The Fifteen Most Fabulous Herbal Sedatives

PhotobucketDo you ever just feel like you need to take a pill to take the edge off?

Well a lot of us get extra stressed around the holiday season, and if you don’t want to take something that will totally knock you out, try a gentle relaxing cup of sedative tea instead of popping a pill.

Now opinions may slightly differ amongst herbalists as to what the best herbal sedative is, but I think we can all agree that the best herb is the one that works best for the individual. Here are my top fifteen favorites for making in to herbal tea as they are widely available and not endangered species (to my current knowledge.)

I have included a brief blurb so that you can get an idea of the herbs that will work best for your constitution.Please always check with your naturopathic physician before combining herbs with prescription drugs. Do not take sedative herbs during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

#1 Passionflower- The intricate purple flower pictured above was shown to be as effective as sedatives in the benzodiazepine (valium) family, the aerial parts of this herb are great for nervous tension and anxiety. In recent research, passion flower extract at 45 drops daily (tincture) was shown to be as effective as oxazepam (similar to valium). This nervine herb is also “antispasmodic” which makes it great for people with constant nervous twitching.

#2 Ashwaganda- This is probably one of my favorite herbs, which is why it got the award for “Best Herb of 2007.” Unlike most of the herbs on this list that are designed to be taken at night or at least late afternoon, both ashwaganda and schisandra (listed below) are terrific “adaptogenic” herbs that help us tolerate our stressful days that much better. You can make some tea, or grab some capsules of the organic root and take two capsules twice a day.

This herb is specifically intended for those that are exhausted and agitated or debilitated by stress. In ayurvedic medicine ashawganda is a renowned anti-aging and rejuvenating herb.

Photobucket #3 Schisandra- Referred to as “Chinese Prozac” this herb is commonly unappreciated and underutilized in American herbal practice. Schisandra is a terrific day time adaptogen herb and should be taken as is recommended with Ashwaganda, two capsules with breakfast and lunch, or a cup of tea in the morning and afternoon. The berries can be made in to a nice aperitif for those with a low libido.

#4 California Poppy- The bright orange flowers of the California poppy, leaves and other aerial parts are sedative, anti-spasmodic, and mild pain relievers. This is also a gentle herb used for colic and agitation in children. Do not use this herb or any other sedative herbs in pregnancy.

#5 Hops- No I am not recommending that you drink more beer to calm down. However, the herb commonly used to make beer bitter also works as a sedative. It is extremely bitter though so is best given a small part in your herbal tea formula for insomnia or stress. Do not combine with prescription sleep aids due to an additive effect.

#6 Kava Kava- A well known Polynesian psychotropic sedative, this herb is sedative and “spasmolytic” and thus helpful for chronic pain conditions. Several conflicting studies debate the safety of using this herb with alcohol. Liver damage is thought to occur if used in large doses in conjunction with alcohol. This research however was used to scare many people away from using kava kava for whatever reason.

People need to simply remember that herbs are medicines and that an herb with actions similar to prescription sleep aids and analgesics will of course pack the same side effects. A strong herb demands respect. When used ceremoniously, or occasionally this herb does not run the risks it runs when it is heavily abused.

The best way to safely use kava kava is in an organic tea form. Look for a tea blend that includes kava, or make your own. This herb should not be used in large doses, and large doses should not be used over long term. Do not combine with alcohol, or use during pregnancy or nursing. Chronic abuse will result in a horrible scaly skin rash. Photobucket

#7 Lavender- Try adding lavender to your favorite baked good recipe. Purple lavender flowers will offer a sophisticated herbal makeover to your favorite shortbread cookies, or white tea cakes.

Lavender is great in your herbal medicine blend, and can also be used to stuff pillows, or as an aromatherapy stress reliever throughout the day. Lavender should not be used in pregnancy due to it’s emmenagogue effect.

#8 Lemon Balm- Also known as “Melissa officinalis” this herbal sedative should not be used by those with hypothyroidism as it inhibits the thyroid and is used to treat hyperthyroidism, however for everyone else it is a common simple herb to grow in your garden and make in to your own calming sedative tincture each summer. Do not use this herb in pregnancy.

I grow lemon balm in my garden and harvest it, rinse it, let it dry and then pack it in a jar with enough room for it to swim around in some vodka. Shake the jar once a day for two weeks. The vodka will extract the constituents and after a few weeks you can strain out the plant part leftovers and put a half a teaspoon of this liquid “anxiety medicine” in a little bit of water when you need something to calm you down. Photobucket

#9 St. John’s Wort- Although we think “depression” the second we hear about St. J’s Wort, we also need to address that depression and anxiety tend to walk hand in hand and this herb is not just an anti-depressant it is a mild sedative as well. St. John’s Wort has also been shown to have a lower risk of side effects than conventional anti-depressants and is worth trying for those that don’t quite have severe enough depression to mandate the use of a prescription pharmaceutical, but instead need something to take the edge off and boost the mood a bit.

If you are suffering from anxiety that has a form of depression associated with it, then this would be a great herb to consider in your herbal sedative blend pending that you are not on any anti-depressants or anti-psychotic medications. The condition “serotonin syndrome” may occur from combing this herb with those classes of medications or other herbs and supplements that boost neurotransmitter levels.

This herb should not be used by those on oral contraceptives, or any medications as it increases the cytochrome p450 enzyme system which results in a more rapid detoxification of drugs from the system. The drugs or birth control pills are then rendered useless. Standard dose of St. John’s Wort for those not on any other medications, is 300 mg three times daily of the 0.3% standardized extract. Photobucket

#10 Red Clover- Not traditionally recognized as a sedative, but as a mineral source and blood thinner, this “cooling” herb calms the system and has a special affinity to the lungs, throat, and salivary glands.

This is a terrific balancing herb to include in your herbal sedative blend as the dried flower blossoms make for a beautiful addition to a glass teapot. Do not use in pregnancy, or if on blood thinning medications.

#11 Catnip- Not just for cats. Catnip is actually a gentle nervine herb for humans. No it won’t make you roll around on the carpet or chase after things (at least not to my current knowledge) but it is still a great mild sedative.

This herb should absolutely NOT be used during pregnancy, as most herbs should never be used during pregnancy without checking with your naturopathic midwife, however it can safely be used in children by making a very weak tea. Be sure to only give your children organic herbs and check with their pediatrician or naturopath prior to use.

Photobucket

#12 Valerian- Definitely one of the more potent herbal sedatives, valerian is also a great pain killer for those with chronic pain. Some people prefer not to use this herb because it can cause quite the herbal hangover the next morning and most complain that it makes them feel really groggy, or desire to sleep through the day.

Look for a tea formula that includes a bit of valerian to avoid the hangover, and if you have severe anxiety, chronic pain, or insomnia talk to your naturopathic doctor about using this at a more therapeutic dose. Always use organic root.

#13 Motherwort- The perfect herb for fried and frazzled mothers; it strengthens a weak heart and is great for nervous palpitations. Motherwort is best taken over a prolonged period of time, and because it is a uterine stimulant, it should not be used in pregnancy.

#14 Skullcap- A bitter, cooling sedative herb that is best used for nervous fear, restless sleep, and is also thought to lower blood pressure. This herb is great for people with the inability to pay attention—huh what was that? And has been used effectively to calm down children with ADHD. Some kids concentrate better when they are sped up, and some do better when they are calmed down.

Photobucket

#15 Chamomile- One of the most common kitchen herbs, chamomile is a great mild sedative and digestive bitter.

Be careful in using chamomile tea if you experience ragweed allergies, formally known as the “asteracea family” and previously recognized as “composite family.” If you have a history of seasonal allergies you should exercise caution.

If not, make your tea up strong, use a heaping tablespoon and not a teaspoon per 8 oz cup of water, and allow to steep 15 minutes covered. If you don’t cover your chamomile tea you will lose the calming essential oils to evaporation. Only elitist herbalists know to do that. Welcome to the club!

Photobucket

Traditional Herbal Sedative Use: Establishing a nighttime or daytime tea ritual is a great way to reduce stress, avoid binge eating, and help those that fight insomnia get to sleep at a decent hour.

Don’t forget to have your pot of tea with one of my favorite “Bedtime Snacks for Insomniacs.” Also if you tend to be one of those that gets troubled by having to use the restroom in the middle of the night, be sure to drink your tea at least 90 minutes prior to your expected bed time.

Directions: For most of these herbs simply make a tea with about 1 tsp (milder herbs use a tablespoon) to 8 oz cup of boiling water. Allow to steep covered 15 minutes. Or if you aren’t a tea drinker just look for a pre-made organic herbal formula to take in tincture or capsule form, and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Common Sense Cautions: Please check with your naturopathic physician before combining any herbal medicines with prescription medications or making any changes to your health care routine. Women that are pregnant or breastfeeding should never use any herbs unless prescribed by their naturopathic midwife.

You can find bulk organic herbs at Whole Foods, through your local tea shop or buy them online through Mountain Rose Herbs.

What is your favorite herbal sedative?

~Dr. Nicole

Reference: “Herbal Medicine from the Heart of the Earth” by Dr. Sharol Tilgner
©KitchenTableMedicine.com

Related Reading
Best Bedtime Snacks for Insomniacs
Sleep the Miracle Drug
A Quick Deep Breathing Exercise

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

Insomnia: The Best Bedtime Snacks for Insomniacs

insomnianuts.jpgBy Dr. Nicole Sundene

Can the kitchen table cure insomnia?

It might just be the quick fix for a certain type of insomnia.

Everyone knows that eating a big meal before bed is not healthy.

Food just “sits there” and doesn’t optimally digest when we are inactive, as the peristaltic contractions of our gut are enhanced by exercise and movement. Still some people insist they can’t sleep without a bedtime snack. I actually might argue that some people might NEED a bedtime snack. Those that struggle with low blood sugar issues or “hypoglycemia” typically wake up in the middle of the night because of it.

Once awake, they can’t get back to sleep, and can’t figure out why.

