depression functional medicineAccording to an evidence review published earlier this week on Tuesday in the American Journal of Psychiatry, researchers confirmed that certain nutritional supplements can increase the efficacy of antidepressants for individuals with clinical depression.

Researchers at Harvard and the University of Melbourne examined 40 clinical trials alongside a systematic review for the evidence indicating nutrient supplements used as an adjunct to treat clinical depression. As a result, fish oil, SAMe, folate, and Vitamin D all demonstrated an increased efficacy of the medication. These medications include SSRIs, SNRIs and tricyclic antidepressants.

The most significant finding from their review was seen in those taking a fish oil supplement in addition to an antidepressant. Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of fish oil supplements for overall brain and cognitive health, however, this review validated its use in combination with antidepressant medications.

In addition, the research team also confirmed supporting research for the use of folate, vitamin D, and SAMe for improving mood when taken with antidepressant medications. It was interesting but folic acid did not demonstrate positive results like methylfolate did. We can speculate that a large percent of this population may have an MTHFR SNP and just reinforces the importance of using natural bioactive forms of folate.

Millions of people worldwide currently take antidepressants. There is a significant amount of research supporting the use of nutritional supplements to improve mental health.

Many medical doctors are aware of the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids these days, but may be unaware of the benefits of combining them with antidepressant medication for a better outcome.

The researchers found no safety concerns in combining these nutritional supplements with antidepressant medication, however, all patients should always talk with their health care provider before taking these supplements.

Also, we should consider natural alternatives to anti-depressants such as Sceletium tortuosum and Saffron flower. Sceletium tortuosum has attracted increasing attention over past few decades for promoting a sense of wellbeing and treating depression and Saffron flower has had numerous studies demonstrating positive outcomes on mild clinical depression and has gone head to head with SSRIs and tricyclic antidepressants demonstrating the same efficacy. These botanicals are used in conjunction with L-5- MTHF and vitamin B12 to improve mood, decrease anxiety, and help support individuals with depression.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Jerome Sarris, Jenifer Murphy, David Mischoulon, George I. Papakostas, Maurizio Fava, Michael Berk, Chee H. Ng. Adjunctive Nutraceuticals for Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses. American Journal of Psychiatry, 2016; appi.ajp.2016.1 DOI:10.1176/appi.ajp.2016.15091228

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