Last Modified on Mar 07, 2014
What Is Depression?
Depression is a mood disorder described by feelings and behaviors of negativity and sadness; an emotional state of loss that can affect our everyday actions, how we perceive ourselves, and the world around us. Feelings associated with depression are sadness, worry, emptiness, anxiety, worthlessness, guilt, and anxiety; but other symptoms of depression may include restlessness, insomnia, fatigue, or even digestion issues.
A diagnosis of depression can be ambiguous and can be used as a blanket term for feeling low or blue, or be symptomatic of other mood disorders; however, it is important to call a distinction between how we casually talk about someone being depressed and clinical depression, or major depression, as a major mood disorder as diagnosed through a psychiatrist. Diagnosis is based off of self-reported experience or from friends and family, and a clinical assessment. Common onset occurs in ages 20-30, with the incidence rate peaking between 30 and 40.
Holistic Treatment for Depression
Below we have nearly a hundred different user-submitted home remedies and natural cures for dealing with depression. People have posted success stories in dealing with depression using apple cider vinegar, 5-HTP, fish oil, and even cold shower therapy1. From exercise to diet, here are many options for those suffering from all kinds of depression.
Additional Pages of Interest:
|Cold Showers||14 YEAS|
|Apple Cider Vinegar||11 YEAS|
|Fish Oil||5 YEAS|
Table of Contents
- QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
- POPULAR REMEDIES
- 5-HTP and Pyridoxal 5 Phosphate
- Acetyl L-Carnitine
- Antidepressants and Vitamin Deficiencies
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Apple Cider Vinegar and Baking Soda
- B Complex
- B12, Folic Acid, 5-HTP
- Bach Flower Remedies
- Bach Flower Remedies, Acetyl-L-Carnitine
- Blackstrap Molasses
- Coconut Oil
- Cold Showers
- Couch Exercise
- Day Light Lamp, Dietary Suggestions
- Dietary Changes
- Dietary Changes, Exercise, Supplements
- Dietary Recommendations
- Energy Healing
- Fish Oil
- Food-Related Depression
- General Feedback
- Gluten Free Diet
- Grape Jelly
- Green Juice
- Herbal Supplements
- Homeopathy, Nutrition, Yoga, Change
- Hormone Related
- Just L-Theanine
- L-Theanine in Tea
- Lemon Juice
- Magnesium Glycinate
- Medication Side Effects
- Meditation and Movement Arts
- Milk Thistle
- Multiple Remedies
- Multiple Supplements
- Oil Pulling
- Pink Salmon, Green Veggies, Blueberries
- Primrose Oil
- Remedies Needed
- Rhodiola and 5-HTP
- Rhodiola and St John's Wort
- Rose Oil
- Shino's Remedies for Depression
- Sodium Thiosulfate
- Soy and Egg Protein Powder
- St John's Wort
- St John's Wort, Sunshine, Exercise, Love of Animals
- Sun Gazing
- The Arts
- The Supplements Gh3 and Sceletium
- Urine Therapy
- Vitamin D
- Water With Lemon, Music
- Weaning Off Medications
- Wiggle the Toe Method
[YEA] 02/08/2013: Neukoln from Edinburgh, Scotland, Uk: "I too had very good results with 5HTP. I was initially taking too much and got the anxiety that people mention. But I cut back the dose and it is so much better. I think people need to experiment with the times of the day that is best for them, and the dosage. I open the 100mg capsule and take 50mg in a tiny bit of water 30mins before breakfast - it helps get rid of the morning catatonia. I take 100mg in a tiny bit of water 30mins before dinner - it helps get rid of the comfort eating in the evening. And I take 50mg in a tiny bit of water at bedtime. I think you need to take it on an empty stomach. It seems to work better that way. But 5HTP definitely works for me - it was matter of finding the right dose and time of day to take it."Replies
02/09/2013: Andrew from Cambridge, England replies: "also mate.. St Johns Wort. Hypericum... Amongst other things, it's earth's natural antidepressant... Raises your serotonin levels as does 5htp. but St Johns Wort is more natural."
02/10/2013: Amy from Los Angeles, Ca, United States replies: "Thank you very much for your advice! I am wondering: Do you take any other supplements to combat anxiety and depression?
02/10/2013: Frank from Lebanon, Beirut replies: "Other supplements for anxiety and depression include: omega 3 vitamin D, Magnesium zinc and B12
Also B6 B9 and (Vitamins A, C, E and selenium to help you get rid of the extra toxin load causing your anxiety)
Vitamins are best absorbed through food. for example omega 2 through flax seeds, zinc and b12 through liver of goat, or sheep or chicken or even cow.