I see insomnia as three different tedious breeds. There is the insomnia typically caused by stress when you can’t get to sleep, the insomnia when you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep, and the insomnia that wakes you up much earlier than the actual time you care to start your day.

You can also be amongst the “lucky ones” and have a combo pack of the three. This unlucky triad is typically the result of high stress, daytime inactivity, alcohol, too bright of a bedroom, and low blood sugar.

The best bedtime snacks are high in protein, fiber, complex carbs, minerals, and the amino acid tryptophan. To ensure a good night’s sleep, be sure to eat a light snack about 90 minutes before your anticipated bedtime. Shoot for 8:30pm if you typically go to bed around ten.

In the presence of carbohydrates, the amino acid tryptophan is able to pass the blood brain barrier, where it is then made into serotonin (the neurotransmitter that makes us happy) and in a dark atmosphere serotonin then converts to melatonin (the hormone that makes us sleepy). Boosting serotonin levels is also beneficial for those with anxiety or depression.

Using these basic rules of biochemistry, I have craftily put together a list of snacks that should induce relaxation as well as ensure proper blood sugar.

The Best Bedtime Snacks for Insomnia:

  • Cottage cheese and fruit.
  • A string cheese and a few whole grain crackers.
  • A small serving of salmon and brown rice.
  • A bowl of oatmeal with almonds.
  • Yogurt, fruit, and wheat germ.
  • Granola and yogurt.
  • Peanut butter on whole grain toast.
  • One egg and a piece of whole grain toast.
  • A fruit smoothie with protein powder.
  • A small bowl of high fiber cereal and milk.
  • A handful of raw cashews, peanuts, or other nuts.
  • Half an avocado and whole grain chips.
  • Half a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread.
  • 3 tablespoons of hummus and veggies or a few whole grain chips.
  • 2 tablespoons of cashew butter and celery decorated with raisins.
  • Rice cakes and cashew or peanut butter.
  • Almonds and apple slices.
  • 3-6 tablespoons of freshly ground flax seeds mixed with applesauce or yogurt.

Additional Tips:

  1. If you have menopausal hot flashes keeping you up at night you might especially benefit from the ground flaxseeds as the lignans have a phyto-estrogenic effect, and the omega-3 oils are very important for ensuring hormonal imbalance.
  2. If you are going nuts from insomnia, nuts just might be the answer as they are high in protein, fiber, and minerals. Eat RAW nuts and raw nut butters to avoid the rancid fats that develop in the roasting process. Roasting turns nuts into “Kitchen Table Villains” that pack on pounds and clog our arteries. Raw nuts such as peanuts and cashews in moderate quantities are a great treat to keep on hand.
  3. The healthiest foods highest in tryptophan are: Cottage cheese, peanuts, salmon, cashews, halibut, shrimp, granola, oatmeal, avocado, turkey, cheese, milk, wheat germ, eggs, collard greens, raisins, chicken, yogurt, sweet potatoes, and spinach.
  4. Try giving up dessert for a week or two, and see if that helps. Most night-time waking is caused by low blood sugar, because Americans commonly eat a sugary evening dessert that jacks their sugar up super high right before bed. As we sleep the sugar then comes crashing back down. The body always wakes us up to alert us of these kinds of imbalances.
  5. Keep in mind that excess fluids before bed also wakes us up, so ultimately it is best to not have any food or drink at least 90 minutes before bed. The older you are, the more you may need to restrict your evening fluids to ensure you don’t need a night-time trip to the restroom. Just be sure you drink up upon waking and stay hydrated throughout the rest of the day.
  6. The ultimate recipe for success is pairing light proteins such as vegetable proteins, turkey, and white cheeses with a high fiber friend such as a fruit, vegetable, or a whole grain choice. These foods also are typically rich in calcium and magnesium, minerals that serve to relax the nervous system and alleviate muscle tension.
  7. Kitchen Table Cliffnote: Protein + Fiber + Minerals= Sound Sleep

What is your favorite bedtime snack?

Recommended Reading for Insomniacs: Sleep, Stress, The Low Glycemic Index Diet, Hypoglycemia, Fiber, Amino Acids and Mood Disorders, Anxiety

Reference: “Medical Nutrition from Marz” by Dr. Russell B. Marz

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen table!

~ Dr. Nicole Sundene

Naturopathic Physician
www.KitchenTableMedicine.com

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

21 Free Preventative Medicine Habits!

Doctor#1 Laugh- When we laugh we release endorphins that make us feel good. These endorphins reduce pain and stress. Stress is a common cause of chronic disease.

Maybe you just lost a ton of money in the stock market and don’t feel like laughing a whole lot about it, but can’t you just muster up a deep dark cynical laugh about it? Good. Now that is a start!

Remember, things can always be worse, and we may not have a whole lot of control over them. But, we can always control our attitudes.

Now, go find some other things that are funny. Make your self laugh each and everyday, laugh at your friend’s silly jokes and make up a few of your own. Play some harmless pranks on your coworkers. “Laughter is the best medicine” for a reason. Now is the time to turn off the news and turn on your favorite comedy show. Laughs are free! Go get ‘em.

#2 Get Sunshine-
Why buy vitamins and when you can get them for free? Twenty minutes of sunshine on our hands and face each and every day gives us the needed RDA of vitamin D. Sunshine also boosts our serotonin levels and makes us happy. In order to optimally benefit from “nature’s Prozac” you need to be under the blue sky for 15 minutes, or an hour under a cloudy sky.

#3 Drink Water- Water is free for the most part, delicious, energizing, and prevents horribly uncomfortable conditions like bladder infections, kidney infections, and kidney stones. Water also cuts our appetite and helps us feel satisfied. When most people feel hungry, they actually are feeling thirsty. Water immediately rewards you by detoxing your system, and plumping up your cells so you don’t look old and saggy. Drink plenty of water in between meals and shoot for about sixty to eighty ounces of water per day (depending on your size and activity level) to prevent disease.

#4 Sleep- Most Americans don’t get enough of it. Your system restores itself while you are sleeping. Detox and cellular repair occur at an increased rate while you are sleeping. Your immune system also works best while you are asleep, thus you are less likely to be plagued by colds and flu’s when adequately rested. Sleep is free to nearly everyone but med students and the parents of small children. Try going to bed an hour earlier each night if you can. In order to have the energy to exercise, eat right, and be your best—you need to be well rested.

#5 Give Hugs-The price of a hug is free and the benefits are countless. Hugs reduce stress, build community, and nurture both young and old alike. According to family therapist Virginia Satir, “We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” Make it a habit to give out twelve hugs a day, even if they are to your self. Everybody needs a hug right now.

#6 Cut back on activities- Chances are you are doing way too much right now. Cutting back on activities and obligations may not only save you money, but save your life by reducing stress and lowering your risk of being in an accident from needless rushing around. Accidents are the leading cause of death in younger age groups. A few minutes less of rushing each day may save your life.

#7 Meditate-Taking five minutes to breathe, ground your energy to the earth, and release your mind of all thoughts is completely free and is a simple way to ensure your day gets off to a good start. Try “Five Minutes to Zen” if you are new to meditating.

#8 Eat Less-If you are overweight, you are eating too much, or too much of the wrong kinds of foods. Switch to a whole foods diet and eat slowly and until you are full. Overeating is ridiculously expensive and costs you much more than just the rising cost of food. Overeating can cost you your health!

#9 Pet your Pet- Well known for lowering both blood pressure and anxiety, interacting with animals is a great way to get you calmed down. Pets are great stress busters, and also serve as free entertainment. Take your dog to a dog park for a free fun relaxing time.

#10 Breathe- Air is still free last time I checked. You cannot be properly energized without sufficient oxygen. Sit up straight and breathe in and out deeply while watching your belly rise and fall. To further release stress try an activity called “Square Breathing”. If stress is killing you slowly, it is time to start breathing.

#11 Phone a Friend- Talking for the most part is free, and talking about our stressors has been shown to be a key feature in various longevity studies. Now is the time to reach out towards others, you are not the only one with problems. Being a friend for someone else and giving of yourself is also a great way to reduce stress. Studies show that those surrounded by a community live longer than those who don’t. Stay connected.

#12 Exercise- Consistently shown to reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, improve well being, attitude and sleep, think of exercise as the hammer and nails in your preventative medicine toolbox. Exercise is the simplest inexpensive way to build your health. You don’t need a fancy gym membership to exercise. Just establish a basic routine of yoga and calisthenics and do them in the same order every day for at least twenty minutes. Then, go out and run, walk, bike, rollerblade, swim or organize a fun neighborhood game of football, basketball, soccer, or tag to burn up some calories.

#13 Play with Children-Engaging your creative mind will help you blow off stress. Most of us are stuck in our analytical left hemispheres all day. Let your creativity loose and take a visit to the right side of your brain. How about an arts and craft project? Research shows that craft products such as knitting reduce stress.

#14 Stretch-With age we lose both muscle mass and flexibility. You can easily sneak in 15 minutes of stretching at the office, in front of the television, or after your workout. At the very least: roll your neck, and stretch your pecs and quads–the muscles that get tight from sitting all day.

#15 Lift Weights-Weight bearing exercise is shown to be MORE effective in treating osteoporosis than the most popular pharmaceutical medications used to treat osteoporosis. So why is everyone on a bisphosphonate you may wonder? Because most people don’t want to take the time to do the work. You can prevent painful fractures in your spine that will occur inevitably from osteoporosis by engaging NOW in daily weight bearing exercise. Try using hand weights when doing lunges, squats, triceps and biceps curls. Push ups and pull ups are also super for driving calcium back in to the bone matrix.

#16 Quit Smoking- Let’s face it. Smoking causes death. Smoking is a leading cause of death. Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do to PREVENT not just lung cancer, but mouth cancer, lip cancer, esophageal cancer, stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, emphysema, arthritis, heart disease, and every other form of chronic illness. Smoking causes inflammation in the body which is just like throwing gasoline on the chronic illness inflammatory fire. Quit smoking now to save money today, and save your life tomorrow.

