Depression: Treatments that go beyond medication

A number of imbalances in the body or brain could be the cause of depression. At Nature Cures Clinic, we seek to find and change those causes.

October is National Depression Awareness Month. This is a good opportunity to reflect on the treatment for depression that our “health care industry” almost universally utilizes.

Sales of anti-depressant medications brings in around $12 billion in profits annually for the pharmaceutical industry. Approximately 30 million people are currently taking anti-depressant medication in the US alone. But, that is not the only treatment for depression- and  not the right one for everyone.

Naturopathic treatment approaches to depression shed light on causes instead of masking symptoms with meds.

We support a more holistic approach to treating and supporting you through depression that includes looking into the cause, while finding the best solution for your specific needs.

Through longer patient visits, collaboration amongst our providers, we look at the “whole you” to formulate a plan of support.

And that includes our belief that diet and nutrition play a profound role in health generally and in the regulation of mood in particular. Dietary excesses of some foods deplete serotonin and dopamine, the brain chemicals associated with feeling good. Likewise, lack of specific nutrients can have profound effects on the body’s ability to maintain optimal function of the nervous system. Simply correcting these issues can lead to dramatic improvements in symptoms.

A much larger issue is the way in which our society has turned circumstantial feelings of sadness, grief, isolation or hopelessness into a diagnosis that requires medication to manage. When individuals experience profound loss, or feel trapped in relationships or jobs, or are unable to resolve past traumas, medications to mask those valid emotions are not addressing the cause of the depression.

Our approach to depression utilizes a comprehensive understanding of the history and circumstances that contribute to the depression. It can involve lab testing to determine metabolic imbalances. It will virtually always involve a close look at nutrition and the ways in which eating habits might be contributing to the ongoing symptoms. It can include recommendations for regular exercise, because that is a therapy that has been consistently found to relieve depression as well as medications. And yes, it can include a standard pharmaceutical Rx, if that is appropriate for you.

There are many reasons that any given person might experience depression. Treating depression can only be done if the underlying cause is understood as clearly as possible, and therapies are used to re-establish balance in an individual’s life.

During National Depression Awareness Month, those who feel they may have depression should seek out a naturopathic physician. The most important thing to know about depression is that it is not simply a chemical imbalance in the brain that requires medication to correct. Depression is a dynamic relationship between an individual, their lifestyle, their circumstances and their way of thinking about their life. In the context of a naturopathic treatment plan, all of these factors are addressed to optimize an individual’s full capacity for optimum wellness.




Image courtesy:  TheAlieness GiselaGiardino

The Health Benefits of Cold Showers

The challenge:  1 Week of Cold Showers.

Yep, you read that correctly.  Those of you who know me, know that I guzzle hot water year round, have been caught relaxing with a warm teakettle in my lap, and consider the inventor of the seat warmer to be my own personal god.  So, when cold showers, as part of a wellness routine, were brought to my attention, I recoiled with horror.  I would give up my car before forgoing hot showers.  The subject piqued my curiosity, however, and I started to do a little digging.

Cold showers tout an impressive list of benefits, including:

  • Enhanced Immune Function – Cold water therapy has been shown to increase levels of both white blood cells and cytokines in the body; 2 key players for fighting disease, infection, and inflammation.
  • Improved Mood – Your skin has far more cold receptors than it does heat receptors.  So when doused with cold water, your brain receives a surge of impulses so strong, that many scientists liken it to old-school electroshock therapy.  This, in turn, triggers a release of mood-lifting endorphins, including noradrenaline, a neurotransmitter considered crucial for battling depression.  Aside from boosting your mood and energy, cold showers are said to clear the aura, revitalize one’s chakras, and were used by samurai warriors to cleanse the spirit.
  • Rejuvenated Skin – Unlike hot water, cold water preserves your body’s natural oils, preventing dryness, protecting your skin, and helping your body regulate oil production.  Cool water also closes and tightens your pores, constricts capillaries to reduce under-eye bags, and reduces inflammation.  Finally, a free anti-aging technique!
  • Benefits Hair – Cold water seals your hair’s cuticles, making it stronger and shinier.
  • Increased Fertility in Men – We know that keeping the testes cool is crucial for fertility – that’s why testicles are located outside of the body.    Not surprisingly, research shows that switching from hot showers to cool dramatically increases sperm count and mobility.  Cold showers are also said to increase testosterone production in men.
  • Better Circulation – By increasing blood flow throughout the body, cold showers boost oxygenation of vital organs, work to strengthen the vascular system, and encourage detoxification.

