Can Creatine Help with Depression?

“I didn’t want to wake up.
I was having a much better time asleep. And that’s really sad.
It was almost like a reverse nightmare, like when you wake up from a nightmare you’re so relieved. I woke up into a nightmare.” –Ned Vizzini, It’s Kind of a Funny Story



Few conditions can be as devastating as depression. The disorder has links with cancer, diabetes, chronic pain, thyroid disorders, multiple sclerosis, and heart disease. Approximately 7% of men and 1% of women with a lifetime history of depression die from suicide.

“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise.” – David Foster Wallace


Treatment of Depression

While antidepressant drugs have been a lifesaver for many people, they fail to help a significant number of users. In studies of adults, 40 to 60 of 100 people who used an antidepressant noticed improvement within six to eight weeks, compared to 20 to 40 who received a placebo.1

The drugs can also have significant side effects in many people and, in some cases, make the condition worse.

In an effort to obtain relief from what has been termed a “half-life,” depressed individuals may turn to psychotherapy or group therapy. These nondrug therapies can be helpful, although depression is considered to be a biochemical disorder. Nevertheless, it can’t be denied that our thoughts have profound effects on our bodies.

“There is no point treating a depressed person as though she were just feeling sad, saying, ‘There now, hang on, you’ll get over it.’ Sadness is more or less like a head cold— with patience, it passes. Depression is like cancer.” –Barbara Kingsolver, The Bean Trees

Nutritional Solutions: Creatine Research

Good nutrition is the foundation of a sound body and mind. Essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids all play a role in our mental well-being. Individualized nutritional regimens can be tweaked with the addition of supplements like creatine that have shown promise in preliminary studies. Creatine can also be made in the body from the amino acids arginine, glycine, and methionine.

Creatine plays a vital role in brain energy metabolism,” Tracy L. Hellem, PhD, RN, and colleagues note in a recent article. “Via the creatine kinase reaction, creatine facilitates production of adenosine triphosphate, the nervous system’s principal energy source.”2

A small, preliminary study of creatine monohydrate in eight patients with unipolar depression and two bipolar patients with treatment-resistant depression found significant improvement among the unipolar patients at the end of the four-week study.3

In 2017, the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology reported findings from a pilot study that found a benefit for treatment with creatine and 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP, a metabolite of the amino acid tryptophan) among women with major depressive disorder who hadn’t experienced improvement with with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) drugs.4 Depression scores declined by an average of 60% from pretreatment values after treatment with 5 grams of creatine monohydrate daily and 100 mg of 5-HTP twice daily for eight weeks.

Research suggests that creatine may be particularly effective in women. In depressed women with methamphetamine dependence, eight weeks of daily supplementation with 5 grams of creatine monohydrate resulted in a decrease in depression and anxiety scores as early as the second week of treatment and a reduction in methamphetamine-positive urine drug screens of greater than 50% by week six.2 Treatment increased brain phosphocreatine concentrations, which are reduced in treatment-resistant depression.

“The exact antidepressant mechanism of creatine is not clear, but one possible explanation involves its role in cellular energy metabolism given that accumulated evidence suggests that altered cellular energy metabolism is involved in the pathophysiology of depression,” the authors write. “Since creatine plays a critical role in cellular energy homeostasis, treatment with it might improve cellular energy metabolism.”

A placebo-controlled study that included adolescent girls with SSRI-resistant major depressive disorder found that eight weeks of daily creatine monohydrate supplementation increased mean frontal lobe phosphocreatine levels from pretreatment values, while levels in the placebo group declined.5 Higher phosphocreatine levels were correlated with lower depression scores. The authors note that converging lines of evidence indicate that mitochondrial dysfunction and altered brain bioenergetics could contribute to the etiology of depression. They further indicate that, in mitochondria, phosphocreatine is reversibly converted during the creatine kinase reaction into ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and creatine and that neuronal energy demands are met through a shift in reaction equilibrium, which is designed to keep brain ATP concentrations constant.

