Millions of people around the globe suffer from depression, but that doesn’t mean they have to suffer in silence. For some, drug treatments can help combat the illness and for others, therapy, regular exercise, a healthy diet and other natural treatments have a positive effect.
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Here are eight spices from near and far that are known to fight depression and get you back on track. As always, check with your medical professional before beginning any new supplement or food additive.
Turmeric is well known for its medicinal properties, and research indicates that curcumin, a derivative from turmeric, may b e a natural antidepressant with no side effects. It works by fighting again the release of cytokines (small proteins), which impairs the body’s balance and reaction to stress. Curcumin capsules are available at most health food stores.
Known as the world’s most expensive spice, saffron has shown great success in helping with the symptoms of depression. In the Journal of Natural Medicines, Chinese researchers pinpointed the effective compound in saffron called crocin. Crocin acts as a flavonoid that has been proven to be an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease as well as depression. When cooking and in recipes, a small amount of saffron is recommended.
Mmm, vanilla! You can smell it now, permeating your senses, can’t you? If you are suffering from depression, studies show that vanilla has a natural calming effect on the nervous system and brain. It relieves anger and anxiety. Opt for pure organic vanilla extract as a flavour enhancer and menu ingredient, or even try vanilla-scented candles and essential oils to reap the feel-good benefits.
4. Black Pepper
Ah-choo! Often called the King of Spices or black gold, pepper has permeated our culture since before the Great Pyramids of Egypt were around. Statistics prove that black pepper improves brain cognitivity and function, so add a dash with your salt before cooking for maximum results. Give it a try.
Years ago, there was a chewing gum introduced (called Glove Chewing Gum) that boasted a unique taste of cloves and natural flavonoids. Cloves are an exotic spice that contain potassium, iron, magnesium and selenium. Potassium has long been known as a star electrolyte that is proactive in controlling blood pressure and heart rate. This alone can calm nerves, reduce tension, and relieve mild depression. For centuries, the people of India have indulged in the use of cloves in teas, medicines, and more.
6. Fennel Seeds
You may not think of fennel seed as a spice, but it’s acutally one of just a few plants that is considered a spice and an herb. Mostly imported from Egypt, it has a taste of liquorice and phytochemicals that contain a plethora of medicinal properties. Research is ongoing on the effects of fennel seed and dementia, high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression. Crushed fennel seeds that are dried and toasted create a soothing tea.
Steeped as a tea, sage has been known to help depression and anxiety. The Egyptians used sage regularly for many purposes, including mood disorders. It’s ancient remedy that is still used today — however, sage is to be used in moderation and it is advised, as with any new additive to your diet, that you consult with your health care professional before using sage in large doses.
Hailing from the Caribbean, nutmeg is a fragrant spice that has been shown to dispel the symptoms of depression. Not just for holiday desserts, controlled scientific studies conducted on animals show promising results of the link to nutmeg and depression; there is cause to believe that the medicinal properties in nutmeg alleviate the onset of the disease. Nutmeg has a memorable, unique flavour that is easy to savour and enjoy in your recipe. Too much nutmeg though can be toxic. Do not use more than a teaspoon in any one recipe.
The link between what we eat and how we feel is evident. Adding these spices to your grocery list may ward off depression and its debilitating side effects. Each day is a new opportunity to begin anew and find your purpose. Don’t let depression stand in the way of what you deserve — a healthy and happy life.