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Mental Health Resources
from the Mental Health (women only) Whatsapp group
est. 19th November 2017 by Umm Faruq


General Mental Health

Food and Neurotransmitters
Vitamins and minerals all work in different ways, including facilitating the transmission of neurotransmitters that make us feel calm or by blocking neutrotransmitters that make us feel anxious or sad. I thought some of you might be interested to know some things about how nutrients convert directly, or indirectly, into the neurotransmitters that make us feel good. It won't matter how well the 'helper' nutrients do their job if we don't have enough of the right kind of neurotransmitters to begin with.

The neurotransmitters primarily involved in anxiety and depression are:
  • Serotonin
  • Norepinephrine
  • Dopamine
  • Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)

The amino acids that convert to these neurotransmitters are:
  • Tryptophan
  • Tyrosine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Glutamine

Which neurotransmitters do we need?
For example, depression symptoms can be expressed differently in people. Sometimes the symptoms of depression can be characterised as more lethargic with low energy and little interest in things that would normally bring pleasure. Depression can also be primarily an agitated type with irritability, insomnia, and restlessness.

Low serotonin levels are associated with:
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Low stress tolerance
  • Sugar cravngs
  • Obsessive-compulsive tendencies
  • Anger
  • Weight gain

Low levels of norepinephrine are associated with:
  • Excessive sleep
  • Sadness
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems
  • Apathy

Low levels of dopamine are associated with:
  • Sadness
  • Excessive sleep
  • Weight gain
  • Loss of pleasure
  • Low energy
  • Addictive behaviours

Low levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) are associated with:
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Low stress tolerance
  • Feelings of dread
  • Short temper

Tryptophan to Serotonin
A variety of protein-rich foods contain tryptophan. Tryptophan is the only substance that can make serotonin. Men generally have higher levels of serotonin than women, which could explain why women have higher rates of depression.

Foods high in tryptophan include:
  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Nuts
  • Wild fowl
  • Lobster
  • Crab
  • Cod
  • Sardines
  • Beans
  • Eggs
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Wheat germ

  • Tryptophan converts to serotonin with the help of other nutrients; mainly Vitamin B6 (Vitamin B6 is also present in the foods that contain tryptophan...alhamdullillah).
  • Tryptophan competes with other amino acids in protein-rich foods, fighting for entry into the brain.
  • Tryptophan will often get beaten by other amino acids and left behind unless it is eaten together with starchy food. Beans, like kidney beans or navy beans, are good choices because they have both tryptophan and starch. You can also combine the protein foods containing tryptophan with starchy vegetables like squash, sweet potatoes or with whole grains.
  • To help alleviate depression, tryptophan-rich foods should be eaten with all 3 daily meals as well as 2 snacks.
  • Nuts, cheese, turkey sandwiches and hard-boiled eggs are all good snack choices for tryptophan.
  • Remember: you need to have some starch with tryptophan-rich foods, so even adding some carrot sticks, whole grain crackers or granola bars made without refined sugar will make a good combination.
  • Another noteworthy thing about tryptophan is that a certain amount of it will convert to niacin (Vitamin B3) before it converts to serotonin. It is usually a small amount, approx 3%, but if you're deficient in niacin tryptophan will meet the need for niacin first, which may not leave enough for adequate serotonin.
  • Because niacin is also present in foods containing tryptophan, you can get niacin from food rather than taking separately as a supplement.

Phenylalanine and Tyrosine to Norepinephrine and Dopamine
Phenylalanine can convert to norepinephrine and it can also convert to tyrosine, which converts to both norepinephrine and dopamine. But the two amino acids function a little bit differently. Phenylalanine can make norepinephrine without first converting to tyrosine. Also, phenylalanine can convert to a substance called phenylethylamine (PEA). Low levels of PEA are associated with cases of depression and only phenylalanine can restore PEA levels. PEA is an amphetamine-like alkaloid stimulant found in cocoa, which may be one reason why chocolate is one of the most sought-after foods when depressed.

