The Nervous System
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Herbal and Nutritional Support for the Nervous System
Vitamins, Minerals and More
The B vitamins are very important for overall nervous system health. Any nutritional program targeting the nervous system should therefore include a good balanced B Complex. Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5), for example, is necessary for the production of acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter associated with memory. Another B vitamin, Niacin, is necessary for nervous tissue function and repair. Niacin deficiencies have been associated with mental and personality disorders.
The best overall supplement for this system is Nutri-Calm, Nature's Sunshine's key product for the nervous system. Nutri-Calm contains the proper dosages of all the B vitamins in the optimal ratios for this system. In addition, it contains a good combination of nervine herbs and other nutritional factors, including choline and inositol, to support the nervous system.
Lecithin, Choline and Inositol
Lecithin is a mixture of phospholipids, (i.e., lipids, or fat-like substances, which contain phosphorus.) Lecithin has been linked with many health benefits from the lowering of serum cholesterol to the treatment of major neurological and psychological disorders. Lecithin is also a widely used food additive because of its ability to emulsify fats (makes fats soluble in water.) It also helps protect against oxidant damage. Soybeans are rich in lecithin and make up the major source of the lecithin used in the food and supplement industry.
As cellular membranes age they become less fluid and more rigid. This is thought to be responsible for much of the deterioration that often accompanies aging. The phospholipids in lecithin have been shown to be helpful in maintaining the fluidity of cell membranes, particularly those of the nervous system and the liver. While the so-called "bad fats," like trans fats, have a tendency to make the cell membranes rigid; the "good fats," like lecithin, help keep them fluid.
Two of the constituents of lecithin that have been studied for their health-enhancing benefits are choline and inositol. Choline is a precursor to acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter associated with memory. There is evidence that supplemental choline may be helpful with disorders involving memory loss. Choline may therefore prove helpful in preventing Alzheimer's disease.
Inositol has been used to help people sleep and to relieve anxiety. It also shows promise in helping diabetic neuropathies (nerve damage that is due to diabetes.) Choline has also shown promise in the treatment of affective disorders such as manic-depressive illness.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil)
Fish has often been referred to as "brain food." Perhaps one of the reasons is that fish oil, or Omega-3 fatty acids (such as those found in Omega-3 Hi EPA), has been found to supply precursors for neurotransmitters for the brain that are essential for proper mental function. Research has demonstrated that the omega 3 oils may help some people to eliminate and prevent depression and other mental problems and cravings.
As reported in the Archives of General Psychiatry (1999;56:407-412), researchers from Harvard University's McLean Hospital conducted a preliminary double-blind, placebo-controlled trial which demonstrated marked improvement in manic depressive patients given a dietary supplement containing fish oil. The researchers believed that the benefit was from the Omega 3 fatty acids, which increased the serotonin levels in the brain, possibly through some mechanism involving reinforcement of the nerve cell's lipid-rich membrane. The researchers described the effect as "very strong."
True or False:
While the so-called "bad fats," like trans fats, have a tendency to make cell membranes rigid, the "good fats," like lecithin, help keep them fluid.
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