#17 Wear your Seat Belt and Helmet-Okay you may not need to do both of these at all times, but the leading cause of death in children and young adults is accidents. It takes you only a second or two to buckle up. That second could save your life. Buckling up is free. Do it.

#18 Write it Down- Freaking out about the economy? Not sure where your next groceries are coming from? Don’t know how you will fill up your car with gas to drive the next car pool? Worried that you are going to lose your house? Just let go from your job? Stressed out of your mind? Write all your worries down in to your journal. Now close the journal, and walk away, leaving your worries in the journal.

Purging yourself of your worries is therapeutic and reduces stress. Use your journal to move through the worry, don’t dwell on it. Dwelling on your worries does not facilitate any transformation processes, it just keeps you stagnant in your stress. Some worry is good. Chronic worrying means chronic stress. Chronic stress means chronic disease.

#19 Wash your Hands- With the cold and flu season upon us, the most important thing we can do to prevent illness is wash our hands. Always wash your hands before eating, after using the restroom, before touching your face, after sneezing and coughing, and after using a coworkers office space.

#20 Pray- A strong spiritual connection is always the key to surviving hard times. Researchers have found that chronically ill patients actually benefit from the prayers of others, even when they didn’t know others were praying for them! Whether you are praying for someone else, or praying for yourself, you are trusting Life and trusting God. Regardless of your religious standpoint, it is inarguable that prayer reduces stress for those that believe.

#21 Commit Kindness- Kindness is free, and is the purported driving force that “keeps the world going ’round”. Everyone needs kindness right now. Be kind to yourself, be kind to your family, your coworkers, your colleagues, your friends. Be kind to strangers, to telemarketers, to bill collectors, be kind to the homeless, to children, to adults in need, to pets, be kind to everyone that you encounter whether they deserve it or not.

Now is the BEST time to “Commit random acts of kindles and senseless beauty”. You may have problems, but are they an emergency or an inconvenience? Chances are they are just an inconvenience. Now is the time to reach out not retract in.

Now is certainly not the time to let your health fall apart, frankly none of us can afford it. Instead, follow as many of these simple and free preventative medicine tips to insure that you don’t miss any days of work. Stay positive to prevent stress from facilitating the formation of a chronic disease in your body. During these tough times when many do not have medical insurance, we all need to stay as strong and happy and healthy as possible.

Feel free to forward on these simple tips to anyone else that may benefit.

Reference: http://KitchenTableMedicine.com

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen table! Feel free to subscribe, leave comments, or ask me any questions about preventative medicine.

~Dr. Nicole Sundene

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

The Beatles and Bipolarism

“I Want You So Bad” By The Beatles

“Here Comes the Sun”  By The Beatles

In order to view the above videos if viewing from my newsletter, you will have to click the title “Beatles and Bipolarism” in your newsletter to go straight to the article. (Sorry the video doesn’t show up! I’m not that smart yet with my coding skills! “Progress not perfection.”)

By Dr. Nicole Sundene

If there were ever to be a classic musical moment to portray bipolarism it would be done, of course, by none other than the Beatles on the classic “Abbey Road” album.  The sudden and rapid transition of the dark depressing instrumentals of ”I Want You So Bad (She’s So Heavy)” abruptly, and (thankfully I might add) stop and then suddenly, the twinkling of the next delightful song comes on, “Here Comes the Sun.”

Now the beauty of music is that we can cultivate that which is in our souls. We can replicate how we feel through our music, which is why I encourage every child to learn a musical instrument….especially the frustrated, complicated, constantly angry, and sensitive types.

If you have a child like this, I highly recommend you keep trying instruments on them until you find one that sticks. Don’t make it a punishment either. Don’t set a timer. God forbid, don’t buy a metronome. Just let it be the gift that it should be for them.

If you aren’t depressed or bipolar, it is tough to understand and have empathy for people afflicted by these conditions.  Depressed people don’t carry around IV poles, they don’t really look sick, they may actually appear to be some of the happiest most sunshiny and smiley people you know.  Carl Jung would call this “the mask that we wear,” and Jim Carey portrayed that fabulous ability to wear a mask in the movie, “The Mask.”

I’m sure you’ve seen a manic person or two dancing on the street corner.  But there are manic people all around us overeating, overshopping, overdrinking, overdruggging, or just “over-overing” as Mary O’malley describes it.

Depression has very few clear physical signs, but a disease just like any other disease depression is.  It is easy to get a lot of needless sympathy when you are rocking a hot pink cast, but when you have a case of “The Mean Reds” as Audrey Hepburn describes them in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” no one can really gather what is wrong.  Half the time you don’t even know what’s wrong either.

Just like the “I Want You So Bad” dark dreary instrumental on the Beatle’s Abbey Road.  I have been listening to the album a number of times when many friends will just get up and fast forward to the next song. Too bad you can’t just push a button and have “Here Comes the Sun”  instantly playing in the background of your brain to drown out the dreariness.

But that is bipolarism for you in a nutshell.  Obviously I could get out my DSM IV diagnostic manual and rattle off a myriad of signs and symptoms.  But the Abby Road transition is exactly what demonstrates it best in my mind.  Dark and dreary….then back to sunlight….then back again…and who knows when the song will change next?

The beauty of music albums created with intention, such as this great classic, is that if you listen to the whole album from start to finish you realize that there is a point to it all,  “And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make.”

Abby Road is not just a random collection of music.  When I listen to this album, I am reminded that life is a masterful collection of moments in itself.  Good, bad, ugly, sad, sweet, bittersweet, regretful, shameful, painful, but hopefully sprinkled with a lot of joy and seasoned heavily with laughter. Even if we are just laughing about how hard these economic times are.

Recently, a few of my friends have been to some dark places, and having visited those places myself, I have been worried about them.  But I would just like to remind you that each mood is part of a collection.  We are not our thoughts.  We are what we are.  Are thoughts are merely clouds existing in our existence.

The clouds are part of our conditioning.  Some days they are heavier than others.  Some days it is blue skies.  According to author Mary O’Malley, 96% of our lives are experienced by the time we are six years old, because children experience time differently.  Likely, whatever is clouding your existence stems back to your childhood, and whatever is coming up right now for you is exactly what is here today to help you heal those old wounds.

The conditioning is what is in front of your face holding you back from seeing the beauty and gifts that life has to offer all around you. The conditioning is what is making you angry, the conditioning is what is making you sad.  The conditioning is what makes you live in the same drama day after day.  The conditioning results in a bipolar version of “Ground Hog Day.”

The irony of the dark dark instrumental spin off of “I Want You So Bad,” is that it sounds like the ultimate in love songs.  Doesn’t it?  Don’t we all want someone to “want us SO bad?”  Who do you “want so bad?”  Why do you want them so bad?  Why do you want to be wanted so bad?

The person you should want the ”baddest” is yourself.

We fall in that dark dark hole of depression because the person that we want so bad is truly ourselves…and only we can be there for ourselves.  Instead we spin off on a dark dreary instrumental tangent for much too long because we can’t have who we want so bad.  And all you ever really need is you.

That is why Dr. Nicole is putting the “YOU” in the, “I want you so bad.”

I like to think of that song “I want you so bad”  when I am in the dark hole.  I like to ask myself… “Nicole what is it you really need to do for yourself that you are hoping someone else will do?”

And then I do it. That is if I can.  If you are very disabled by depression you will need to ask for help. Ask me, ask your friends, family, or depression support team.  Call your doctor.

Oprah said it best on her latest series of why she “fell off the wagon” and gained the weight back,  “It’s not a weight issue, it’s a love issue.”

Likewise, with depression, it is often a self love issue too.  Once we work through that and create some self-FULL time and self-LOVE and self-GRATITUDE we can easily get to the sweet spot….that light lovely tinkering of “Little Darling, the ice is slowly melting….here comes the sun…du in du du…and it’s alright.”

There’s a video at the top of this article in case you have no idea who the Beattles are, and in that case you must watch both videos, doctor’s orders.

Don’t be stopping by my kitchen table without expecting some sort of homework assignment. *wink*

~Dr. Nicole

Related reading:

Depression Tip: Mark Your Calendar

Seasonal Affective Disorder Self-Help

The Fifteen Most Fabulous Herbal Sedatives

Can You Always Think Positive?

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

Depression Tip: Mark Your Calendar

By Dr. Nicole Sundene

Photobucket

Did you take your anti-depressant today?

Did you take it yesterday and the day before that?

Can you even remember?

Depression can create such a fog that we can’t remember what we did yesterday, let alone if we took our anti-depressant.

Oftentimes patients are having unnecessary mood swings because they either:

A. Are so depressed they can’t even take it for whatever reason.

Or

B. “I’m feeling better, so I just take it when I feel like I need it.”

Now both of these scenarios can be improved upon with a little organization. Let’s mark our calenders!

First of all, if you fall in category A, you need to talk to your doctor about a more aggressive treatment plan. If you fall in to category B, you need to remember that regardless if you are taking natural or prescription meds for depression, that overall you will feel better with consistency, and consistency means marking the calendar and taking the prescribed supplements or drugs DAILY.

The problem with this inconsistent paradigm of thinking is that most antidepressants have a half life of several days, so they tend to stay in your system even if you aren’t taking them. If you feel fine one day and decide to skip it, it this choice likely won’t have a significant impact until the drug cycles out of your system several days later, when you are depressed, taking your anti-depressant, and waiting for it to “kick in” again.

If you are feeling better, you can talk to your doctor about decreasing your prescription meds. Maybe you just need a half dose. Or maybe it is time to titrate off them and try some natural medicines for depression as I discussed in my article “The Nine Best Natural Medicines for Depression” to help provide simple depression prevention, aka daily maintenance.

St.John’s Wort was shown to be just as efficacious as standard anti-depressants, yet with fewer side effects (be cautious when combining with MANY prescription drugs though, as the drug metabolizes them at a faster rate…esp birth control pills, be careful unless you want to name your kid John.)

I know you are depressed, so give yourself a sticker for sticking to your regime consistently, everything feels like a chore when depressed.