- vitamin d through sunlight or you can take pill 5000IU a day cuz its very imp
- vitamin a: carrot juice apricots
- vitamin c brocoli lemon guava kiwi strawberries parsley yellow bell pepper etc
- magnesium through magnesium chloride oil rub
- vitamin e through almonds, spinach, almond oil, hazelnuts spinach
- selenium through brasil nuts, mustard seeds and garlic are the best sources.
These are power foods that can be used instead of supplements if used properly.
Also load up on potassium food to alkalize your body, like avocado, potatoe peels, banana, pumpkin and goji berries which are very rich in potassium and nutrients."
02/07/2013: Amy from Los Angeles, Ca, United States: "Hi All! I take 60 mg of an anti-depressant (1 capsule, twice a day (doesn't really help) and depression. I also take 2 mg of an anti-anxiety (1 tablet, twice a day) for anxiety. I am trying to get off all my Rxs. I have been reading up on 5-HTP and weaning, which I did already know about, but my question is: How do I wean when the anti-depressant comes in capsule form (30 mg/capsule). I feel like there will be no way for me to know how much I am taking if I open the capsule to get to the medication. Also, I have gone from 60 mg to 30 mg, and even that was simply awful! Any help with this weaning situation is most appreciated! Amy"Replies
02/08/2013: Kelly from Cambridge, Ma replies: "You have to wean very slowly - about 5mg's at a time with your anxiety med and about 10mg's at a time with your SSRI/anti-depressant. It's why dropping from the 60mg to 30 made you feel horrible. It's too quick a drop. The rule of thumb is, the slower the better.
Anxiety med - Instead of 2mg's, take 1.5 mg's/day for a couple of weeks by taking 1 tab as your first dose and a 1/2 tab as your second, or vice versa. After two weeks, go to 1mg - 1/2 tab am and pm for two weeks, then to 1/2mg per day for 2 weeks, etc.
SSRI/Anti-depressant - Since it's in capsule form, you could ask your MD to prescribe them in smaller doses, making it easy for you to wean down 10mgs at a time, or pick yourself up some empty capsules. You'll find them at GNC or the Vitamin Shoppe, etc. You can split your 60mg capsule into smaller doses. It's labor-intensive, but it will get the job done.
Start by opening the capsule and dividing its contents into 6 lines (eyeballing it to approx. 10 mgs in each line). Then, only put 5 of the lines into the empty capsules (25 each) so that you'll be taking a total of 50mg's per day for a couple of weeks.
After a couple of weeks, do the same - divvy up your capsules, except put only 4 of the lines into your empty capsules, then 3, 2, etc. taking each dose for a couple of weeks.
When you get to the point where you have weaned down to the final 10mg of the anti-depressant, make your last final two week dose 5mg/day and you should be good to go.
Hang in there. You'll do fine."
02/10/2013: Amy from Los Angeles, Ca, United States replies: "I had a feeling that weaning with a capsule would entail what you suggest. I just wasn't sure how to begin, so THANK YOU VERY MUCH! I shall proceed with your suggestion. By any chance, do you know how, when, and how much to start adding the supplements, like 5-htp?
10/23/2012: She from Richmond, Virginia, United States: "I'm on Effexor for depression and anxiety. I would love to stop taking it and try something more natural. But I know from previous experience that if I forget to take it within 6 hours I start having withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal symptoms are like having a really bad bout of the flu. Can't get out of bed, have really vivid dreams, etc. What is 5 -HTP and how could I start taking that and get rid of the Effexor? Thanks for any advise!"Replies
10/23/2012: Andreea from Grimsby, On< Canada replies: "Hi, I was on effexor for about a year and decided I would stop, since it made me feel like a zombie. I did it alone, with no medical support. I started by lowering the dose. Half a dose one day, full dose tomorrow, half a dose next day and so on for about a week, then one more day added with the lower dose, on so on until I got to the minimum dose every day of the week. Then I would take it one day on, one day off and so on. The first few days with no medication were hard, I had headaches and I was a bit confused and couldn't focus, but I was determined. So, slowly, one day at a time, I stopped taking it altogether. I hope this helps."
10/23/2012: Juliette from Reston, Va replies: "Check out the book The Mood Cure by Julia Ross. Really lays out a plan for you, helps you identify what your mood type is. Very simple and easy to read. Has chapter on getting off anti depressants! Lots of information on 5htp and other amino acids... can get it used off amazon for pretty cheap. Good luck!
(fyi when I took 5htp I took it twice a day once in afternoon once at night really worked for me)"
10/24/2012: Wayout from Motown, Ca/ Usa replies: "Hi She! One of the major uses of ascorbic acid is its use as a detoxifying agent. It even is used on poisonous snakebite! It nullifies toxic effects, while enhancing drug effectiveness, so less is often needed - and doctor should be consulted first to be really safe about lowering dose, or titrating off. That said, all too often they just want to put one on $omething el$e... at least that's how mine was, though I was dying right in front of him.
