Over the last three days, I’ve had 277 visitors to this blog. This sudden surge is likely due to a reader and fellow blogger reblogging my blog. The post that piqued her interest was one I published back in January under the title “Cancer Cure and the pH Factor.” I am duly impressed. You might find her blog interesting as well.
Let’s talk about depression and its causes and cures. Orthodox medicine treats the brain for depression. The underlying cause of depression, however, has less to do with the brain and more to do with the body — especially the gut, as we will see. The brain may control the body’s functions via the central nervous system, with the help of biofeedback through the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. But the brain is nourished by the body and is only as healthy as the body.
CAUSE AT A DEEPER LEVEL
Depression is fundamentally about the suppression of energy. In a certain sense, it is a spiritual event. All energy is love. Love is all that IS. Energy expresses through form, and when that expression is thwarted, suppressed or shut down, pressure begins to build behind the dam of resistance to whatever is trying to find expression, which is love or joy. The expression of love and joy allows for release of this energy. Elation is the result. On the other hand, suppression of love and joy prevents the release of this energy. Depression is then the result.
This is a simplified explanation of the essential dynamics of depression at a core level, and must be kept in mind as we consider the various causes of resistance that results in depression. There are at least four areas that need to be taken in consideration when searching for the cause of a person’s depression: 1) blood sugar, 2) the liver, 3) the gut flora, 4) the endocrine glands (hormonal response to stress). These four areas overlap in most cases of depression, so I will be addressing more than one area at times. I will cover the entire territory in two or three consecutive posts.
DEPRESSION AND BLOOD SUGAR
Blood sugar imbalance is highly suspect in cases of acute and chronic depression. Low blood sugar — clinically known as hypoglycemia — deprives the cells of energy they need to function. This includes brain cells, which depend on sugar for energy entirely. A classic symptom of low blood sugar is sugar cravings. If you crave sugar or shake if you miss a meal, you can be sure that you have hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia, of course, can lead to diabetes if not corrected. So, let’s look at hypoglycemia, how it can cause depression, and what one can do to reverse this dis-ease.
Blood sugar is regulated by the endocrine system, specifically the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands. The Islets of Langerhans in the pancreas play a non-regulating role of taking blood sugar and attaching an insulin molecule to it as an escort into the cells where is can be used as fuel. The liver is also involved, as it’s a storehouse for hormones, glucose, iron and several other important nutrients, not to mention its primary function of detoxifying the blood stream of metabolic waste, which includes unused hormones. We’ll come back to that later, but first, let’s look at the three chief endocrine regulators, which make up a family of endocrine glands called the HPA Axis. Here’s an excerpt from CNS Forum explaining the chemistry involved in depression:
The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in
In depression, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is upregulated with a down-regulation of its negative feedback controls. Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) is hypersecreted from the hypothalamus and induces the release of adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH) from the pituitary. ACTH interacts with receptors on adrenocortical cells and cortisol is released from the adrenal glands; adrenal hypertrophy can also occur. Release of cortisol into the circulation has a number of effects, including elevation of blood glucose. The negative feedback of cortisol to the hypothalamus, pituitary and immune system is impaired. This leads to continual activation of the HPA axis and excess cortisol release. Cortisol receptors become desensitized leading to increased activity of the pro-inflammatory immune mediators and disturbances in neurotransmitter transmission. (Click on picture to enlarge it for easier reading.)
If you had a difficult time following the sequence of events, don’t sweat it, so did I. Body chemistry is a miracle that, like all miracles, cannot be fully grasped by the human mind. What you just read above is someone’s explanation based on a somewhat limited understanding of the complexity of human endocrinology. As a brilliant colleague, Dr. Janet Lang, once put it in a seminar on functional endocrinology, the endocrine glands are a family and behave like one. We might think we gain understanding of them by taking them aside and studying their function and behavior. Put them back with their siblings and their behavior changes as they interact with them. So, we need to understand and treat them as part of a family and not as isolated hormonal glands. (This is why blood tests for thyroid function, for instance, are virtually useless in gaining an understanding of this gland’s output. Saliva tests are far more accurate.)
Now I’ll give you the simplified explanation along with what can be done to correct this one cause of depression using food supplements and herbs.
THE HPA AXIS
The hypothalamus acts as a mediator between environmental activity and hormonal response to that activity. Environmental activity is perceived through your five senses and sent via your central nervous system as information to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus receives, interprets and evaluates this information, then sends signals to the pituitary gland in the form of hormonal precursors that solicit a response in this Master Gland that results in the production of stimulating hormones — such as TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), ACTH (adrenocorticotropin hormone), and FSH (ovarian follicle stimulating hormone), etc. These hormone precursors are sent to the appropriate ductless hormonal glands in the body via the bloodstream, which then produce hormones that will trigger an appropriate response in body cells , depending on the type of activity being called for.
