The following blog post, “The Cure For Mental Illness?”, is also a mini-book (click here to download it from Amazon for free), undoubtedly one of the most important books I will ever write. On the off chance that somebody finds this blog post who wouldn’t have found the book on Amazon, I’m posting it here, in its entirety – including with the link to this very post at the end.
You have my permission to copy this entire post into a text document, then upload it to your reading device. Or attach the text file to an e-mail and send it to everyone on your e-mail list, provided you link back to this post in the e-mail.
Of course I encourage you to share this post on every single online social network you belong to.
If you are a blogger, you have my permission to copy this entire post and publish it to your own blog, as long as you do two things. First of all, publish the post in its entirety. Second of all, begin the post with the following blurb:
“This blog post first appeared on author Emily Josephine’s blog, https://emilyjosephinewrites.com. While the text is copyrighted under her name, she has given full permission for other bloggers to publish it to their own blogs. Please be sure to read the disclaimer. Neither I nor the original author accepts any liability as a result of you taking action on anything you read in the following post.”
All that said, on with the contents of the book.
The Cure For Mental Illness?
How To Naturally Heal Yourself Of Depression, Anxiety, And Other Mental Disorders
by Emily Josephine
Original copyright 2018 by Emily Josephine. Second edition copyright 2019. All rights reserved. HOWEVER…the content of this book is so important that I give you permission to share it however you can, to whomever you can. I only ask that you give me, Emily Josephine, credit when you do so.
DISCLAIMER: The contents of this book is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. You take your life into your own hands when you apply the principles therein to your life. You accept total liability for any consequences that result from any changes you make to your life as a result of reading this book.
Five Things You Need To Understand Right Out Of The Gate
Before you begin reading this book, I need you to understand five things.
Thing #1: The title. YES, THIS IS IMPORTANT!
I want you to think about the title of this book. What is the title again? Not the subtitle, just the main title.
Chances are good you said, “The Cure For Mental Illness.”
Nope. Look again. Seriously, navigate back to the book cover and study the title. Do you see what I’m getting at?
The title is not, “The Cure For Mental Illness”. The title is, “The Cure For Mental Illness?”
It has a question mark at the end. This is important, because it changes the meaning of the title in two ways. First, it implies that the information in this book may or may not help you. What works for me, may not work for you. Now, I’m 99% sure at least some of the strategies I lay out in this book will help your mental health issues to a noticeable extent, if the mental health issues are physiological in nature, rather than supernatural.
Yes, I believe in demonic possession. But that’s a subject for another book, and since I believe the vast majority of cases of mental illness have physiological roots, I’m assuming that’s the case with you. 😉 Therefore, I am highly confident that the strategies in this book will work for you, at least to a great enough extent to make life worth living, and easier to live.
But since I can’t be 100% sure, I can’t declare outright that this book is the cure for you.
The second reason for the question mark is that the word “cure” is misleading, on several levels. First, when people talk about cures, they’re often talking about single substances, such as miracle drugs or herbs, that will knock out a problem.
No single substance can completely resolve any condition of ill health, mental or physical. The human body is much too complicated for that ever to be possible.
Second, “cure” implies a one-and-done treatment. Take this drug/herb/vitamin, or go through this particular process, for a limited period of time, and the problem will go away and you can stop taking the whatever or doing the whatever.
This might happen with some conditions under certain circumstances, but if you were hoping for a “one-and-done” cure in this book, allow me to disappoint you: you won’t find it here. Most of the strategies I lay out are intended to be daily, rest-of-your-life practices. The couple that are not, you will have to include as part of your daily self-care routine for months, perhaps even years, before you’ll be able to let them go and remain happy and feeling grounded.
So, why bother putting the word “cure” into the title at all? Because every day, many people type “cure for depression/anxiety/OCD/etc.” into the online search engines. And for the most part, they’ll either find medical websites suggesting you take pharmaceuticals; articles written by people with no experience with any sort of mental illness, just to make a buck; or websites that require you to comb through its archives in order to get a complete picture of how to support your brain and body in order to alleviate the symptoms of mental illness.
This book gives you that complete picture, all in one spot. It’s free from medical jargon and long explanations, and based on the experience of someone who has actually triumphed over mental illness. It also includes, in as brief a format as I could manage, the essentials about how to alleviate, even eliminate, symptoms of mental illness, without the use of pharmaceutical drugs.
I admit that this book is probably missing a piece here and there. It may be missing a critical piece that you need. If it does, a huge reason would be that science hasn’t figured out what that piece is yet. But I’m convinced that this book outlines enough of the basics to make an obvious, positive difference in your life.
