Archive for the ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ category

L-Theanine – Natural Anxiety Reducer and Mood Enhancer

February 8, 2010

Stress and anxiety have become standard in our daily existence. Chronic stress and anxiety can lower your immune system, diminish your quality of life and even lead to depression. Mental health problems have grown to an epidemic level. Most people know at least one person who takes medication to relieve anxiety. But, along with the benefits of prescription drugs comes a long list of potentially unpleasant, even dangerous, side effects.

Xanax was once considered the best drug for anti-anxiety, but it’s side effects include fatigue, tiredness, coordination and memory problems, irritability, and increased appetite. Valium, Klonopin, and Ativan are also commonly prescribed anti-anxiety drugs, long term use of these medications called benzodiazepines, can lead to psychological and physical dependence, and like all medications, have the potential to damage the liver with extended use.

As more people search for safe, effective alternatives to prescription anti-anxiety drugs, herbs like Kava Kava, Chamomile and Valerian Root come to light. Although many herbs are effective to calm nerves, they’re not all without risk. Kava Kava with extended use and if combined with certain medications or alcohol can cause serious liver damage, and while herbal teas offer a safe and pleasant way to ease mild anxiety, they still contain active ingredients that may be contraindicated with certain medications.

Green tea offers numerous health benefits, it’s added to supplements, foods, and beverages. Green tea contains a rich source of polyphenols known as catechins, potent antioxidants that may help prevent cancer, retard atherosclerosis, improve mood, and inhibit the growth of bacteria and other pathogens.

Green tea also has another naturally occurring compound that is just as benificial, the amino acid L-theanine.

L-theanine‘s Benefits Include, but are not limited to:

  • Produces a calming effect
  • Protects and restores the brain
  • Stimulates the immune system, and even makes cancer chemotherapy more effective with fewer side effects.
  • Induces deep states of relaxation without sedation
  • Relieves some PMS and menopausal symptoms
  • Increases mental clarity, focus, attention span and improves learning
  • Relieves nicotine addiction
  • Prevents jitters caused by caffeine
  • Promotes sleep

 

L-theanine has several advantages over prescription medications and herbs that contain side effects. It helps calm you without causing drowsiness. It keeps you mentally alert without feeling jittery, and although research to date has been limited, L-theanine has few if any side effects.

L-theanine stimulates the production of alpha brain waves, creating a state of deep relaxation and mental alertness similar to what is achieved through meditation. L-theanine is involved in the formation of the inhibitory neurotransmitter, gamma amino butyric acid (GABA). GABA influences the levels of two other neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin, producing the key relaxation effect.”

Most green teas sold in America contain less than 10mg of L-theanine per serving, the recommended dose is between 50-200mg per day. Most people don’t drink enough green tea to feel the beneficial effects of L-theanine and would benefit from L-Theanine supplementation. Although the maximum safe dosage hasn’t been determined, as with every supplement, start with the lowest amount reccomended and gradually increase as needed. In doses of more than 400mg, some people do experience sedation effects.

Even though there are little known side effects to L-theanine, it may be due to the fact that only a few clinical studies have been conducted. Talk to your doctor before trying L-theanine If you have kidney or liver disease, other chronic or serious health conditions, allergies, allergies to food, dyes or preservatives, and as with all supplements, be sure to tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding before taking L-theanine.

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Vitamin D & its’ AFFECTS on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

December 21, 2009

Can lack of vitamin D can contribute to seasonal affective disorder (sad)?

Less sun light during winter months can dampen your mood and affect the vitamin D levels in your body. So one may think there is a link between the “sunshine” vitamin and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Scientfic studies have addressed the issue, but the results have all been inconclusive. In 1993 study performed in Boston found no benefit for vitamin D supplements over a placebo. Yet a small study performed in 1999 on patients with seasonal affective disorder, found that large doses of vitamin D were more effective than the standard light therapy. Other multiple studies have also linked low vitamin D levels to mood disorders in the elderly.

Scientists have found that specialized cells in the retina respond to long-term light exposure and communicate directly with the brain, this may be the reason light affects our mood. Vitamin D is produced in the skin in response to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Light boxes used in studies related to treatment of seasonal affective disorder do not produce the same UV rays as the sun. Patients must sit under a light for 45 minutes a day in order to consume the daily amunt of vitamin d needed. It is much more convenient to take a pill, but scientist also recommend getting outdoors during the winter as often as possible.

People should not underestimate the potential of vitamin D supplements. Studies have linked the vitamin to prevention of colon and breast cancers, osteoporosis, heart disease, and multiple sclerosis, taking 1000 or 2000 IU per day as a supplement could benefit your health on many levels.