The environment, by the way, includes the internal terrain of the physical body as well as the mental and emotional terrain and the activities therein. An example of the physical terrain’s influence on the HPA Axis would be poor nutrition and toxicity resulting in a health crisis. An example of the mental and emotional influence on the HPA Axis would be arousal of the stress fight or flight response simply by thoughts about your seemingly impossible situation in life, be it your health, your job, your marriage or relationships, or any number of stressful life situations. Think about it long enough while doing nothing about it results in chronic stress. It also frustrates and confuses the hypothalamus, which hypes up its secretion of CRF precursors to the pituitary, and exhausts the adrenal cortex causing the pituitary to hype up its production of ACTH to stimulate the exhausted adrenal glands. So you can see how these glands act in concert with one another and not on their own.
HELPFUL NUTRITIONAL AND HERBAL SUPPORT
If you know your have sugar handling issues — either hypoglycemia or diabetes — then you can help your body restore balance in this area so that energy can be released to the cells of the brain. This is treating the underlying cause of one form of depression. Here are my recommendations:
- First of all, the liver needs to be detoxified, which means the pathways in the liver need to be opened up to allow chemical processes to work their miracle on metabolic waste, mainly devitalizing it and eliminating it from the body. There are some very excellent nutritional protocols that can accomplish this in just 21 days. They include St. John’s Wort, garlic, beet tops, cruciferous vegetables, herbal detoxifiers such as Schisandra fruit, Rosemary leaf, Milk Thistle seed, and herbal toners and tonics such as Globe Artichoke leaf, Dandelion root, just to list the few main herbs. All these nutritional and herbal remedies are available in product formulations from Standard Process and Medi-Herb, partners in providing health professionals with exceptional and highly effective wholefood supplements and Australian herbs. You may contact me for professional guidance and product procurement.
- Secondly, the endocrine glands that make up the HPA Axis and the brain need nutritional support and herbal nourishment. Some of the main products in this protocol are Hypothalmex, Paraplex, E-Manganese, Drenamin, Adrenal Complex, Min-Chex, and Niacinamide B6.
- Thirdly, your sugar-handling systems need support. Products by Standard Process include Diaplex to nourish the pancreas, Cataplex GTF for chromium to facilitate sugar consumption at the cellular level, Gymnema to balance blood sugar, Inositol for brain fuel, Zypan for digestion of proteins, and Protefood to provide the 8 essential amino acids needed to utilize the amino acids in your food after proteins are broken down by your digestive system. (Details on products are available on Standard Process‘s website.)
- Hypoglycemia conditions need frequent meals and snacks. Five small meals daily is the recommendation. Some protein needs to be included in these meals and snacks. Nuts are a good source of protein and are much better than sugars and carbohydrates as they help raise blood sugar without spiking insulin.
- Eliminate all processed foods and refined carbohydrates entirely from your diet.
- For Type II Diabetes (a.k.a. insulin-resistance diabetes), refrain from sugars and starches entirely for 30 days. Eat only foods that are low on the glycemic index. The rationale here is to free up insulin receptor sites on the cells by cutting back on insulin production by the pancreas, which occurs every time you eat sweets and starches. It will take approximately 30 days to use up the sugar-laden insulin floating around in your blood stream. The cells are really not “resistant” to insulin, they simply have no room left to receive any more sugar-laden insulin . . . thus the need to stop spiking insulin. A liver detox could be done at least once a year.
- For Type I Diabetics (a.k.a. insulin-dependent diabetes), the best you can do is give ample support to your body’s sugar handling systems and, of course, observe a diabetic diet. You would be wise to eliminate all refined carbohydrate and processed foods from your diet. Nutritional therapeutic support could be incorporated into your daily regimen of meds, especially for the insulin-producing B cell in your pancreas which may be able to be regenerated if they are not entirely burned out. The protocol would include Diaplex, Cataplex GTF, Gymnema, Cataplex B and Inositol. A liver detox could be done at least once a year.
The products recommended above are only available through licensed healthcare professionals. You are welcome to consult with me by email or by phone for a modest fee, as well as to order products.
(Note: These blog articles and recommendations made therein are not intended to diagnose or treat any disease and are not to be construed to preclude appropriate medical attention.)
In my next post we will consider the impressive role the gut flora plays in depression and health in general. Until then, here’s to your health and healing.
Anthony Palombo, D.C.
See my second blog, HealingTones.org, for inspiring articles on handling sacred energy. Recently I’ve been writing about our Electromagnetic Universe and the Body Electric.