And I’ve kept it short to keep you from feeling information overload, and so that you can get started on your journey to natural healing ASAP.
So, why do I have the word “cure” in the title? So you would find the information you need quickly and easily.
You’re welcome. 😉
Thing #2: Disclaimer…MUST READ!!!
The information in this book is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to treat, diagnose, or prevent anything. That’s because information cannot cure or prevent. It’s you taking action and giving the body the proper support it needs to work its innate healing powers which cures and prevents.
You take your life into your own hands when you apply the principles therein to your life. You accept total liability for any consequences that result from any changes you make to your life as a result of reading this book.
Also, if you are on any kind of medication to ease symptoms of psychosis, DO NOT STOP TAKING THEM unless and until two circumstances have occurred. First, you have been religiously following the diet and nutrition recommendations in the book for at least a couple of weeks and can tell that the changes have made a difference in your psyche.
Second, you have talked with your physician about weaning yourself off the anti-psychotic medication. Quitting such drugs cold turkey could lead to traumatic psychological consequences, so DON’T DO IT!!!
Thing #3: “There’s no evidence.”
Let me tell you something about scientific studies: they are all flawed and biased in some way. So number one, if you’re one of those people who insists on scientific evidence for “proof” that something works, you need to knock it off because your tunnel vision is keeping you from becoming all you can be because you’re letting people you don’t know who have only a glimmer of partial truth to dictate your life.
But if you are going to insist that you can’t try anything if there haven’t been at least a few studies done to “prove” that it works, please close this book now and delete it from your reading device.
If you happen to be on the fence, maybe the following couple of facts will make you feel better. First, if you look hard enough online (or read enough books on nutrition and natural health), you will find a lot of people who have improved their mental health by changing (or even just tweaking) their diet. This includes schizophrenia. Second, you will find plenty of research-based articles substantiating the fact that magnesium has helped many sufferers of anxiety, depression, and P.M.S. to eliminate their problems.
Here’s the worst that can happen if you try the program in this book: you still struggle with mental illness, BUT your risk of cancer, heart disease, neurological disease, autoimmune disease, and so on plummet as long as you continue to eat and supplement as recommended.
In other words, you will gain better health somewhere in your body, even if you don’t see a complete cure of your mental illness. And feeling better physically will help you feel better mentally, anyway. So it’s all good.
Thing #4: Trauma-caused depression/anxiety/anger
You may be thinking, “This book won’t help me. My depression/anger/anxiety came out of a traumatic event.”
Grief and anger are normal responses from life’s tragedies. However, a healthy body and brain can recover from that kind of stress in a relatively short period of time. If you have been experiencing depression over the loss of a loved one for more than a few months, or anger or anxiety months after a personal traumatic event (such as a physical assault or witnessing something like it), this could be because your brain chemistry is imbalanced, and if so, the recommendations in this book will help you.
Thing #5: Autism and ADHD
Autism is not a psychiatric disorder. Neither is A.D.H.D. They are both labels slapped onto a minority of people who think in pictures and therefore perceive the world and learn differently than the majority, who think in words (and for whom, therefore, reading, writing, and speaking come easily).
On the other hand, people who receive these labels, along with that of “dyslexic”, are Highly Sensitive People. While being sensitive is a natural part of who they are, their physical and emotional sensitivities are exacerbated by wrong diet and nutritional deficiencies.
Trust me, I know. If my son had gone to school, he would have been slapped with “A.D.H.D”, “dyslexia,” and any number of other labels. Giving him therapeutic doses of magnesium as well as a proper diet has made life easier, both for him and for his parents.
In other words, if you or someone you know has been labeled as autistic, A.D.D., A.D.H.D., or dyslexic, the information in this book will probably help with their multiple physical and emotional sensitivities. It will likely also help to calm children labeled as O.D.D. or E.B.D.
My Qualifications To Write This Book
As of the autumn of 2018, I was getting close to fifty years old and had read close to four dozen books on diet and nutrition since the age of twenty-four. That makes me a much greater expert on diet and nutrition than 80% of medical doctors in the United States.
I cured myself of depression and P.M.D.D. (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder), which is basically psychotic P.M.S., around a year before I began to write this book. Because of my healthy diet, I didn’t experience many of the possible perimenopause symptoms until I was in my mid-40’s, whereas both my younger sisters began experiencing them in their mid- to late-30’s.
And then, when I “cured” my depression, all the annoying and sometimes downright debilitating perimenopause symptoms either disappeared completely or grew much milder. I’m talking no more day-long, debilitating headaches or hypersensitivity to light; sore breasts; or wanting to kill myself.