Be prepared for a lot of toxic withdrawl symptoms if you do it without some good detoxifying agent. It was a nightmare the way I did it, a decade ago, and it doesn't have to be that way at all. --T."
10/28/2012: She from Richmond, Virginia, United States replies: "Thank you for your reply! Are you totally off meds now? I just took myself off hormone patch and progesterone by applying Clary Sage Oil. Hopefully I can get my Dr. To lower my dosage a little at a time. I know how bad the side effects are!!"
[YEA] 07/01/2011: Linda from Atlanta, Ga: "5HTP helps me very well when I have the Blues. I take only 50mg in the morning. It works very subtle. I notice when I do not take it. I also take PS (Phosphatidylserine). It helps me get up and do my work and it helps me with procrastination. I found with 5HTP that it works better in low dosages. When people take too much they experience anxiety."
08/24/2010: Gtijes from Allentown, Pa: "Hey, I have always struggled with depression and anxiety since I was young. However, it wasn't until my father passed away very suddenly that I started taking lorazepam & citalopram for extreme anxiety and depression. I am really not into prescriptions unless absolutely necessary. Does anyone know how to start to switch off of prescriptions onto 5-htp? I can never find any answers if it's ok to start weaning off of the prescriptions and introducing the 5-htp right away. Anything you can offer would be greatly appreciated. I really want to get off of these meds right away. Thanks!"Replies
08/25/2010: Lily from Brisbane, Australia replies: "Hi Gtijes, the best thing to do is ask your chemist/pharmacist if 5htp is safe to be taken with the meds you are on and then if it is safe you can go into one of the hundreds of forums on the internet that help you and suggest how to reduce and finally stop taking your prescription medication. You can then add in your dosage of 5htp that you think is necessary to replace your reducing meds. I hope you succeed with ease. Lily."
08/25/2010: Anon from Somewhere, Usa replies: "PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE talk to either your doctor or a pharmacist before you proceed with this. I took meds for panic attacks and the side effects were the most horrible experience to go through during the weaning process. A family member went through bad experience with it too and ended up trying to end her life. These medications are dangerous and should be illegal for doctors to pass out scripts the way they do."
08/25/2010: Anonymous from World replies: "I agree. But ideally you should do this with the assistance an experienced professional who is willing to help you with the switch and is aware of your medical history. If you want to do it alone, make sure that, at the very minimum, you are very knowledgeable about the risks involved, and talk to people who have done it as well. Even so, consider the risks: this change can trigger a serious reaction, these are anti-depressants we are talking about. Any change in your existing drug regimen will result in chance for your brain chemistry. Be safe."
[WARNING!] 03/02/2012: Brian from Boulder, Co replies: "My caution is quite different: there is a VERY good chance your doctor will advise against 5-HTP (or any natural remedy). For many, that avenue then becomes a dead end.
I use 5-HTP now after being prescribed pharmaceuticals, and it is at least as effective. The dark secret about meds is that for many of us they don't do much in the first place, and eventually they destroy your liver (which happened to my sister, with many serious health consequences).
My advice for wearning yourself off your meds (which is what I did) is to do it VERY slowly, and introduce 5-HTP as slowly. At least 3 months, until the dosages you are taking are just tiny crumbs. This will keep your side effects down to a bare minimum. Good luck!"
[YEA] 05/07/2009: Denisse from Long Beach, CA, USA: "5-HTP for depression. This little pill did wonders for me. I had been feeling depressed for around a month due to heavy family problems. When I finally put all my symptoms together (oversleeping, hopelessness, sadness, emotionally unstable) I instantly came to this site. Cold showers did not appeal to me at all; I live in sunny CA and still get cold. I ordered the pills and thankfully they came the next day. I take one or two (depending on how I am doing) 100mg pills a day. My mood has definitely improved and I am finally returning to my normal self. They also seem to have reduced my terrible headaches. I recommend 5-HTP to all!"Replies
12/10/2011: Ja from Ashland City, Tn replies: "My first order of 5-HTP arrived yesterday, and I took it (one 100mg pill) right away. I was horribly nauseated for a few hours. Then, this morning, I took another one (with all of my other vitamins, etc. ). I have felt quite nauseated yet again. I am hoping that this is just a "beginner" symptom. I tend to experience nausea more frequently than most "normal" people. I'm just curious... Has anyone else had this type of problem?"
12/11/2011: Steve from Las Vegas, Nevada replies: "If the 5htp is a capsule you way want to try emptying it under your tongue for sublingual absorbtion. That way you don't have to process it through your digestive tract and avoid the nausea. I hold the 5htp powder under my tongue for about an hour or until I feel like I have absorbed it. This way has worked well for me."
12/11/2011: Timh from Louisville, Usa replies: "Ja, it appears that your product may be outdated. I have always had the same symptoms as you listed with any protein or amino acid supplement that was close to one yr old (at which time they become infected with bacterial or fungal pathogens). As a safety measure, one can always take their aminos w/ vit-C to counter any germs."