Mark it on the calendar, or find your own system, but by all means make sure you are taking a second to keep track of your depression meds. The best way to stay out of the hole is to make sure there is not a hole in your preventive plan for depression.

Read More: Depression Category.

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

What Diet Is Best For You?

diets.jpgDr. Nicole, what is the best diet?

The best diet is the diet that works for YOU.

The best diet is something that you can healthfully follow for the rest of your life.

The best diet for you is the diet that gives you energy, keeps your health in balance, helps you to be emotionally stable, maintains your religious or spiritual ethics and is sustainable for the environment.

With that being said, I am happy to announce that we have a variety of great diet plans to choose from and follow. If you are new to a particular diet and want some help simply leave your question or request for support in the comments section so that we may assist you with your goals.

Diets for health, wellness and weight loss:

The Whole Foods Diet

The Weight Loss Diet

The Low Glycemic Index Diet:
stay feeling full longer, by eating a diet with a high “satiety index”.

Therapuetic Diets:

Allergy Elimination Diet

Anti-inflammatory Diet


Blood Pressure Lowering Diet
and Helpful Tips for Reducing Sodium

Candida Diet

Cholesterol Lowering Diet

Diabetes Diet

Detox Diet

The Diet for Depression

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

Postpartum Depression: An Interview on Living With PPD

PhotobucketI think it is important for those challenged by illness to feel UNDERSTOOD, and this disease can be a tough one for other friends and family members to truly empathize with.

Postpartum Depression just proves the point that one of my psychology teachers made to, “always check in with people around the happy times too…weddings, babies, new jobs, new homes often precipitate depression as much as unhappy times.”

I have received the gift of hearing many candid disease descriptions over the years, and I hope that this interview will resonate with those in need of understanding Postpartum Depression, or PPD, as we will often refer to it in the following anonymous interview.

Dr. Nicole: When Did you First Develop Postpartum Depression?

I didn’t develop PPD until I had my 3rd and 4th children. Some people experience it with their first baby; that didn’t happen with me. I started to notice symptoms around the 3rd or 4th month after birth. My symptoms consisted of being chronically tired, but not being able to sleep. I noticed I was drinking and smoking more because I felt overwhelmed (self-medicating). I noticed that I was just “not myself”.

I never took naps before, and was now taking them; I never missed appointments before and was now missing them, I have never been late to work and was now late to work every day because I just didn’t feel like I could get out of bed. Your entire day seems so overwhelming; you just don’t even know where to begin, so you’d rather just not begin and hide and pretend everything is okay.

Dr. Nicole: In Your Personal Experience, What Has Postpartum Depression Felt Like?

It feels like you are overwhelmed. When the baby cries you want to cover your ears and pretend its not happening, but you KNOW you have to get up and comfort the baby. You KNOW you need to change their diaper, or feed them, or give them a bath, but you just DON’T want to. You feel like you are forcing yourself to perform “regular mommy duties”, but you just don’t have the energy to. All these thoughts make you think that you are a bad mom.

Dr. Nicole:  Has Postpartum Depression interfered with parental bonding?

My PPD has been debilitating and incapacitating. Going to the bathroom feels like a hassle, the thought of taking a shower seems overwhelming. The only thing that makes me feel better is seeing my daughter. Rocking her, playing with her, and feeding her makes me feel better. I feel bad that I have this beautiful little angel, and I am still sad. I feel guilty for being sad and always tired. However, I think I have bonded with her more than any baby I’ve had. I love holding her, I love looking at her, I love her – and I’m sad that I’m sad.

What is the uttermost worst aspect of Postpartum Depression?

The worst part about PPD is having people judge you. I’m not Andrea Yates, I have no desire to hurl my baby out of a window or drown my children in the bathtub. I love my kids, they are the only thing that keeps me going through this horrible disease. I didn’t ask for PPD, and now I feel like I’m being judged and punished for having it. I hated having to leave them for a week and checking myself into a hospital. I hate having to take medication. I hate having a “mental illness”, and admitting to it, because then everyone assumes you’re crazy.

What is Helpful for Your Postpartum Depression? How can your friends and family support you?

Everyone who has PPD just needs a “time-out” occasionally. When you feel overwhelmed, you need to feel like you are allowed to go sit in the bathroom and cry for no reason, and know that someone will be there to help you. You need to get a hug and have someone tell you everything will be okay. You need to NOT have to “make a sandwich” or “do the laundry” or “change a diaper” for 2 minutes. You need support, and for people like me, it’s hard to ask for it. People just need to see how tired you look and allow you to take a break. People with PPD don’t think they are “allowed” to have any of these feelings.

PhotobucketCan women/families prepare for or prevent Postpartum Depression?

There is no way to prevent PPD. You know me, I’m a funny, up-beat person and now I feel horrible, and I feel so guilty for feeling horrible. I cry for no reason, and I’m not a “cryer”. The only way to help a woman with PPD is to recognize the symptoms (chronic exhaustion, feeling overwhelmed with mundane functions, noticing they are not taking care of themselves, paying attention to their eating habits, “self-medicating” with drugs or alcohol, feeling guilty, crying a lot, feeling like they have to hide in a bathroom to take a break, etc…)

To help someone with PPD, you need to spend the time and do the research to assist your loved one. You need to make the doctors appointment, you need to put her in the car and take her there, you need to pick up the prescriptions and make her take them every single day.

You, as a family member or friend, have to do the foot-work because if you are dealing with someone who has PPD, they cannot do any of that. She would be crying in the bathroom, unable to make even that first phone call; knowing she needs help but unable to take the first step.

I dont have any books or online resources, which is probably why I’m in this predicament for the 2nd time.

Any final thoughts you would care to share on PPD?

PPD is so “looked down upon” that I have now have the Dept. of Health and Welfare coming to my house because the kids have missed a few days of school. I called the teachers, counselors, and social workers at the school FROM THE HOSPITAL and told them I was in the hospital, and now my husband was at home with 4 babies and the kids might miss some school because he is overwhelmed.

I asked for homework packs to be sent home. I explained to them why I was in the hospital. I thought I was doing the right thing. Having Health and Welfare randomly show up on your doorstep and threatening to take your children is the worst feeling ever. Having people search your house is retarded. Having people randomly show up because they need to do a “visual check” on the kids is humiliating and insulting.

If I had just called the kids in sick or said we were taking a ski vacation to Tahoe, no one would have cared. BECAUSE I did the right thing, I now feel like I’m being punished.

Dr. Nicole: Thank you for sharing your very personal experience, it was very touching to read for me, and I hope it will resonate with others challenged by PPD.

If anyone else would care to share their personal experiences with Postpartum Depression please do so in the comments.  You may do so anonymously or under a fake name for all I care.  My only hope is that people can be more aware of this form of depression, and not feel so alone if they are also struggling.

~Dr. Nicole

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

What is Depression?

“If I’m such a legend, why am I so lonely?”  – Judy Garland
By KC Kelly, Ph.D., LMHC

headshot_for_nicoles_site1.jpgEveryone feels down and sad, probably more often than they would like. The stressors of everyday life in our busy, hectic world make feeling this way very common. If, however, you have feelings of hopelessness and helplessness more often than not, you do not know why you are feeling this way, and can not seem to pull yourself out of it to the point where it affects your everyday life, you may be suffering with clinical depression.

Depression is a serious medical condition that effects both the mind AND the body. Many of the symptoms of depression are mental, but because the mind and body are connected, many physical symptoms appear as well.

Depression can be all encompassing causing great lifestyle changes. A person suffering with depression may have difficulties at work, difficulties at school, difficulties with professional and person relationships, and may not even want to leave his or her bed. They have extremely low self esteem and think the worst of themselves in all aspects. They tend to isolate themselves from everyone and everything around them and may even feel as though there is no hope and no reason to live.

What Depression IS

  • The leading cause of substance abuse (either drugs or alcohol) as well as suicide.
  • A mental condition that can strike anyone of any age, race, gender, or ethnicity.
  • A very treatable condition given the proper therapeutic intervention and/or medication.

What Depression IS NOT

  • A condition to be taken lightly.
  • A sign of personal weakness.
  • The fault of the person suffering.

Symptoms of Depression Include

  • Sadness, feeling low or blue, irritability.
  • Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Changes in appetite including overeating or under eating.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Feelings of fatigue.
  • Persistent physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive difficulties, chronic pain.
  • Thought of death or suicide.
  • Suicidal attempts.

Statistical information reported on this page was obtained from The National Institute of Mental Health

If you think you may be suffering with any of these symptoms, or would just like to talk with a professional in a caring and completely confidential way, you can visit Dr. KC at www.DOCintheBiz.com where you will be able to email her for private and confidential help from your own home! You will never be made to leave your house or comfort zone.

Read more articles on depression

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Self Help

Photobucket“Hi Dr. Nicole, my depression is much worse this time of year.  What do you recommend?”

Immediately after the holidays is a great time to have a nervous breakdown…er…”nervous breakthrough.”

We tend to feel even more agitated and moody this time of year especially now that all the excitement of the holidays have died down and there isn’t much to distract us from the winter blahs.

We are also all feeling about ten pounds over weight after likely losing the battle of the holiday bulge.

Whether you just have depression during the winter months, or whether you struggle with depression all year round that is exacerbated by the low light conditions of winter; having a plan in place to better cope with the realities of winter depression is an important preventative measure.

My last name serves as a convenient mnemonic to help remember how to take care of yourself throughout the winter months…

The Sundene Protocol for Seasonal Affective Disorder

  • Sun- for Sunshine or Sun Equivalent
  • D- for vitamin D
  • E- for Exercise
  • N- for Nutrition
  • E- for Everything else. SAD can have debilitating consequences. If you struggle with depression, be sure to share this plan with the family and friends on your “support team” so that if you find yourself in an excessively dark and gloomy place this winter you can easily get some help to pull you out of the “hole”.  Consult with a physician before self treating with natural anti-depressants or natural anxiety aids.