In a randomized, double-blind trial that included 52 women with major depressive disorder, participants who received creatine for eight weeks experienced greater improvement in depressive symptoms than those in the placebo group. Women who received creatine also experienced improvement in brain energy metabolism and network organization, which the authors of the report suggest may partly underlie its efficacy.6

Closing Thoughts

While creatine could offer a glimmer of hope to many adults with treatment-resistant depression, those who are being helped by antidepressants should not attempt to replace their drug regimen with creatine.

Supplementation with creatine is not suggested for depressed children or pregnant and lactating women. Individuals who are experiencing depression are advised to first consult their physician to determine the form of therapy that is right for them.

References

  1. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care. 2017 Jan 12. Depresson: How effective are antidepressants? PubMed Health. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0087089/ Accessed 29 Jul 2018.
  2. Hellem TL et al. J Dual Diagn. 2015;11(3-4):189-202.
  3. Roitman S et al. Bipolar Disord. 2007 Nov;9(7):754-8.
  4. Kious BM et al. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2017 Oct;37(5):578-583.
  5. Kondo DG et al. Amino Acids. 2016 Aug;48(8):1941-54.
  6. Yoon S et al. Biol Psychiatry. 2016 Sep 15;80(6):439-447.

Mindfulness Over Matter: Cognitive Therapy for Anxiety, Depression, and More

Mindfulness Over Matter: Cognitive Therapy for Anxiety, Depression, and More

In the search for nontoxic therapies that can enhance standard disease treatments, combat side effects and, in some cases, prevent things from happening in the first place, many health practitioners and institutions — from holistic healers to hospitals — have made mindfulness meditation a part of patients’ integrative treatment.

What is mindfulness?

While most of us spend a good deal of time worrying about the past or future, mindfulness brings our attention to the present.

“Mindfulness has been conceptualized as paying attention to present moment experience in a non-judgmental manner, and the practice of developing that skill,” according to Á. I. Langer and colleagues.1

For people who have undergone pain or trauma, focusing on the moment and experiencing the pleasure it may bring can be a welcome relief. Meditators begin by focusing on the breath, various areas of the body, or any other aspect of the present moment. Practitioners are advised to start with a short period each day and to gradually increase the experience of being in the now.

Mindfulness can benefit psychological as well as physical conditions. It’s been used by everyone from children to aging members of VA home.

Focus on your food! Give your meal your full attention. This can help with portion control, satiety, and digestion.

Research Findings on Practicing Mindfulness

In adolescents, a cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness-based sleep intervention improved social problems, attention problems, and aggressive behaviors by improving self-reported sleep quality on school nights.2 Another study, which involved 88 teenagers, found a significant reduction in anxiety, depression, and general symptomology after eight weekly, 45-minute mindfulness intervention sessions.1 The authors of the report suggest that a mindfulness intervention could be utilized as a strategy to decrease negative emotional states and reduce risk factors in adolescent population groups.

In elderly women with major depressive disorders, symptoms of depression and anxiety declined significantly after completion of a four-week detached mindfulness program and four weeks later at a follow-up assessment.3 The improvement was in stark contrast to a control group treated with a standard antidepressant medication who experienced no significant improvement.

Among patients with a lifetime history of chronic or recurrent depression, a mindfulness-based intervention resulted in a significantly greater reduction in symptoms, increased mindfulness, and a decrease in ruminative tendencies and cognitive reactivity in comparison with a control group.4

While the success rate of rehabilitation programs for alcohol and drug abuse has been dismal, the outcome of two randomized trials suggests that mindfulness-based relapse prevention could be an optimal therapy for preventing relapses.5 The researchers found the technique was successful among patients with severe levels of substance abuse disorder symptoms with or without anxiety and depression.

Even a brief 11-minute supervised mindfulness instruction has been association with a reduction in alcohol consumption by at-risk drinkers after seven days, in comparison with a control group that received instruction concerning relaxation.6 A meta-analysis of mindfulness-based interventions in alcohol and drug use disorders that included 37 studies found large effect sizes for mindfulness in levels of perceived craving, negative affectivity, and post-traumatic symptoms.7

Among patients with headache pain who completed a Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy program, significant reductions in pain intensity, pain interference, and pain catastrophizing occurred, accompanied by increases in activity engagement and self-efficacy.8 These benefits were maintained six months after the end of the course.