P.M.S., depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar, O.C.D. (obsessive-compulsive disorder), and most other mental illnesses are by and large caused by brain chemistry imbalances, which are caused mostly by nutritional deficiencies (sometimes toxicity, as well).
What worked for me, will work for anyone whose mental illness is caused by a brain chemistry imbalance (as opposed to a genetically-imposed malfunction such as is the case with psychopaths).
So what worked for me, at least until my estrogen levels took a nosedive? Right diet, high doses of magnesium, and enough of the B vitamins.
And not only for me. In forum threads and in the comment section of a few YouTube videos, I have read other people’s testimony of how they healed themselves of depression or anxiety by changing their diet and/or taking magnesium and B-vitamin supplements.
This book is divided into three parts. In Part One, I’m going to begin with the Three Biggies that I believe helped me more than anything, the three initial steps I took to greatly improve my mental health. In Part Two, I discuss other lifestyle choices that are well-known to facilitate mental health, such as regular exercise, getting at least seven hours of sleep per night, and reducing exposure to toxins (such as in household cleaners).
Finally, in Part Three, I will share information related to the most recent step I’ve taken in regards to my mental health. After publishing this book the first time around, I learned of a critical connection that explained why, despite my proper diet and supplementation, I was still experiencing regular digestive disturbances, weather-related mood swings, and anxiety attacks right before hot flashes.
It’s information that you may very well need in order to see your symptoms completely disappear.
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty.
PART ONE: THE THREE BIGGIES
Eating For Good Mental Health
This is going to sound harsh, but I mean it: if you’re not willing to trade your bad diet for a good one, stop reading this book right now. Because you’re not really serious about getting healed, and you’re just going to waste your time reading this book, however short it is. Good health, whether mental or physical, begins with a proper diet and good nutrition.
That said, here are the basic principles of eating for good mental health.
##1: Eat at least 90% whole foods.
The ten percent of no-no foods include flour-based products, junk food and pre-packaged meals. and any food that comes in any kind of container. They should be very occasional treats. I’m talking one cookie OR a handful of potato chips OR a frozen dinner OR a small glass of soda per day.
Wean yourself off of processed sugar, as it causes magnesium deficiency, which is one of the leading causes of mental illness.
##2: Make those whole foods as nutrient dense as possible.
Build up to at least nine – yes, I said NINE – servings of fruits and vegetables per day, including at least a cup of steamed dark, leafy greens (kale, spinach, broccoli, etc.) per day.
You may have a digestive condition that limits your intake of fruits and vegetables. In that case, do the best you can. If your problem is irritable bowel syndrome, boosting your serotonin might take care of that, as you’ll discover toward the end of this book.
Seeds are nutritional powerhouses, and when you soak them for at least twelve hours a good portion of the omega-6 fatty acids convert to omega-3 fatty acids, and the overall fat content of the seeds is reduced 20-30%. Soaking also neutralizes the phytic acid which can inhibit the absorption of the minerals that give the seeds their nutritional bang. Soaking nuts and seeds makes them more digestible, and the happier your digestive system is, the better your mood will be.
Add soaked sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds to a smoothie, top a salad with soaked sunflower seeds.
Sprouted lentils and sprouted mung beans, either gently steamed or consumed raw, are the most nutritious choices as far as beans go. All other beans need to be thoroughly cooked in order to reduce the gassiness they cause, and the thorough cooking significantly reduces the amount of certain vitamins, as well as making the protein more difficult to absorb.
##3: Get gluten out of your diet.
Gluten-free is not a fad, it’s a life extender and life saver. Gluten, the primary protein found in wheat, is destructive to the gut. Period. When you have leaky gut (“intestinal permeability”, as the medical community likes to call it), you are more likely to experience mental illness because the nerves in the gut connect to the nerve cells in the brain.
If you want to eat something with wheat as an occasional treat, eat a sprouted grain tortilla (read the label and make sure it has no added flour!). Sprouting reduces the gluten a tiny bit, and overall sprouted wheat is easier on the digestive system than non-sprouted wheat.
The Food For Life® brand of Ezekiel 4:9 tortillas are acceptable. Avoid Ezekiel 4:9 bread, however, as it contains added gluten.
Another option is to purchase einkorn flour-based products, or einkorn flour itself if you want to bake your own flour-based treats. Einkorn is the ancestor of all wheat varieties, and contains very little gluten compared to modern wheat. Emmer is one generation younger than einkorn, and also acceptable in small amounts or on occasion. Jovial Foods® sells items such as einkorn flour spaghetti.
