20 Effective Ways to Overcome Brain Fog

An image of a face and cloudiness.

I used to suffer from massive brain fog, especially after I suffered multiple concussions in 2010.

I had to drop out of school temporarily because it was so bad. 

I couldn’t read. I had trouble writing. And my memory was impaired. 

I walked around all day with a cloud over my head. 

But since then, I’ve learned that there are a number of ways to overcome brain fog, and you can implement them so that brain fog doesn’t slow you down and chip away at your quality of life.

Below are 20 steps that will help you clear away brain fog and regain your mental clarity. 

What Is Brain Fog and What Causes It?

Charlie Brown cartoon: “I’m afraid my brain has left for the day.”

Researchers describe brain fog symptoms as “an interaction of physiological, cognitive, and perceptual factors” (1). 

People suffering from brain fog describe it as feeling “forgetful,” “cloudy,” and “difficulty focusing, thinking and communicating” (2). 

Brain fog symptoms are actually quite common, but that doesn’t mean they are normal and you should accept them. They are an important sign that something is wrong.

Brain fog can be caused by a number of things, including medication, poor diet, too much exercise, not enough sleep.

But the underlying mechanism is usually the same – inflammation. 

Datis Kharrazian, author of the book “Why Isn’t My Brain Working?”, says that brain fog is often a sign of underlying brain inflammation and oxidative stress, which slows down neuronal communication. A number of studies also demonstrate this (38, 39).

When you experience brain fog acutely, it’s because your body is experiencing an increase in inflammation and oxidative stress. If you experience persistent brain fog, it’s because your body is chronically inflamed. Chronic inflammation is also linked to a number of mental disorders, including depression and dementia.

So a lot of my recommendations focus on reducing your overall systemic inflammation and oxidative stress.

On top of this, you may also have lower levels of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) if you struggle with brain fog. NAD is an enzyme that can be found in every cell of your body, and it helps your cells properly utilize the energy you get from food. Without enough of it, your body and brain won't function optimally (6, 7). 

NAD levels decline as you get older, but they can also be depleted from eating foods that cause high blood sugar levels (3-5).

And that leads us to my first recommendation…

1. Limit Refined Carbohydrates

If you want to prevent brain fog, the first thing you should do is avoid processed food that contain refined carbohydrates (particularly flour and sugar) because they increase inflammation and cause blood sugar fluctuations.

Crackers and candies. Refined carbohydrates can contribute to brain fog.

Chronically elevated blood glucose leads to insulin resistance and diabetes, which have been linked to memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. A lot of researchers and experts are discovering that dementia should actually be called Type 3 diabetes (9-11). 

Following a low-glycemic, low-grain diet will not only help you control your blood sugar, but it will also reduce inflammation that contributes to brain fog. 

You should try your best to avoid refined sugar. Breakfast cereals, fruit juice and sport drinks containing high-fructose corn syrup are your brain’s worst enemies. 

2. Eat Healthy Sources of Carbohydrates Instead

Even though you should avoid refined carbohydrates and sugar, that doesn’t mean you should avoid all carbohydrates. 

Going on a long-term low-carbohydrate diet can backfire and eventually increase your brain fog. 

Aim to get your carbohydrates from starchy vegetables and fruits instead.

My Free Grocery Shopping Guide for Optimal Brain Health contains plenty of healthy options. 

A whole sweet potato and a cut up sweet potatoe. Sweet potatoes are a healthy course of carbohydrates that can support your health and help you fight brain fog.

I make sure I eat a decent amount of carbs every day, usually from:

  • Yams

  • Squash

  • Potatoes

  • Carrots

  • Other root vegetables

  • Berries

  • Apples

  • Bananas

Click here to subscribe

3. Eat Healthy Fats 

Low-fat diets can be detrimental to brain health and contribute to your brain fog. 

Your brain is mostly made up of fat and requires a steady supply of essentials fatty acids to run properly and smoothly (15). 

Foods that contain healthy fats, including avocados, nuts, salmon and olive oil. Healthy fats are essential for optimal brain health.

The best sources of fat for your brain are:

And you don’t need to worry about the cholesterol in these traditional foods. You brain depends on cholesterol. Too little of it actually increases your risk of mental illness and Alzheimer’s (62). 

Furthermore, an imbalance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can contribute to systemic inflammation. Today, most people get way too many inflammatory omega-6 fats from refined vegetable oils (corn, soybean, sunflower, safflower, canola). And they don’t get enough anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats from fatty fish, which are critical for optimal brain function.

So make sure you avoid vegetable oil, and eat enough wild salmon and grass-fed beef and/or supplement with krill oil. Doing so will reduce overall inflammation and brain fog symptoms over time. 

4. Optimize Your Sleep and Circadian Rhythm

Not surprisingly, lack of high-quality sleep is one of the main causes of brain fog. 

This is because poor sleep lowers your glutathione levels and increases oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain (40-43). 

Disrupting your circadian rhythm also increases inflammation and oxidative stress (53-55). 

Here are a few things I do to maintain my circadian rhythm and maximize the quality of my sleep:

  • Supplement with magnesium and collagen before bed. This pre-made bone broth is a good source of collagen.

  • Lie on this acupressure mat for 10 minutes before bed

  • Wear blue blocking glasses for 1-2 hours before bed. These block out blue light from your computer and devices, allowing you to more efficiently produce melatonin before bed.

  • Go to bed at the same time every night

  • Don’t eat for 3 hours before bed

  • Take this sleep supplement, which contains magnesium and a number of other natural compounds that I’ve used over the years to promote the production of melatonin. You can use the coupon code FIVE$45496275 for a 5% discount.

I will discuss more sleep tips in future posts.

5. Support Methylation

Methylation is one of the most important processes in your body and brain.

It plays a role in the formation of almost all of your neurotransmitters, and methylation abnormalities often lie behind many brain and mental health problems (77). 

Vitamins B6, B12 and folate are critical to the methylation process, and deficiencies can lead to poor methylation. So you can improve your methylation by making sure you get enough of them.

I take this B complex every day. It contains the most bioavailable forms of all the B vitamins, including methyl-B12, methylfolate and P-5-P. And every time I take it, I experience a boost in brain function and clarity. You can get it here.

Trimethylamine and SAM-e are two other critical nutrients in the methylation cycle that you could try to increase energy and mental clarity.  I take them after drinking any alcohol.

6. B Vitamins

Besides supporting methylation, a number of the B vitamins have been shown to help combat brain fog.  

Fruits and vegetables in the shape of the letter B. B vitamins can help reduce brain fog.

Vitamin B1 (benfotiamine) helps turn glucose, the fuel for your brain, into energy. So brain fog and fatigue are often the first symptoms of vitamin B1 deficiency. Research shows that low levels of B1 are correlated with poor cognitive function in young adults, and even without a deficiency, supplementation with B1 leads to faster reaction times and reports of feeling more clear-headed (16, 17). 

Vitamin B3 (niacin) is used by your body to form NAD, which I mentioned earlier is lower in people who struggle with brain fog. 

Lastly, in my experience, vitamin B5 (pantethine) does a remarkably good job at clearing mental fogginess.

This supplement includes B1, B3 and B5. 

It's also important to note that a number of psychiatric drugs have been shown to deplete B vitamins, and brain fog is a common side effect of these drugs. I've discussed this before. You can learn more here

7. Increase Acetylcholine (Citicoline) and Dopamine (Tyrosine)

Another way to overcome your brain fog is by increasing production of acetylcholine and dopamine, two neurotransmitters that are critical for optimal brain function. 

Acetylcholine is important for memory and learning, and dopamine increases mood, motivation and focus.

Citicoline (also known as CDP-Choline) is an anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective nutrient that enhances the synthesis of acetylcholine and dopamine, and increases the number of acetylcholine and dopamine receptors in your brain. It also increases blood flow and mental energy in the frontal cortex of the brain, which is often compromised in people who suffer from chronic brain fog (80-85). 