Mindfulness is helpful not only to patients, but also to those who care for them. In an article titled “Happier Healers” that appeared in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, E. Yang and colleagues report the findings of a study that included 88 medical students who participated in a month-long audio-guided mindfulness meditation program.9 Participants experienced a significant increase in general well-being at the program’s conclusion and a decrease in perceived stress 30 days after the end of the intervention. In undergraduate nursing students, mindfulness was more effective against depression than physical exercise, whose mood-enhancing benefits are well-established.10

In another study involving medical and psychology students, participating in a 15-hour mindfulness course was associated with increased well-being along with improved problem-focused coping after six years of follow-up. The researchers involved in the study suggest that these improvements could contribute to quality of patient care and health care professional resilience.11

It has been said that mindfulness teaches us to respond, not react. In such a way, the technique can improve job performance and lower damaging stress reactions. In one study, an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction course reduced workplace cognitive failures and increased safety compliance among hospital health care workers.12 The authors of the study, which was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, suggest that mindfulness training could decrease occupational injuries among health care personnel.

The Bottom Line

It’s pleasurable to reminisce or to daydream. And consulting one’s memory, planning for the future, and working out problems in one’s mind are all essential parts of life. Nevertheless, try taking a few minutes or more to “be in the moment.” It just may result in a better mood, improved performance, and greater enjoyment of life.

References

1. Langer ÁI et al. Rev Med Chil. 2017 Apr;145(4):476-482.
2. Blake MJ et al. Behav Res Ther. 2017 Dec;99:147-156.
3. Ahmadpanah M et al. Psychiatry Res. 2017 Nov;257:87-94.
4. Winnebeck E et al. Behav Res Ther. 2017 Dec;99:124-130.
5. Roos CR et al. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2017 Nov;85(11):1041-1051.
6. Kamboi SK et al. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2017 Nov 1;20(11):936-947.
7. Cavicchioli M et al. Eur Addict Res. 2018;24(3):137-162.
8. Day MA et al. Complement Ther Med. 2017 Aug;33:94-98.
9. Yang E et al. J Altern Complement Med. 2018 May;24(5):505-513.
10. Alsaraireh FA et al. J Nurs Educ. 2017 Oct 1;56(10):599-604.
11. de Vibe M et al. PLoS One. 2018 Apr 24;13(4):e0196053.
12. Valley MA et al. J Occup Environ Med. 2017 Oct;59(10):935-941.

Health Benefits of Noni - Traditional Polynesian Plant

Noni (Morinda citrifolia) has evolved from a little-known Polynesian herb to a household name in the Western world in just a few decades. Thanks in part to savvy marketing campaigns, the word has gotten out on this traditional Tahitian remedy. Does the hype stand up to the science? Here’s what the research has found:

Overview of Benefits

“Traditional Tahitian healers believe the noni plant to be useful for a wide range of maladies, and noni juice consumers throughout the world have similar perceptions,” writes a recent article appearing in the journal Foods. According to the same article, a review of published human studies suggests that noni juice may protect against tobacco smoke-induced DNA damage, increases in blood lipid and homocysteine levels, and systemic inflammation.

The same review article indicates that noni juice may improve joint health, support immune activity and physical endurance, help maintain normal blood pressure, inhibit protein glycation, assist weight management, help bone health in women, and improve gum health. These studies also point to the antioxidant activity of noni juice being more supportive than the other fruit juices being used as placebos.”1

Cancer Research

Most of the scientific studies that have investigated the properties of noni have been recent. In 2003, it was reported that noni inhibited angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels that facilitates tumor growth, in ex vivo cultures of human breast tumors.2 Research has revealed cytotoxic activity for an extract of Morinda citrifolia fruit against human neuroblastoma and breast cancer cells.3 Other research found effects for noni leaf extracts in human epidermoid carcinoma and cervical carcinoma lines.4 Damnacanthal, a compound occurring in noni has also shown anticancer effects in human cells.5 These and other studies have led to experimental and limited clinical studies investigating the use of noni against cancer.

