Natural cures for depression validated

Scent leaf Depression is fast becoming as common as malaria in Nigeria. Unfortunately, most of the estimated 60 million people with the mental health disorder do not know they have the condition and some are living in denial- “I cannot be ‘mad’. God forbid.”

Depression is a common mental disorder, characterized by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that you normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for at least two weeks.

In addition, people with depression normally have several of the following: a loss of energy; a change in appetite; sleeping more or less; anxiety; reduced concentration; indecisiveness; restlessness; feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or hopelessness; and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

Depression is treatable, with talking therapies or antidepressant medication or a combination of these.

Unfortunately, some antidepressants come with unpleasant side effects including suicidal tendencies.

However, scientists have validated some natural therapies to effectively treat the mental disorder.

Top on the list is regular exercise. Others are lettuce, scent leaf/holy basil (Ocimum gratissimum/nchuanwu in Ibo, Effirin in Yoruba), green tea leaves (Camelia sinensis), bitter leaf (Vernonia amygdalina), coffee and Ganoderma mushroom.

Exercise does beat depression
Scientists have found some concrete evidence that exercising a little bit every day does reduce depression symptoms and boost overall mood.

For years, studies have found a connection between working out and lower depression risk – we all know exercise releases endorphins and endorphins make you happy.

But until now, there was no evidence to show a causal relationship when it came to depression – whether physical activity really did affect the condition, or simply that people with depression exercised less.

Now, a team of investigators has used a novel research method to strongly support physical activity as a preventive measure for depression. While many studies have found associations between greater levels of physical activity and lower rates of depression, a key question has remained — does physical activity actually reduce the risk of depression or does depression lead to reduced physical activity? Now a team led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), United States (US), investigators has used a novel research method to strongly support physical activity as a preventive measure for depression.

Their report is being published online in JAMA Psychiatry.
“Using genetic data, we found evidence that higher levels of physical activity may causally reduce risk for depression,” says Karmel Choi, PhD, of the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit in the MGH Center for Genomic Medicine, lead author of the report. “Knowing whether an associated factor actually causes an outcome is important, because we want to invest in preventive strategies that really work.”

The technique used in the study — Mendelian randomization — uses gene variants to study the effects of a non-genetic factor in a different approach from that of traditional research. The gene variants are studied as a type of natural experiment in which people show higher or lower average levels of a factor like physical activity that are related to gene variants they have inherited. Because genetic variants are inherited in a relatively random fashion, they can serve as less biased proxies to estimate the true relationship between physical activity and depression. This approach can also determine which of two traits is actually causative — if levels of trait A affects the levels of trait B but levels of trait B do not affect levels of trait A, that implies that trait A leads to trait B, but not vice versa.

For this study, the researchers identified gene variants from the results of large-scale genome-wide association studies (GWAS) that were conducted for physical activity in the U.K. Biobank and for depression by a global research consortium. GWAS results for physical activity were available for two different measures: one based on 377,000 participants’ self-reports of physical activity and the other based on readings of motion-detecting sensors called accelerometers, worn on the wrists of more than 91,000 participants. The GWAS for depression was based on data from more than 143,000 participants with and without this condition.

The results of the Mendelian randomization study indicated that accelerometer-based physical activity, but not self-reported activity, does appear to protect against the risk of depression. The differences between the two methods of measuring physical activity could result not only from inaccuracies in participants’ memories or desire to present themselves in a positive way but also from the fact that objective readings capture things other than planned exercise — walking to work, climbing the stairs, mowing the lawn — that participants may not recognize as physical activity. The analysis revealed no causal relationship in the other direction, between depression and physical activity.

“On average,” Choi says, “doing more physical activity appears to protect against developing depression. Any activity appears to be better than none; our rough calculations suggest that replacing sitting with 15 minutes of a heart-pumping activity like running, or with an hour of moderately vigorous activity, is enough to produce the average increase in accelerometer data that was linked to a lower depression risk.”
Lettuce ‘cure’ for depression, stroke, thromboembolism

Can eating meals rich in lettuce provide relief from anxiety, depression, chronic pain, sleeplessness, indigestion, lack of appetite, blood clots, heart attack, stroke and thromboembolism?