01/10/2012: Rachel from Manchester, New Hampshire, Usa replies: "You want the 5HTP to create serotonin in your brain, not your gut. The nausea from 5HTP comes about when the body makes serotonin in the gut rather than the brain. When Europeans take 5HTP they take it with a decarboxylase inhibitor so this will not happen. Try taking it sublingually. I've taken 5HTP on and off for years, but lately I'm having better results with Source Naturals' brand of Tryptophan. (See their website for a comparison of 5HTP and Tryptophan. ) When you take any amino acids, like Tryptophan, do not take with any other protein... Wait 2 or 3 hours, if possible. This may also apply to 5HTP. Amino Acids compete with each other to get into the brain, so it won't be effective if taken too near protein. Take these amino acid pills with fruits or fruit juices. Also take magnesium, folate, vitamin C and especially Vitamin B6 along with the 5HTP or Tryptophan to help your brain create serotonin. See LEF. ORG, then "tryptophan" for a helpful writeup. Here's a very good article:
You can also call LEF (Life Extension Foundation) for a free consultation (tel. 800-226-2370). I got relief from depression by following the GFCF diet (Gluten Free, Casein Free = no dairy, no wheat, barley, no rye, no oats unless gluten-free oats. ) My life picked up from that diet. Lots of info online about it; also see the book THE ULTRAMIND SOLUTION by Mark Hyman, M. D. Also I got great results by learning how to increase serotonin through diet. Do see this excellent book: NATURAL PROZAC by Dr. Joel Robertson. You can start by reading the reviews on Amazon for these books."
02/12/2012: Jc from Boston, USA replies: "Rachel, You are right on. The reason eliminating irritants to the gut like gluten help is that many hormones and neurotransmitters like seratonin are manufactuered in the gut. Take good care of your digestive track by eliminating junk food and highly processed foods. Personally, I have found that Tryptophan is more effective than 5htp. Good post and thanks."
02/16/2009: Michele from Kenn, GA: "i have some depression and am afraid to go off well butrin. what effect does taking 5htp and tyrosine have if u took it with wellbutrin? i also have a low thyroid and gain weight when i do go off wellbutrin and find it hard to get off and i exercise alot....."
[YEA] 11/14/2008: Rachelle from Roseland, NJ: "I have suffered from depression and "dark moods" for years. I am very much against taking prescription drugs as I believe they do more harm than good. However, about 6 weeks ago I was feeling so depressed and dark that I began to consider going to the Dr. for a prescription antidepressant. I thought, maybe I'm just adding to my suffering by being so against modern pharmaceuticals. Anyway, I turned to Earthclinic and read about 5-HTP and decided to give it a shot. I bought extra strength 5-HTP in the form of L-5 hydroxytryptophan, 100mg per capsule. I started off taking 2 capsules first thing in the morning before eating. Did this for about 3 weeks. I increased the amount to 3 capsules per morning and have been doing that since. I first noticed that my moods were more "neutral" instead of depressed and I took that as a sign of improvement. I presently feel good and not depressed.
I would just like to add that I recently added fasting to my health protocol. I read a fascinating book called "The Miracle of Fasting" by Paul and Patricia _____.
They say in this book that fasting helps emotional issues as well as physical ones. I have done a 24 hour fast once per week for 2 weeks in a row and I believe that it has contributed to my feelings of well being. I plan on continuing doing a weekly 24hr fast.
Hope this helps."
[YEA] 01/13/2008: Kellie from Vancouver BC, Canada: "Hi I found 5 htp a couple years ago on the internet , looking for some thing to help my saddness and depression, so i heard about 5 htp , well i was desprite and i took 2 100 every day , it helped me so so much , i go off it some times because the side effects for me are, it makes me get my period more ofton , mind you i think that is when i was taking 300 mg . and also it has caused me to get itchy palms of my hand ,and the back of my head . but now that iv gone down on them and taken a break for a few months , im good . but i have to go on them because it helps me so much for depression . i have just discovered the 5 htp with 200 mg L- Ter , wow as far as im concerned its a bloody mirical . it changes my hole mood . makes me very happy .but for sure one other side effect im not as hungry when im on it . and i dream more vividly . but as fare as im concerned its a wonder drug , sorry for the spelling.lets just hope the drug companys don't take them away."Replies
05/22/2008: Fred from Pleasanton, California replies: "Could give the full spelling of what you meant by L-ter ?"
EC: L-ter = L-tyrosine (??)