In mice with Ehrlich ascites tumors, treatment with noni and/or the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin resulted in decreased tumor growth due to the induction of apoptosis (programmed cell death).6 A human study of 51 cancer patients published in 2009 found quality of life benefits associated with noni intake at varying doses.7 Improvements in fatigue, pain and the maintenance of physical function were greatest among those who consumed a moderate dose. In another study that included 203 smokers, a month of noni juice extract reduced blood lymphocyte aromatic DNA adducts, a biomarker of carcinogen-caused damage.8 The authors of the report concluded that noni could reduce cancer risk in smokers by blocking carcinogen-DNA binding or removing adducts from genomic DNA.

Another trial involving heavy smokers found that a month of noni juice mitigated cigarette smoke-induced dyslipidemia, as evidenced by significant reductions in serum cholesterol, triglycerides and C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation), as well as decreases in homocysteine and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and an increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.9

A review of 19 studies that evaluated noni’s anticancer activities concluded that a concentrated component in noni juice may stimulate the immune system to fight cancer while killing up to 36% of cancerous cells.10

Pain and inflammation

In mice, orally administered noni fruit puree reduced pain sensitivity to a degree comparable to that of the analgesic tramadol.11 In the same study, an alcohol extract of the fruit tested in human monocytes stimulated with an inflammation-inducing compound resulted in inhibition of matrix metallopeptidase-9 (MMP-9), a member of a family of enzymes that break down the extracellular matrix in normal and disease processes, including arthritis. These effects led the researchers to suggest that noni preparations could help decrease arthritis-related pain and joint destruction11. Damnacanthal from noni has separately shown pain-reducing and anti-inflammatory effects.12

Metabolic effects

In mice with brain ischemia induced by middle cerebral artery occlusion, noni juice suppressed neuronal damage while improving or completely eliminating related glucose intolerance.13 In mice given a high fat diet, noni supplementation improved glucose and insulin tolerance and fasting glucose levels.14 In another study in which animals were given a high fat diet, those that received noni juice showed a decrease in serum and liver lipids, less liver and visceral fat, higher liver antioxidant capacity and decreased liver markers of inflammation and other factors.15

Topical effects

A combination of ethanol extract and juice pressed from Noni leaves has shown an ability to help protect against ultraviolet B (UVB) light-induced injury when applied topically to human skin.16 Research in mice exposed to UVA and UVB light has also demonstrated skin-protective effects for topical formulations of Morinda citrifolia.17 Compounds in noni have shown a potential to lighten the skin, suggesting a use for uneven skin tone resulting from sun damage.18

Topical noni leaf juice has also shown an ability to improve wound healing, which is one of the traditional uses of the plant in Polynesia.19 Another topical use for noni and noni compounds is against cutaneous Leishmaniasis, a tropical disease caused by a parasite.20 A trial involving 50 patients treated with noni resulted in an excellent response among half of the participants and good improvement among 30%.

Miscellaneous Benefits

Noni has shown potential in numerous other areas of health. Candida albicans is a common fungus in humans that is the source of oral thrush and vaginal yeast infections. In C. albicans cultures, the administration of noni extract halted growth in a dose-dependent manner.21

A compound occurring in noni known as bajijiasu was shown to enhance sexual behavior in mice while increasing testosterone, improving sperm quality and lowering cortisol levels.22

Another promising effect that was recently discovered is an ability for N-butanol extracts of noni to suppress advanced glycation end product-induced inflammation via blocking their interaction with their receptors.23

The Bottom Line

In a Tongan myth, the god Maui was restored to life by having Noni leaves placed on his body. Although this story may be an example of ancient marketing hype, modern research involving noni is promising. Although human studies are limited, the number of positive studies conducted so far should provide the impetus for randomized, controlled trials that are anticipated to reveal more beneficial effects for what has been called the “forbidden fruit.”