Foods high in phenylalanine include:
  • Soybeans
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Flaxseed
  • Sesame seed
  • Beef
  • Shrimp
  • Salmon
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Almonds
  • Crab
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Liver
  • Halibut

Tyrosine to both Norepinephrine and Dopamine
It is a "non-essential" amino acid, meaning the body can manufacture it on its own. However, tyrosine levels can become diminished with stress and with demands for norepinephrine and dopamine. We can increase our levels of tyrosine by eating tyrosine-rich foods.

Foods high in tyrosine include:
  • Almonds
  • Cottage cheese (low fat is best)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salmon
  • Turkey
  • Eggs
  • Fish ( both fresh and saltwater)
  • Beans
  • Peanuts
  • Tofu
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Chicken
  • Beef

Glutamine to GABA
GABA is one of the body's most calming neurotransmitters. Like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, GABA is not available in food. But the amino acid glutamine is present in food and converts to GABA. GABA is available as a supplement but most medical professionals do not believe it can cross the blood-brain barrier to enter the brain. However, there are many people who take GABA as a supplement and report that it relieved their anxiety. It is possible that due to malnutrition or inflammation the blood-brain barrier could weaken, allowing a substance to cross. Glutamine is an amino acid that can cross the blood-brain barrier and can convert to GABA in the brain. Glutamine is found in many different foods.

Foods high in glutamine are:
  • Grass fed beef
  • Free range eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Red cabbage
  • Beets
  • Beans

It is not recommended for people with neurological disorders to take supplements containing glutamine, but rather they should get their glutamine from food sources to avoid any harmful effects. A wholefood, organic diet rich in protein should supply all the building blocks needed for the body to produce its own glutamine. Ensuring that your glutamine levels are adequate will help your brain make the GABA it needs to prevent or correct the anxiety and depression that can result from low levels of GABA. Eating good quality protein several times a day should provide adequate glutamine.

There are also 2 other amino acids that have a positive impact on GABA levels: these are Taurine and Theanine.
Taurine is a potent activator of GABA receptor cells in the brain. When we experience fear and/or anxiety, GABA receptor sites shut down or turn off. The presence of taurine will cause more GABA receptor sites to remain available for the absorption of GABA. Increasing utilization of GABA during times of fear and stress will allow a person to remain more calm and less anxious. Taurine has been successfully used to treat seizure disorders, insomnia, agitation, restlessness, irritability, anxiety and depression. Taurine itself is probably not directly responsible for the improvement in these conditions but more likely this is due to its effect on GABA levels.

Foods that contain Taurine are:
  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products
  • Red meat

NOTE: Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a food additive that is used to enhance flavour in processed foods and is an enemy of taurine because MSG degrades taurine and inhibits its function. Unfortunately, many food labeling standards do not require MSG to be labeled, and so MSG may be hidden in many processed foods and listed only as "natural flavours". This is one more possible link between processed food and anxiety and depression. Ingredients, like MSG, that are added to processed foods interfere with the processes and production of neurotransmitters that promote feelings of peacefulness and calm.

Theanine is found naturally in tea - both green tea and black tea - though black tea seems to have considerably more theanine than green tea. Darjeeling tea has some of the higest concentrations of theanine. In addition to the many physical health benefits of tea, theanine has been demonstrated to relieve depression, anxiety, and insomnia for some people.

And let's not forget that magnesium relieves anxiety and depression by increasing GABA levels. Magnesium, glutamine, taurine, and theanine give an array of foods to choose from in our nutrition toolbox to maintain healthy levels of GABA.

To be continued in shaa Allaah...
Under the UK Mental Health Act 1983 - Code of Practice:
A mental disorder is defined as "any disorder or disability of the mind".