[YEA] 08/29/2005: Karin from Arlington: "5HTP has been one great discovery for me and several of my friends. We used to all take Valerian root which worked great but smelled awful. St. Johns wort wasn't bad either, but there was concerns about taking before surgeries. We've been taking 5HTP for over a year now and there is always this significant sense of calm."Replies
[YEA] 08/15/2011: Joylie from Solana Beach, Ca replies: "I love 5-HTP. It has helped me while I've gone through some pretty tough times. I just take 50 mg. Every night. But even at that lowest dose, it has made a big difference for me. :-)"
08/16/2011: Steve from Las Vegas, Nevada, United States replies: "Yes, 5HTP was a lifesaver for me. I had depression so bad that I would cry at the drop of a hat for no apparent reason. I took one 200mg NOW brand cap, opened it up and placed the powder under my tongue. I figured it would be absorbed faster this way. I was right. Within an hour I was back to myself, cracking jokes with my wife and feeling normal again. If you are low on seratonin this supplement is the ticket. I take a 5HTP whenever my body tells me too which is occasionally. I don't think it's good to be on this supplement forever as it is said to deplete dopamine levels, another important neurotransmitter. The big question is how do you know if you are low in seratonin? These are some of the telltale signs of low seratonin:
Anxiety - This can be anything from mild panic to extreme impairment and distress in a high-stress situation.
Fatigue - If you catch yourself being tired all the time regardless of the amount of sleep you get, consider caffeine a major food group and habitually experience mental fogginess, there may be something other than just being too tired.
Depression - Let's face it, everyone has times when they're just down and melancholy, it's part of life; however, if you have "the blues" consistently for extended periods of time you may be experiencing a depressed mood that may require additional intervention.
Impaired cognitive function - Can't remember where you put the car keys and have to think hard about simple math? Cognitive function is directly impacted by serotonin levels and a severe deficiency may result in mental fogginess, minor memory loss and slowed problem-solving abilities.
Low self-esteem - Habitually feeling disgusted by yourself or feeling worthless are not normal things. At times, everyone is bound to believe negative things about themselves. If this severely low self-esteem keeps up for weeks or months, other issues may be the cause.
Loss of pleasure - A marked loss of interest in hobbies previously enjoyed or a sudden lack of even a sense of satisfaction at a job well done are also symptoms of a serotonin deficiency. When the noted lack of pleasure gotten out of activities becomes nearly non-existent, it may be something beyond mere boredom.
Insomnia - Though everyone has the occasional difficulties sleeping at night due to stress or anxiety, insomnia or hyposomnia can be seriously detrimental to health if you're repeatedly not able to sleep until very late hours and only manage to get a few hours of sleep each night or have sleep that is consistently interrupted by waking and being unable to go back to sleep quickly. On the same token hypersomnia, or too much sleep, may also be a symptom of serotonin deficiency.
Poor impulse control - This may often manifest itself in obsessive-compulsive behaviors, manic spending or in addictions such as drugs or alcohol. Many severe addictions are caused or exacerbated by low levels of serotonin.
09/20/2011: Breezee from Raleigh, Nc, Usa replies: "From childhood I remember feeling depressed. I've never felt good about myself and have always thought my death would give me the peace I can't find in life. I've taken all kinds of "prescribed medications", sat through counseling sessions and 50 years later I'm still the same. No, I'm worse now because I'm so tired of feeling this way. Some medications helped for a time but the side effects are terrible and I'm tired of experimenting trying to find the right combination. I would like to have one month, just 30 days, of my life feeling happy to be here, to feel real joy about being alive. All the comments on 5-HTP made me curious. I've been down the "this will work" path many times and I'm afraid. Will you share the side effects of taking this? Could taking this make my depression even worse?"
09/20/2011: Steve from Las Vegas, Nevada replies: "I don't think it will make your depression worse if you are low in serotonin. For me it 5-HTP pulled me right out of a severe depression and the difference was immediate, like night and day. I took a 200mg Now brand 5HTP cap and put about half under my tongue for sublingual absorbtion. You can look at this reference for low serotonin levels as well as other neurotransmitters. http://www.hbcprotocols.com/chart.html
02/09/2012: Red from Mohnton, Pa replies: "Steve, I have all of these symptoms you listed above pretty much all the time. I'm usually a happy person and only had boughts of depression every couple months but lately it's been all the time. I've had 1 good day in 2 weeks... :( I've made my very first doc appt on this in 2 weeks but am worried about starting some other kind of med that causes addiction and weird side effects when trying to get off of it. I've been taking st. Johns wort... Haven't noticed a change in mood since and have been taking it for 2 weeks so far. How does this go along with 5htp?"
