Nutraceuticals and adaptogens are a branch of holistic medicine. Nutraceuticals, more commonly known as supplements, are foods or parts of food that provide medical or health benefits, including the prevention and treatment of disease. Nutraceuticals can range from milk to fruits all the way to supplements you would see at the grocery store, like Vitamin D.
Adaptogens are a type of nutraceutical with a more specific definition. They are a natural substance that helps the body adapt to stress and normalize bodily processes, and most of them come from plants. They promote bodily regulation and homeostasis.
Nutraceuticals and adaptogens allow for the safe and effective augmentation of standard pharmaceutical treatments for mental health conditions. When used in conjunction with traditional pharmaceuticals, it creates a more holistic treatment for the patient.
SAMe is a naturally occurring part of a cell’s metabolism in almost every tissue of the body, but is most present in the liver and brain. It has the ability to increase levels of antioxidants and protect DNA, exerting a normalizing effect on the body. The processes that SAMe is involved with have been shown to increase levels of two important neurotransmitters in mood regulation: serotonin and dopamine. Studies have also shown that SAMe deficiency is quite common in those with Major Depressive Disorder, so this nutraceutical is effective as both a treatment augmentation and as a stand-alone therapy for depression. It helps to energize depressed patients who specifically suffer from low motivation, hypersomnia, low energy, and fatigue. SAMe is also a promising treatment for OCD, ADHD, and age-related memory impairments.
The importance of fatty acids, specifically omega-3, is well known for physical health and is increasingly demonstrated to play a role in mental health. Other than its use in maintaining proper cell structure and brain signaling, it is fundamental in the development, functioning, and aging of the brain. Low levels of omega-3 have been shown to increase the risk of several mental health issues, including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD, and dementia. Omega-3 can be used as an adjunctive therapy for depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
SynaptaGenX is a specially formulated supplement of amino acids used in the treatment of substance use and compulsive disorders. The nervous system is overwhelmingly regulated by amino acids and the neurotransmitters that are synthesized from them. An imbalance in these amino acids and their corresponding neurotransmitters can signal our brains to correct the imbalance, resulting in drug- and alcohol-seeking behavior, as well as compulsive behavior. This supplement contains the correct balance of amino acids for the neurotransmitters that are particularly important in the reward centers of the brain. SynaptaGenX works by regulating these reward centers, lending assistance in addiction recovery. This supplement may be used as a therapy for drug or alcohol addiction, ADHD, OCD, and PTSD.
NAC was first clinically used for cystic fibrosis starting in the 1960s. Since then, it has shown to be useful in other clinical applications due to its antioxidant and protective effect against cell stress. Cognitive dysfunction, which is common in neurological and psychiatric diseases, is enhanced by oxidative stress. This stress caused by harmful oxygen compounds can be mitigated by NAC. NAC may be used as an adjunctive therapy for addiction disorders, anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia.
Rhodiola Rosea is an herb whose roots are adaptogenic, resulting in great potential for psychiatric use. It has been used in natural and holistic medicine in Eurasia for centuries and is coming to light as a potent adjunctive therapy. It has positive effects on stress levels, chronic fatigue, depression, ADHD, PTSD, and anxiety due to its role as a metabolic regulator. Rhodiola Rosea also enhances mood, energy, and general cognitive functioning. It is known to augment the effects of antidepressants, where depressive symptoms improve more over time with its addition. It is specifically helpful for those with ADHD who are stimulant intolerant.
Vitamin B12 is a vitamin only found in animal-derived products, like meat and dairy, and is not present in plants. It is essential to several metabolic processes, maintaining homeostasis in the nervous system, proper brain development and function, and the function of nerves. More specifically, it is linked to the synthesis of serotonin and dopamine and is therefore implicated in psychiatric conditions. Vitamin B12 deficiency can contribute to fatigue, depression, psychosis, and cognitive issues including dementia. Because Vitamin B12 is linked to serotonin and dopamine, a deficiency may mean that these neurotransmitters are not produced in adequate amounts. Several studies have shown that up to 30% of people who have been hospitalized for depression are Vitamin B12 deficient. The supplementation of antidepressants with Vitamin B12 has been shown to enhance the effects of antidepressants.
Methylfolate is the more active form of folate, or folic acid, which is another type of B Vitamin. This is the only form that can cross the blood-brain barrier, which makes it much more efficient for psychiatric treatment. Folic acid is an essential part of new cell creation, and this prevents the risk of disease at a cellular level. Just like Vitamin B12, folic acid plays a role in the synthesis of serotonin and dopamine which are mood stabilizing neurotransmitters. A deficiency in folic acid is associated with more severe depressive episodes and decreased responsiveness to antidepressant treatment. Studies have shown that those with treatment resistant depression are often folic acid deficient and are more likely to experience a relapse. Folic acid can enhance the response to antidepressants, specifically SSRIs and SNRIs. While these antidepressants block the reuptake of neurotransmitters to leave more available, methylfolate helps to produce more of those neurotransmitters. Supplementation with folic acid is FDA-approved and has virtually no side effects.
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