Although severe depression should also improve with this protocol, those experiencing moderate to severe depression should ALWAYS be working with their health care provider. Anyone experiencing thoughts of suicide should be under the supervision of a physician.

The following are the basics for my protocol for seasonal depression.

“Sun” – We need 10,000 lux of light every day in order to produce enough serotonin to feel happy. This can be achieved by 15 minutes outside on a bright blue sky sunny day, or 1 hour outside when it is overcast. You may wonder “What in the world is a lux?” A lux is the light equivalent put off by one candle. So you can light 10,000 candles in your home to cheer yourself up (a bit of a fire hazard!) or you can just invest in a light box.

A light box is an excellent idea for those with seasonal depression and is best used for twenty to forty minutes in the morning depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations to achieve the 10,000 lux equivalent.If you are unable to afford a light box you can simply try full spectrum light bulbs as these often provide enough light for those with mild to moderate seasonal depression.

Keep in mind also that outdoor places near water or snow are great to visit during the gloomy months of winter as the light is intensified as it is reflected back up to our eyes. If you are concerned about protecting your eyes from UV radiation, you can buy sunglasses with a clear lens, but that still provide UV filtration as it is the actual photons of light that our brains use and not the UV radiation to produce serotonin.

Those struggling with seasonal depression need to make an appointment with the sun or the sun’s substitute every single day. Topping off your serotonin levels by day means that more of this neurotransmitter will be available for conversion to melatonin (the hormone that keeps us asleep at night). Using light as a medicine should easily improve your sleep, leaving you more energetic for the following day.

“D” -Vitamin D is no longer considered a vitamin, but a “pro-hormone”. Exciting research about vitamin D is on the horizon, and some evidence supports a link to depression, although some studies do not support this link. Just about every patient I have ever checked in Seattle has been vitamin D deficient.

Vitamin D is produced in our bodies when UV light touches our skin. Most people living in the northern latitudes are easily vitamin D deficient if they do not spend 20 minutes outside each day. Elderly people have thinner skin, and thus produce less vitamin D, they also absorb less dietarily. Until further evidence supports this theory linking depression with low vitamin D levels, it only makes sense to be sure that you are at least not deficient in vitamin D.

The RDA for adults ranges between 200 IU and 600 IU. Food sources of vitamin D are milk, fish, and yeast. I typically recommend 1000 IU of vitamin D for my patients struggling with depression as a cheap and easy insurance policy that they are not deficient in vitamin D.

If you would like to have your levels checked be sure that your physician orders the “25-OH-D” as that is the most reliable indicator of vitamin D stores. Do not ever exceed 1000 IU of vitamin D unless under the care of your naturopathic physician. Dangerous side effects such as hypercalcemia can occur.

“E” -Exercise- is the drug of choice for anyone that is depressed. It is a tough medication to take though when depressed because as best summed up by Newton’s laws of motion: “An object at rest stays at rest until acted upon by another force.”

When you are down in the depressed hole it is tough to get exercising, but stagnation is just going to perpetuate your problem.

Countless studies support the efficacy of exercise for depression. If you struggle with seasonal depression be sure to try to exercise outside EVERY SINGLE TIME the sun is out! Find a walking, running, or cycling buddy and take turns pushing each other out there. Whatever you do…just keep moving! Being cramped up in doors during the winter months is the problem and not the solution.

“N” –Nutrition is fundamental for anyone struggling with depression. When the body does not feel good the mind is soon to follow.Depressed thinking often results in poor dietary choices.

When we are depressed and in a low light setting we crave carbohydrates so that the body can produce more serotonin. However, sugar is exactly what the body does not need in the long term for healing from depression. The best diet for those with depression, anxiety, and bi-polar to follow is the LOW GLYCEMIC INDEX DIET.

Balancing out the blood sugar will help keep the mood at an even keel throughout the day. Be sure to eat protein with every meal and especially foods high in tryptophan such as turkey, cottage cheese, peanuts, fish, eggs, oatmeal, avocados, and bananas.

A high quality multi-vitamin will cover all the bases and ensure that you are not deficient in any of the B vitamins that are coenzymes for producing the neurotransmitters that make us feel happy.

“E” -For Everything Else, such as “Herbal Sedatives.” There are many treatment options for depression. Please do not give up hope.

Counseling, herbs, amino acids, and of course anti-depressants when need be will help keep you out of the “hole”. Naturopathic treatments for depression often take time as they are addressing the whole person and the long term.

As a physician, I give every treatment plan three to six months to determine it’s efficacy. If you are not experiencing improvement you may want to consider other treatment options. Various counseling and therapy techniques are also available, if you find you are not making progress with your therapist, consider a new referral for a different type of therapy.

Remember that aside from physical and mental components, there is also a social component to seasonal depression. Much time spent inside, or repeatedly with the same people inside can contribute to a poor mood.

Schedule weekly activities to get you out of the house and interacting with others. If you live alone, the winter months can feel especially isolating. Find an elderly person that also lives alone to check in on, it will do you both a world of good.

If you enjoyed this post please feel free to leave a comment, share this information with those that might benefit and subscribe to future articles. Thanks for stopping by my “kitchen table!”

~Dr. Nicole Sundene
Naturopathic Physician

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

Sauteed Spinach Recipe

Today’s featured healing recipe is provided by ZestyCook.com!

Spinach is an especially healing food as it is rich in folic acid and beta carotene.

The root of folic acid comes from “foilage” and leafy greens are chock full of this nutrient shown to prevent cervical cancer and birth defects.

Folic acid also has been shown in research to make anti-depressants more effective. You will also be happy to know that it is OK to eat a little bit of fat with your vegetables. Fats paired with veggies help us better absorb the fat soluble vitamins they contain. Those on the Mediterranean Diet or Anti-Inflammatory Diet can substitute the low fat cream for olive oil.

Zesty has provides us with a SIMPLE five minute spinach side dish packed with flavour. Give this a try – you will be very glad you did! Feel free to get creative and substitute your favorite seasonal greens: Bok Choy, Swiss Chard, and Kale are also excellent healing choices.

Sauteed Spinach

Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups Spinach
  • 1/4 Cup Low fat Cream
  • 2 cloves Garlic crushed and made into paste
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • Handful of chopped Fresh Basil
  • Organic sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat pan and add olive oil.
  2. Add spinach and allow to wilt down. Stirring for 1 minute.
  3. Add garlic, cayenne, black pepper. Stir for 2 minutes
  4. Add Low fat cream
  5. Top with Pine nuts and fresh basil

Zesty Tip: To make garlic paste, add a bit of organic sea salt to your cutting board and crush the clove of garlic on top. Then using your knife to smear the garlic back and forth into the salt mixture. The salt will help form a paste and you are ready to go.

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

Meet Dr. KC Kelly Online Psychotherapist at DOCintheBiz

kc.jpgEditorial Note: Please welcome to the kitchen table a very dear friend of mine, guest author Dr. KC Kelly, licensed psychotherapist…

Hi! I am KC Kelly, Ph.D., LMHC and I was invited to introduce myself here at one of my favorite alternative medicine and health care informational websites, Kitchen Table Medicine. I’d like to share with you what online counseling or psychotherapy (also called E-therapy) is all about and what I have to offer at DOCintheBiz.com.

Millions of people search the Internet every day for total health care information. Now, I have embarked on a whole new frontier of offering a single place to find a plethora of mental/emotional health information including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, relationship issues, self esteem, stress management, time management, and so much more! I also offer online counseling or therapy! One click to DOCintheBiz.com takes you to a safe and comfortable place where all your mental/emotional health needs can be met!

Before you go there, please allow me to share with you, who I am and some facts about online counseling or therapy.

First of all, one of the most important factors to consider when entering into therapy or counseling is the relationship you have with your therapist. A special kind of trust and rapport needs to be present or the therapy will not be successful. Not every therapist is for every client and visa versa and that is why it is imperative that you “interview” or get to know your therapist before beginning a therapeutic relationship with him or her.

At DOCintheBiz.com, I give you the opportunity to read a multitude of articles that I have written on a vast amount of topics so that you can get to know me, how I write, and how I work with clients. I write one article/week (sometimes more) and try to write based on the information that people request. I encourage my readers to comment on all my articles and I answer each and every commentary. I invite you to visit my blog and see what you think at DOCintheBiz.com.

The next step is to understand that E-therapy directly addresses a major problem uncovered by the Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health (1999) which stated that while one American in five has a diagnosable psychological problem, nearly two-thirds of them never seek treatment. Online therapy or counseling should be for mild to moderate concerns or issues you may be having. Online counseling or therapy is a great way to discuss issues, find solutions, and find ways to change your life for the better!

What Dr. KC’s online counseling or therapy DOES provide:

1. Therapeutic help from a professional, caring, compassionate, and understanding therapist who puts YOUR needs first without an ounce of judgment
2. The ability to get to core issues more quickly, sometimes in the first lines of an email
3. Complete confidentiality and ability to keep 100% anonymous (discussed in disclaimer)
4. Convenience of never needing to leave your home and reaching out when YOU want to
5. Affordable low cost services HIGHLY worth the small investment (it’s YOUR health!)
6. Quick, solid, informational, expert and thoughtful responses to your issues and questions

What Dr. KC’s online counseling or therapy DOES NOT provide:

1. Help for severe crisis situations- It is not that Dr. KC does not work with crisis situations (in person); however, when someone writes in online for help with a crisis, he/she is urged to please call 911 or a crisis hotline for IMMEDIATE help.

Thank you to Kitchen Table Medicine and your readers for giving me the opportunity to introduce myself and to share a brief understanding of what online counseling or therapy involves. I hope that you will visit me at DOCintheBiz.com for more detailed information.

If you are having concerns, it is OK if I’m not the one helping you; however, I do urge you to reach out and ask for assistance! Someone is there to take your hand and help guide you to a better, happier, and healthier life. YOU’RE WORTH IT!

~Dr. KC
www.DOCintheBiz.com
www.GLCzone.com

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

Can You Always Think Positive?

zenthinking.jpgBy Dr. Nicole Sundene

Can You Always Think Positive?