02/09/2012: Jen from Bozeman, Mt, Us replies: "Dear Red from Mohnton, You should be able to take both St Johns Wart and 5-HTP with no problem. They both work differently but toward the same goal. Depression is a very hard disorder to get through but it is possible and in most cases, without taking drugs. Just remember that diet and enviroment are usually a big part of what put you there in the first place. Make sure to get lots of healthy veggies and fruits and a wide variety. Depression can be caused by a nutritional imbalance. Eat fish at least 2 to 3 times a week if you can but if not then take an Omega 3. Also make sure to supplement with D3 at least 2, 000 to 5, 000 mg a day. Especially in the winter months. I take 5-HTP and I love it. When I run out I notice a huge difference in my mood and my sleeping patterns."
02/09/2012: Maria from Gippsland, Australia replies: "It is normally recommended if you take St John's Wort and 5HTP together is to take lower doses of each and not the highest doses."
[YEA] Charlotte from Richboro, PA: "My 6 year old grandson was diagnosed with "Select Mutism" 2 years ago and rather than put him on "Prozac", my daughter did some research and learned about 5HTP and chose to try it first. He started on 50mg every night. His psychologist saw the same results with the 5HTP as children on prescribed drugs. It's been a miracle for him. I have since then also taken it since our family seems to have anxiety problems and ADD runs in the family and it has helped very much with these problems. I usually take 100mg to 200mg daily depending on my stress levels at the time. We are so grateful our little grandson did not have to take Prozac or a similar drug. I would highly recommend it as a first choice to try at least."Replies
08/09/2009: Alix from Columbus, Ohio replies: "What is 5-HTP exactly? I have tried and am taking many natural remedies for certain aliments but have never heard of this. Is it natural and where would one purchase something like this. Any dangerous side effects anyone can report?"
5-HTP and Pyridoxal 5 Phosphate
[YEA] 03/13/2009: Tim from Perth, Western Australia: "I am a 46 year old male who has suffered from regular bouts of depression for most of my adult life. These depressed episodes were not usually linked to any situational cause and indeed could be very difficult to understand for my family because there was no obvious trigger or reason why I was depressed. The symptoms presented as physical as well as mental and I would suffer from joint pain, lethargy and extreme nausea and in severe bouts even cold sweats and shivering that would last for days and sometimes a week. I have tried prescription anti-depressants but the side effects were almost as bad as the ailment so I resolved to put up with the ups and downs (I only probably had episodes bad enough to take off work maybe twice a year).
About 2 years ago someone put me on to 5 Hydroxy Tryptophan or 5-HTP as a precursor to serotonin production and I decided to give it a try (the potential for weight loss was an added incentive) and I found the results somewhat hit and miss until after some research and experimentation I hit on the combination of 5-HTP (100mg) combined with Pyridoxal 5 Phosphate (15mg) (the active enzyme version of vitamin B6 and assists in the conversion of the 5-HTP to serotonin) taken first thing in the morning on an empty stomach (I avoid eating for at least half an hour). The theory from my research into taking it on an empty stomach is that this avoids the 5-htp metabolising into serotonin in the stomach before it can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Further, I have found that the active version of B6 is more effective than the common variety version (pyridoxine) because I think I struggle to metabolise the pyridoxine variety into the active enzyme and therefore have a natural B6 deficiency (probably why I don't produce enough serotonin).
I haven't had a bout of depression for over 12 months now despite the fact that I have experienced (as many others have over the past 4 months) the most stressful and extreme anxiety creating environment of my professional life.
Apart from sharing my discovery on this excellent website I have a question about Apple Cider Vinegar and my 5-HTP regimen. I have in the past week begun to experiment with the ACV and Baking Soda remedy for Acid Reflux and I have a dilemma in that the majority of posts suggest that the ACV/BS solution should be taken on an empty stomach. If I take it first thing in the morning at the same time as the 5-HTP and B6 combo will that cause the 5-HTP to metabolise into serotonin in my stomach before it gets a chance to be absorbed (My research indicates that serotonin itself can't be absorbed). Because I don't want to jeopardise the efficacy of the depression remedy, I am waiting half an hour to drink the ACV concoction which is inconvenient to say the least as it makes me nauseas and I can't eat breakfast before having to leave for work (maybe that is the weight loss trick).
Any suggestions? By the way the ACV/BS Combo seems to be working with some interesting side effects (nausea diarrhoea and gas) but it's still too early to tell."
03/16/2010: Anna from Perth, Australia replies: "Hi Tim, I wanted to ask if you've continued to see success on this treatment at all? Thanks. :)"
11/06/2010: Kay from Houston, Tx replies: "Tim-You can cure your acid reflux by taking 4 oz of Aloe Vera Juice (purchased from any health food store) in the morning and before bed. It will be cured in about a month (or less). I was diagnosed with GERD - Gastroesophageal reflux disease a few years ago, did some research & came across a natural cure "Aloe Vera juice". It heals the esophageal tract. The taste is horrible, but worth it. Mix it with NON-ACIDIC juice, if you can't stand the taste. I would pour the aloe vera juice into a shot glass (lol), hold my breath, "down it" & chase it with water. After a while I got used to it. Try "LILY OF THE DESERT Stomach formula - in mint flavor". This works too! You can buy it at any health food store or order on-line. TRUST ME! It will cure it.