References

  1. West BJ et al. Foods. 2018 Apr 11;7(4).
  2. Hornick CA et al. Angiogenesis. 2003;6(2):143-9.
  3. Arpornsuwan T et al. Phytother Res. 2006 Jun;20(6):515-7.
  4. Thani W et al. Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health. 2010 Mar;41(2):482-9.
  5. Nualsanit T et al. J Nutr Biochem. 2012 Aug;23(8):915-23.
  6. Taşkin EI et al. Cell Biochem Funct. 2009 Dec;27(8):542-6.
  7. Issell BF et al. J Diet Suppl. 2009;6(4):347-59.
  8. Wang MY et al. Nutr Cancer. 2009;61(5):634-9.
  9. Wang MY et al. Scientific World Journal. 2012;2012:594657.
  10. Brown AC. Phytother Res. 2012 Oct;26(10):1427-40.
  11. Basar S et al. Phytother Res. 2010 Jan;24(1):38-42.
  12. Okusada K et al. Biol Pharm Bull. 2011;34(1):103-7.
  13. Harada S et al. Yakugaku Zasshi. 2010 May;130(5):707-12.
  14. Nerurkar PV et al. Br J Nutr. 2012 Jul;108(2):218-228.
  15. Lin YL et al. Food Chem. 2013 Sep 1;140(1-2):31-8.
  16. West BJ et al. J Nat Med. 2009 Jul;63(3):351-4.
  17. Serafini MR et al. Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:587819.
  18. Akihisa T et al. J Oleo Sci. 2010;59(1):49-57.
  19. Palu A et al. Phytother Res. 2010 Oct;24(10):1437-41.
  20. Sattar FA et al. Nat Prod Commun. 2012 Feb;7(2):195-6.
  21. Jainkittivong A et al. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod. 2009 Sep;108(3):394-8.
  22. Wu ZQ et al. J Ethnopharmacol. 2015 Apr 22;164:283-92.
  23. Ishibashi Y et al. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017 Mar 4;17(1):137.

7 Nutritious Foods to Eat with Braces

Sharon Williams

There are certain foods you can eat while wearing braces and certain foods that you need to avoid while wearing braces. If you feel like you're running out of nutritious options, check out the foods listed below!




Here are seven foods to eat with braces:

1. Yogurt is high in protein and calcium and is a great choice to improve the strength and health of your teeth.

2. Homemade chicken noodle soup is packed with collagen, gelatin, and minerals, which are all necessary for strong teeth and bones. And it’s especially good for someone who has just gotten braces or has an aching mouth.

3. Sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients such as vitamin A and keratin. Vitamin A is important in maintaining the soft tissues of your gums as well as the mucous membranes, and keratin helps maintain healthy tooth enamel.

4. Fish is a softer alternative to red meat and contains omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce the rate of gum disease, thereby reducing the inflammation that bacteria cause. Fatty fish such as Atlantic mackerel and salmon are great sources of vitamin D, which allows your body to absorb and use calcium properly.

5. Cooked fruits and vegetables are soft enough to eat and also contain antioxidant vitamins, especially vitamin C, which helps to protect your gums and other tissues from bacterial infections and cell damage.

6. Eggs are soft and rich in phosphorus, which helps in building strong teeth and bones when combined with vitamin D and calcium.

7. Smoothies are the perfect food, especially when you’ve just had your braces tightened. They are fun and easy to make, and there’s an endless variety of liquids, vegetables, and fruits you can mix into your smoothies.

I hope this article was useful and helps you provide your teeth and gums with the above essential nutrients and vitamins they need. It is best to consult an orthodontist to monitor the health of your teeth and to schedule regular follow-up appointments.

Visit the Life Extension Guide to Oral Health to learn about the latest oral health research.


About the Author: Sharon Williams handles digital marketing for Koch Orthodontics in Loganville, GA. With a flair for creating compelling content that clears the clutter and connects with the audience in an instant, she writes about dental topics to educate and help her readers. 