If that’s not enough, Citicoline has also been shown to improve cognitive speed and attention in young adults, stoke patients and elderly individuals with dementia (86-88). 

Citicoline is the most bioavailable form of choline, an essential nutrient that most people don’t consume enough of because very few foods in the Western diet contain it. That’s why I recommend supplementing with it. It's included in the Optimal Brain supplement

You can also find some choline in beef liver and egg yolks. That's why I'm a big fan of eating these foods regularly. 

Unfortunately, many prescription drugs are anticholinergic, meaning they reduce acetylcholine in the brain.

The commonly-prescribed antidepressant Wellbutrin is anticholinergic, meaning it inhibits the physiological action of acetylcholine. I took it for multiple years, and I experience gradual cognitive decline during that time. 

Once I got off Wellbutrin, I started supplementing with Citicoline and noticed a remarkable improvement in cognitive function since it increased my levels of acetylcholine and dopamine. I still take it today to help clear brain fog.

Tyrosine also increases the production of dopamine.

It is an amino acid and precursor to dopamine

Coffee and stimulants increase dopamine in the brain. So if you rely on them to get through the day, you likely have low dopamine, and increasing your natural production by supplementing with tyrosine may help you overcome brain fog.

Check out this article for other ways to increase dopamine. 

I don’t take it regularly anymore, but this tyrosine gives my brain a huge boost when I need it. I still use it sometimes, particularly if I don’t get enough sleep. It's also helpful for depression. You can get it here.

You should take tyrosine with vitamin B6 and vitamin C, as they are also cofactors in the production of dopamine

Click here to subscribe

8. Limit Pharmaceutical and Recreational Drugs 

A number of different pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter drugs cause brain fog and forgetfulness as side effects, including:

Three bottles of prescription medication. Prescription medications can sometimes cause brain fog as a side effect.

Benzodiazepines are probably the worst for brain fog, as they’ve been linked to cognitive impairment and the development of dementia (79). I regret ever taking them for anxiety and sleep. Along with antidepressants, they caused me serious brain fog and cognitive impairment. Withdrawal from these medications can also cause brain fog. 

Anticholinergic medications block acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter for learning and memory. There are more than 100 drugs that fall into the anticholinergic category. So if you’re taking an anticholinergic drug, make sure to take a choline supplement. The Optimal brain supplement includes two high-quality sources of choline (78). 

But it’s not just pharmaceutical drugs that can be a problem. 

Not surprisingly, alcohol is also known to increase inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain, and also lower NAD levels, so you should avoid it as much as possible to prevent brain fog (56-60). 

9. Hydrate with Clean Water

Your brain is 75% water by volume, so it makes sense that dehydration could cause brain fog (72). 

Being dehydrated by just 2% has been shown to impair performance in tasks that require attention, psychomotor, and immediate memory skills (73). 

But you also want to make sure you’re drinking the purest water possible. Otherwise, the water itself could be contributing to your brain fog.

Tap water contains fluoride and copper that could be contributing to your inflammation and brain fog. 

There are also hundreds of other compounds in tap water, including trace amounts of pharmaceutical medication, which can affect your brain function. 

I use this Berkey water filter to make sure I’m drinking the purest water available. It filters everything out of the water. 

10. Elimination Diet

A study published in the Journal of Biological Psychiatry showed that food allergies and sensitivities could trigger a number of mental symptoms, including severe mental blankness and loss of motivation. Wheat, milk and eggs produced the most severe mental reactions (37). 

If you struggle from brain fog (or any mental illness), you should eliminate the most common food allergens from your diet for at least two weeks, and then add them back in one by one and see how you feel:

  • Wheat, spelt, rye, barley, oats (gluten)

  • All dairy (casein, lactose)

  • Eggs

  • Soy

  • Corn

  • Nightshade vegetables

  • Nuts

  • Yeast

  • Shellfish

If cutting out all those foods seems overwhelming, start by eliminating all flour and gluten grains, including bread, cereal and pasta, and see how you feel. Don’t eat gluten-free junk food instead, as they are full of sugar and just as bad for brain fog.

Wheat grain. Wheat can often cause brain fog in many people.

Dr. Kenneth Fine, a pioneer in gluten intolerance research, has demonstrated that 1 in 3 Americans are gluten intolerant, and that 8 in 10 have the genes that predispose them to developing gluten intolerance. And research has also shown that gluten can contribute to ADHD, cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s (74-76). 

Unfortunately, when you are gluten intolerant, you will often “cross-react” with other proteins similar to gluten. Plus, there are many other proteins in wheat other than gluten that can cause brain fog. 

A lot of people who suffer from brain and mental health problems are also allergic or sensitive to lactose or milk protein (casein), which cause inflammation in the body and brain. So you should avoid all milk, cheese and yogurt, especially when you're trying to overcome brain fog. 

I will never eat wheat and dairy again in my life. It’s just not worth it because my mood, energy and mental clarity are remarkably more consistent when I avoid them. I’m also intolerant to egg whites. I have to throw them away and only eat the yolks.

11. Forskolin

Forskolin is an active compound found in the roots of the Indian coleus (Coleus forskohlii).

It has been used by traditional cultures to treat various conditions and diseases (67). 

I notice it increases mental energy and clarity for me.

This is because forskolin increases cyclic AMP (cAMP), which lowers inflammation (61). 

Forskolin is included in this supplement

Click here to subscribe

 

12. Get Sun and Vitamin D3

I’ve discussed Vitamin D many times before, so I won’t belabor the point too much here. 

But Vitamin D significantly affects your brain function, and turns on genes that support the production and release of dopamine and serotonin.

Yet most people are deficient (an estimated one billion people worldwide), and being low in Vitamin D can lead to chronic brain fog, low energy, poor memory, and depression (19).

It’s worth getting your levels checked and supplementing with it if you’re low. 

Vitamin D levels above 40 ng/mL (100 nmol/L) reduce the risk of cognitive impairment, and low vitamin D levels are linked to higher risk of dementia (20).

Most people need to take at least 2000IU every day. I take 5000IU of this supplemental source of Vitamin D every day. 

Using a Vitamin D lamp and getting enough sunlight can also help you with brain fog as they decrease inflammation (52). 

13. Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR)

Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) is a neuroprotective and cognitive-enhancing amino acid.

It is often used as a brain booster because it increases alertness and provides support to brain cells. It’s also been shown to be very effective at alleviating neurological decline and chronic fatigue (68-71). 

I personally find ALCAR gives me a huge boost in brain energy and clarity. That's why it's included in the Optimal Brain supplement

And as I discussed previously, it can protect your brain from alcohol.

14. Exercise Properly 

I’ve already discussed how exercise increases your brain’s growth hormone (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). 

Two women running on the beach. Exercise can help reduce brain fog. Too much exercise can cause brain fog though.

But it also reduces foggy thinking by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, improving blood flow to the brain, controlling blood sugar, and raising NAD levels (12). 

But it’s important to note that chronic endurance exercise can actually increase inflammation, so be careful (13, 14). 

That’s why I'm convinced that walking, weightlifting and sprinting are the best forms of exercise. 

Overtraining and lack of rest will lead to hormonal imbalances and brain fatigue. 

So when you engage in endurance cardio, make sure you don’t overexert yourself and always take long enough breaks between workouts to recover. Otherwise, you can physically and mentally exhaust yourself.

15. Increase Good Gut Bacteria

I’ve discussed this before, so I won’t go too in-depth here. 

But there are approximately 100 trillion microorganisms and 500 known bacterial species living inside of you. Your digestive tract holds a lot of these bacteria, and cutting-edge research suggests there is a connection between your brain and your gut. Therefore, the makeup of these bacteria in your gut can affect how you feel mentally (50-52).

An illustration of the gut and the bacteria within it. Increasing your good bacteria can help you overcome brain fog.