However, if your mental illness is severe enough to warrant medication, I suggest you try going completely gluten-free for an entire month. After that, have the equivalent of a half cup of spaghetti or one slice of bread every day for a few days and see how you feel after adding gluten back into your diet.
While we’re on the subject of grains: if you always feel bloated within a couple of hours of eating a whole grain, such as quinoa, brown rice, or millet, this food might also be contributing to your mental health struggles. The health of the gut is closely related to brain function, so foods that cause you digestive discomfort may be affecting how you think and perceive. Consider trying a thirty-day period free of whole grains, as well – or at least paring the number of daily servings down to just one or two.
Buckwheat isn’t a true grain, so it doesn’t count. Eat all you want. And white rice, being free of the proteins that make whole grains “whole”, is also safe for the digestive system.
##4: Minimize meat consumption.
If you’re going to eat meat, keep it down to three to four ounces once per day, or two to three eggs per day. Why? Magnesium is needed to break down the amino acids locked up inside any kind of animal product, so eating more than a condiment-sized serving of animal product per day can eventually lead to a magnesium deficiency. I’ve already stated that magnesium deficiency is one of the top causes of mental illness.
What about milk, cheese, and other dairy products? The vast majority of the world’s population cannot digest dairy products well (yes, even raw, even fermented), which means they cause an inflammatory response.
Which can lead to mental illness.
Also, too much calcium can cause problems with the function of magnesium in the body.
##5: Eat some fat, but not too much.
Your diet should be no more than 35% fat by calories. If you get rid of junk foods, dial back your meat consumption, avoid vegetable and seed oils in cooking, and use olive and coconut oils sparingly for cooking or dressing salads, you will automatically cut out the bad fats and will likely not consume more fat than is good for you.
Fat does help with brain function, so some people who go super-low fat (like making it under fifteen percent of the diet) may increase their risk of developing mental illness. Include a tablespoon of chia seeds or twelve-hour soaked flaxseeds in your daily diet to make sure you get omega-3 fatty acids, which also help with brain function.
##6: Back off on the coffee.
If you’re dealing with mental illness, the last thing you need is to systematically and regularly stimulate your brain artificially. If you’re a coffee drinker, try to cut down to one cup a day in the morning. Even better, replace it with tea. After you are eating a clean diet as described above, you may find that you don’t need a morning cup of caffeine from any source for an energy boost.
Which leads us to the next principle of eating for good mental health…
##7: Drink water. And only water.
The only exception is if you buy a juicer and start making your own vegetable juice.
I almost didn’t put this section in, because I do state in principle #1 not to consume anything from any kind of container. Sodas, alcoholic beverages, fruit juices, and plant-based milks also come under that category. Alcohol is a depressant. Fruit juice causes your blood sugar to spike, which can lead to an eventual crash, leading to mood swings. Plant-based milks are okay when used in moderation (such as using plain almond milk to bake a sugar-free pumpkin pie), but most are sweetened to the extent that they could cause a blood sugar crash, as well.
Buy reverse osmosis water from your local large supermarket. Even better, buy a Berkey water purifying system (go to https://directive21.com to buy it because of their great customer service) and purify the tap water coming out of your kitchen sink. In the long run, it’s a lot cheaper than buying water and it also tastes a lot better than reverse osmosis-purified water.
##8: Don’t take illicit drugs or smoke marijuana.
I don’t give a BLANK what pot-heads say about smoking marijuana, IT’S NOT GOOD FOR YOUR BRAIN. Psychotropic drugs make you feel good because they are messing up your brain chemistry. They provide a temporary bandage effect that will only make your mental health worse in the long run.
The only drugs you should be taking are what your doctor has prescribed, and you should be working to get off of those as soon as possible.
##9: High-carb is better than low-carb.
Eating a diet that is at least moderately high (say, 60% or more of the calories you consume) in carbohydrates is especially important for women, because a low-carb diet tends to mess up their hormones, which can bring on symptoms of mental illness.
But for both men and women, a high-protein, low-carb diet will make less tryptophan available to the brain. Tryptophan is the amino acid that eventually gets converted to serotonin, the brain chemical mainly responsible for good moods. The thing is, tryptophan has to first get from the intestines to the brain in order for that to happen. And the other amino acids in protein want to make that same journey.
So when you eat a lot of protein, especially from animal products, all those other amino acids are competing with tryptophan to get transported to the brain, making it less likely that enough tryptophan will end up in your brain to help make you feel good.
Just so you know I’m not making that up, read the first few paragraphs of this article: https://nootropicsexpert.com/tryptophan/
The exception to the healthy diet rule.