I am certainly trying.

I was raised on a thick Scandinavian-German dose of Murphy’s Law, and am described to have a “Death Valley DRY sense of humor sprinkled heavily with cynicism”.

Maybe I get my old man sense of humor from my Grandpa, or maybe it is just because I have been working in The American Sickcare System for the past nine years.

Sometimes it is really tough to stay positive.

Recently I read an article at one of my favorite positivity sites Ya-ttitude titled “The 4-Step Plan to Success” instructing me to:

“Keep your mind tightly closed to all negative influence.

Those negative influences can come from places you least expect;

friends, family and acquaintances.”

Sounds simple enough! So I decided to try it.

Positive thinking is crucial to any successful stress management program.

I am actively working hard to learn new ways to be more positive by following the advice from author’s such as Benny Greennberg from Ya-ttitude, Life Coach, Tim Brownson from A Daring Adventure, and my other favorite reads at Principles for Peace, ZenHabits, and Zenplease.

I work hard to read and test out their stress management tips so I can better share the simplest ways to live stress free.

In my opinion, closing yourself off to ALL negative thinking is the foundation to being positive and less stressed. Benny Greenwood’s Four Step Plan has it exactly right.

Being positive also means learning to just go with the flow.

For instance, the other day the cat puked all over my pile of clean laundry. Instead of getting upset, I decided to quickly see the positive in things and tossed the nasty mess straight in to the washing machine.

“Ha! Now I don’t have to fold and iron that whole mess today!” I thought, applying my goal to always strictly see everything as positive, as I washed my hands clean of the nasty mess.

Now if someone cynical like me can be more positive while cleaning up cat puke, then anyone can!

Try it.

Try only seeing the positive in every situation for an entire month. See how that month then goes for you.

  • Were you more productive?
  • More happy?
  • More pleasant to be around?
  • Did you make new friends?
  • Do more people like you now?

I know this is not about being more popular, it is about being more positive to reduce useless stress. Being more popular is just a fringe benefit to being more positive.

Do you know someone that could benefit from being more popular er…positive?

Who in your life could benefit from this stress management tip?

  • That demanding perfectionistic boss?
  • Irritating co-worker?
  • Always agitated friend?
  • Meddling mother in law?
  • Cranky husband?
  • Ungrateful child? (Mom please don’t send this to me…I promise I’m trying!)

E-mail them this article, or print it out and allow it to mysteriously “appear” on their desk, or somewhere they might be forced to find it.

The options are endless when it comes to how “positivity” and positive thinking can help us. I notice the immediate result for me with positive thinking, is that my attitude about life is just better.

I am instantly happier.

When I see the positive in a tough situation that once had me upset, I am learning from life. Maybe the lesson was hard. But learning the lesson and moving forward is one of life’s biggest positives. How else are we to grow?

Growth is positive.

Post note: During the final editing of this little uplifting article on positivity, I realized that I never remembered to TURN THE WASHING MACHINE ON! So the cat puke mess sat in there for three delicious hot summer days!

Oh my…well if someone can please help me see the positive in that, I would be most grateful. *shudder*

Ugh…“I am too blessed to be stressed”.

I will be busy reciting the positive person mantra until further notice.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen table!

~Dr. Nicole

Naturopathic Physician

www.KitchenTableMedicine.com

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

Natural Medicines for Depression

May 12, 2008 by Dr. Nicole Sundene  
Filed under Depression

shutterstock_5239246.jpgI am very passionate about helping people with depression using naturopathic medicine. Alternative medicines, herbal medicines, nutritional therapies, diet, and lifestyle are wonderful complementary approaches to addressing depression over the long haul.

Please do keep in mind when I am discussing depression I am doing so VERY generally and you will need to work with your health care provider to determine the type of depression you have whether it be mild, moderate, severe, bipolar or what not.

Also, I am writing this up as general self help to get you pointed in the right direction with the natural medicines that should be the most helpful.

You can print out this list of well researched and safe suggestions for depression and bring it to your appointment with your physician to determine which treatments will particularly benefit your form of depression. You should ALWAYS work with a professional when treating your depression because the consequences of sub-optimally treated depression can be life threatening.

I also strictly advise AGAINST combining herbs or natural therapies (aside from vitamins, minerals, or fish oil) with any form of anti-depressants. Although it is occasionally done, most naturopathic physicians, MD’s, and psychiatrists agree that until we have research demonstrating efficacy and safety herbs and natural anti-depressants with similar mechanisms to prescription drugs should not be simultaneously used. Also, although these medicines are “natural” they are still medicines. Please do not choose to discontinue your natural medicines without the advice of your physician, someone should be overseeing your care. Depression is complicated to sort out. Please do not try to do it alone. Someone needs to be documenting your mood fluctuations as well as when you start and stop specific therapies.

Before we get started let’s just be perfectly frank about what natural medicines and herbs will and will not do. Herbs work well for mild, moderate, and situational depression, however they will not likely be solely effective for SEVERE depression. Herbs are a great alternative for people that do not like the side effects of their anti-depressant, or that feel they no longer need to be on a treatment as strong as a prescription anti-depressant. Herbs are helpful for transitioning all the way off medications and can be used for a period of time after an anti-depressant is discontinued to help stabilize the mood. Natural remedies may be helpful for women suffering from pre-menstrual, menopausal, or post-partum depression, however if you are pregnant or breast feeding you should never take any natural remedies aside from vitamins (at standard prenatal doses) unless advised by your physician.

Unless you are actually deficient in a vitamin, mineral, or amino acid that is causing your depression, natural treatments will not likely “cure” your depression, as they have similar mechanisms as medications, and most medications typically only work while you are taking them. Be sure, however, that you are not iron deficient if you are depressed, as a public health study saw a correlation between iron deficiency anemia and depression in young women. Herbs and natural medicines are more gentle than drugs and will thus take longer to work in your system. You therefore have to be PATIENT when working with naturopathic medicines. Most therapies will take at least two weeks to notice an effect. Natural medicines also require the same diligence as daily drugs and should be taken at the same time of day religiously for optimal effect.

Addressing the root cause of your depression with therapy is fundamental to any treatment plan, whether prescription or alternative. If counseling “did not work”. Find a new counselor with a different approach or technique. There are so many helpful techniques out there, don’t give up on therapy, give up on the therapist if after three months you do not notice notable improvement.

The Nine Best Natural Remedies for Depression:

1. St. John’s wort- Pictured above, the bright yellow flowers of the St. John’s wort plant are full of an oily red substance called hypericin. If you have St. John’s Wort growing nearby you can see the little red spots in the plant (hence the perforations in the name Hypericum perfoliatum), now roll the flowers between your fingers to release the red oils and see the medicine first hand! The red oily hypericin is the active constituent of Hypericum perfoliatum. This herb has been highly studied in many double blind research trials and shown to have significant effects similar to prescription anti-depressants. St. John’s Wort has also been shown to have a lower risk of side effects than conventional anti-depressants.

THIS HERB SHOULD NOT BE COMBINED WITH OTHER MEDICATIONS! The reason for this, is that it activates the liver’s cytochrome p450 detoxification pathway and will metabolize drugs at a faster rate, thus moving them out of your system before they likely can have their therapeutic effect. This is why we don’t combine St. John’s wort and birth control pills. I find it interesting that St. John’s Wort works so well for depression and is also such a great detoxifying agent. According to Chinese Medicine most depressed people have “sluggish livers” and thus the liver/bowel meridians are typically treated. St. John’s wort should NOT be used with prescription anti-depressants as it has a weak MAOI and SSRI effect similar to the standard activity of anti-depressants and thus may cause adverse effects. Standard dose of St. John’s Wort for those not on any other medications, is 300 mg THREE times daily of the 0.3% standardized extract.

2. Schisandra- “Chinese Prozac” is the perfect herb for depressed people that are stressed out. The berries of Schisandra chinensis improve mood, break up anxiety, support the adrenal glands through their “adaptogen” properties, enhance libido, and aid the liver’s detoxification.

I would say if you are a stressed out stay at home mom with a low libido and feeling frazzled then this herb is most likely created just for you! Standard capsule dose is two 500mg capsules taken twice daily. Take in the morning and at lunch. Because of the adaptogen properties, do not take this herb in the evening as we want it to support the adrenal glands when they are the most active. Adrenal gland support is imperative for people “running on empty” and under chronic stress, as the adrenal glands create the “fight or flight” response in the form of cortisol and catecholamines that eventually become burnt out and dysfunctional from chronic stress.

3. Passionflower- I have yet to meet a depressed person that does not have some degree of anxiety, so I am including this gentle nervine relaxant herb on my list so that if you are depressed because you are anxious, you can use Passiflora incarnata to help calm down a bit. From my observations anxiety typically feeds depression forward.

Watch your depression patterns, and if you tend to get REALLY stressed out, and then just crash and burn in to a depressive state, an herb like passionflower might help you more than an anti-depressant herb, or both can also simply be used. Implementing stress management tools are key, such as “Square Breathing” or “Five Minutes to Zen”. Passion flower extract at 45 drops daily (tincture) was shown to be as effective as oxazepam (similar to valium).

4. B-vitamins- Now I never prescribe B-vitamins alone without prescribing the WHOLE family. The family works synergistically together on the Kreb’s cycle to produce energy in the form of ATP as well as serves as very important coenzymes for a ton of other important biochemical pathways. B-12, cyanocobalmin, for instance is needed for the production of the myelin conductive sheath that insulates the neurons of our nervous system, adequate B-12 is thus critical to a healthy nervous system. B-6, pyridoxine, is imperative for women suffering from PMS, and folic acid has research supporting it’s ability to improve the efficacy of fluoxetine (prozac) in a clinical trial. Folic acid comes from “foliage” so be sure to eat your green leafies too! All depressed people need green vegetables. Be sure you are taking 800mcg of folic acid in your supplement.