Unfortunately, a lot of people today have out-of-balance and dysregulated gut bacteria, which can increase inflammation and oxidative stress in the gut and brain, leading to brain fog and other mental symptoms.

Not surprisingly, research has shown that people with irritable bowel syndrome often have chronic fatigue syndrome. This is because both conditions often result from bacterial imbalances and gut inflammation (48).

Here are some steps I recommend to improve the composition of your gut bacteria, which can help eliminate symptoms of brain fog:

Overall, you need a healthy gut for a healthy brain. You can read my previous article “5 Ways to Increase Your Good Gut Bacteria for a Healthier Brain” for more tips and information.

Click here to subscribe

16. Take Adaptogens (Rhodiola, Ginseng)

Adaptogenic herbs help normalize the body and help you reach a state of mental balance (21, 22, 23).

I’ve weaned off psychiatric medications more than once. The very last time I did, I used two adaptogens – rhodiola and ginseng – and I noticed they reduced withdrawal symptoms, including brain fog.  

Many studies show that rhodiola can clear brain fog and improve mental function by increasing cognitive energy and improving connections and communication between brain cells. It’s also been shown to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain, which is linked to brain fog (24-29). 

I wrote about rhodiola before if you’re interested in learning more. 

I still use both rhodiola and ginseng regularly, especially if I’m dealing with brain fog for some reason. 

I take this rhodiola.

17. Intermittent Fasting and Ketosis

Short-term fasting and ketogenic dieting are great ways to enhance your mental clarity and reduce brain fog. 

I fast for at least 12 hours every day, and sometimes follow a ketogenic diet to improve my cognition. 

A ketogenic diet is a very low-carb diet. When there is limited access to carbohydrates, the body’s main source of energy, your body enters ketosis – a metabolic state in which your body and brain run on fatty acids and ketones. Ketones are an alternative source of fuel, which can quickly recharge your brain cells and improve cognitive function. (33). 

A pie chart demonstrating the macronutrient breakdown of the ketogenic diet. It is 75% fat, 20% protein and 5% carbs. A ketogenic diet can help clear brain fog in some people.

This advice clearly contradicts my earlier advice that you should be eating plenty of healthy carbohydrates. 

But some people notice their brain fog completely disappears and their cognition is very sharp if they fast or follow a low-carb ketogenic diet. But it’s not for everyone. Others feel much worse and need to eat enough carbs to feel mentally well. So I suggest you experiment with both and see what works for you. 

You can get into ketosis more quickly by taking Optimal Ketones, which are exogenous ketones that are easily digested by the body. They readily cross the blood-brain barrier, and provide instant energy to brain cells, helping you quickly overcome brain fog (30, 31).

If I'm struggling with brain fog, I take Optimal Ketones and they immediately increase my mental clarity. This happens even when I eat plenty of carbs. 

18. Low-level Laser Therapy (LLLT)

Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is about as cutting-edge as it gets. It’s even more unconventional that neurofeedback. And it works. 

Low-level laser therapy, or photobiomodulation, is a treatment that uses low-level (low-power) lasers or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to stimulate brain cells, helping them heal and function better (63). 

A man wearing an LLLT helmet and the Vielight intranasal device. LLLT can help with brain fog.

LLLT increases blood flow to the brain and appears to have an effect on damaged brain cells, which can produce clearer, sharper thinking. It's important to note that the brain and mental effects of LLLT are limited to a specified set of wavelengths (18, 64, 65). 

Most doctors are clueless about LLLT; but not every doctor. 

Dr. Norman Doige, a physician who teaches at the University of Toronto here in Canada, discusses the amazing healing effects of LLLT in his book “The Brain’s Way of Healing.” I highly recommend the book.

I first tried LLLT with a practitioner here in Ottawa. I noticed a boost in cognitive energy, brain function and mental clarity.

I now use these devices at home:

  • Platinum Therapy Lights Bio-450 (Combo Red/NIR) - This is a powerful all-one-device that shines 660 nm of red light and 850 nm of infrared light. I shine it on my forehead for 5-10 minutes every day or every other day. I also shine it on other parts of my head, and on my thyroid, thymus gland and gut. If you decide to get this device, you can use the coupon code OPTIMAL for a 5% discount.

  • Vielight 810 – This is an intranasal device with 810 nm of near infrared light that I use regularly. It penetrates deeper into brain tissue and is absorbed better by the central nervous system. If you decide to get this one, you can use the coupon code JORDANFALLIS for a 10% discount. Some research has shown a 20-fold higher efficiency of light delivery to the deep brain through the nose instead of transcranial application.

In my experience, applying the light directly to your forehead (prefrontal cortex) will help with brain fog.

This may seem strange and dangerous, but don’t worry – LLLT is very safe (66).

You can read about my experience with LLLT here

19. Avoid Environmental Mold and Mycotoxins

Environmental mold is a silent killer, as most people aren’t aware that it’s in their home and workplace and affecting their brain function. If you’re genetically susceptible, it can wreak havoc on your brain, and your cognitive abilities and mental health can deteriorate for no apparent reason.

After I lived in a moldy home, I became extremely sensitive to any environmental mold and mycotoxins (toxic metabolites produced by mold). 

Black mold on a wall. Environmental mold and mycotoxins can cause brain fog.

I now use this air filter in my apartment. It removes any mold spores and smoke that may be in the air.  

Low amounts of mycotoxins are often found in some seemingly healthy foods, such as tea, nuts, coffee and chocolate. So if you’re sensitive to mycotoxins like I am, you’ll likely experience brain fog and fatigue after eating low-quality versions of these foods. I recommend finding the freshest, highest-quality, organic versions of these foods.

Lastly, if exposed to mold or their toxins, I supplement with activated charcoal or bentonite clay.

Activated charcoal and bentonite clay are potent natural treatments that can trap toxins and chemicals, allowing them to be flushed out of your body.

I take activated charcoal every time I eat something bad for my brain and mental health (mycotoxins, gluten, dairy), as it binds to problematic proteins and drags them out of my body. I notice I don’t feel as sick when I do this, and recover much more quickly than without it. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to toxic mold. I’ll be writing more about it soon, but I recommend this website if you suspect you live in a moldy home. 

20. Increase Testosterone

This one applies to men only. 

Low testosterone levels can contribute to your brain fog. 

When I lived in a moldy home and suffered multiple concussions, my testosterone plummeted. 

A muscular man lifting weights. Testosterone can help with brain fog.

No conventional doctor tested my testosterone because they assumed every 20-year-old man would have healthy levels. 

But they were wrong. 

Eventually I saw an integrative physical and he found out that I had the testosterone levels of an old man.

I was put on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) for almost one year to get my levels back to normal. And over that time, I saw a huge increase in my mental sharpness. I’m now off TRT and my testosterone remains at optimal levels because of my healthy lifestyle. 

I recommend getting your levels checked and then consider TRT if necessary, especially when you’re older.

I will also discuss how to increase testosterone naturally in an upcoming article. 

 

Conclusion

Clearly, there are a lot of causes and solutions to brain fog. 

You don’t need to accept it as “normal.”

You may need to try a combination of these methods, and it may take some time to finally get to the bottom of it. But it can be done. And you can experience mental clarity again. 

Do you struggle with brain fog? What helps you manage it? Have you overcome it for good? 

Let me know in the comments, as your personal experiences could help someone. 

Enjoy This Article? You Might Also Like My FREE Food Guide for Optimal Brain Health!

Click here to subscribe

Live Optimally,

Jordan Fallis

Connect with me

About the Author

Jordan Fallis is a health and science journalist and researcher, and the founder of Optimal Living Dynamics, a website that has helped more than 1.5 million people improve their brain and mental health. His work has been featured in the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, the Canadian Medical Association Journal, and the Canadian Pharmacists Journal. Jordan has also interviewed, consulted, and worked with more than one hundred medical doctors, health practitioners and leading researchers. He spends a lot of time scouring medical research, writing about what he finds, and putting the theories to the test on himself.

