Natural Mood Lifters
By Alison Potts
A growing number of foods, natural extracts and herbs are being identified as having a directly positive effect on our bodies and nervous systems. Ancient grains such as quinoa are being rediscovered and heralded as the new superfoods, known for packing a dietary punch with their complex composition of essential nutrients and proteins. We know these are good for our bodies, but what about our emotional health?
Serotonin, for example is one of the brain’s key mood regulators, yet very few foods are found to be high in amino acid tryptophan, which is the only nutrient the body can use to make serotonin. Fortunately, there are a number of natural extracts and specific vitamin complexes that are well known for relaxing the nervous systems and enhancing mental health.
So if you are seeking a natural alternative to manage your mood, stress, nervous tension or anxiety, look for products that contain a combination of these natural extracts and herbs commonly known as “natural mood lifters”:
St John’s Wort is a key ingredient for managing mood swings, nervous tension, mild anxiety, panic attacks and insomnia related to depression. In clinical studies, it has been found to increase serotonin levels and other neurotransmitters in the brain, which are the chemicals that make people feel happy. Scientific studies have found it works as effectively as antidepressant medication, with very little side effects. St John’s Wort assists the nervous system, relaxing nervous tension, helping with the symptoms of anxiety and depression; it is also a great anti-viral.
Siberian ginseng supports the nervous system and is an adaptogenic herb, which means it helps the body cope with stress and other mentally draining situations. Siberian ginseng may also stimulate immunity, improve mental function and help enhance stamina and endurance.
Ginkgo promotes healthy circulation by promoting vasodilation which improves the flow of blood through arteries, veins and capillaries and increasing blood flow to the brain and peripheries. This increases oxygenation of the brain, which promotes improved cognitive function and mental alertness.
Vitamin B6 is required for the synthesis of many neurotransmitters, including serotonin, and is a co-factor for the enzyme 5 - hydroxytryptophan decarboxylase, which is involved in one of the steps that converts tryptophan to serotonin. Vitamin B6 is essential for energy production and is also needed to form haemoglobin, increasing the amount of oxygen that red blood cells can carry, which leads to increased oxygenation of the tissues including the brain. B6 works with vitamin B12 and folic acid to prevent high levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that can lead to heart and circulatory problems if levels are elevated. Research also indicates that people with depression are more likely to have high levels of homocysteine.
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