Remedies for the Winter Blues
Natural Remedies… for the “Winter Blues”
By Michelle Tonkin ND, CNC, MH, MI, MR
It’s that time of year where winter is upon us. Freezing temperatures, snow, ice and inclement
weather draw us into the comfort of our homes, and the “indoors”. The days are shorter and the
daylight less. This lack of light can affect our body’s chemistry in negative ways resulting
in symptoms of depression, anxiety, irritability, lethargy, and fatigue. We can also experience
decreased energy and activity levels, lowered sex drive, avoidance of social activities, concentration difficulties, heightened sadness, and interpersonal difficulties. This common seasonal disorder is called
SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD is estimated to affect 25 million Americans on an annual basis.*
How do I know if I have SAD?
Consistent recurring symptoms during times of light deprivation (October through February in the Northern Hemisphere, or April through August in the Southern Hemisphere) is usually a key to determining if you are experiencing SAD. Similar symptoms may also be experienced by those who have been deprived of light for a prolonged period. An environment where there is consistently little or absence of natural light, ie. geographical locations in certain seasons, night employment, or
social isolation, also contributes to SAD. It is important to note that SAD symptoms may also mimic other health conditions such as chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, andhypothroidism.* If your symptoms do not improve, it may be wise to seek professional medical advice.
Are there any Natural Remedies I can take?
The following is a list of nutritional supplements/vitamins that have been helpful in SAD.
Amino Acid Complex
Amino Acids are commonly known as the “building blocks” of life. They areessentially proteins. These proteins are a necessary part of every living cell and next to water, makes up the greatest portion of our body weight. There are approximately twenty-eight known amino acids. The liver produces about 80% of the amino acids needed by the body. The remaining twenty percent must be obtained from diet/supplementation. These are called essential amino acids. A lack of vital protein in the body can cause a host of problems from indigestion to depression to stunted growth. Many factors play a part in amino acid deficiencies: impaired absorption, infection, trauma, stress, drug use, and age, to name a few. A diet containing enormous amount of protein is not the solution either, as the protein detoxification process puts high demands on both the kidneys and liver. Hence, moderate amounts of dietary protein, along with a high quality amino acid complex is essential to overall health.*
B Vitamins play an essential role as they help maintain healthy nerves, skin, eyes, hair, liver, mouth, muscle tone in the gastrointestinal tract and proper brain function. They are also helpful in treating nervous disorders and alleviating symptoms of depression. It is difficult to absorb these vitamins from diet alone making supplementation a necessity. A sublingual form of B
Complex works best because it is highly absorbable. *
Bowel Cleansers are great for clearing the body of toxins. Irritability, fatigue, depression, aches, allergies, and the like are just a few health problems that can be alleviated or helped by detoxifying the body. There are a number of Bowel Cleansers on the market today, most consist of herbs, senna, aloeand psyllium. For most people, a magnesium peroxide based product or Oxy Cleanse is recommended as it is gentle, non-addictive, and non-habit forming. This cleanse releases oxygen that actually breaks down old fecal matter and debris and gently eliminates it from the system. It is also good for constipation, toxemia, candidiasis, and bowel health in general.*
Cod Liver Oil
Cod Liver Oil is rich in Omega 3 essential fatty acids. These acids are wonderful for the health of the brain and nervous system. CLO is also rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that has properties of both a vitamin and hormone. This vitamin is also important in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. Normally Vitamin D is synthesized
by the body through the skin’s exposure to sunlight. Therefore supplementation during times of light deprivation is essential. *
“Green Drinks” are natural food formulas made from various plants and vegetables. They are excellent detoxifiers and are rich in minerals, enzymes, vitaminsand other important nutrients. They are often used in place of multivitamin/mineral complexes,as they are “nature’s” multi. They are generally sold in powder or liquid form. *
Light Therapy is generally very effective in treating SAD and is usually done by a licensed health care professional. The therapy consists of the administration of 2,500 – 10,000 units of light for a period of 30 minutes to 2 hours. This type offull spectrum fluorescent lighting is the healthiest indoor lighting available as it mimics the sun’s distribution of light. The key to its
effectiveness is its brightness. Therapeutic doses are 10-20 times brighter than that of typical indoor lighting. There have been no known serious or lasting adverse effects. Over-exposure symptoms of increased tension and insomnia are rare and go
away within a few hours of decreased exposure.*
A good diet is essential to everyone’s health. Inparticular those suffering from SAD will benefit greatly from adding whole foods to their diet. Typically a person suffering from SAD will crave excess carbohydrates and sugar. This craving comes from the body’s response to low serotonin levels. Certain foods such as simple carbohydrates and sugar, help to raise serotonin levels. However, these simple sugars only keep the serotonin levels raised for a period of 1-2 hours and have a disastrous effect on glucose levels. As a result of increased carbohydrate and sugar consumption, the body stores the excess as fat which is one of the major factors in winter weight gain. On the other hand, complex carbohydrates are beneficial as they raise the body’s production ofserotonin, while keeping blood sugar levels more stable. A healthy diet for most people is 75% alkalizing foods and 25% acidic.