You have to do your part and stay away from acidic foods while you're using this remedy, so that your esophageal tract can heal properly. It's been 4 yrs and I've had no more bouts with acid reflux since. My father was recently hospitalized with GERD. I told him about this remedy, he tried it & sings its praises (this is saying a LOT considering my father is a skeptic & believes in NOTHING! ) The aloe vera cure made him a believer & he told me "I'll try any natural remedy you tell me about, from now on! " Please try this. Good luck!"
[YEA] 07/28/2009: Sveta from Des Plaines, IL: "Having been suffering from bipolar, bulimia, anxiety disorder and depression for 5 years. Tried ACETYL L-CARNITINE. Have one thing to say, it's freaking amazing! I'm surprised you don't hear about it much. It helps my anxiety better than cold showers, antidepressants, and even Xanax! I'm so happy that that i found out about it. It's like the hell I've been living in for years is over. This supplement has the strength of a prescription drug. I advise everyone who has anxiety problem to give a try. Though I need like 50 mg a day instead of 5000 the way they recommend. 5000 is too much for me to tolerate. Find your dosage. And never give up. Try every supplement for depression and anxiety out there, one by one. Some will do nothing, some will make you feel worse, but there'll be one, two, or even more that will help you and make your life a beautiful and joyful thing to have. Good luck everyone."Replies
08/09/2009: Sharon from Wood Dale, Illinois replies: "Thank You for your ver insightfull and comments that made sense. I am trying everything I can to get out of the depression I have, as you said, and I think, one thing at a time, not everything works for everybody,, great comments...."
[YEA] 05/19/2013: Paul from Saint Louis, Mo replies: "Acetyl L-Carnitine has changed my life as well. I have suffered from depression since I was a child, have tried every medication out there and nothing seemed to work. Also, I found out I had candida, and everything I have done to bring my GI tract back into balance has helped the depression, OCD, worry, and ADHD. I take probiotics before bed, which has made a huge difference. L-tyrosine has helped me a lot. My biggest help was finding out that I was low in stomach acid. Treating that with Betaine HCL has changed my life and enabled me to actually "absorb" vitamins and nutrients from food that I couldn't before, this has changed my life."
[YEA] 04/11/2008: Molly from Madison, USA: "One time I purchased a bottle of 5-htp, and after taking one capsule morning & evening, just twice, I threw the bottle away. My reaction to 5-htp was horrific; upon further research I learned that high levels of serotonin are associated with SEVERE ANXIETY. I also read that the spice ginger is a serotonin antagonist, so I have a bottle on hand, just in case I ever feel so anxious ever again.
Then I read somewhere online that there is a set of people whose depression responds to Acetyl L-Carnitine, they said the depression lifted in these people when using 3-4 grams a day, and to take two grams of acetylcarnitine on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning.
This amino acid is the most amazing substance; I've never been able to take more than 2 grams per day - there is such great mental clarity, there is utter inability to be depressed, but there simultaneously is no euphoria - just calm lucid clarity. I've read that it assists the brain in making many different neurotransmitters - so it is not anything, not anything at all like 5-htp which floods the brain with serotonin - which, if you don't need it, might create severe anxiety."Replies
01/23/2009: SharronW from Sydney, Australia replies: "I am enjoying reading these pages. I have a husband who has a milder but chronic depression now - I can't get him out of bed before 11am (and when I go off to work I suspect that he's still in bed at 1pm in the day!!!) To clarify the statement about serotonin made above - and since this problem is now been ongoing for 7 years - may I say the ANXIETY is the cause of using up the body's "well" of serotonin. Anything that worries us long term can eventuate in depression. Some anti depressants stop the ANXIETY using up the serotonin which the body uses in brain function. When we have a full "well" of serotonin we should feel better. Of course the REAL message is find out what it is that is insurmountable in the first place or it'll get you in the back of the neck later. Don't put it off - it's vital. In my husband's instance he was faced with a life threatening aortic aneurysm and should he have it operated on which was risky in its own right. We was PETRIFIED of having the operation. I thought the depression would have cleared up after the operation was over but I think the problem now is that there is a recognition of not "being forever young" anymore. Anyway hope the ANXIETY/serotonin explanation above helped."
[YEA] 06/06/2009: Robin from Minneapolis, MN replies: "I have had depression most of my life. Everyone's body chemistry and brain make-up is different and that is why dr's have a hard time finding the right meds for people with emotional problems. Anyway, I have just put up with it all these years as I don't like taking Rx. By accident, in taking some acetyl-l-carnitine, I finally realized I wasn't depressed anymore. Not happy, just not down in the pits for a change.
