in phytochemical constituents between the different Albizia species has been reported. For example, levels of saponins, terpenes, alkaloids and flavonoids may differ between the different Albizia species. In this regard Albizia Julibrissin may have slightly different neurochemical effects compared to Albizia lebbeck due to variation in the phytochemicals present in the tissues. The leaves of Albizia lebbeck have been shown to be rich in the flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol, which may explain the ability of leaf extracts to interact with GABA receptors, and may explain the high antioxidant potential of such extracts. Bark extract of Albizia lebbeck have also been shown to contain three saponins named albiziasaponins A, B and C.

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Une, H. D., Sarveiya, V. P., Pal, S. C., Kasture, V. S. and Kasture, S. B. 2001. Nootropic and anxiolytic activity of saponins of Albizzia lebbeck leaves. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. 69(3-4): 439-444
Kokila, K., Priyadharshini, S. D. and Sujatha, V. 2013. Phytopharmacological properties of Albizia species: a review. International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science. 5(5): 70-73
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White Sapote (Casimiroa edulis)

white sapote anxiety depression

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Berberine: A Plant With Healing Properties

berberine anxiety depression

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