Now that we are into the second year of the coronavirus pandemic even everyday life poses challenges at many levels.
As much as 46% of Australians will experience a mood disorder during their lifetime anyway.4 Try to add an impact of coronavirus pandemic on mental health. Worryingly, symptoms of anxiety and depression have doubled since the start of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.5 Not every anxiety and depression are reported or treated as many people live alone and do not realise that they need help. Even before COVID-19, rates of mental anguish were increasing, with 13% of Australians having an anxiety-related condition and 10% suffering from depression in 2017 to 2018.6
Fortunately, given their holistic toolkit, naturopathic practitioners are uniquely positioned to provide preventative care and adjuvant therapy for conventional medicine to foster a healthy mood. While depression and anxiety are multifaceted, current evidence suggests that dysfunction in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and neuroinflammation are prominent drivers of mental health conditions, and as such, it is these aspects that need to be addressed.
Handling Stress with the HPA Axis
So what is the HPA Axis? It means that there is constant feedback between the hypothalamus and pituitary in the brain and adrenals to let us know how is our nervous and endocrine system is functioning. The HPA axis integrates the neuro-endocrine-immune response to stress,7 with activation resulting in the secretion of cortisol to exert widespread effects on metabolism, immunity and behaviour to help the individual cope with stress.8 Unfortunately, persistent activation of this axis increases the risk of mood disorders,9 with HPA dysregulation being present in chronic stress, anxiety, and depression.10 It likely comes as no surprise to naturopathic Practitioners that nutritional support is a primary pathway to calm down HPA function and improve stress adaptation.
Nutrients to Nurture Adrenal Function
There are nutrient cofactors such as Vitamin B5, B6, and many herbs to restore healthy neuroendocrine function. Vitamin B5 is essential for the synthesis of the parasympathetic nervous system neurotransmitter acetylcholine11 and steroid hormone cortisone,12 while vitamin B6 is required for the production of dopamine and serotonin.13 Vitamin C mediates HPA axis function thus reducing anxiety, while also protecting against adrenal gland damage.14
Inflammation in the Brain
As mentioned, another key driver of mood disorders is neuroinflammation. Pro-inflammatory markets in the gut result in brain inflammation, this neuroinflammation, contributing to reduced brain monoamine levels (e.g., serotonin, dopamine), dysregulation of the HPA axis.) and impaired neuroplasticity.17 There are herbs and nutrients like turmeric and saffron which will aid anxiety and depression. The best way to find out the status of your gut if it is “leaky” is to do live blood microscopy.
Exercising and Eating for Better Mood
Holistic support goes beyond supplementation, with several diet and lifestyle aspects showing promise in improving mental health. Individuals with mood disorders tend to be more sedentary,32 and resistance exercise has been found to significantly reduce anxiety,33 while moderate to vigorous physical activity decreases psychological distress.34 Further, a Mediterranean style diet reduces depression and improves mental health,35,36 with as little as two additional fruit and vegetable servings each day stimulating improvements in psychological wellbeing.37
Multiple Ways to Mental Wellness
Addressing the contributors to mood disorders, including HPA axis dysregulation, neuroinflammation and dysregulated neurogenesis allows naturopaths to optimally support individuals on their path to a better mood. Diet and lifestyle modifications combined with vitamins, minerals, and herbs mitigate the impact of these drivers to enhance patients’ mental wellbeing.
Develop a close small network of loyal friends for moral and emotional support so you can keep checking on each other and try to see each other regularly face to face. Social media contact is not a substitute as what people actually post and feel are two different things. You can read more about covid coping strategies here
If you would like to know more about how the DH-Natural Medicine Clinic can help you, please call us now on
(02) 4854 0205
Danuta Hulajko is a holistic practitioner, international speaker and the founder & practitioner at the DH Natural Medicine Clinic and www.healingremedies.com.au in Sydney.
Danuta specialises in Allergies, Anti-Aging, Auto-Immune Conditions, Cardiovascular Conditions, Female Reproductive, Menopause, Mould Toxicity, Skin Conditions, Stress and Insomnia and Thyroid Dysfunction.
For more information please go to our website. You can also follow Danuta Hulajko’s work, events, seminars, expos, latest health research, her health tips and advice on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.
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