References

(1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23576989

(2) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23999934

(3) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22848760

(4) http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/53/11/2931.full

(5) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11939620

(6) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18493620

(7) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18165311

(8) http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=56589

(9) https://pubs.acs.org/cen/science/87/8720sci1.html

(10) http://www.neurology.org/content/early/2013/10/23/01.wnl.0000435561.00234.ee.short

(11) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2769828/

(12) http://jcb.rupress.org/content/199/2/205.full

(13) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3793976/

(14) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23258605

(15) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20329590

(16) http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02246104#page-1

(17) http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s002130050163

(18) http://www.research.va.gov/currents/spring2015/spring2015-7.cfm

(19) http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra070553

(20) https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/health-conditions/cognitive-impairment/

(21) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10468649

(22) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17504218

(23) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19601854

(24) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20378318

(25) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19168123

(26) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7756969

(27) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20378318

(28) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25172797

(29) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11410073

(30) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2604900/

(31) http://www.nutritionjrnl.com/article/S0899-9007(12)00365-6/abstract

(32) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15123336

(33) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17332207

(34)  http://journals.plos.org/plospathogens/article?id=10.1371/journal.ppat.1003726

(35) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166432814004768

(36) http://www.pnas.org/content/108/38/16050.long

(37) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7225473

(38) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4490655/

(39) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3907532/

(40) https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080902075211.htm

(41) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24080377

(42) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1087079202902613

(43) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9760133

(44) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3497293/

(45) http://www.jimmunol.org/content/167/11/6518.full.pdf

(46) http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/35/10/2076.short

(47) http://pmmp.cnki.net/Resources/CDDPdf/evd%5C200801%5CJAMA%5C%E7%97%85%E4%BE%8B%E5%AF%B9%E7%85%A7%E7%A0%94%E7%A9%B6%5Cjama2006295041681.pdf

(48) http://nutritionandmetabolism.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1743-7075-7-79

(49) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S002432050700358X

(50) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20357926

(51) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24669208

(52) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21412260

(53) http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/24202171/

(54) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16855156

(55) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23198849

(56) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20357926

(57) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24669208

(58) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3484320/

(59) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6407471

(60) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S002432050700358X

(61) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17397885

(62) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15911792

(63) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2442599/

(64) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3953713/

(65) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3065857/

(66) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23675984

(67) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17345261

(68) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17658628

(69) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18065594

(70) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17693145

(71) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15039515

(72) http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v57/n2s/full/1601898a.html

(73) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22855911

(74) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061010022602.htm

(75) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3184556/

(76) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/apt.12809/full

(77) http://ispub.com/IJNW/2/1/4476

(78) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18510583

(79) http://www.bmj.com/content/352/bmj.i90

(80) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2695184/

(81) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11796739

(82) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1430829/

(83) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1839138

(84) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1098982

(85) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19351232

(86) http://www.scirp.org/journal/PaperInformation.aspx?paperID=19921

(87) http://kyowa-usa.com/news/2014/07-29

(88) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15005642

Medically reviewed by Dr. Fred Hui, MD, CCFP, CAFC

Terms and Conditions

Privacy Policy

Affiliate Disclosure

Disclaimer

The 25 Best Natural Supplements Proven to Reduce Depression

Eight years ago, I was prescribed an antidepressant and started taking it every day. 

Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have done it. 

It helped a little bit. 

But then some serious side effects kicked in over time... 

Weight gain, sexual dysfunction, insomnia, emotional numbness, drowsiness, personality changes, and even cognitive decline

So if I could go back in time, I would rely on natural supplements first before jumping on pharmaceuticals.  

That’s not to say prescription antidepressants don’t help people.  

They do. 

They can save lives. 

But for some people (like me), they can end up doing more harm than good.  

So in this post, I want to share with you my favourite natural supplements for relieving depression.  

Research shows that there are many natural antidepressants that are just as effective as prescription antidepressants, but without adverse effects. 

After I came off medication, I relied on many of them to reduce depression and improve my mood and energy.  

Depression is complex, and there are often numerous underlying root causes.  

But these natural options will support you and prop you up while you seek and resolve the root causes of your depression.  

I’ve tried hundreds of natural supplements over the years, and these are the most effective ones for depression.  

They’ve really helped me, and I’ve seen other people get better with them as well. 

Read on to discover the best evidence-based supplements for treating depression. 

A smiley face made out of supplement capsules.
 

1. Probiotics

As you probably already know, the health of your gut (and the bacteria within it) significantly influence your brain and mental health.  

In fact, people who have been diagnosed with gut diseases are more likely to be diagnosed with depression (1).  

But luckily, there’s a solution. 

High-quality research shows that probiotic supplements can significantly reduce depressive symptoms in both healthy and depressed individuals (2-4).  

Studies also show that the neurotransmitter serotonin is produced in the gut.  

By taking a probiotic supplement, you can enhance the diversity of the bacteria in your gut, create a better environment for the synthesis of serotonin, and therefore increase serotonin levels and activity in your brain (5).  

Probiotics also reduce inflammation, which tends to be elevated in people with depression (6).  

The best probiotics for depression are Bifidobacterium longum, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium bifidum, and Lactobacillus casei. 

All five of them are included in the Optimal Biotics supplement.  

Check out this post for five other ways to increase the good bacteria in your gut.  

And if you struggle with anxiety, here are 9 probiotic strains that can help. 

 

2. Rhodiola

Rhodiola, also known as golden root or arctic root, is a Traditional Chinese and Scandinavian herb.  

It’s one of the most popular adaptogens used to increase physical and mental stamina. 

It can also reduce depression (9).  

In one study, rhodiola significantly reduced symptoms of depression and emotional instability in people with mild and moderate depression (7).  

Another study found that it was almost as effective as Zoloft, a commonly prescribed antidepressant, but it was better tolerated and it didn’t cause nearly as many side effects (8).  

Plenty of animal research also shows that rhodiola has antidepressant effects by lowering cortisol, and restoring serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine (10-16).  

I personally take this rhodiola supplement. I don't take it every day, only when I need a boost in mood and energy.  You can get it here or here.  

Be sure to check out this post to learn more about the benefits of rhodiola, above and beyond just reducing depression. 

 

3. Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR)

Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) is an acetylated form of the amino acid carnitine. It’s been shown to have neuroprotective and cognitive-enhancing effects. 

It’s often used as a natural brain booster because it increases alertness and supports brain cells.  

Researchers have found that ALCAR is quite effective at alleviating chronic fatigue, improving mood and treating depression (17-18).  

In one study, supplementing with ALCAR for 1 to 2 months reduced depression in elderly individuals (19). 

And another study showed that ALCAR can reduce depression in people with chronic depression. Twelve weeks of supplementation reduced their depressive symptoms just as effectively as an antidepressant (20).  

It works because it supports mitochondrial function, and increases BDNF levels and serotonin levels in the brain (21-22).  

I find that ALCAR personally gives me a big boost in mood, motivation, mental energy and resilience. 

That’s why I included it in the Optimal Brain supplement

 

4. Theanine

A cup of green tea. Theanine is found in green tea and has been shown to help reduce depression.

Theanine is a unique amino acid found in tea. It has a number of mental health benefits. 

I take theanine alongside my morning coffee. It definitely improves my mood. It also helps me focus and cancels out the jitters of caffeine. 

In one study, theanine supplementation reduced depressive symptoms and anxiety, and improved sleep and cognitive function in patients with major depression (23).  

Animal research also shows that theanine can alleviate depression in mice that are exposed to chronic stress (24).  

This mental health supplement contains theanine, along with several natural compounds that have helped me manage depression and anxiety over the years. 

Theanine can also be found in green tea, which has also been shown to help reduce depression (25). 

 

5. Magnesium

Magnesium is a vital mineral that participates in more than 300 biochemical reactions in your body.  

