Author: Suzi Le Fanue
In certain circumstances there is a place for pharmaceutical intervention, however, do medications really address all facets of mental health? Mental Health is so multidimensional – there are many neurotransmitter, hormonal, biochemical imbalances, lifestyle and psychological factors that an antidepressant simply cannot address.
Nutrition & Gut Health
All neurotransmitters are made from amino acids and nutrient cofactors. Amino acids are essentially from protein in your diet. For example, the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is important for mood regulation, requires the amino acid tryptophan. This means it is incredibly important to make sure you are eating sufficient levels of protein. As well as this, over 90% of serotonin is found in the gut, and more and more research is confirming the link between the health of the gut and the health of the mind. The types and levels of bacteria in the gut have been shown to play a role in the production of serotonin.
Numerous genes have been linked to mental health conditions. One that has significant supportive research is the MTHFR gene, particularly the C677T polymorphism. This gene is fundamental in the process of folate utilisation. Low serum folate can be seen in those with mental health conditions, such as depression.
Pyroluria is a genetically determined metabolic condition characterised by elevated kryptopyrroles in the urine. It is thought that around 10% of the population have “pyroluria”. When pyrroles are high it can be more difficult to produce neurotransmitters like serotonin. This is because your body requires higher amounts of nutrient cofactors needed for neurotransmitter production, such as zinc and vitamin B6. Elevated pyrroles can be seen in the urine of many people with depression, anxiety, insomnia, alcoholism, IBS, anger, inability to cope with stress, strong fatigue and children with behavioural issues.
A Naturopathic Approach to Mental Health
We take an extremely integrated approach to treating mental health conditions. We consider all possible underlying causes, and work alongside other health professionals such as psychologists, counsellors, and GPs. Generally, treatment plans include pathology testing, nutrient analysis, improving gut health, lifestyle changes and the care of a psychologist.