Clinically recognised conditions which could fall within the Act's definition of mental disorder include:
  • Affective disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia and delusional disorders
  • Neurotic, stress-related and somatoform disorders, such as anxiety, phobic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and hypochondriacal disorders
  • Organic mental disorders such as dementia and delarium (however caused)
  • Personality and behavioural changes caused by brain injury or damage (however aquired)
  • Personality disorders
  • Mental and behavioural disorders caused by psychoactive substance use
  • Eating disorders, non-organic sleep disorders and non-organic sexual disorders
  • Learning disabilities
  • Autistic spectrum disorders (including Asperger's syndrome)
  • Behavioural and emotional disorders of children and adolescents
( Note: this list is not exhaustive)

  • The fact that someone has a mental disorder is never sufficient grounds for any compulsory measure to be taken under the Act. Compulsory measures are permitted only where specific criteria about the potential consequences of a person's mental disorder are met.
  • There are many forms of mental disorder which are unlikely ever to call for compulsory measures.
  • Care must always be taken to avoid diagnosing, or failing to diagnose, mental disorder on the basis of preconceptions about people or failure to appreciate cultural and social differences. What may be indicative of mental disorder in one person, given their background and individual circumstances, may be nothing of the sort in another person.
  • Difference should not be confused with disorder. No-one may be considered to be mentally disordered solely because of their political, religious or cultural beliefs, values or opinions, unless there are proper clinical grounds to believe that they are the symptoms or manifestations of a disability or disorder of the mind...

A General Guide for Minimum Daily Needs
  • Vitamin A - 2500 IU
  • Vitamin B1 - 1.5mg
  • Vitamin B2 - 1.7mg
  • Vitamin B6 - 2.0mg
  • Vitamin B12 - 2.4mg
  • Vitamin C - 60mg
  • Vitamin D - 400IU
  • Vitamin E - 30mg
  • Nicotinic acid 19.0mg
  • Pantothenic acid 10.0mg
  • Folic acid 400 ug
  • Biotin 300ug

  • Calcium - 1000mg
  • Magnesium - 400mg
  • Phosphorus - 1000mg
  • Iron - 18mg
  • Copper - 2mg
  • Zinc - 15mg
  • Manganese - 5mg
  • Molybdenum - 500ug
  • Chromium - 200ug
  • Selenium - 200ug
  • Sulfur - 800mg
  • Potassium - 3000mg

Mineral and Trace Element Deficiencies or Imbalances Correlated with Mental Illnesses
  • Copper
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Zinc

  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Selium

  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Zinc

Bipolar Disorder:
  • Iron
  • Iodine
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Molybdenum
  • Vanadium

  • Chromium
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Iodine
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Selium
  • Vanadium
  • Zinc

  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc

  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Iodine
  • Magnesium
  • Selenium

This is where I get most of my supplements from. Please note that as a registered practitioner with Biocare I can offer 15% off retail price on all their supplements - email if interested.

Herbal Treatment for Nervous Breakdown, Psychiatric Illness & Post Traumatic Disorder:
  • Betony
  • Black Cohosh
  • Lady's Slippers
  • Skullcap
  • Mistletoe
  • Valerian

Tea formula:
Equal parts: Skullcap, mistletoe, valerian. 1 heaped teaspoon to each cup of water gently simmered 10 minutes. Or a formula of equal parts: Hops, Rosemary and valerian. Dose: half to 1 cup, 3 times daily.

  • Vitamin B-complex
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin E
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium

Herbal Formula For Women With Weak Nerves After Childbirth, Menstrual Problems, Ovarian Pain and Menopausal Women
Equal parts: Raspberry leaves, Skullcap, Motherwort. 1 heaped teaspoon to each cup of boiling water, infuse 15 minutes. Dose: Drink 1 cup freely.

Conclusion Of Research On Black Seed Oil and Psychiatric Illness
N. sativa is known to possess a wide variety of medicinal properties and has been used as a natural remedy for many diseases since ancient times. In the present article [see "Neuropsychiatric Effects of Black Seed" in Useful Links below] neuropsychiatric effects are reviewed separately for the first time. In many animal experiments and a few clinical trials it was found to be effective in the control of pain, fever, epilepsy, Parkinsonism, anxiety, depression, toxoplasmosis, malaria and in improving memory, mood and feelings of good health. Further basic and clinical investigations are needed to confirm these observations. Isolation of the active principles and preparation of more remedies from their derivatives are, perhaps, the future targets for the development of new drugs for neurological and psychiatric diseases.

Useful Links

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