It’s hard to overstate the degree (minus 11 F tomorrow here in Chicago) to which the Midwest has settled into the dead of winter. With the rush of the holidays behind us, two dark, cold months lie ahead. Snowstorms, sub-zero temps, and icy pavement prompt many of us to stay indoors when we’d rather be […]
Preparing for Less Daylight and Seasonal Depression (SAD)
My staff and I brace ourselves for the autumn day when clocks are set back an hour and the already dwindling sun-filled days diminish to darkness at 5 p.m. Add the overcast skies of winter and the “I’m NOT going outside” bitter cold, and we all may wonder why we’re not living in Santa Barbara. […]
The Benefits of Mindfulness
More than ever before, researchers and scientists are studying the health benefits of mindfulness practices for a wide variety of conditions. And they’re discovering overwhelmingly similar results: mindfulness decreases mood disturbances, enhances coping skills, and promotes wellbeing. Enter “benefits of mindfulness meditation” into your search engine and you’ll find dozens of articles and studies published […]
Depression, Anxiety, Probiotics, and Camel’s Milk
Most thoughtful people who take medication for depression, anxiety, or both do so with mixed emotions. The symptoms of these conditions can be pretty horrible, and when you’re tossed a life preserver in the form of an effective prescription med, you’re thankful to be living at a time when they’re are available. Of course, good […]
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety and Depression
If you’re troubled by chronic anxiety, panic attacks, or depression, you may be put off by pill-popping treatments. Maybe you had a bad experience in the past or you’re concerned about side effects. All in all, you’d rather not feel nostalgic about your libido or gain a single ounce. You know that psychotherapy makes the […]
Depression, Anxiety, and Acupuncture: A Major Breakthrough
Posted 04/07/2014 The statistics are simply staggering. The National Institutes of Health estimates that more than 20 million people in the US, roughly 10% of the population, have depression, defined as a recurring major depressive disorder, a constant state of depression (dysthymia), or bipolar disorder. Officially, these three are called mood disorders, considered separate from […]
An Occasionally Pleasant Minimum Security Prison
What three things do the following occupations have in common: teacher, nurse, secretary (now called administrative assistant), and information technologist? First, I would classify them all as helping professions. Second, based both on surveys and my own experience as a physician, they all work under conditions of stress, suffer a lot of anxiety and depression, […]
Dentist Anxieties? Fear of Flying?
Posted 01/23/2012 One of my favorite books has always been the 1964 classic The Myth of Mental Illness, by Thomas Szasz, MD. A psychiatrist and still writing at the ripe age of 91, Szasz castigated his fellow professionals for labeling too many people with relatively mild emotional symptoms “mentally ill,” especially when it came to […]
Stress Less: Meditation
Meditation is the simplest relaxation technique to explain and by far the hardest to master.
Fibromyalgia Explained: Why the Pain?
To understand fibromyalgia and why so many doctors tell their fibro patients, “All your tests are normal,” you need to think about serotonin, the brain chemical that acts as a buffer against stress.
Don’t Shoot the Messenger
I recently listened to the sociologists-epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett discussing their book The Spirit Level on NPR. A few days later, they were on Book TV and soon I was reading a lengthy piece on them in the London Review of Books. The publicity worked and I bought the book. By the way, a spirit level is the same as a bubble level, the carpenter’s device containing a bubble in liquid to ensure whatever’s being constructed is plumb.
For centuries, the tall perennial herb with pinkish flowers known as valerian (Valeriana officinalis) has been enlisted to help restless insomniacs get a sound night’s sleep. Today this mild, nonaddictive sedative is quite popular both as a sleep aid and as an anxiety fighter, particularly in Germany, France, Belgium, and the United Kingdom. And in recent years its popularity has grown enormously in the United States as well.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), a common shrub-like perennial, bears bright yellow flowers that contain numerous therapeutic substances when dried. Europeans have used the herb for centuries to calm jangled nerves and heal wounds, among other ills. And so it’s not surprising that North Americans have recently embraced its use as a treatment for depression and conditions associated with it.
Native to the warm Mediterranean regions, oats have been cultivated for thousands of years as a source of food and folk remedies. Today, the oat plant (Avena sativa) is most famous for the nutritious cereal grain that it provides–think morning oatmeal. However, the whole plant, referred to as oat straw, gathered when the grains are ripe, includes also the leaves, stems. The whole plant is then dried and chopped, and used in both internal and external forms by traditional herbalists. The grain itself, harvested in late summer, is milled to produce oatmeal and oat bran. Oatmeal, the ground grain, has a high silica content, and can be used externally for skin problems. Oat bran, produced from the coarse husks of the grain, is good at reducing cholesterol levels.
Your Brain: Maybe You’re Depressed
Depression is the result of low levels of the stress-buffering brain chemical serotonin trying, but failing, to protect you against assaults of unchecked stress.
The same holds true for similar disorders, like anxiety, fatigue, and fibromyalgia.
Does Meditation Work?
Meditation is embraced by conventional medicine today as a perfectly acceptable means of lowering blood pressure, reducing pain, helping migraines, easing menstrual cramps, and, most importantly, reducing stress and anxiety.
Click here for the original post. For our new January newsletter readers, let’s review my PMS prescription, explained in far greater detail in The Triple Whammy Cure. When you feel crummy, you’re menstruating, AND your symptoms appear predictably on a monthly (or every-other-month) basis, the problem is definitely hormonal and definitely fixable. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) […]
Several months go, I was reading the on-line bulletin of the Rush Medical Center here in Chicago when my eye caught an article about Rush psychiatrists enrolling patients into a trial of a non-medical therapy for depression and anxiety. They were especially seeking patients who were either medication-resistant or had experienced too many medication side effects.
Nature’s Apothecary: Valerian for Calm and Better Sleep
Using the herb valerian medicinally goes back to ancient Greece. By the 19th century, valerian was regularly found in pharmacies as a medication for both anxiety and insomnia, essentially the Valium of those days.