A healthy diet will definitely take a person far in improving both their physical and mental health. But there is one circumstance where a person might not want to quit all their comfort foods cold turkey. That is when they have just quit an addictive drug, either cold turkey or gradually.
If a mentally ill person is a recent drug addict who is in the process of rehabilitating, let them eat their Twinkies, Snickers, and white bread. At least, for a while. Focus on having them take magnesium and vitamin B supplements to improve their mental health. Once they are no longer strongly tempted to return to the drug, then and only then help them transition into a healthy diet, one baby step at a time.
The way I see it, eating a diet full of comfort foods is the lesser of two evils in this scenario. If you can get the person to begin to transition to a healthy diet as described above while they’re still in rehab, allow them to continue eating their favorite junk foods, and allow them to decide when they’re ready to try to give them up.
Better to use foods to feel good, than to go back to drugs that kill your brain cells, destroy your bank account, and generally ruin your life.
Sample meal plan using the above principles.
The following sample meal plan would provide plenty of the vitamins and minerals you need every day. Add more starchy foods to lunch and dinner as needed for appetite satisfaction. You might also add fruit to the morning almond snack.
If you want a book with more and similar meal plans, I suggest Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book Eat To Live. Dr. Fuhrman is one of the 15-20% of medical doctors who uses mostly nutrition and diet to help his patients heal.
BREAKFAST: A smoothie consisting of two and a half medium bananas, one and a half cup strawberries, two cups raw spinach, one tablespoon chia seeds, and two tablespoons sesame seeds soaked for twelve hours
SNACK: one-fourth cup almonds, soaked for 24 hours
LUNCH: One to two cups rice with one cup sprouted lentils, topped with sliced bell pepper and/or tomatoes if desired. Dress with a mixture of ketchup (that does not contain high fructose corn syrup) and mustard, or MSG-free soy sauce.
SNACK: two medium apples, and 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds soaked since previous evening
DINNER: salad with at least two cups romaine lettuce, one grated carrot, 1-2 cups steamed red potato or sweet potato chunks, other veggies added as desired (may include steamed broccoli or kale). Dress with a mixture of 1/2 tablespoon each cold-pressed olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and apple cider vinegar with a dash of salt and pepper whipped in.
If you want to splurge on store-bought salad dressing, I recommend you purchase organic so that the canola oil is guaranteed to be GMO-free.
If you want some meat for dinner, have no more than four ounces of it with a large salad. Eat a half Brazil nut or ¼ cup soaked sunflower seeds sometime during the day to get your selenium.
A note about iodine: many people are deficient in this critical nutrient, without which the thyroid cannot function properly – or at all. Unless you regularly consume seafood or eat a lot of bananas, it’s hard to get in your diet. Yes, there’s iodized salt, but some health care practitioners question the absorbability of the added iodine in salt. Also, to consume enough iodized salt to get the iodine you need into your body, you may end up consuming more salt than is good for you.
A teaspoon of dulse flakes, sprinkled onto a salad or over steamed veggies every night, can prevent any possible deficiency because it contains 100% of the daily value of iodine. Being seaweed, it’s somewhat of an acquired taste. If you decide at some point to get all your carbohydrates from fruit, you may end up eating enough bananas every day to get the iodine you need. Otherwise, consider taking an iodine supplement – assuming you’re not allergic to iodine.
Get creative. If you want hot cereal for breakfast, have a cup of cooked rolled oats (porridge) or quinoa with sliced banana and cinnamon, and eat the smoothie as a snack or for lunch.
Eat a large, mostly raw salad with steamed potatoes or sweet potatoes for lunch.
Try stir-fried veggies with gluten-free grains (quinoa, rice, millet) and sprouted legumes for lunch or dinner.
It takes a little time to get used to eating a whole-foods diet, but once you figure out the healthy combinations that are both tasty and filling for you, and you get in the routine of preparing ahead of time (like soaking seeds), eating this way becomes second nature.
As I said before, even though I eat very healthy – and have for years – I need to take a magnesium supplement. Before you’re tempted to keep on eating junk food and just add in a magnesium supplement, let me say this: there’s a good chance I would be dead by now if I had been eating a processed-food, high-sugar diet. I believe that my healthy diet has kept me from giving into the temptation to commit suicide.
That said, let’s talk about the importance of magnesium. I’ve read in several places that magnesium is needed in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. That’s why a deficiency in the mineral can cause so many diverse problems.
For our purposes, let’s just say that some of these reactions have to do with neurological function. In other words, if you don’t have enough magnesium in your system, your brain chemistry will become unbalanced. In addition, the neurotransmitters in your brain need sufficient magnesium to do their jobs, and a lack of magnesium can lead to mood disorders and other psychological problems.