Unfortunately, a lot of people are deficient in magnesium.  

This is a shame because magnesium is absolutely essential for the proper functioning of your nervous system and optimal neurotransmitter activity

Research clearly shows there are links between low magnesium intake, magnesium deficiency, and depression and suicide (26-28, 34-35).  

Several studies also show that magnesium supplementation improves depressive symptoms in people with depression, including people with postpartum depression, premenstrual syndrome, and chronic fatigue syndrome (29-32).  

Sometimes even just one week of supplementing with magnesium can improve mood and reverse symptoms of depression (33).  

Since most people are deficient, magnesium is one of the three supplements that I think everyone should be taking every day. 

Epsom salt baths are another great way to increase your body’s intake of magnesium.  

You should also make sure you’re eating enough magnesium-rich foods on a regular basis, including: 

These foods are included in my Free Grocery Shopping Guide for Optimal Mental Health.  

Click here to subscribe

6. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that your skin synthesizes when exposed to the sun.  

Unfortunately, Vitamin D deficiency is widespread and has become a major global health problem. Researchers estimate that 50% of people are at risk of Vitamin D deficiency

This is a huge concern because every tissue in your body has Vitamin D receptors, including the brain, so a deficiency can lead to costly physiological and psychological consequences, including depression. 

Research shows that there is a strong link between Vitamin D deficiency and depression and suicide (36-37).  

Thankfully, several studies shown that Vitamin D3 supplementation reduces depressive symptoms, treats seasonal affective disorder, and lowers suicide risk (38-40).  

Vitamin D helps fight depression because it plays a key role in the production of dopamine and norepinephrine, and protects against the depletion of dopamine and serotonin in the brain (41).  

Ideally, you should get your Vitamin D by going outside and getting sun.  

I try to get sunlight every day during the spring and summer months.  

But most people still don’t get enough Vitamin D from the sun, especially during the winter.  

During the winter months, when there isn't enough sun, I use this Vitamin D sunlamp.

I also take this Vitamin D supplement as needed, depending on my blood test levels.  

Vitamin D is so critical for optimal brain health, so make sure to check your levels regularly. You can order a test here.  

If you decide to take a Vitamin D3 supplement, it’s a good idea to take it along with Vitamin K2. They are synergistic and mix well together. 

 

7. Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral for mental health, as it plays a key role in neurotransmission and nervous system functioning. 

Unfortunately, it’s estimated that 2 billion people in the world are deficient in zinc, and several studies show that even subclinical zinc deficiency impairs brain function (42-44). 

Researchers have also found that a zinc deficiency increases the likelihood of developing depression, as well as increasing the severity of depression (45).  

But zinc supplementation can definitely help.  

A meta-analysis concluded that taking a zinc supplement is an effective treatment for depression (46).  

In one study, 50 people took 30 mg of zinc for 12 weeks, and their mood significantly improved, and their BDNF levels increased as well (47-49).  

So if you struggle with depression, it’s quite possible you’re deficient, and you’ll want to consider taking a zinc supplement to optimize your levels. 

I created and take the Optimal Zinc supplement to make sure my zinc levels are optimal. I created it because I want to give my clients and readers the very best zinc supplement so that they can experience superior results. I have found that many zinc supplements on the market fall short. Optimal Zinc includes several other nutrients (co-factors) that increase the absorption of zinc. 

Some of the best foods you should eat to optimize your zinc levels include: 

These foods are included in my Free Grocery Shopping Guide for Optimal Brain and Mental Health

Check out my previous post all about zinc for more steps you can take to increase your zinc levels. 

 

8. DL-Phenylalanine

Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid, meaning that your body cannot create it, and you must obtain it from your diet. 

It plays a key role in the production of dopamine, a critical neurotransmitter that can improve your mood (50).  

People struggling with depression have been shown to have low levels of phenylalanine in their blood and urine (55).  

You can find phenylalanine in from protein-rich foods, such as: 

These foods are included in my Free Grocery Shopping Guide for Optimal Brain and Mental Health

But I find that supplementing with DL-Phenylalanine (DLPA), a special supplemental form of phenylalanine, is much more effective than simply eating foods with phenylalanine. 

In one study, 23 depressed patients took DLPA every day for 15 days. At the end of the 15 days, 17 of them had completely overcame their depression, and they didn't experience adverse side effects (51).  

Another 3-week study found very similar results (52).  

Researchers have even concluded that DLPA is just as effective as prescription antidepressants. And people who don’t respond to pharmaceutical antidepressants often get significantly better when they take DLPA (53-54).  

Even if you take medication, research shows that combining DLPA with antidepressants leads to greater increases in mood than simply taking an antidepressant alone (56).  

Yet unlike antidepressants, you can feel the effects of DLPA quickly (within a few hours) and in some cases, it can “terminate depression within 2 to 3 days” (57). 

Not surprisingly, I absolutely love DL-Phenylalanine. It was probably the most important supplement that I took while I transitioned off of antidepressants

If you’d like to learn more about DLPA, read this post

 

9. N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC)

N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) is a modified form of the amino acid cysteine.  

It’s also the precursor to glutathione, your body’s master antioxidant

Nowadays, we’re exposed to so many environmental toxins, which cause oxidative stress in the body and deplete our reserves of cysteine and glutathione.  

But supplementing with NAC can increase and normalize your cysteine and glutathione levels. 

This can combat and reduce oxidative stress in your brain, which can then help treat several mental illnesses, including depression.  

In one study, 149 people with moderate depression were given NAC or placebo for eight weeks. The individuals who received NAC experienced a significant reduction in their depression, as well as improvements in their overall functioning and quality of life (58).  

In another six-month study, NAC significantly reduced symptoms of depression in patients with bipolar disorder. It also significantly improved their social and occupational functioning. The researchers concluded that NAC is a safe and effective strategy for depressive symptoms (59).  

Several other studies have examined the effects of NAC on bipolar disorder and found that taking NAC daily can significantly improve and even cause a full remission of depressive symptoms (60-62).  

 

10. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3s fatty acids are the highest quality fats for the brain and increasing your intake of them is one of the most impactful actions you can take to promote the normal functioning of your brain and nervous system. 

They have been shown in many studies to significantly reduce brain inflammation; improve memory, mood and cognition; and protect against mild cognitive impairment, dementia and Alzheimer's disease

Researchers have also found that levels of omega-3 fatty acids are significantly lower in individuals with depression (63-64).  

It’s important to consume enough omega-3 fatty acids because they are essential fats that your body cannot produce itself. 

Omega-3 fatty acids are found primarily in cold water fish, including: 

  • Salmon  

  • Black cod  

  • Sablefish  

  • Sardines  

  • Herring 

These foods are included in my Free Grocery Shopping Guide for Optimal Mental Health.  

Unfortunately, most people don't consume enough omega-3 fatty acids through their diet. 

That’s why I recommend supplementing with krill oil, a special kind of fish oil that contains the essential omega-3 fatty acids.  

I take this krill oil supplement.  

I feel more depressed when I stop taking it. I actually notice the difference. 

Studies show that omega-3 fatty acid supplements are effective at treating clinical depression. They also improve mood in people who haven’t been diagnosed with depression, but have depressive symptoms (65-66. 68-69).  

One way they work is by reducing inflammation in the brain, which is strongly linked to depression (67).

Click here to subscribe

11. Ginseng

Ginseng is known for its anti-stress effects. 

But it also has antidepressant effects (70).  

More than one study has shown that ginseng reduces depression and increases quality of life (71-72).  

Ginseng has been shown to work because it reduces inflammation and increases dopamine, serotonin and BDNF in the brain (73-76).  

Ginseng is one of my favourite herbal supplements for brain function and depression.

 

12. S-adenosyl-L-methionine

S-Adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM-e) is a compound that naturally occurs in the body.  

It’s also available as a supplement.  

It’s most commonly used for treating depression because lowered SAM-e levels are associated with depression. 

