Happy Pills

I’m not one to take a pill for every little problem I have, but I am an advocate for vitamins and herbal supplements to help your health. With that said, I don’t know if it’s the fact that I have been in the library every second of the day because of midterms or if I am exposed to little sunlight and minimal Vitamin D, but I have definitely been feeling blue and anxious lately. I remember my friend Kristen once suggested I try St. John’s Wort, an herbal remedy for depression and anxiety. So I decided to give it a try and I was thoroughly pleased with the results. I don’t feel anything but hope. Here’s some context:

– St. John’s Wort –

(Wort = Plant). This herb has been medicinally used for about 2400 years, trending in Germany. It’s named after St. John the Baptist and scientifically known as Hyperieum, which is derived from the Greek, meaning ‘over an apparition,’ a reference to the belief that the herb was so obnoxious to evil spirits that a whiff of it would cause them to fly.

Research suggests that St. John’s Wort raises levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine — neurotransmitters that help boost morale and mood. More specifically, the Hypericin is the red pigment of the plant and it seems to inhibit monoamine oxidase (MAO) and the breakdown of the brain’s neurotransmitters and is also a SRI, serotonin reuptake inhibitor

This herb is commonly used for depressions and the associated symptoms like anxiety/nervousness, tiredness, hysteria, irritability, trouble sleeping… Other uses include heart palpitations, moodiness and other symptoms of menopause, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), pain & menstrual cramps, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which I suffer from in the colder months. It has also been evidenced to help with chronic fatigue, IBS & bladder discomfort, nausea, migraines/headaches, muscle & nerve pains.

– Vitamin D –

Another lifesaver: I suggest that every college student take Vitamin D supplements. We are commonly in the library for so long and staring at a screen for hours, we don’t get the sunshine needed to be naturally happy and walk home groggy, pissed off and hungry.  Being from California, it is absolutely vital for me to get at least 30 minutes of sun a day or I get oober depressed. I’ve even considered buying those “fake sun” lightbulbs for my house.

Here’s the jist of it: Vitamin D has been found to be prevalent in areas of the brain associated with behavior and emotions, in the amygdala & hippocampus. So when levels are low, they can’t function like they should. It’s also involved in the release of certain neurotransmitters like dopamine, seratonin and epinephrine — the SAME ones many antidepressants are designed to target.

Another theory of why this might help is it reduces the production of cytokines. Cytokines are proteins that increase inflammation and have been shown to be a possible risk factor for depression.

Vitamin D has other roles in the body, including modulation of cell growth, neuro-muscular and immune function. It protects & lubricane bones, teeth and hair as well as regulate hair growth and cell activity. Reduces inflammation, protects against osteoporosis (a lot more than dairy does!), and  reduces risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer.

For us women, our recommended dietary allowance is 200 IU (intenational units).Most sources say that highest forms of vitamin D are found in fish, margarine (wtf?) or fortified fruits & cereals. Are we dumb? Plants DRINK sunlight! The reason most plants are green is because of the chlorophyll, plants naturally absorb the sun giving us all those amazing benefits, leaving you radiant.

Vegan Sources:

SUNSHINE

Shittake & Button Mushrooms (Sundried): 168 IU in

1 cup of Soy Milk: 338 IU

1 serving of light tofu: 581 IU

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