Women’s lives have never been busier. I can see it in the anxiety levels of my patients as soon as they walk into my clinic.
You also suffer more emotional stress than your male counterparts and you’re twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression.1
And numerous studies prove that environmental toxins and estrogen-mimicking chemicals in almost everything we eat and touch these days contributes to the chronic inflammation inside you and makes your depression even worse.2
Sadly, most doctors will simply write you a prescription and medicate you.
But the antidepressants they prescribe blunt your empathy, passion, sensitivity, and dampen sexual desire and response. Numerous studies also link antidepressants to serious side effects, including suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
Some antidepressants have even been linked to higher death rates. In the famous Women’s Health Initiative, researchers followed 136,000 women aged 50 to 79. They found that women taking antidepressants were 45% more likely to experience strokes. And they were 32% more likely to die overall.
I’ve been helping my patients lift depression safely and naturally for decades…
I use a number of nutrients to alleviate depression among my patients. In a minute, I’m going to tell you about a few of my favorite natural alternatives to Big Pharma’s antidepressants.
But first, I want to tell you about one of the most effective depression remedies that can be used by itself or with other natural remedies.
I’m taking about chocolate.
The nutrients in cacao — the bean that chocolate is made from — are not only rich in antioxidants that protect against disease and aging. They are also powerful mood-boosters.
Chocolate originated among the early native peoples of the Americas. The Aztecs in Mexico, the Mayas in Guatemala and the Incas in Peru all cultivated the cacao tree.
They fermented and roasted the beans to make a powerful chocolate drink. They called it the “drink of the Gods,” because of its many health benefits. It was served as a bitter, frothy liquid, and often mixed with spices and wine. It was also recommended as an aphrodisiac and strength-giver.
Christopher Columbus is said to have been the first European to taste chocolate. And he brought the first cocoa beans back with him to Spain.
But in Europe, they added sugar to the bitter drink, and chocolate’s powerful medicinal properties were forgotten.
You see, chocolate contains powerful antioxidants called flavanols. These protect your brain against cumulative damage of free-radicals.3
- Reduce inflammation and chronic disease;
- Enhance and protect cognition;
- Detoxify essential organs;
- Improve memory and learning.
And a compelling study in the Journal of British Pharmacology reveals the power of chocolate to lift depression. Researchers showed that one drink containing as little as roughly three-quarters of a tablespoon of cacao significantly improved the mood of 30 healthy adults.5
Cacao is also rich in magnesium and phenylethylamine, both of which raise levels of serotonin and endorphins, the brain’s “feel good” hormones.
Multiple studies have also linked magnesium deficiency to mental health.
But remember, not all chocolate is created equal.
Make sure to read labels. If you’re buying a chocolate bar, it’s best to buy dark chocolate. You want something with at least 75% cacao and to avoid products high in sugar or containing dairy.
Dairy and sugar together can impact the interaction of cacao on your mood. In other words, you won’t get the same mood-boosting benefits from a Hershey bar.
Here’s my favorite chocolate smoothie recipe:
- 1-2 tbs. natural cacao powder;
- 2 frozen bananas;
- 1 cup of coconut milk — a great source of healthy fats;
- 1 tbs. chia seeds — a way to add a little protein, omega fatty acids and fiber.
Blend until smooth and enjoy!
Cacao can be bought at most grocery stores in pieces or in powder form. I recommend 3-7 oz per day.6
I also recommend a couple of other vital mood-boosters for depression that have worked wonders with my patients.
Vitamin D3: This fat-soluble vitamin is one of the core “primal” nutrients that kept our ancestors strong, potent, and disease-free, and it can boost serotonin by anywhere fromdouble to 30 times.7 Doctors in Norway revealed that taking vitamin D3, especially in large amounts, improved the symptoms of depression.8
As long as you avoid sunburn, getting some midday sun unprotected for about 10 to 15 minutes a day will give you between 3,000 and 5,000 IUs of vitamin D3. Salmon, mackerel and tuna are also good food sources of D3. To supplement, I recommend taking cholecalciferol. It’s the same vitamin D3 that your body produces. Just be sure to avoid the synthetic form of vitamin D2 in most multivitamins. It’s less potent and less absorbable.9
Magnesium: The loss of magnesium in our soil, water supply and daily diet, largely the result of modern industrial farming methods, has had a devastating on our mental health. That’s one reason why 100 years ago depression was rare. As farmlands were robbed of their essential minerals, the link between plunging levels of magnesium in our diet and the rise of mental illness is shocking. I’ve been recommending magnesium to my patients for years to help relieve stress and depression. It’s nature’s all-natural, non-addictive tranquilizer.
Supplement between 600 and 1,000 mg per day along with your vitamin D3, because magnesium levels can drop when boosting your vitamin D3 intake.10 I recommend that you also take it with vitamin B6, which increases the amount of magnesium accumulating in your cells.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. Depression in Women. National Institute of Mental Health. Accessed Oct. 28, 2015.
2. Beseler, CL, L Stallones, JA Hoppin, MCR Alavanja, A Blair, T Keefe and F Kamel. Depression and Pesticide Exposures among Private Pesticide Applicators Enrolled in the Agricultural Health Study. Environ Health Perspect. 2008;116(12):1713-1719.
3. Nehlig, A. The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence on cognitive performance. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2013. 75(3), 716–727.
4. Spencer, J. “Flavonoids and brain health: multiple effects underpinned by common mechanisms” Molecular Nutrition Group, School of Chemistry. 2009.
5. Nehlig, A. The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence on cognitive performance. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2013. 75(3), 716–727.
6. Buijsse B, Feskens EJ, Kok FJ, Kromhout D. Cocoa intake, blood pressure, and cardiovascular mortality: the Zutphen Elderly Study. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166(4):411-417 P.
7. Patrick, B. N. Ames. Vitamin D hormone regulates serotonin synthesis. Part 1: relevance for autism. The FASEB Journal, 2014; DOI: 10.1096/fj.13-246546.
8. Jorde, M. Sneve, Y. Figenschau, J et al. Effects of vitamin D supplementation on symptoms of depression in overweight and obese subjects: randomized double blind trial. J Intern Med. 2008;264(6):599-609
10. Changes in brain protein expression are linked to magnesium restriction-induced depression-like behavior Whittle, Nigel; Li, Lin; Chen, Wei-qiang; Yang, Jae-won; Sartori, Simone B; et al. Amino Acids 40.4 (Apr 2011): 1231-48.