Magnesium is essential for proper thyroid function as well, and when the thyroid is off it can lead to mood irregularities. In addition, the thyroid hormones interact with reproductive hormones. A magnesium deficiency will lead to insufficient thyroid hormone production, leading to imbalances with estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone (in both men and women), leading to mood problems.
Time to buy a supplement.
People with only mild mood disorders may heal themselves simply by following the above principles of healthy eating. But those with moderate to severe symptoms – symptoms that are debilitating to some level at least some of the time – will need an extra dose of magnesium every single day in order to get their brain chemistry and hormones back in proper balance, and keep them there.
Try one of two different kinds of magnesium, or both, if you want to see which one you like better. The first is chelated (KEE-lated) magnesium, which comes in capsules. The second is angstrom magnesium, which is in a liquid form. The other kinds of magnesium on the market may be cheaper, but one kind can have a laxative effect and the other can cause constipation. In addition, only a small fraction of the other types of magnesium are bioavailable, or easily absorbed by the body. So I recommend sticking with chelated or angstrom, if at all possible.
When I used to take chelated magnesium (I take angstrom now), each capsule represented 50% of the recommended daily value of magnesium. If you choose a similar kind, take two capsules twice a day; so, two with breakfast and two with dinner. If you don’t experience any alleviation of symptoms after a week, add two more capsules with lunch.
For the angstrom magnesium, take 1/2 teaspoon twice a day as above, adding in an extra 1/2 teaspoon at lunch if necessary.
You may need more than that temporarily if you are very deficient and/or have severe symptoms. Taking extra magnesium will not harm you, so it won’t hurt to experiment.
If the magnesium is going to work, you should notice some relief within the first two weeks, and even greater relief after thirty days. If you’re taking 200% of the recommended daily value in supplements and your symptoms are diminished, but not completely gone, after thirty days, try bringing it up to 300%.
If that doesn’t work, you may additionally need to take either a vitamin B complex supplement or at least a B6 and B12 supplement.
The “B Happy” Vitamins
The family of B vitamins are sometimes referred to as the “B happy” vitamins because B1, B5, B6, and B12 all play a part in the proper function of the nervous system. Some studies suggest that taking higher-than-recommended doses of the entire complex of B vitamins may be essential for optimal brain health in our modern world. If your symptoms are severe you should consider starting out with a high dosage of magnesium and a vitamin B complex supplement.
The importance of vitamin B12.
More and more health experts are saying that everybody, regardless of how much meat they consume, should take a B12 supplement because so many people have trouble absorbing the vitamin due to gut issues. It is so essential to proper neurological function that if you get deficient in it, you could end up having a stroke. And a massive stroke will either kill you or cripple you for life.
Depression is one of the primary symptoms of mild B12 deficiency.
Liquid B12 is the most easily absorbed type of this supplement.
Vitamin B6 – the sunshine replacement.
If you are taking the magnesium as I recommend above, add in B12, yet still suffer with at least a mild depression with some regularity, try adding a B6 supplement (both B12 and B6 supplements are inexpensive, by the way). This particular vitamin helps in the production of serotonin, one of the “feel good” brain chemicals – and probably the chemical for stabilizing mood. Vitamin B6 a co-factor in the enzyme decarboxylase, the amino acid required to convert 5-HTP into serotonin. If you don’t get enough vitamin B6, your serotonin levels can fall to the point of causing you to feel depressed. You may find that you need this particular supplement during the winter months only.
Or, take the whole kit-n-kaboodle.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this section, some researchers have concluded that daily taking a B complex supplement, one that provides well over 100% of the daily value for the various B vitamins.
PART TWO: OTHER LIFESTYLE TWEAKS
When you exercise, you not only boost your heart rate, but the feel-good chemicals in your brain, as well. Studies have shown that when you do aerobic exercise, more serotonin may be taken up from your blood into your brain than when you’re sedentary. In addition, dopamine production increases. These both add up to a improved moods.
You don’t want to overdo it by running for miles every day, as that can have a deleterious effect on your cortisol production. But consider going for a brisk walk for up to twenty minutes per day on non-workout days, and doing a more intense aerobic activity, twenty to thirty minutes per session, three to four times per week.
Get enough sleep.
Chronically sleepy people succumb to depression and anxiety more easily. Period. Experts recommend getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If you’ve had trouble sleeping, that should go away after you’ve been taking both a magnesium and B complex supplement for a week or two.
Entire books have been written on how toxic chemicals mess up brain chemistry. I personally know a guy who healed himself from Parkinson’s disease simply from making the switch to organic foods!