I think Americans are having to eat such nutrient deficient foods that synthetic supplements can't completely cover as good as Mother Nature can; that whole populations are having subclinical and even clinical deficiencies that are being labeled as 'this or that problem' instead of what it really is!
Anyway, I was taking 500mg/day on empty stomach. Another thing it is good for is the heart. L-carnitine is better, but this other helps some with the pressure on the chest also."
02/06/2013: Lin from Sydney, Australia replies: "Recent research has shown that one of the reasons for depleted serotonin in depressed persons is that serotonin production is halted in the body during REM sleep.
Depressed people are usually in the REM sleep state for a lot of the night (compared to non depressed) and hence wake feeling exhausted mentally and with low levels of serotonin.
Throughout the day activity gradually increases the serotonin levels but of course the cyle begins again each evening.
Placebo trials have also shown that increasing the level of serotoninvia medication does little to affect the nervous anxiety and exhaustion created by over REMING.
So basically the reduced serotonin experienced by depressives is a symptom rather than a cause."
02/06/2013: Sam from Australia replies: "Lin, how does one then increase serotonin levels if medication does not work?"
02/06/2013: Ed2010 from Oakville, Canada replies: "Milk Kefir abundant in Serotonin. Noni Juice contains Serotonin. Brown Rice contains Tryptophan which is a precursor to Serotonin. Red Miso is rich in Tryptophan, which is readily available in absorbable format.
Wheat Grass Juice contains nice amino acid profile providing serotonin.
Warning: Soy Milk is a Goitrogen and Tryptophan Inhibitor."
02/07/2013: Steve from Las Vegas, Nv Nevada replies: "When I was going through extreme depression due to adrenal exhaustion I found taking 5HTP pulled me right out of the depression. I knew my serotonin was low and the 5HTP brought me back to normal levels. I started with a dosage of 50mg and gradually increased until I felt I could smile again. I beleive 5HTP is as close as you can get to the actual serotonin produced by your body."
01/01/2014: Sally from Toronto, Canada replies: "Lin, can you give suggestion or what to do to prevent REMING?"
Antidepressants and Vitamin Deficiencies
06/12/2013: Teresa from Swedesboro, Nj: "Hello, I have suffered for about 10 years with anxiety and depression. Sometimes it is debitlitating. Always had blood work done not extensive but always came back fine. This year I am just finished with feeling bad so I went to a holistic Dr. and she gave me a full blood work up like I never had. My questions are this. I am on Effexor XR 150 and Klonopin. 5 3 times a day. I would like to get off of these as I am trying to get on the right path. Well my results showed Vitamin C -low at 0.2, Vit D low at 19, and Vitamin B-12 low also my Epstein Barr is high antibodies of a past infection. One was 8 and one was 4.. So my Holistic Dr. has me on up to 3000 mg once a day of Vitamin C. I am at 1000 mg and feel tired but it has rose hips in it? Also for Vitamin D. I am supposed to start at 5000 iu and then 10,000 for 2 weeks, vitamin b12 supplement -I forget the amount and b6 also. Oh and maitake mushroom. Oh and I am 38 and my progesterone is low. She recommended vitex. Well I am just nervous taking these with my medications but she said it is fine.
Do you think it's better to break these up or do I need to separate from my medications or anything better out there then what is recommended. I seem so sensitive to the slightest change and this is a lot of supplements to me.. I also suffer with tmj what could be from all of these deficiencies. I wonder if I always had them. All the rest of my blood work was good. 17 vials.. She told me to go through one of the websites to buy my vitamins (swanson) please let me know your thoughts or help. Thanks."Replies
06/12/2013: Joy from Battleground, Wash replies: "Sorry you are struggling with imbalances... I can relate... Last year I found out a lot of things by trial and error. I was low progesterone and used E..... A brand and it helped me calm down and solved a lot of health issues but then I found out I was low D and the prescription stuff made me ill, heart racing and high blood pressure, couldn't sleep. So went on over the counter D and it helped alot after I got on the maintenance dose of 2K IU a day. Then I realized that when taking D you need magnesium, so I started that and it was amazing. I now use a wide range of supplements and found out I was low thyroid so using some Kelp.
Been over a year since trying this and that and I feel much better. Try to follow your doc's orders since you paid for the advice but if you are too overwhelmed back off. I had to push through discomfort on the D to get my level back up. B and C will make you feel good. Progesterone can cause estrogen receptors to open with temporary estrogen dominant symptoms that can be unpleasant, use low dose 1/8 tsp or less at first , could get acne, bloating, headache, pms, usual estrogen stuff until the cream settles in..... DON'T GIVE UP you will overcome and feel better again. Low mag can also cause TMJ and depression. Blood tests usually don't give accurate mag info so trial and error. I have just been adding a new full spectrum mineral after 6 months of mag and that has been a nice addition. Love, Joy"