The list of reasons continues, and the more I read, the more I just HAD to try it.

I encountered varying techniques, ranging from 45 minute ICE baths to induce violent shivering, to gently turning down the hot water throughout your shower, so as to end on cold.  I went with the latter.

I’ve been playing with it for a while, and this morning I spent over 3 minutes in cold water!

Goose bumps?  Definitely.  Did I burst out of the shower with renewed, if not desperate, energy?  Oh my god yes.  Spirit cleansed?  Eh.

So I’ve given myself a little challenge:  To spend a minimum of 3 minutes/day in cold water for 1 week.  Feel free to jump on the bandwagon.  There are cautions and restrictions, so do a bit of research before taking the plunge.

Look for my update in a week, and send me lots of WARM thoughts!

B12 Deficiency and Depression

There are many reasons that any given person with depression might be depressed. Like all illness, depression can have many contributing causes, from past traumas and grief, to chronic illness, toxic exposures, and many others. Unfortunately, in the conventional medical world most cases of depression – no matter what the cause – are treated the same way: medication.

A growing amount or research, though, is finding that deficiency of a single nutrient, vitamin B12, can play a major role in causing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Continue reading “B12 Deficiency and Depression”

Vitamin D – We Can’t Say It Enough

We’ve told you before how sufficient levels of Vitamin D can help reduce your risk of many chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease, depression and diabetes.

While these are all very serious conditions that deserve your attention, there’s another ailment that’s dominating the headlines right now. You’ve heard it blasted in big letters — the FLU. And guess what? Study after study is showing that Vitamin D can help you battle that cold-weather illness too. Continue reading “Vitamin D – We Can’t Say It Enough”

Kids, Health, and Vitamin D

If there were any easy way for tens of millions of people to reduce their risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, depression, osteoporosis and many other chronic diseases, shouldn’t that be in the headlines?

Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine discovered exactly that. In a large survey of the vitamin D status of children aged 1 to 21, they found that 7 out of 10 were deficient.

Did you know that if women maintain optimal vitamin D levels, their risk of breast cancer is cut in half? Did you know that maintaining optimal vitamin D levels also cuts the risk of colon cancer in half? In fact, getting this one single nutrient up to optimal levels would save untold lives and tens of billions of dollars annually in health care costs.

At Nature Cures Clinic we take this seriously. It’s why we test vitamin D levels on virtually every patient we see, and we make sure people get enough to get these protective effects. Continue reading “Kids, Health, and Vitamin D”

The Naturopathic Approach to Adrenal Fatigue

Listen to: Adrenal Fatigue Podcast

Dr. Eckel and Dr. Nigh discuss these small, but powerful glands in your body that are essential for life, health and vitality.  If you are experiencing adrenal fatigue, the doctors will explain the naturopathic approach they would take through things like lifestyle modifications that will reduce the amount of stress on your body, ultimately taking the burden off your adrenal gland and allowing it to heal.

Depression in the Elderly

A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry followed 521
people over the age of 65 for 2-3 years. At the beginning of the study
none of the subjects were depressed. However, at the end of the study it
was discovered that those people who had lower levels of vitamin B12 and
folate in their blood – and higher levels of a substance called
homocysteine – had a significantly higher risk of depression than other
people in the study.

Naturopathic Views on Bi-polar Disorder

Listen to Naturopathic Views on Bi-polar Disorder

In this podcast, Portland naturopathic doctors, Dr. Greg Eckel and Dr. Greg Nigh discuss their views on a Bi-polar disorder diagnosis.  They’ll talk about how they think that many people are misdiagnosed because their symptoms have to be thrown into some diagnosis with a name by their physician.  The doctors discuss some naturopathic approaches that can be tried on patients who are presenting with the symptoms that are being thrown into the categories that fall under “Bi-polar disorder”.