New Research Discovers That Depression is an Allergic Reaction to Inflammation

New research is revealing that many cases of depression are caused by an allergic reaction to inflammation.  Tim de Chant of NOVA writes: “Inflammation is our immune system’s natural response to injuries, infections, or foreign compounds. When triggered, the body pumps various cells and proteins to the site through the blood stream, including cytokines, a class of proteins that facilitate intercellular communication.  It also happens that people suffering from depression are loaded with cytokines.”  Inflammation is caused by obesity, high sugar diets, high quantities of trans fats, unhealthy diets in general, and other causes.

Read more here:

There are many natural substances that can counteract inflammation and by extension depression.  Rhiola is one, as noted in this article Roseroot may have potential as alternative treatment for depression:

“For 12 weeks, each participant received either standardized roseroot (rhodiola) extract, sertraline or a placebo. The researchers measured changes in the participants’ depression during this period.

“The researchers found that although the participants receiving sertraline were more likely to report improvements in their symptoms by week 12 of their treatment than participants receiving roseroot extract, the differences were not statistically significant.

“In comparison with participants receiving a placebo, patients taking roseroot had 1.4 times the odds of improvement, whereas patients taking sertraline had 1.9 times the odds.

“However, far more patients receiving sertraline (63%) reported side effects than those receiving roseroot (30%). This finding suggests that roseroot may have a more favorable risk to benefit ratio than sertraline for treating mild to moderate depression.

“These results are a bit preliminary but suggest that herbal therapy may have the potential to help patients with depression who cannot tolerate conventional antidepressants due to side effects,” says Dr. Mao.”

In addition to Rhodiola, other natural anti-inflammatories work well such as curcumin and saffron and many others.  It seems nature does not want us to be depressed, and offers many alternatives through it’s abundance, if only we’ll listen.

However, as a postscript on the subject of depression, recent information has now indicated that the drug group called “statins” which are used to treat cholesterol problems may be a new cause of depression as noted in this article from Psychiatric Times journal:

“For more than a decade, Golomb and her team have researched the effects of statin medications.

“ ‘Some individuals taking statins report problems with anxiety and depression, but far more report problems with irritability and changes in personality,” Golomb told Psychiatric Times.

“ ‘An analysis of 324 e-mails of individuals taking statins who reported adverse effects found about 30% reported mood changes (depression, anxiety, irritability),” she said.

“In a survey of persons citing statin adverse effects, Golomb reported that nearly two-thirds (65%) of the 843 respondents endorsed increased anxiety or irritability and 32% endorsed an increase in depressive symptoms as part of the adverse-effect complex they attributed to statins.”


Be Kind to Yourself!

An article on entitled “Going Easy on Yourself May Improve Health” showed that being tough on yourself can have ramifications in the production of inflammation in your body-mind — the #1 killer of mankind.  Here’s an excerpt:

“Then, the participants took one stress test a day for two days and their levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), an inflammatory agent linked to stress, were recorded before and after each test. After the first stress test, participants with higher self-compassion had significantly lower levels of IL-6.

“On the second day, Rohleder and his team found something unexpected. Those with low self-compassion had higher base levels of IL-6 before the test, suggesting that they may have been carrying the stress they experienced the day before.

“ ‘The high responses of IL-6 on the first day and the higher baseline levels on the second day suggest that people with low self-compassion are especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of this kind of stress,” Rohleder says.”

Interleukin 6, according to Wikipedia, is related to the following diseases:

Role in disease

IL-6 stimulates the inflammatory and auto-immune processes in many diseases such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, depression, Alzheimer’s Disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple myeloma, prostate cancer,Behçet’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Advanced/metastatic cancer patients have higher levels of IL-6 in their blood.

IL-6 is also implicated in depression:


The epigenetic (factors that alter gene expression) effects IL-6 have also been implicated in the pathology of depression. The effects of IL-6 on depression are mediated through the repression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression in the brain; <snip>

Downregulation of BDNF, therefore, may cause decreased connectivity in the brain. Depression is marked by altered connectivity, in particular between the anterior cingulate cortex and several other limbic areas, such as the hippocampus.[45] The anterior cingulate cortex is responsible for detecting incongruences between expectation and perceived experience.[46] Altered connectivity of the anterior cingulate cortex in depression, therefore, may cause altered emotions following certain experiences, leading to depressive reactions.[46] This altered connectivity is mediated by IL-6 and its effect on epigenetic regulation of BDNF.[42]

So, to keep your brain working effectively and to have a happy life, reduce your IL-6 by taking it easy on yourself!  We need to have the attitude of little Jessica here.

Seasonal Allergies: It’s Going to Be a Heckuva Season

Sneezing GirlThe Problem

With the fourth mildest winter in recorded history behind us, the seasonal allergy problem is, so to speak, in full bloom.

An interesting article was published on March 13th in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Allergies:  The Season’s Public Enemies” by Laura Landro made some interesting observations:

As many as 30% of children and up to 40% of adults suffer from seasonal allergies that cause reactions such as sneezing, itching, stuffy nose, and watery eyes. Trees are one of the earliest plants to release pollen, followed later by pollen from grass and flowering plants. For example, high concentrations of tree pollen in Kansas City, Mo., Tuesday came mainly from juniper, elm and maple trees, according to data compiled by the National Allergy Bureau, part of research group American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Ditto for Atlanta, where the top

offenders were pine, oak and birch.

California Oak Tree

photo by Phillip Bouchard on Flickr

In the beautiful City of Thousand Oaks, California, this can be a problem (yes we have AT LEAST 1000 Oak trees, and hundreds of persons reacting to them).

And it appears the season will continue longer than usual.

What to Do?

The article in the WSJ talks about the typical treatments:  antihistamines including eye drops, nasal sprays and the like can reduce the symptoms of allergic rhinitis otherwise known as “hay fever”, but that doesn’t solve the real problem — what’s actually creating an abnormal immune response on some people when it doesn’t in others.  Various medical treatments including subcutaneous(under the skin)  or sublingual (under the tongue) immunotherapy works, but takes awhile to work — again, according to the WSJ article:

Unlike medication, allergy shots can potentially lead to lasting remission of symptoms after three to five years.

So, if you have time enough to wait, this might be a viable choice.

Other Choices

Most people don’t know that acupuncture has been one of the most high effective methods of treating allergies for centuries.  In an interesting article entitled Acupuncture and Traditional Oriental Medicine for Seasonal Allergies, author Jillian Capodice, LAc demonstrates a number of research articles on the subject.  The efficacy of acupuncture in regard to seasonal allergy is also mentioned on the prestigious WebMD site in an article entitled Relieve Allergies the Natural Way.

But, if you’re needle-phobic like me, you are probably looking for another way to deal with this problem.

Acupuncture points on back

© nebari –

There are a number of techniques that utilize principles from acupuncture without actually using needles.  The premier technique is called “NAET” – an anacronym for “Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique”.  It uses another form of treatment to stimulate acupuncture points, specifically points on the back called “Shu” points which connect with the various energy meridians on mammals, including humans.  This treatment is a form of acuPRESSURE which is the manual stimulation of acu points with pressure.

NAET seems to have a balancing effect on the Autonomic Nervous System. It can desensitize your response to environmental (and other) allergens quite quickly.  However, one must also keep in mind that other issues need to be addressed for a “permanent” elimination.

That will be the subject of our next post.