B-vitamins are dirt cheap and can be like water on a wilting plant for a depressed person. A good quality multi-vitamin is typically what I prescribe to my depressed patients for B-vitamins. A multi-vitamin is a great insurance policy that nutritional deficiency is not contributing to depression. B-vitamins and standard multi-vitamin doses are most likely safe to take with anti-depressants and most medications.

5. Calcium/Magnesium- Also dirt cheap are a simple quick fix for reducing the stress, muscle tension, and insomnia associated with depression. Most people on the Standard American Diet (SAD) are deficient in magnesium, and some are likely deficient in calcium. A 500mg calcium citrate with a 250 mg magnesium an hour before bed will help replete this likely deficiency while improving quality of sleep at night. Cal/mag is most likely safe to combine with most prescription medications, but always check with your doctor before starting anything new!

Magnesium helps SAMe donate methyl groups to form neurotransmitters, and is also needed for muscle relaxation as well as over 400 enzymatic processes in our body including detoxification pathways and is also beneficial for constipation, muscle cramping, torticollis, acute angina after myocardial infarction, stroke, asthma, kidney stone prevention, dysmenorrhea, premenstrual syndrome, acute gastrointestinal spasms or cramping, eclampisa, heart disease especially cardiomyopathy, diabetes mellitus, nocturnal muscle cramping, mitral valve prolapse, toxemia of pregnancy, fibromyalgia, migraine headaches, lead toxicity, and fatigue.

Calcium is of course necessary for bone and muscle health, optimal functioning of our nervous system and is shown in the research to benefit hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, blood clotting, periodontal disease, insomnia, smooth and skeletal muscle relaxation, anxiety, hyperactivity, lead toxicity, prevention of calcium oxalate stones, prevention of colon cancer, and leg cramps.

6. Omega 3 Fatty acids- although fish oil is likely more efficacious than flax oil, I would experiment with the oil that works best for you. You can read my article on “Fish oil vs Flax oil”. A concentrate of 9.6 grams per day was shown to be effective compared to a placebo in a small pilot trial. Patients on the study were not taken off their current medications. This is one natural therapy you can safely add as an adjunctive to most treatment plans unless you are taking blood thinning medications. I typically prescribe one tablespoon of Carlson lemon flavored cod liver right before a meal, and yes you can take it in capsules if the thought of drinking fish oil makes you gag.

7. 5-HTP- Now most studies have been done on tryptophan, but because of past contamination issues it is tough to get your hands on tryptophan except through diet. 5-Hydroxy Tryptophan is just the new and improved tryptophan, and is a better therapeutic agent in my opinion because it is a biochemical step ahead of tryptophan in the production of serotonin, passing the “rate limiting step” that tryptophan fails to do. This means that 5-HTP can only feed forward in to serotonin and not go backwards in to something else.

With that being said this medicine can be a bit expensive, but is certainly worth a try! Do NOT combine this natural anti-depressant with prescription anti-depressants. I typically prescribe about 250 mg of 5-HTP on an empty stomach once or twice daily. This is pretty mega considering that most capsules start at 50mg, but the 200mg to 300mg range is what appears to work best.

5-HTP is also beneficial for insomnia, pain syndromes, schizophrenia, anorexia and bulimia, PMS, and migraine headaches. Excess tryptophan in the body is converted to serotonin (makes us happy) and melatonin (makes us sleepy). So if you have depression with insomnia this should work well for you.

8. S-adenosyl-Methionine (SAMe)- A natural amino acid anti-depressant that is part of the homocysteine metabolism pathway and serves the role of “methylating” neurotransmitters. As SAMe converts to S-adenosyl-homocysteine it donates “methyl” groups (CH3) to the nervous system so that it can effectively produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and catecholamines that make us feel GOOD and HAPPY. This natural anti-depressant is also a great detoxifying agent for the body as it activates phase II detoxification pathways in the body.

If you are recovering from alcoholism or drug abuse this may be the better choice of natural anti-depressants, however it should not be used by those that suffer from bipolar because of it’s ability to increase catecholamines and may trigger a manic episode. I would stick with St. John’s wort or 5-HTP for those susceptible to manic or hypomanic episodes. Do NOT combine with prescription drugs. Typical dose of SAMe is 50 mg once to twice daily. Always take SAMe with magnesium for optimal methylation of neurotransmitters, and a multi-vitamin as the B-vitamins folic acid, B-6, and B-12 are necessary for preventing homocysteinemia, a potential consequence of consuming elevated levels of SAMe. Homocysteine is correlated with cardiovascular damage and B-vitamins will ensure it’s conversion to an inert substance.

9. Vitamin D- I typically place depressed patients on a starting dose of 2000 IU’s of vitamin D, check their calcium and vitamin D levels and then decide if the dose should go up or down from there. I have seen great response to vitamin D especially in those that are low. Most people that live in the northern lattitudes like Seattle will be low on vitamin D. Out of the hundreds of patients I have checked, I have only found one person in Seattle that had a normal vitamin D level. Repleting deficiency is imperative, as this vitamin that is now considered a “pro-hormone” may have more of a role in the physiology of the body than we are currently aware. Overdosing on vitamin D can result in a life threatening case of hypercalcemia as vitamin D and calcium absorption are interrelated.

Do NOT take more than 1000 IU of vitamin D without being monitored by your doctor. Although the active form of vitamin D in the body is 1, 25 cholecalciferol the best test for vitamin D levels is 25-D-OH, ask your doctor to do a basic metabolic panel and check your vitamin D, pre-treatment, a month out, 3 months out and so forth. If you are deficient in vitamin D and start a 2000 IU daily dose it will take about 1 week to raise your vitamin D levels 1 point.

So if your level is 16 and you need to get to 60, it will take about 44 weeks to get you back to the normal range. You are better off doing this gradually in my opinion as we do not want to cause atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) by hypercalcemia from taking large doses of vitamin D at once. Other naturopaths may be willing to dose you up really high, but I am completely against it, until we have more research supporting the safety of this fat soluble vitamin that stores in the body. Be sure to use vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) in an emulsion form, because vitamin D2 is just crap, and not worth your time taking.

References:

  • PMID: 11552767; A systematic review and meta-analysis of Hypericum perforatum ion depression: a comprehensive clinical review. Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 2001 Sep;16)5):239-52.
  • PMID: 11939866; Effect of Hypericum perforatum (St. John’s wort) in major depressive disorder: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2002 Apr 10;287(14):1807-14.
  • PMID: 11308434; Effectiveness of St. John’s wort in major depression: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA 2001 Apr 18;285(15):1978-86.
  • PMID: 12053635; St John’s wort or sertraline? Randomized controlled trial in primary care. Can Fam Physician. 2002 May;48 :905-12.
  • PMID: 16160619; A Double-blind randomized trial of St. John’s wort, fluoxetine, and placebo in major depressive disorder. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2005 Oct; 25(5):441-7.
  • PMID: 9539254; Vitamin D3 enhances mood in healthy subjects during winter. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1998 Feb;135(4):319-23
  • PMID: 386715; Symptom reduction in depression after treatment
  • PMID: 11679026; Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2001 Oct; 26(5): 363-7.
  • PMID: 12888186; Omega 3 fatty acids in major depressive disorder. A preliminary double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Eur neuropsycholparmacol. 2003 Aug;13(4):267-71.
  • PMID: 12365878; A dose-ranging study of the effects of ethyl-eicosapentaenoate in patients with ongoing depression despite apparently adequate treatment with standard drugs. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2002 Oct;59(10);913-9.
  • PMID: 10967371; Enhancement of the antidepressant action of fluoxetine by folic acid; a randomized, placebo controlled trial. J Affect Disord. 2000 Nov; 60(2):121-30.

So that is a long list of natural medicines! Gosh should you take it all at once?

Probably not!

So where to start?

If you are currently on anti-depressants, I would add only vitamins, minerals, and omega 3′s in for the time being and see if your mood can be improved enough to consider titrating off of them, work on implementing the Depression Diet gradually. NEVER ever ever… discontinue your prescription medicines without following the advice of the doctor that prescribed them.

I would start a depressed patient on either St. John’s Wort, 5-HTP, OR SAMe in conjunction with a multivitamin, vitamin D, omega 3′s, and cal/mag. If stress and anxiety is a problem, I would then add in schisandra or passion flower. Following the Depression Diet guidelines to ensure adequate amino acids in the nervous system, and counseling are integral to a comprehensive mind/body/spirit approach to the management of depression. Try the St. John’s wort, 5-HTP, or SAMe at least a month if not three before swapping out for a new treatment.

Be cautious when using combinations of the three together as “Serotonin Syndrome” which results in too much serotonin causing anxiety, profuse sweating, irritability and agitation may occur.

Recommended Reading for Depression: Ten Ways to Better Cope with Depression, The Depression Diet, The Low Glycemic Index Diet, Fish Oil vs Flax Oil, Depression, Anxiety, Square Breathing, Five Minutes to Zen, The 3 Day Depression Walk.

Online Recommended Resources for Depression: DocintheBiz: Online Psychotherapy; “A Daring Adventure” a Life Coaches blog featuring Neurolinguistic programming techniques; Ya-ttitude: Improve Your Attitude; Principles of Peace: Self Help Tips for Peaceful Living

Hope that helps! Please ask your general questions in the comments section.

~Dr. Nicole Sundene

Naturopathic Physician

http://kitchentablemedicine.com

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

Walking for Depression

May 9, 2008 by Dr. Nicole Sundene  
Filed under Depression, Kitchen Sink

depressionwalk1.jpgThe other day I was talking to a friend on the phone that was suicidally depressed.

After a long conversation I asked… “Can you go out and go for a nice long healthy walk tomorrow? The fresh air and exercise will do you good.”

She responded, “Doc, I am too depressed to walk right now, can you just walk for me?”

This got us laughing about how maybe we should start a “3 Day Depression Walk”, you know like what we do in honor of those that have survived breast cancer?

“I would walk for you, if I actually thought it would do some good”, I replied.