Full disclosure: my diet does not consist of totally organic foods. Some people are more sensitive to chemical pesticides than others. Also, I eat a 100% plant-based diet. The man who used to have Parkinson’s eats meat, and toxins build up much more in meat than in plants.
Consider detoxing your liver every few months by taking a milk thistle tincture, one to two droppersful per day three times a day until the bottle is empty.
But it’s not just the toxins in food that can cause mental health problems. Conventional household cleaning products, conventional personal hygiene products, and tap water are loaded with toxins. Clean with baking soda, vinegar, and essential oils. Purchase personal products that are free of toxins (HINT: just because it says “organic” or “natural” on the label, doesn’t mean they’re safe for you).
Use a shower filter in the bathroom, and a Berkey water filtration system in the kitchen.
The modern Western world is an isolationist society. Americans are the worst. When we gained our independence from Great Britain, we thought we could all be independent from all other human beings.
You need friends. A committed life partner. Family.
People who need people…are the most mentally healthy people in the world (with my humble apologies to Barbara Streisand). This fact has been born out in study after study. You need someone who will help you carry the burdens of life. People who will provide shoulders to cry on.
At least get online and join a forum of other people struggling through the same issues that you are.
Not least of all, get connected with God. I don’t know where I’d be without my faith that my Creator is looking out for me, without the power and strength that He provides to help me forgive, seek forgiveness, and just take the next baby step toward growth and/or healing.
PART THREE: THE MISSING PIECE?
Tryptophan, 5-HTP, And Serotonin.
A couple of pages ago, you read about the three main ways that I nearly obliterated my depression and brought my perimenopause symptoms down to a much lower, more tolerable level. In fact, I was feeling so good that I quit taking B6, and quit using the bioidentical progesterone oil (Progestelle®, which gave me results where the progesterone creams did not) to balance out my hormones.
After about six months, the symptoms started to worsen. I got back on the Progestelle®, then B6, then a few days later, I thought I’d try estriol cream, which is a weak estrogen.
Three days after I’d begun applying the cream, I began experiencing serious anxiety right before the worst hot flashes I’d ever experienced, and it seemed like I was “flashing” all day long for the next three days. My digestive system tied itself into knots for those same three days, and I was in a terrible mood most of the time.
The episode compelled me to do some research. Come to find out, estriol can act as an anti-estrogen under certain circumstances. And based on the way my hair had been shedding, my estrogen levels were already low.
But that’s not all that I discovered. I learned more about the connection between hormones, mental illness, and serotonin. I realized that while the first three strategies had taken me far, my body had changed since I’d incorporated them into my life. I had entered that stage of my life where I could tell my reproductive system was getting serious about shutting down, which meant that my estrogen levels were at an all-time low. And so I needed to take another step or two in order to ensure my mental health.
And I realized that I needed to update this book to share this vital information, because some of my readers were going to need it.
That information is about tryptophan, 5-HTP, serotonin…and the estrogen-serotonin connection (critical for mentally ill women, probably not so much for the men).
I’ve mentioned the amino acid tryptophan as well as the chemical serotonin several times in this book. If you’re like me, the only thing you knew about them before you downloaded this book was that warm milk and turkey were high in tryptophan and that’s why those foods make you sleepy, and that serotonin was a “feel-good” chemical in the brain. Maybe you also knew that sunshine encourages serotonin production, and that the production of the chemical therefore slows down at night.
But serotonin, like everything else related to the human body, is more complicated than that.
Before I get into all that, however, I want to back up and park for a bit on serotonin and sunshine. Because if you’re like me and you do an online search about that, you’ll eventually run into an article citing a study that revealed that too much serotonin can lead to suicide.
Sounds crazy, right? It did to me, too. And here’s why: I believe that the researchers missed a couple of critical facts about depression, the behaviors and thought patterns of suicidal people, and sunny days.
For the sake of brevity, I’m going to ask you to trust me on this. Trust me as someone who minored in psychology in college, has heard the same things repeated about suicide many times during the past thirty years, has been depressed and suicidal herself, and who lives in a climate where weather-related mood swings are annoyingly frequent. Trust me when I say that sunshine does not cause suicide.
All right – that taken care of, I’m going to throw a whole bunch of serotonin-related facts at you, beginning with…
- Longer days, and sunnier days, increase serotonin production.
- Actually getting out in the sun can boost its production further.
- Getting out into the sun boosts your vitamin D levels, and vitamin D is needed to activate tryptophan (more on that amino acid in a bit), which converts to serotonin.
