Intro to Nutraceuticals

The term nutraceutical referrals to pharmaceutical-grade nutrients that aren’t classified as drugs, but are regulated as dietary supplements and food additives by the FDA. Some of these substances are found naturally in the body while other essential nutrients may only be available in the food we eat. SAMe, methylfolate, Omega-3’s, and probiotics appear to have antidepressant effects.       

Nutraceuticals often aide in the production and maintenance of cell membranes and neurotransmitters, the very chemicals that our brain cells use to communicate. The most widely prescribed antidepressants, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), work by increasing the amount of serotonin (a ‘feelgood’ neurotransmitter) available to cells. It makes sense that adding a nutraceutical may help antidepressant medications work better; SSRIs generally have only a 60% response rate.    

There is growing evidence that nutraceuticals may also lessen depressive symptoms due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Omega-3’s and probiotics decrease the chemical signals released by cells under times of stress (cytokines). The ingestion of probiotics, either in a capsule or through food products like dairy or kombucha, supports healthy function of the gut-brain axis. Lactobacillus and Bifidobaterium species are appear particularly beneficial for mood regulation.    

Most people experience fewer side effects with nutraceuticals than with prescription medications, but nutraceuticals still need appropriate monitoring due to drug-like effects. There are clear guidelines for appropriate dosing and some supplements should be avoided in patients with certain medical conditions due to risks of bleeding or drug interactions. 

Dr. Good is currently using a smart dispensary by Fullscripts for recommended supplements.  All nutraceuticals are recommended in good faith as one means to improve general health and wellbeing.  Supplements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.  Please visit the SHOP for a direct link to Dr. Good’s favorites catalog.

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Author
Candace Good, MD Dr. Good is the founder of Sig: Wellness, LLC, an integrative psychiatry practice in State College, PA. Her office includes a mind-body studio to encourage yoga, meditation, and other healing arts for stress management. The space serves as an incubator for other female wellness practitioners to grow their presence in the community. Dr. Good welcomes freelance writing and editing projects relevant to her specialty.

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