Believe it or not, if you struggle with suicidal depression, you are a survivor. Read more

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

McInflammation: Are You Really “Loving It”?

fries.jpgRecently a friend reported over dinner that his inflammatory problem (and let’s just say almost all medical problems are caused by inflammation) was not much better.

He said he was diligently taking everything I had recommended, and had only noted minor improvement.

Although natural remedies take time, I was curious how the dietary recommendations were going….you know, the most important part of his prescription? To no surprise, he was struggling to make the necessary changes.

As I climbed in to his car to head to our next destination I noted the eight bags of fast food littering his car floor.

“Well here is the source of McInflammation in your diet right here!” Read more

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

Fish Oil vs Flax Oil? The Great Debate

shutterstock_4806400.jpgOne of the greatest flaws in the Standard American Diet (SAD) is a lack of omega-3 fatty acids.

Repleting this deficiency typically improves memory and mental functioning as well as corrects a gamut of other annoying health problems.

The reason for this is that these essential oils are necessary for proper brain functioning, immune function, hormonal balance and skin integrity as they are the necessary building blocks for the cellular membrane of every single cell in our body. Wow just ONE thing for all SIXTY TRILLION cells in your body!

This must be pretty important then… Read more

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

Seasonal Affective Disorder Natural Treatments

March 14, 2008 by Dr. Nicole Sundene  
Filed under Depression

The end of winter tends to be the most frustrating for those that struggle with seasonal depression.

We tend to feel even more agitated and moody this time of year especially now that all the excitement of the holidays have died down.

March and April for those of us at the coastal northern latitudes means a few straight months of rain.

What better time for me to unveil my alternative medicine approach to seasonal depression?
Whether you just have depression during the winter months, or whether you struggle with depression all year round that is exacerbated by the low light conditions of winter; having a plan in place to better cope with the realities of winter depression is an important preventative measure.
My last name serves as a convenient mnemonic to help remember how to take care of yourself throughout the winter months…

SUNDENE PROTOCOL FOR SEASONAL DEPRESSION

Sun- for Sunshine

D- for vitamin D

E- for Exercise

N- for Nutrition

E- for Everything else!

(Thank you to Dr. Jane Guiltinan for her contributions on this protocol) Read more

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

How are you Dealing with Life’s Trash?

A while back in med school I was totally broke and stuck at the grocery store deliberating over buying the small box of kitchen trash bags or the large box.

There was a significant savings in money from buying the larger box. Unfortunately, I was so poor at the time that the three bucks made a huge difference in my mind. After a long process, I thought about it and realized that the “trash in my life” was not going anywhere anytime soon.

I grabbed the large box of kitchen bags because buying the small box of garbage bags in my mind was not accepting the fact, nor making a serious commitment to removing the “trash” in my life.

Regardless if the trash in your life is compulsive behaviors, addictions, depression, anxiety, bad relationships, financial problems or what not, the first step to resolving the issue is to make a commitment to doing something about it every single day over a very long period of time. “Inch by inch is a cinch. Yard by yard is hard” they say… Read more

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

Ten Ways to better Cope with Depression

February 27, 2008 by Kitchen Table Medicine  
Filed under Depression

The challenges of depression can be extremely isolating and overwhelming, please keep in mind that some of the advice here is for PREVENTING depression, and some is for TREATING depression. Implement that which works for you, and don’t worry about anything else.

1. Have an emergency plan in place for when severe depression strikes, and be sure that you can easily activate your support group if necessary. A support group should include your physician, crisis/suicide hotline numbers, and friends and family that are familiar with your condition.

2. Eliminate Alcohol. As often as possible eliminate or drastically reduce the use of alcohol and other simple sugars such as what is found in refined and processed foods. Alcohol is a depressant, and although it may temporarily “help” someone with depressed mood, the long term consequences of overuse are dangerous and it thus should be avoided whenever possible.

3. Get outside!!!Sunlight increases our bodies stores of Serotonin the neurotransmitter known to make us happy.On a blue sky sunny day we need 15 minutes of exposure outside in order to achieve the estimated 10,000 lux of light equivalent most people need in order to feel happy.On an overcast day one must spend an entire hour outside in order to achieve the same light exposure. If you live in a low light area and experience worsening depression in the winter months you may want to consider purchasing a light box. Light boxes should be used in the morning and never after 4pm. Read more

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

The Best Diet for Those with Depression

February 5, 2008 by Kitchen Table Medicine  
Filed under Depression, Kitchen Sink

sunflower.jpgThe term depression has several meanings:

(1) As a human affect, it arises from the disruption of life’s normal balance, usually following a loss, conflict or trauma

(2) It can be a symptom of an underlying medical condition or the side effect of a medication

(3) It’s also a clinical syndrome of varying severity, based on brain chemical (neurotransmitter) disturbances and

(4) Finally, depression can result from any combination of all three processes. The causes are not fully understood, but are many and varied.

Depression affects the entire body. In addition to the more noticeable affects on the nervous system, moods, thoughts and behavior, numerous studies in a field of research known as psychoneuroimmunology have shown that depression affects the functioning of every type of body cell. Immune functioning, allergies, bone density, cardiac and vascular functioning, endocrine balance, digestion, fertility, ageing and longevity—any and all aspects of our physiology are inextricably tied to our mental, emotional and spiritual health (or lack of).

People from all walks of life and of all ages suffer from depression and its prevalence seems to be increasing. It’s estimated that 5-12% of men and 10-20% of women in the U.S. will suffer from a major depressive episode at some time in their life. The percentage of teenagers diagnosed with clinical depression has increased five-fold over the past forty years.

Symptoms of depression typically include chronic fatigue, sleep disturbances, changes in appetite, headaches, backaches, digestive problems, irritability, loss of interest or pleasure in everything in general and feelings of worthlessness or inadequacy. Commonly there can be a preoccupation with death that sometimes results in suicidal ideation and/or attempts. Treatment options vary widely, though any given treatment does not necessarily work for everyone.

The Role of Diet in Depression
Diet greatly influences the brain’s behavior. The levels of brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which regulate our behavior and are closely linked to mood, are controlled by what we eat. The neurotransmitters most commonly associated with mood are dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. Deficiencies, excesses or imbalances of these cause mental and emotional disturbances and affect our perception of pain and pleasure. Neurotransmitters carry electrochemical impulses between cells. Serotonin plays a role in mood, sleep, relaxation and appetite. Dopamine and norepinephrine play a role in hunger, thirst, digestion, blood pressure regulation, heart rate, respiration, thermoregulation, aggression and sexuality.

Adequate protein consumption and absorption (requiring proper digestion) is essential in order to have enough precursor amino acid building blocks in order to synthesize any neurotransmitters. Their production also requires nutrients such as fatty acids, Vitamin B3, iron, folate, Vitamin B6, copper, calcium, magnesium and lecithin, among others. The absorption of precursor amino acids depends on the consumption of adequate complex carbohydrates.

Note: The dietary recommendations and guidelines below include foods to which some individuals may have allergies, intolerances and sensitivities. In those cases, those foods should be avoided. Persons taking medications should not consume any of the herbal teas described without first consulting your physician/clinician regarding potential interactions. Dietary choices should be modified to meet your personal dietary needs. Consult your physician/clinician for further information regarding nutrition and your individual medical condition.

Dietary Recommendations and Guidelines

  • Avoid sugar and both artificial and natural sweeteners of all types, even honey, molasses and fruit juice. Stevia is an acceptable “sweetener”.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and soft drinks.
  • Avoid junk food, processed and refined foods, foods high in saturated fats or hydrogenated (trans) fats. Healthy fat choices include polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and oils that are organic and cold-pressed.
  • Identify and eliminate food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities. Gluten found in some grains has been linked to depressive disorders. Gluten-containing grains include wheat, spelt, rye, triticale, oats, barley and kamut.
  • Eat adequate lean sources of protein (0.8 g/kg body weight daily). Emphasize wild, cold-water fish (salmon, halibut, mackerel, etc.), legumes, nuts and seeds. Organically raised poultry and eggs are also good protein sources. Fermented dairy products are also acceptable (yogurt, kefir, cheeses, etc.)
  • Every meal and snack should be balanced, containing some protein, fat and complex carbohydrates.
  • Food choices should be whole foods (unprocessed and unrefined), organic whenever possible, including at least five servings daily of vegetables and fruits. Grains should be whole and unrefined, especially rice, corn, quinoa, millet and amaranth. Fresh food is always preferable to frozen and frozen is always preferable to canned.

Note: In addition to dietary interventions, adequate daily exercise, sleep, full-spectrum lighting and counseling or other mental/emotional support are important factors in reversing depression and are prescribed in conjunction with supplements, botanicals and homeopathy.

Work on things gradually one at a time. Pick the improvements that you can easily make and start with those first. Inform your friends and family that you are trying to eat differently so that you will feel better. Ask for their support while making these changes. Depression is a serious condition that requires support from a physician, counselor, or other qualified therapist. Be sure to check with your health care provider before making any changes to your health care routine to ensure that you get the best care possible.

Resources
Balch, Phyllis and James. Prescriptions for Nutritional Healing, 3rd edition. 2000. Avery.
Brown, Kathleen. Herbal Teas: 101 Nourishing Blends for Daily Health and Vitality. 1999. Storey Books.
Hafen, Brent, et al. Mind/Body Health. 1996. Simon and Schuster.
McIntyre, Anne. Drink To Your Health: Delicious Juices, Teas, Soups and Smoothies That Help You Look and Feel Great. 2000. Gaia Books.

Photobucket Dr. Nicole Sundene, NMD is a licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor at Fountain Hills Naturopathic Medicine 16719 E Palisades Blvd, Suite 205, Fountain Hills, AZ 85268.

She believes we should utilize natural medicines to treat the root cause of disease rather than just treating symptoms, as symptoms are a message of imbalance sent from the body and will persist until they are properly addressed.

For appointments please visit http://FHnaturopathic.com for more information about Naturopathic Medicine services.
©KitchenTableMedicine.com, LLC ™

Next Page »