Botanically called Lactuca sativa, lettuce, a leafy vegetable, belongs to the Asteraceae family. Lettuce has been traditionally used for relieving pain, inflammation, insomnia, anxiety, neurosis, dry coughs, rheumatic pain, stomach problems including indigestion and lack of appetite. Moreover, the therapeutic significance of lettuce includes its anticonvulsant, sedative-hypnotic and antioxidant properties. EXERCISE DOES BEAT DEPRESSION. Photo credit: Select Respiratory Services However, a recent study has validated lettuce for the treatment of anxiety, depression, chronic pains, sleeplessness, indigestion, lack of appetite, blood clots, heart attack, stroke and thromboembolism.

Thromboembolism is the formation in a blood vessel of a clot (thrombus) that breaks loose and is carried by the blood stream to plug another vessel.

The study published in BMC Complement Alternative Medicine is titled “Evaluation of analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant and anti-coagulant properties of Lactuca sativa (CV. Grand Rapids) plant tissues and cell suspension in rats.”

The researchers concluded: “The present experimental findings of different extracts suggest that Lactuca sativa is a broad spectrum pharmaceutical crop conforming significant analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant and anti-coagulant properties that has potential to replace synthetic drugs.

“More interestingly, cell suspension exudate showed prominent results in all the assays which is the main point of interest because valuable secondary metabolites and economically important substances can be produced in bulk from plant cell suspensions in simple, cost-effective and reproducible way. However, advance study is needed to explore the precise mechanism of action the active components.”

Several studies have shown that the function of the anticoagulant drugs is to inhibit blood clotting, which is the major cause of heart attacks and strokes. Anticoagulant drugs can be used with a number of diseases when there is a high risk of blood clots. The researchers said that since anti-coagulants are used for the cardiac problems, instead of relying on blood thinners, physicians could shift to herbal medicine. It has been reported that antioxidants can counteract the haematological and blood coagulation disturbances, oxidative stress, and hepatorenal (liver and kidney) damages.

The researchers added: “Anticoagulants play an essential role as mediators for the treatment and prevention of thromboembolic disorders. Due to their pharmacological possessions, plants can serve as the sources for the investigation of new compounds with anticoagulant properties. There is convincing scientific indications representing that the use of phytochemicals with anticoagulant effects and dietary anticoagulants can eventually eliminate or reduce the risks of thromboembolic diseases.

“Here we report the L. sativa a herbal drug for its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant and anti-coagulant activities of the seeds and leaf extracts along with the cell suspension exudate. We obtained very interesting and promising results which elucidate the importance of lettuce as a traditional medicine.”

The current findings showed that aqueous and methanol and chloroform; 1:1 (MC) extracts of seed have the least immobility time in the forced swimming test, which could act as an anti-depressant on the central nervous system. The leaf extracts and cell suspension exudate also expressed moderate anti-depressant activities. In anticoagulant assay, the coagulation time of aspirin (positive control) and MC extract of leaf was comparable, suggesting strong anti-coagulant effect. Additionally, no abnormal behaviour or lethality was observed in any animal tested.

“Conversely, if a condition such as an inflammation of the paw, serves to decrease the response latency, it is said to induce hyperalgesia. Inflammation is a condition involving confined increase in the amount of leukocytes and various complex mediator molecules. The most common screening method of acute inflammation has been the prevention of edema in rats by induction of carrageenan. It is believed that the COX (cyclooxygenase) enzyme involved in inflammation can be inhibited by NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to reduce the edema. But NSAIDs have some side effects like renal and gastric toxicity. Medicinal plants are believed to be cost-effective and harmless source of novel biochemical constituents with strong therapeutic properties.”

Hyperalgesia is an increased sensitivity to pain, which may be caused by damage to nociceptors or peripheral nerves. Also, researchers have also successfully used lettuce […]

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