Researchers have concluded that SAM-e is an effective and safe option for the treatment of depression. It has beneficial effects similar to conventional antidepressants (77-78, 82-83).  

In one study, people who hadn't responded to SSRI antidepressants took SAM-e for six weeks, and it significantly reduced their symptoms of depression (79).  

In another study, 20 healthy individuals received infusions of SAM-e or a placebo for seven days. The researchers scanned and studied the brains of the participants during the study. And it was confirmed that SAM-e is an antidepressant because it targets and supports brain regions involved in depression (81).  

It has also been shown to increase serotonin and dopamine activity in the brain, and inhibit the reuptake of norepinephrine (80).  

The great thing about SAM-e is that it works fairly quickly, as people usually notice benefits within the first few days of taking it, and it doesn’t cause severe side effects like pharmaceutical antidepressants (83).  

I took this SAM-e supplement after coming off psychiatric medication and it significantly helped me by improving my mood and energy.

 

13. Curcumin

A picture of turmeric. Curcumin is the main compound in turmeric that has been shown to reduce depression.

Curcumin is the most heavily researched compound within turmeric, the spice that gives curry its yellow colour.  

It’s one of my favourite natural compounds for the brain

Researchers have repeatedly found that curcumin reduces depressive symptoms in patients with major depression (84-86). 

In one study, curcumin reduced depression in more than 100 people after six weeks of supplementation (87).   

It also reduces inflammatory markers and cortisol levels, and increases BDNF levels, all of which are involved in depression (87). 

 

14. Methylfolate

Folate (Vitamin B9) is an essential B vitamin that plays a key role in methylation, one of the most important processes in your body and brain for optimal energy and nervous system function.  

Researchers have found that if you are depressed, you likely have lower levels of folate circulating in your blood, and people with low blood folate are at greater risk for developing depression (88).  

Good dietary sources of natural folate include: 

  • Leafy greens  

  • Asparagus  

  • Broccoli  

  • Cauliflower  

  • Strawberries  

  • Avocado  

  • Beef liver  

  • Poultry

These foods are included in my Free Grocery Shopping Guide for Optimal Brain and Mental Health

However, eating folate-rich foods sometimes isn’t enough. In fact, many people don't get enough folate from food because cooking and food processing destroy natural folates (103). 

People with depression often need to supplement with methylfolate to get the full benefits.  

In one study, six months of methylfolate supplementation reduced symptoms of depression in patients with clinical depression and schizophrenia (92).  

Research also shows that taking methylfolate alongside an antidepressant makes the antidepressant more effective (93).  

Researchers have even suggested that folate supplementation should be a first-line treatment for depression (104). 

Methylfolate works because it lowers homocysteine levels, stimulates serotonin receptors in the brain, and plays a key role in the production of dopamine (94-102).  

Whatever you do, avoid synthetic folic acid, which is commonly found in standard multivitamins. Instead, you need to take the biologically active form of folate (methylfolate or 5-MTHF). 

Methylfolate supplements are almost seven times more effective than synthetic folic acid at increasing folate levels. Regular synthetic folic acid has been shown to be quickly cleared from the central nervous system and poorly transported into the brain (89-91).  

On top of this, many people have genetic mutations in the enzyme that converts folic acid into methylfolate in the body. Therefore, folic acid is a waste and can actually cause harm if you have this genetic mutation.  

I take this B vitamin complex, and it includes methylfolate. Or you can take methylfolate separately at a higher dose.  

 

15. Vitamin B12

Lack of understanding of B12 is one of the greatest tragedies of modern medicine.
— Dr. James Greenblatt, Integrative Psychiatrist

Having sufficient levels of Vitamin B12 is necessary for optimal brain and mental health.  

Unfortunately, a deficiency is very common, especially in older individuals and vegetarians and vegans.  

Even if you eat meat and you’re young, you may still have a deficiency.  

Poor gut health and even psychiatric medications can cause a deficiency

In fact, it’s estimated that almost 40% of Americans are deficient today. 

Numerous studies have shown that having a deficiency in Vitamin B12 leads to symptoms of depression (136-142). 

But supplementation can help. 

Research shows that supplementing with Vitamin B12 for six weeks can reduce depressive symptoms in depressed patients (143).  

In one study, Vitamin B12 supplementation lowered homocysteine levels and reduced depression in more than 200 people (144).  

If you decide to supplement, avoid the semisynthetic version of B12 (cyanocobalamin) and instead take the methylated form (methylcobalamin or methyl-B12).  

Methyl-B12 is better absorbed and more biologically active. 

Besides methyl-B12 and methylfolate, you should also consider supplementing with the rest of the B vitamins. 

There is evidence to suggest that many people with depression are also deficient in Vitamin B1, B2, B3 and B6, and supplementing with them can help reduce, prevent and lower the risk of depression (145-151).  

I take this B complex supplement, which includes all the bioactive forms of the B vitamins, including B9, B12, B2 and B6.  

Vitamin B12 is also found in animal foods, and beef liver is a really good source. I take these beef liver capsules because I don’t like the taste of liver. 

Click here to subscribe

16. St. John’s Wort

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum Perforatum) is a natural medicinal herb with antidepressant effects. It's often prescribed for depression in European countries.  

Researchers have concluded that it’s as effective as pharmaceutical antidepressants for treating depression but has fewer adverse effects (105-107). 

A double-blind, randomized control trial showed that St John’s Wort can prevent depression from developing, and delay relapses in depression (108).  

It's been found to work by increasing dopamine signaling and increasing serotonin receptors (109-111). 

I took this St. John’s Wort supplement years ago for my depression. It helped me, but I eventually stopped taking it and working on fixing the true, underlying causes of my depression instead. 

In my experience, it’s best for people who are struggling with mild or moderate depression.  

It’s important to note that you shouldn’t take St. John’s Wort if you’re already taking antidepressant medication. They don’t mix well.  

 

17. Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone released by your pineal gland, a small gland in your brain. You can also take it as a supplement.  

It helps control your circadian rhythm, and adequate levels of melatonin are necessary to fall asleep quickly and sleep deeply throughout the night. 

Researchers have found that people with depression often have low levels of melatonin and a compromised circadian rhythm (257-259). 

Studies also show that supplementing with melatonin at bedtime can lower symptoms of depression. It can also improve the circadian rhythm of various neurotransmitters that are disturbed in people with depression (260-261).  

You can get melatonin here.  

Or you can take this sleep supplement. It contains magnesium and other natural compounds that I’ve used over the years to promote the production of melatonin. You can use the coupon code FIVE$45496275 for a 5% discount. 

 

18. Uridine

Four glasses of beer. Beer contains uridine, which has been shown to reduce depression.

Uridine is a natural compound commonly found in beer.  

I definitely don’t recommend drinking beer, but supplementing with pure uridine can protect the brain, enhance cognition, and increase mood and motivation. 

Uridine supplementation has been shown to reduce depression in young people with bipolar disorder (113).  

Animal studies also show that uridine supplements alleviate depression and increases dopamine in the brains of rats (114-115).  

It’s important to note that uridine in food is not bioavailable, and no food has been shown to increase blood levels of uridine (112). 

So you’ll need to supplement with it.

 

19. Sarcosine

Sarcosine is an amino acid derivative that is naturally found in egg yolks, turkey, ham, vegetables and legumes. 

Supplementing with sarcosine has been shown to significantly reduce symptoms of depression without side effects (116, 119).  

In one study, sarcosine was found to be significantly more effective at treating major depression than citalopram (a common SSRI antidepressant). 

Patients who received sarcosine were much more likely to improve, improved much more quickly, and were less likely to drop out of the study than patients that received citalopram (117).  

Animal research also shows that sarcosine has antidepressant effects (118).  

You’ll have to supplement with sarcosine for it to improve your mood. The amount of sarcosine in food is too small to have a beneficial effect. 

