Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Antioxidants

Obsessive compulsive disorder is a form of anxiety. The aetiology of obsessive compulsive disorder is not fully understood, but it is clear that it shares similarities with that of anxiety. In fact, obsessive compulsive disorder may be anxiety, and the obsessive behaviour may simply be a coping mechanism some individuals use to overcome the main discomfort associated with anxiety. As with anxiety, evidence shows that free radicals accumulation, probably as a result of chronic or overwhelming stress, is the causative factor in the development of obsessive compulsive disorder. Studies have shown that oxidative stress, a condition that arises from excessive free radical generation, is found in patients with obsessive compulsive disorder. This may explain the benefits of antioxidants, and certain plant foods that are high in antioxidants, in the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder. Consuming a high quality diet that addresses the excess free radicals is a pivotal treatment strategy in treating this condition. . 

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Kuloglu, M., Atmaca, M., Tezcan, E., Gecici, Ö., Tunckol, H. and Ustundag, B. 2002. Antioxidant enzyme activities and malondialdehyde levels in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Neuropsychobiology. 46(1): 27-32
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What Is the Cause of Age-Related Greying of Hair?

Premature greying of the hair is the loss of pigment within hair follicles that occurs during normal ageing. Human hair contains black to brown eumelanin and reddish-brown pheomelanin pigments. The ratio of these pigments defines the colour of the hair. During aging, the pigmentary unit which is attached to the base of each hair follicle can become modified and there is a gradual loss of melanocytes, the cells that create the pigment. The genetics that control hair pigmentation are complex, but clearly there is a genetic element. However, there is also an environmental consideration, and this suggests that the loss of pigmentation in hair is due to gradual oxidative damage to the pigmentary unit. Both the hydroxylation of tyrosine and oxidation of dihydroxyphenylalanine to melanin, two steps in the process of pigment formation, produce hydrogen peroxide as a by product, and this may significantly increase the oxidative stress in the cell, causing damage, deterioration and a loss of pigmentation.  

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Kumar, A. B., Shamim, H. and Nagaraju, U. 2018. Premature graying of hair: review with updates. International Journal of Trichology. 10(5): 198-203
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Valerenic acid: Anxiolytic Phytochemical?

Valerenic acid is a phytochemical found in the root of the valerian plant (Valeriana officianalis). Valerian is a popular and traditional treatment for anxiety, and valerenic acid may be the phytochemical (or one of them) responsible for this. Experiments using animal models (rodents) have shown that administration of valerian root is able to reduce the anxious behaviour of animals exhibited after exposure to stress. However, evidence also shows that isolated valerenic acid has a similar effect. Therefore it may be that valerenic acid is the active component of valerian root that gives it its potentially anxiolytic effects. Valerenic acid is known to interact with the GABA system in a similar manner to benzodiazepine drugs, and it is known that benzodiazepines also have anxiolytic effects. Many people cannot bear the taste or smell of valerian root as it has a very distinctive and pungent smell. Taking isolated valerenic acid may therefore be a viable alternative for these individuals.  

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Murphy, K., Kubin, Z. J., Shepherd, J. N. and Ettinger, R. 2010. Valeriana officinalis root extracts have potent anxiolytic effects in laboratory rats. Phytomedicine. 17(8-9): 674-678
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Aralia continentalis for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Aralia continentalis is a flowering woody plant from the Araliaceae family of plants. The plant grows native to Korea where it is referred to as Dokwal. Extracts of the plant are used to relieve pain, and this may relate to the plant having a significant anti-inflammatory effect. The central nervous system effects of the plant are evidenced by its sedative effects. Post traumatic stress disorder is a form of anxiety that is initiated by stress and characterised by inflammation within the brain, and some of the effects of this include changes to levels of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a signal molecule required for correct neuronal function. Evidence suggests that Aralia continentalis can attenuate the inflammation caused by application of stress to laboratory animals, and also raise the level of brain derived neurotrophic factor. Further, Aralia continental can also reverse memory impairment resulting from the stress. This may suggest that Aralia continentalis is an effective treatment for post traumatic stress disorder.  

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Lee, B., Hong, R., Lim, P., Cho, D., Yeom, M., Lee, S., Kang, K. s., Lee, S. C., Shim, I., Lee, H. and Hahm, D. H. 2019. The ethanolic extract of Aralia continentalis ameliorates cognitive deficits via modifications of BDNF expression and anti-inflammatory effects in a rat model of post-traumatic stress disorder. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 19(1): 1-12
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Crocins from (Crocus sativus): Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Saffron contains some nutritionally interesting phytochemicals including crocins, picrocrocin and safranal. Both saffrinal (a monoterpene aldehyde) and picrocrocin (a glycoside of safranal) are degradation products of the carotenoid zeaxanthin (picrocrocin being an intermediate and saffron being an end product of degradation). Saffron is present in the essential oil of saffron and is responsible for its aroma, whereas picrocrocin is responsible for the taste of saffron. Crocins are glucosyl esters of crocetin, and are carotenoids that also contribute towards the distinctive yellow colour of the stigmas. Crocins have been evidenced to possess significant neurological effects in humans and animals and may confer protection from mood disorders. Experimentally increased grooming in rodents can be attenuated by administration of crocin suggesting it may protect from obsessive compulsive disorder. However, it is not fully understood if safranal and picrocrocin have anxiolytic effects like the crocins. 

