The clocks go back this weekend. To some, this can feel like the arrival of doom. Does anyone like the darkness of winter with so little daylight that it can feel as if we are living underground. For many, this is indeed a dark time, as it can trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder, aptly known as SAD. It can herald months of depression, low energy, sleep problems, anxiety and panic attacks, over eating, comfort eating, irritability and an inability to mix socially. Relationships can become strained and it can drive some to drug or alcohol misuse.
SAD is a complex condition involving a dysregulation of hormones and the nervous system. Of course, the functioning of the digestive system cannot be left out of the equation.
The hormones always act together and a problem with one will always affect the balance of the others, but a main hormone involved in this condition is Melatonin, well known as the body clock hormone. When it is out of order your sleep pattern (to name but one affected) will be completely wrecked. Melatonin is also an antioxidant and it or rather it’s reduction, is involved in the aging process. Its production in the brain diminishes as we age.
There are foods that can also produce Melatonin that can be absorbed by the body. Pineapples, Bananas, Oranges, Oats and Tomatoes all provide Melatonin. Goji berries and sour Cherry Juice as also wonderful sources. (care must be taken if you are taking certain medication, for example Warfarin.)
Aside from improving your Melatonin levels, there are many foods that will increase anxiety or depression or interfere with sleep cycles.
Herbal Medicine has a fantastic choice of natural anti-depressant herbs. A prescription would also include herbs to help rebalance the hormonal system. Another way of using herbal medicine is with Essential Oils, and the wonders of Lavender as a stress buster and relaxant are well researched and proven.
Using a light box by day to increase levels of natural daylight, and a light that comes on before the alarm to start the waking process, which involves reducing the Melatonin still circulating in the body, are also known to help.
Here at Thyme for Your Health, treatment is based on herbal medicine to address hormonal imbalance, anti-depressants to alleviate depression, and a sleep mix where necessary. We would also use hypnotherapy to introduce positive and healing thoughts and suggestions to address depression or anxiety. Nutritional advice will be given to ensure that the diet is working with the body not against it. After all, good health cannot be achieved without a healthy gut and that needs a healthy diet. Where appropriate, NLP will be used to overcome any unhelpful or negative thoughts or habits. Combining herbal medicine, therapy and nutrition ensures that you are treated holistically, restoring the balance between your health, mind and body.