- Low estrogen levels lead to low serotonin levels…meaning that, ladies, if you’re over the age of forty and haven’t yet reached menopause, your anti-depressant medication is probably not addressing the root cause of your depression!
- Low serotonin levels can lead to insomnia, rage, irritability, panicky and/or racing thoughts, depression, anxiety, headaches, heartbeat irregularities, low libido, fibromyalgia, shortness of breath, body temperature fluctuations, and intestinal distress.
- Serotonin is found in the gut as well as the brain, and is critical for proper functioning of the digestive tract.
- Based on the prior three bullet points, it’s no coincidence that many P.M.S., P.M.M.D., and perimenopause symptoms are the same as low serotonin symptoms.
- The amino acid tryptophan, which we get from our diet, is necessary for serotonin production. Estrogen makes tryptophan, which likes to hang out in the intestinal tract, more available in the brain.
- Tryptophan converts to the amino acid 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), which then converts to serotonin.
- Some people lack the enzyme, or enough of the enzyme, for tryptophan to convert to 5-HTP.
- You can easily find 5-HTP supplements, and many formerly depressed or anxious people will swear to their effectiveness. They are much safer than anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medications, which often don’t even work.
- However, 5-HTP can cause some side effects, particularly digestive problems because a sudden increase in serotonin can bring on cramping in the intestinal walls. These side effects can be ameliorated or eliminated by taking a lower dose of the supplement and slowly increasing it, or by taking it with food.
- 5-HTP decreases appetite, so it can help overweight people, but may not be so helpful to underweight people.
- L-tryptophan (L-TP) supplements will take longer to kick in than 5-HTP supplements, but there’s a lot lower risk of side effects to them. On the other hand, they will cause some people problems such as nausea, dizziness, insomnia, or oversleepiness.
- Remember, however, that L-TP won’t do any good for someone who is low in the enzyme that converts L-TP to 5-HTP.
- Some foods actually contain serotonin itself, including butternuts, pineapples, bananas, kiwis, plums, tomatoes, and dark chocolate.
- Probiotics help to maintain higher serotonin levels in the gut by keeping “bad bacteria”, which creates byproducts that lower serotonin levels, in check.
- Drinking alcohol and eating foods containing aspartame decrease serotonin production.
WHEW! What am I trying to say here? I’m saying that while you very likely need extra magnesium, and that changing your diet and taking B vitamins will help, you may need to work in one more step toward healing.
You may need either a tryptophan supplement, or 5-HTP supplement.
Or, if you’re a woman under the age of sixty, you may need to test your estrogen levels and figure out how to get them back up.
Here’s what I’ve decided to do: in addition to using the Progestelle® and taking B6 again, I am sniffing geranium essential oil several times a day, as well as applying it topically twice a day, to increase my estrogen levels. I have also begun taking a 5-HTP supplement.
It’s too soon to tell what impact all of this is going to have on me. I can tell your right out of the gate, that quitting the estriol cream and continuing with the progesterone oil and B6 had an obvious impact after just a few days. I hope the 5-HTP is the answer to my prayer, “Lord, if there’s a way for me to be happy and have energy on cloudy days, would You please show me?!”
As soon as I know the effect of the 5-HTP supplement one way or the other – which will be a few months from the publication of this second edition – I will publish a third edition of this book.
You might ask, why not just wait and publish the second edition after I’ve tried the 5-HTP?
Because it’s helped so many people with depression and anxiety, that I felt it irresponsible to hold back just because I hadn’t tried it yet.
This book needed some work – more details added, a bit of polishing – anyway, so I would have wanted to publish a second edition now because I want you to have the best product possible. Why not throw in my most recent research, and help you along your journey toward mental health?
You have nothing to lose by trying the diet and supplement recommendations in this book.
“But the diet is more expensive than the way I eat now!”
Maybe. But how much are those medications costing you? Ever looked into the cost of cancer treatment?
“My insurance pays for all that, but it won’t pay my grocery bill!”
Listen, you want to die slowly and in pain over the course of several years, and/or continue in a life of misery, go right ahead. That’s the true cost of ignoring your body’s diet and nutritional needs.
My deepest hope is that, by this point, you’re not throwing out such excuses. Instead, you’re seeing a light at the end of a long, dark tunnel and getting excited about it.
Do me a favor. Try the diet and supplement recommendations in this book for thirty days. NO CHEATING! When you experience positive results, share this with as many people as you can, as often as you can.
Thank you for help in getting the word out.
Wishing you all the best,
PS – If you’re interested in checking out the other books I’ve written, both fiction and non-fiction, my Amazon author page is here: https://amazon.com/author/emilyjosephine.