Depression: CAM Therapies for Specific
- A study in 1985 revealed that patients
who engaged in an eight-week program of meditation experienced less pain, anxiety, and
depression than patients treated with conventional medications and physiotherapy.
- Results of a study suggest that hypnotic
imaging may help in
producing physical and psychological changes that will help patients deal with
breast cancer by reducing depression.
- Research is still preliminary, but in
Europe, steroid hormone DHEA products are being marketed for menopause-related depression.
- In a 1985 study, acupuncture compared favorably to treatment with
conventional depression medications. After five weeks of acupuncture treatment,
70 percent of depression patients were cured or markedly improved, compared to
65 percent taking medication.
- Americans now use herbs mostly for a variety of minor
conditions, the most common of which is depression.
- Commission E in Germany has approved Ginkgo
biloba extract for
the symptomatic treatment of depression.
- Mental functioning of fifty patients with
depression improved when treated with the commercial ginseng-based product Ginsana, a European brand of ginseng extract.
- St. John's wort is one of the powerhouses of
contemporary herbal medicine. It has become very popular in the United States
in a short period of time, and is used primarily to combat depression.
- In a 1988 study, twenty-three depressed
subjects were placed on a therapeutic diet free of caffeine and sucrose for one or two weeks, then challenged,
in a blinded fashion, with caffeine and sucrose. When challenged, 50 percent
responded with significant and sustained deterioration of their moods.
- In a study, twenty-four depressed elderly
patients showed significant improvement on one gram of amino acid L-acetylcarnitine taken daily for one month, as compared
- Among subjects in an Ayurvedic program, those who were highly adherent
to the prescribed therapy showed a decrease in depression.
- A study of elderly women who had undergone
surgical repair of hip fractures found that those with strong religious
beliefs were able to
walk farther at discharge, and also showed lower levels of depressive symptoms.
Caution: Research on the
hormone melatonin remains inconclusive, but some studies suggest that melatonin
can deepen or induce depression.
Caution: Depression can be a
side effect of acupuncture.
Caution: If you are taking St.
John's wort, sunlight may cause a photosensitive reaction that can irritate and
inflame the skin of light-skinned individuals. If you are taking any other
antidepressants, discuss the use of St. John's wort with your doctor before
using it. Do not take it if you are planning a pregnancy, during pregnancy, or
when breast-feeding. In combination with common drugs such as Prozac (SSRI) or
Nardil (MAO inhibitor), St. John's wort can result in fever, confusion, and
muscle spasms. The standard MAO food warnings apply with St. John's wort.
Typical preparation and dose are 300 mg of the standardized (0.3 percent) hypericin
(thought to be the active agent), three times per day with meals, for a total
of 900 mg per day. It may also be taken as two 450 mg tablets, two times per
day. Or drink 1 to 2 cups per day of the dried herb tea boiled for ten minutes.
St. John's wort should be taken with meals to avoid stomach discomfort. At
least four weeks should be allowed in order for blood levels to reach adequate
concentrations to be effective.
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BEST ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE: WHAT WORKS? WHAT DOES NOT? by Dr. Kenneth R.
Copyright © 2000 by Dr. Kenneth R. Pelletier,
Reprinted by permission of Simon &
Schuster, Inc., New York, New York.
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