I take this sarcosine powder.  

It has impressive antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects, but without any of the nasty side effects that are common with pharmaceutical antidepressants and benzodiazepines.  

 

20. Phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylserine is a fat-soluble amino acid that is known to support cognitive function.  

High amounts of phosphatidylserine are in the brain, and supplementation has been shown to improve attention, learning and memory

But researchers have also found that phosphatidylserine can also reduce depression. 

In one study, supplementing with phosphatidylserine induced consistent improvement of depressive symptoms, memory and behaviour in elderly individuals with depression (121).  

Animal research also shows that phosphatidylserine has antidepressant effects. In fact, the antidepressant effects are more prominent in rats than the cognitive-enhancing effects (122).  

I personally take phosphatidylserine every day. It's included in the Optimal Brain supplement

Click here to subscribe

21. Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Hericium Erinaceus – better known as lion’s mane mushroom – is an edible mushroom with numerous health benefits.  

It’s another one of my favourite supplements for brain health because it reduces inflammation and has antioxidant effects

One study found that it reduced depression in 30 women after 4 weeks of supplementation (120).  

This lion’s mane mushroom supplement is the highest-quality that I could find. I spent a lot of time researching and looking into different sources because not all lion's mane supplements are high-quality and effective, and I settled on this one.  

You can get it here or here

 

22. Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba is a plant that has been used in China for thousands of years to treat a number of health problems. 

It’s one of the top-selling natural supplements in the world, and it’s even a prescription herb in Germany. 

It’s most commonly used to improve brain health because it increases brain blood flow and improves memory, mental energy and attention in both healthy and unhealthy individuals. It even reduces the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

But researchers have also found that Ginkgo Biloba reduces depression in elderly individuals (123-127).  

Ginkgo Biloba is included in the Optimal Brain supplement.

 

23. Saffron

Saffron plant. Saffron has been shown to reduce depression.

Saffron is a spice derived from the Crocus sativus plant.  

It has a number of health benefits due to the medicinal compounds within it. 

Researchers have found that saffron is effective at reducing depression in people with mild to moderate depression (127-128).  

More than one study shows that saffron works just as well as SSRI antidepressants, reducing depression without side effects (129-131).  

Saffron has also been shown to inhibit the reuptake of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, similar to pharmaceutical antidepressants (132). 

 

24. Pregnenolone

Pregnenolone is a steroidal hormone naturally manufactured by the body, but it can also be taken as a supplement.  

It’s the precursor to almost all other steroid hormones, including DHEA, progesterone, testosterone, estrogens, and cortisol.  

It’s been shown to enhance memory and reduce fatigue. 

But researchers have found that it can also reduce depression.  

Depressed patients often have low pregnenolone levels, but replenishing pregnenolone levels with supplementation significantly reduces symptoms of depression (133-135).  

Whenever I take pregnenolone, it gives me a big boost in brain function and mental energy. It definitely has an effect. But it doesn’t really improve my mood. In fact, if I take it every day, it starts to make me irritable. So I save it and only take it when I need it.   

Plenty of other people have excellent, consistent results with it though. 

If you want to try it, you can get it here

 

25. Dehydroepiandrosterone

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is one of the most abundant circulating steroid hormones in humans. It’s produced in the adrenal glands, the gonads, and the brain, and it’s a precursor to other hormones, including estrogen and testosterone. 

It's also available as a supplement

Research shows that low DHEA levels are significantly associated with increased depressive symptoms, and low DHEA levels are often found in depressed patients (270-271).  

And in multiple studies, supplementing with DHEA has been shown to improve mood and reduce depression (272-273).  

Researchers have found that it works because it impacts the activity of several neurotransmitters involved in depression, including dopamine, serotonin and GABA (274).  

 

26. BONUS: Other Natural Supplements That Can Reduce Depression

An image of several different natural supplements

Here are numerous other natural supplements that have also been shown to reduce depression and improve mood in humans.

I didn’t include them in the main list because they aren’t my favourite “go-to” solutions for depression.

Plus, they can be “hit-and-miss” and don’t always work for everyone in every situation.

But research still shows they can be quite effective, so they’re worth considering and giving a shot.  

 

Enjoy This Article? You Might Also Like My FREE Food Guide for Optimal Brain and Mental Health!

Click here to subscribe

Live Optimally,

Jordan Fallis

Connect with me



About the Author

Jordan Fallis is a health and science journalist and researcher, and the founder of Optimal Living Dynamics, a website that has helped more than 1.5 million people improve their brain and mental health. His work has been featured in the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, the Canadian Medical Association Journal, and the Canadian Pharmacists Journal. Jordan has also interviewed, consulted, and worked with more than one hundred medical doctors, health practitioners and leading researchers. He spends a lot of time scouring medical research, writing about what he finds, and putting the theories to the test on himself.

References:

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=18819774

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4997396/

(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5319175/

(4) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3904694/

(5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5319175/

(6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5319175/

(7) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17990195

(8) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25837277

(9) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19016404

(10) ttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17072830

(11) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18515456

(12) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21901061

(13) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19168123

(14) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19403286

(15) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4790408/

(16) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4297663/

(17) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24607292

(18) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18491985

(19) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18491985

(20) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16316746

(21) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24607292

(22) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23382250

(23) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27396868

(24) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21425911

(25) https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/90/6/1615/4598112

(26) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23950577

(27) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25748766

(28) https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00048670802534408

(29) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16542786

(30) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2067759

(31) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19271419

(32) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1672392

(33) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16542786

(34) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19944540

(35) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23950577

(36) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27750060

(37) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23377209

(38) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22191178

(39) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10888476

(40) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4011048/

(41) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9011759

(42) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22664333

(43) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21939673

(44) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22673824

(45) ttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20689416

(46) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21798601

(47) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18191237

(48) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3022308/

(49) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24621065

(50) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK209061/

(51) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1173765

(52) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/335027

(53) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/387000

(54) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1173765

(55) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3944066

(56) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6425455

(57)https://www.researchgate.net/publication/21254821_Rapid_treatment_of_depression_with_selegiline-phenylalanine_combination_1

(58) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21719110

(59) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18534556

(60) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22189927

(61) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20800897

(62) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23493756

(63) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20452573

(64) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20586692

(65) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24805797

(66) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20586692

(67) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3976923/

(68) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19499625

(69) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20099994

(70) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4503934/

(71) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10761538

(72) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24088416/

(73) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19632285

(74) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20647027/

(75) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8886498

(76) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15931589

(77) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27113121

(78) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12420702

(79) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20595412

(80) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19909689

(81) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12418497

(82) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7941964

(83) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2183633

(84) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26610378

(85) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25046624

(86) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28236605

(87) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26066335

(88) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10967371?dopt=Abstract

(89) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/5314166

(90) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14769778

(91) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17522618

(92) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1974941

(93) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10967371

(94) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18950248

(95) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19796883

(96) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23212058

(97) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15671130

(98) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24372461

(99) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24392264

(100) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15671130

(101) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19388520

(102) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23507369

(103) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12493090

(104) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1810582/

(105) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypericum_perforatum

(106) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18843608

(107) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19028540

(108) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18694635

(109) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12775192

(110) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20193678

(111) http://www.chiro.org/nutrition/FULL/St_John's_Wort_Vs_Drugs.shtml

(112) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4011061/

(113) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3080753/

(114) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15705349

(115) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3020593/

(116) https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00977353

(117) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23562005

(118) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27555541

(119) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5331637/

(120) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20834180

(121) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1693032

(122) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15276700

(123) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26092515

(124) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21672588

(125) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17356006

(126) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6181482/

(127) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16979327

(128) ttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15852492

(129) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15707766

(130) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17174460

(131) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24289892

(132) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17704979

(133) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3573983/

(134) ttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20493557

(135) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4200497/

(136) https://examine.com/supplements/vitamin-b12/

(137) https://wellnessmama.com/36091/vitamin-b12-deficiency/

(138) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22276208

(139) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2781043/

(140) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10784463

(141) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3262813/

(142) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24339839

(143) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24339839

(144) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21771745

(145) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22081620

(146) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15479988

(147) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16815556

(148) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1578091

(149) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20716710

(150) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26648330

(151) ttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15671130

(152) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12807339

(153) ttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17593676

(154) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3983753/

(155) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18334150

(156) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29908682

(157) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26408043

(158) http://journal.icns.org.ir/browse.php?a_id=327&sid=1&slc_lang=en

(159) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14692723

(160) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15181652

(161) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9065962

(162) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15181652

(163)https://journals.lww.com/psychopharmacology/Abstract/2000/02000/Efficacy_of_Kava_Extract_for_Treating_Anxiety_.14.aspx