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Georgiadou, G., Tarantilis, P. A. and Pitsikas, N. 2012. Effects of the active constituents of Crocus Sativus L., crocins, in an animal model of obsessive–compulsive disorder. Neuroscience Letters. 528: 27-30
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Why Are Herbs Useful in the Treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

A number of herbs have been shown to have beneficial effects against post traumatic stress disorder. One reason for this is that post traumatic stress disorder is associated with inflammation, and many herbs have anti-inflammatory effects. For example, one study showed that post traumatic stress disorder was associated with increased blood levels of the inflammatory compounds interleukin 6, interleukin 1β, TNFα, and interferon γ. Treatments that are beneficial to patients with post traumatic stress disorder are generally those that cause reductions in the levels of these inflammatory markers. Post traumatic stress disorder is associated with information because it is a form of anxiety with a common pathology. Stress causes the release of cortisol, and this activates inflammatory pathways which are a cause of oxidative stress. The hippocampus may be one area of the brain that is particularly affected. Herbs contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals that can limit this damage. 

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Passos, I. C., Vasconcelos-Moreno, M. P., Costa, L. G., Kunz, M., Brietzke, E., Quevedo, J., Salum, G., Magalhães, P., Kapczinsky, F. and Kauer-Sant’Anna, M. 2015. Inflammatory markers in post-traumatic stress disorder: a systematic review, meta-analysis, and meta-regression. The Lancet Psychiatry. 2(11):n 1002-1012
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Saffron (Crocus sativus) as a Treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Saffron is a herb most well known for its culinary uses. However, it is also known to have a number of medicinal properties. A large body of evidence suggests that saffron is useful in the treatment of mood disorders and stress-related ill health. This might make it particularly suitable for the treatment of post traumatic stress disorder, a form of anxiety. In particular, post traumatic stress disorder is a form of anxiety that involves fear conditioning. One study investigated the effects of a saffron extract on a model of post traumatic stress disorder in rats. Administration of saffron was significantly able to reduce the post traumatic stress disorder-type behaviour in the rats as well as attenuate detrimental changes to the brains of the animals. In particular, detrimental changes to the amygdala were attenuated by the saffron. Saffron may therefore provide significant protection from the development of post traumatic stress disorder, perhaps because of the antioxidants that it contains. 

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Hashtjini, M. M., Jahromi, G. P. and Meftahi, G. H. 2018. Aqueous extract of saffron administration along with amygdala deep brain stimulation promoted alleviation of symptoms in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in rats. Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine. 8(4): 358-369
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Saffron as a Treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Saffron (Crocus sativus) is a herb that is known to have mood elevating effects. One of the principle active ingredients that is thought to confer these effects is crocin. The mood elevating effects of crocin and saffron have been investigated in animals models of post traumatic stress disorder, a form of anxiety disorder. Rats were exposed to experimental stress in the form of electric shocks and then administered crocin or whole saffron extracts. The electric shocks caused the rats to undergo a reduction in the normal dopamine dependent activities they perform. In addition, levels of corticosterone, the main stress hormone in animals, increased significantly. However, the extracts of saffron and crocin were able to attenuate these changes. The authors concluded that saffron extracts and crocin were effective at reducing post traumatic stress type physiological changes in the rats, and this suggests that as has been shown in other studies, crocin and saffron have significant mood elevating effects. 

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Sahraei, H., Fatahi, Z., Eidi, A., Haeri-Rohani, A., Hooshmandi, Z., Shekarforoush, S. and Tavalaei, S. A. 2012. Inhibiting Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) induced by electric shock using ethanol extract of saffron in rats. Journal of Biological Research: 18, 320-327
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Morinda officinalis for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Mornida officinalis is a herb used in traditional Chinese medicine. The plant is classified as part of the Mordina group of plants, which are flowering plants belonging to the Rubiaceae (bedstraw) family. The plant is cultivated specifically for its medicinal effects and it is used widely in nutritional supplements for the treatment of various conditions including stress. The herb is known to have effects on the central nervous system and may have mood elevating effects. In one study researchers administered Mornida officinalis to rats who were evaluated in the single prolonged stress model. This model was designed as a way of assessing post traumatic stress disorder. The results of the study showed that Mornida officinalis extract was significantly effective at reducing the anxious behaviour in the rats, and was able to cause favourable changes in the hippocampus and amygdala of the animals. These results suggest that Mornida officinalis it may be a useful treatment for post traumatic stress disorder. 

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Qiu, Z. K., Liu, C. H., Gao, Z. W., He, J. L., Liu, X., Wei, Q. L. and Chen, J. S. 2016. The inulin-type oligosaccharides extract from morinda officinalis, a traditional Chinese herb, ameliorated behavioral deficits in an animal model of post-traumatic stress disorder. Metabolic brain disease. 31(5): 1143-1149
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Elettaria cardamomum For Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Elettaria cardamomum is a herbaceous plant that is part of the ginger (Zingiberaceae) family of plants. Common names for Elettaria cardamomum include green cardamom and true cardamon. The plant is grown as a crop in many parts of Asia where the seeds are used in cuisine. Evidence suggests that Elettaria cardamomum seeds may have medicinal effects and may be a useful treatment for mood disorders. For example, in one study researchers investigated the effects of Elettaria cardamomum seed extract on an animal model of post traumatic stress disorder, a rare form of anxiety. The results of the study showed that the Elettaria cardamomum seed extracts were significantly effective at reducing the anxiety-like behaviour in the rats, and that these effects were more pronounced at the 400 mg/kg dose, compared to the 200 and 800 mg/kg dose. Therefore Elettaria cardamomum may have significant anxiolytic effects and these effects may depend on the dose administered. As Elettaria cardamomum is a food, it is considered safe. 

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Masoumi-Ardakani, Y., Mahmoudvand, H., Mirzaei, A., Esmaeilpour, K., Ghazvini, H., Khalifeh, S. and Sepehri, G. 2017. The effect of Elettaria cardamomum extract on anxiety-like behavior in a rat model of post-traumatic stress disorder. Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy. 87: 489-495
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