Looking For a Natural High?
There are many things that people want in life but two that are for sure included in the list include to be healthy and happy and both normally go hand in hand. Life however can pose many challenges to our health and happiness and this is why we sometimes need to look for external help. As a practitioner of Chinese medicine top of my list for bringing and maintaining a life balance would be to have treatments with acupuncture.
Exercising for Life
There is no denying it, exercise gives a natural high. When you are feeling down, anxious, sad or irritated it’s a great ‘go to’. After a workout you will feel energized and with the release of dopamine, you’ll also feel great. Exercising, be that running, biking, or yoga, will make you feel euphoric. It will also help you to sleep better and give you the added bonus of looking good. If you do not feel energized after exercising it may be for some health reasons and you should consult your practitioner.
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine
With the use of fine needles, I choose acupuncture points that would be specific to the diagnosis I make. These points each have a function so my choice would depend on what I am trying to achieve. When treating depression, anxiety, headaches and/or pain I will stimulate the body’s circulatory system, helping to release endorphins and reduce inflammation. Furthermore, the release of neurotransmitters will improve sleep quality and help you to relax.
Chinese Herbal formulas can also be used. There are thousands of herbs and hundreds of formulas that can treat different syndromes. As with the choice of acupuncture points, the herbal formulas are created according to the need of the patient. An example could be Ban Xia Hou Po Tang, which would be used for chest oppression, a feeling of phlegm in the throat, or Xiao Yao San which would be more indicated for someone who is nervous and irritable, gets headaches and PMS, or Si Ni San for those who are stressed, have cold hands, abdominal pain or PMS. These can all be modified according to the patient and these are only a glimpse at the possibilities.
While primarily I work with Chinese medicine, I do however also see the many benefits of western herbs. Understanding how the body works from a western medicine point of view opens up opportunities for the use of western herbs and supplements. When biochemical reactions in the body are functioning normally, then your body will produce DNA, neurotransmitters, cells, as well as detoxify the body and metabolise histamine, oestrogen and fat. These processes ensure the proper functioning of the body and is known as methylation. An optimally functioning methylation process is essential to both physical and mental health. Some of the supplements that support the methylation process include 5-MTHF (active folate), Active B12, B6 and B2, Vitamin D, magnesium and SAM-e. Sam-e is required for the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as noradrenaline, adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin, and histamine and could be the reason why it is helpful in the treatment of depression.
Other Supplements That Give You a Natural High
• Lavender Oil tablets
Other supplements that have a beneficial effect on the body include lavender oil tablets. Several studies have been done to prove the effectiveness of lavender oil in the treatment of anxiety disorders.
Lavender Oil is also antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Further benefits include its use in insomnia, depression and restlessness.
5HTP is a precursor to the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin has been known to make us ‘feel good’. Serotonin helps to regulate our mood, appetite, sleep and digestion. For this reason, 5HTP has been known to treat disorders such as depression, anxiety and weight issues. Insomnia is treated by 5HTP as serotonin can be converted into melatonin, which plays an important role in regulating sleep.
• Omega 3
There are two omega 3 fatty acids that are thought to have a beneficial effect on people with mood disorders. These include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). As omega 3s can travel though the brain cell membrane, they are able to easily interact with mood related molecules. Furthermore, they are anti-inflammatory and therefore may help with depression.
Studies have also shown that both EPA AND DHA play an important role in the treatment of a variety of different depression disorders. Those with minor depression, postpartum depression and suicidal ideation had lower levels of EPA and DHA. These studies showed that a combination of EPA and DHA found in fish oil seemed to improve the depression symptoms of most participants that were tested.
It’s not abnormal to feel sometimes down and listless. Exercising, Chinese medicine, including acupuncture and Chinese herbs, as well as these supplements can all help you create and maintain a healthy mental balance. However, If you are feeling depressed on a daily basis you should consult a practitioner as well as if you are taking other medication as there could be some interactions with the supplements you would like to take.