Sharon truly believes that a genuine smile can win a million hearts and talks to her readers about improving their smiles and overall dental health, as well as enhancing their overall lifestyle. In her free time, she likes to organize small meets in her neighborhood where she brings people together to discuss various topics that she writes about.

6 Ways to Protect Your Eyes as You Age

Aaron Barriga

Vision problems take on a new dimension when you are over 40 or 50 years old. Like other organs, eyes age, too. It may start with common problems like blurry vision, eye floaters, and dry eyes and progress to serious conditions like presbyopia, glaucoma, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and others.



Vision problems in the elderly are very common due to the loss of suppleness in the lens that is progressive with age. This phenomenon, which begins at birth, is particularly felt around the age of 45, when the crystalline lens (responsible for clear vision at all distances) modifies its curvature and the sharpness zone passes a distance greater than the one normally required to read. Vision correction is possible by using reading glasses or contact lenses, as well as by LASIK laser eye surgery.

Symptoms related to eye health as you age include:
  • Difficulty seeing things close up
  • Insufficient perception of depth
  • Alteration of the vividness of colors
  • Problems with sight in dim light
  • Loss of peripheral vision (lateral)
  • Driving problems – e.g., inability to see road signs, trouble adjusting quickly to reflections, or difficulty in recovering after being dazzled by bright headlights at night.

Tips for Better Eye Protection as You Age

Since vision is so essential to everyday life, it’s important to recognize change and act accordingly. Below are a few ways to preserve your eye health as you age:

1) Regular Eye Checkups

If you are over 45, go for regular eye exams. An ophthalmologist will help you maintain eye health as you age by examining the retina to evaluate the first signs of damage to the small blood vessels of your eye.

2) Protect Eyes from UV Rays

Reduce glare as much as possible by using good shades, filters for computer screens, and sunglasses. Wear sunglasses that protect against UVA and UVB rays, which can be harmful even in gray weather.

3) Foods for Eye Health

An optimal daily intake of vitamins and minerals from melons, citrus fruits, carrots, spinach, and cabbage can delay the progression of age-related eye diseases such as maculopathy, glaucoma, and cataracts.

4) Stop Smoking

Smokers are at a higher risk of developing maculopathy.

5) Physical Activity

Exercise is an important aid in improving blood circulation, which in turn improves the amount of oxygen sent to the eyes and promotes the elimination of toxins for better eye health.

6) Avoid Stress to the Eyes

Limit your screen time. If you are using smartphones, tablets, or computers for long durations, take a break every half hour and relax your eyes by taking a walk outside or cupping your eyes with your palms.

Other Tips
  • Provide good lighting in all rooms.
  • Use bright colors and high contrasts in living spaces.
  •  Wear safety glasses in your workshop or when using chemicals such as ammonia.
  •  Make sure aerosols and sprays do not point in your direction.
  •  Read the Life Extension Eye Health Protocol for nutrient suggestions.
As you start aging, various vision problems may appear and impair your eye health and quality of life. Early detection will allow you to receive treatment and preserve your visual comfort. Visit an eye specialist regularly for optimum eye health and to prevent problems before they progress.

Author Bio: Aaron Barriga is the online marketing manager for insightvisioncenter.com. With a knack for understanding medical procedures and an interest in eye and vision health, Aaron loves to share what he knows and what he learns. He blogs with a mission of informing readers about the latest eye care technology and other topics related to eye care and eye health. He loves collecting coasters from the different bars and restaurants he visits during his travels.


Sources:

  1. http://visionsource.com/blog/how-to-keep-your-eyes-healthy-as-you-age/
  2. http://visionsource.com/blog/protect-your-sight-as-you-age/
  3. http://www.insightvisioncenter.com/10-super-foods-promote-healthy-vision/
  4. https://www.rebuildyourvision.com/blog/vision-tips/just-because-youre-getting-older-doesnt-mean-you-have-to-succumb-to-poor-vision/

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