Stem Cells, Nutrients and Depression

(The following paper is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for your physician's advice.)

Depression may be a symptom of the loss of stem cells. Many of the same factors that cause depression can inhibit neural stem cell growth and many of the same factors that promote neural stem cell growth alleviate depression.

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Physiological as well as psychological stresses increase glutamate and aspartate levels that are toxic to stem cells. Physiological stresses include pollution, infection, inflammation, allergies, toxic substances, nutritional deficiencies, noise, sleep deprivation, etc. Psychological stresses include the loss of a loved one or job, moving, overwork, financial difficulties, demanding schedules, conflicts with coworkers, bosses or family members, etc.

The stress response stimulates glucocorticoids from the adrenal glands that stimulate excitatory neurotransmitters (glutamate and aspartate) in the brain. The neurotransmitters then stimulate neurons to increase their metabolism. If the neuron doesn't have enough energy (ATP) and antioxidant protection to be "fired up" safely, the cell membranes then open to an influx of sodium and calcium which eventually begin the steps to programmed cell death (apoptosis). Proteolytic enzymes inside the neuron begin breaking up the cell into pieces and then immune cells (phagocytes) come in and engulf all the parts until nothing remains.

Stem cells and newly differentiated neurons in the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus, the seat of learning and memory in the brain, are particularly sensitive to the effects of glutamate and are easily injured and destroyed. This research helps explain the relationships between stress, aging and memory loss. With depression, a person may have difficulty learning and remembering and doesn't care that he/she has difficulty learning and remembering. If a depressed person also suffers from an autoimmune disorder and/or pain, prescriptions of cortisone may only contribute to the depression because it also stimulates glutamate and damages brain cells, especially those involving short term memory.

Many of the same factors that alleviate depression also promote stem cell growth and protect against glutamate toxicity. A secondary benefit of stem cell therapy in patients with stroke, multiple sclerosis, cancer, etc. is the alleviation of depression. The patients feel more energized and more hopeful about the future. Keeping hope alive is a strong predictor for improvement possibly because it reflects the fact that a person's stem cells are still alive and well.

1) Alleviating Depression by Stimulating Endogenous Stem Cells
Natural products and methods that help reduce depression may do so by reducing glutamate and/or stimulating neural stem cell growth. These may include:

a. A quality natural vitamin/mineral/amino acid supplement

b. Pure water

c. Calcium/magnesium/zinc combination

d. B complex reduces homocysteine levels and subsequent lipid peroxidation and glutamate injury.

e. Methylcobalamin instead of cyanocobalamin helps maintain circadian rhythms and melatonin and protects against neural toxicity.

f. SAMe (S-adenosyl methionine) donates methyl groups to reduce homocysteine toxicity to neurons.

e. Activities that increase serenity allow the parasympathetic nervous system to repair the system. Serotonin is increased when someone feels calm and relaxed, which reduces glutamate levels and allows neural stem cells to proliferate. Activities that promote serotonin (if they promote relaxation) can include meditation, relaxation techniques, massage therapy, etc. Foods that increase serotonin's calmness can include brown rice, wild rice, barley, tabbouleh, couscous, oats, millet, corn, amaranth, squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, onions, garlic, turnips, celery, and radishes.

f. Methylcobalamin (bioactive vitamin B12), zinc, magnesium, and serotonin are precursors for the synthesis of melatonin. Melatonin is found in corn, rice, barley grains, and ginger and to a lesser extent in pomegranate and strawberries.

g. Moderate Sunlight (natural Vitamin D which induces brain-derived growth factor which promotes stem cell growth.

h. Cod Liver Oil (EPA and DHA - also anti-inflammatory).

i. Ginseng protects stem cells against glutamate toxicity and stimulates production of nerve growth factor that promotes stem cell growth.

j. Moderate exercise stimulates brain-derived growth factor.

k. Vitamin E protects stem cell against glutamate toxicity.

l. Eliminate alcohol, smoking, sleep deprivation, infections, inflammation, allergies, and MSG (monosodium glutamate products).

The lifestyle that promotes hope, joy and serenity is the lifestyle that promotes neural stem cells and increases our quality of life and longevity.

This information is presented for educational purposes only.

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