(164) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12807341

(165) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10186945

(166) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15953489

(167) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9247405

(168) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0062698/

(169) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22031267

(170) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21352883

(171) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24424706

(172) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7726322

(173) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15106232

(174) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684979/

(175) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21831448

(176) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17988366

(177) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22864465

(178) ttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11595668

(179) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19079843

(180) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15168891

(181) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18981340

(182) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12796225

(183) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22864465

(184) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23466591

(185) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22789792

(186) ttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24578844

(187) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12551734

(188) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4363653/

(189) ttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3612440/

(190) ttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3600408/

(191) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3600416/

(192) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26826594

(193) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25800110

(194) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22894890

(195) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3600408/

(196) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26483209

(197) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18611150

(198) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21046986

(199) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12957224

(200) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17321089

(201) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22160863

(202) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26400188

(203) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18585703

(204) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17585901

(205) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11270727

(206) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19253862

(207) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4296439/

(208) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20471444

(209) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22467846

(210) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22796912

(211) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/syn.890010302

(212) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3573577/

(213) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23439798

(214) https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/acta-neuropsychiatrica/article/clinical-antidepressant-effect-of-exogenous-agmatine-is-not-reversed-by-parachlorophenylalanine-a-pilot-study/62BA83527CFA2D1F283A4899307103DE

(215) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27836390

(216) https://examine.com/supplements/agmatine/

(217) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25287313

(218) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25966970

(219)https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259432742_The_clinical_antidepressant_effect_of_exogenous_agmatine_is_not_reversed_by_parachlorophenylalanine_A_pilot_study

(220) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28742505

(221) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16309809

(222) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29468978

(223) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20688474

(224) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23106783

(225) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23510529

(226) ttps://examine.com/supplements/vitamin-c/

(227) https://examine.com/supplements/maca/

(228) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15671224/

(229) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18463429

(230) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1873372

(231) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8289407

(232) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1020692

(233) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4303396/

(234) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3762304/

(235) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25678811

(236) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26984349

(237) https://goo.gl/7xi241

(238) https://goo.gl/7xi241

(239) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21771745

(240) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1578091

(241) ttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21771745

(242) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25596911

(243) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13031399

(244) http://annals.org/aim/article-abstract/675234/nicotinic-acid-treatment-depression

(255) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13099638

(256) ttps://ionhealth.ca/wp-content/uploads/resources/PDFs/Vitamin-B3-for-Depression-Case-Report-and-Review-of-the-Literature-25.3.pdf

(257) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6494381

(258) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/articles/3026303/

(259) ttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2762432

(260) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11226744

(261) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11226744

(262) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21071157

(263) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28118532

(264) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23380314

(265) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16378695

(266) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22888252

(267) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23380314

(268) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908021/

(269) https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-10006312

(270) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11082473

(271) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165178104001325

(272) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15699292

(273) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10200751

(274) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18280022

Medically reviewed by Dr. Fred Hui, MD, CCFP, CAFC

Terms and Conditions

Privacy Policy

Affiliate Disclosure

Disclaimer

How to Overcome Trauma & PTSD without Medication

The subjective experience of trauma is unique and varies according to the individual and the type of trauma. What does not vary is the fact that trauma often results in a devastating intrusion into a wished-for life of peace, calm, and well-being, along with a corresponding unexpected and undesired fragmented sense of self and of life in general.
— Dr. Rollin McCraty, Ph.D.

Eating healthy and supplementing with specific nutrients was never enough for me to overcome my chronic mental health problems.

A broken heart.

I had to work hard at overcoming emotionally traumatic experiences as well. 

Trauma isn’t just something that happens to you in the past.

It’s not just a story or a memory.

Emotional trauma can actually change your brain, and how you see yourself in the world, leading to profoundly disturbing physical sensations and emotions in the present moment. 

It can occur because of one single event, or build up gradually due to a threatening or lonely environment.

These traumatic events and experiences, in both childhood and adulthood, can linger inside you and make you feel depressed, anxious and fearful for years. 

This is commonly known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and it’s a heavy burden to carry.

We’re made to believe that talk therapy and psychiatric drugs are the best way to overcome it.

But that is simply not true.

You can overcome psychological and emotional trauma without having to resort to life-long therapy and medication.

It’s not necessarily easy. 

It can take some time and effort.

But it can definitely be done.

I’m living proof. 

So today I’m going to share with you the therapies and treatments that have changed the course of my life by allowing me to permanently overcome emotional trauma and PTSD. 
 

Why Talk Therapy and Drugs Aren’t the Best Treatment Options

Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, MD, a psychiatrist at the Boston University School of Medicine and one the world’s leading experts on trauma, is convinced that talk therapy isn’t that effective, and psychiatric drugs don’t get to the root of traumatic issues:

The study of trauma shows that you cannot “knock sense” into people by talking to them. Trauma is not an issue of cognition. It’s an issue of disordered biological systems.

Based on my experience, I agree with Bessel van der Kolk, and I highly recommend you check out his book The Body Keeps Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma if you’re interested in learning more. 

The book talks about how the brain is shaped by traumatic experiences, how traumatic stress is experienced by the entire body, and how this knowledge needs to be integrated into conventional treatment. 

Because of trauma, I used to struggle with chronic hyper-vigilance – a heightened state of awareness and over-activation of my "fight-or-flight" response. 

In other words, my brain was irrationally on constant alert.

This is because trauma impacts the “unconscious, emotional, reptilian" part of our brains, causing us to become chronically frightened and interpret the world as dangerous.

You know you shouldn’t feel that way, but you do.

And then that makes you feel even more defective and ashamed.

You cannot reason your way out of that.

Talk therapy can be helpful in acknowledging what has happened to you and how it has affected you.

But talking about it doesn’t put it behind you.

It simply does not go deep enough and affect the emotional, reptilian part of your brain. 

Your body can actually hold onto trauma, and it wasn’t until I tapped into the reptilian part of my brain with the following 12 treatments and therapies that I was able to permanently let it go and move on with my life. 

And even if you don't think you've experienced anything too traumatic, you'll probably benefit from these steps. 

1. Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback that shows you your brain activity in real-time and teaches you how to self-regulate it.  

Sensors are placed on your scalp to measure your brain’s activity, and the measurements are displayed using video or sound.

In this powerful video, a captain with multiple deployments in Iraq shares his experiences in dealing with PTSD, and how neurofeedback treatment aided in his recovery.

Personally, neurofeedback was the most impactful action I took to overcome trauma. I previously wrote about my experience with it here

It works at a deep subconscious level, breaking the cycle of trauma and post-traumatic symptoms.

It allows you to move past traumatic events without actually having to talk about them and relive them, and shifts you into a natural, healthier state of mind.

And research shows that it works. 
 
Just last year, individuals with treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder completed 40 sessions of neurofeedback, and researchers found it significantly reduced their PTSD symptoms (3). 

In my 38 years of practice, I have never seen any treatment that comes close to producing the results that Neurofeedback offers. I have seen results achieved in days and weeks that previously took months and years to achieve, using the best methods available to us.
— Dr. Jack Woodward, MD, Board Certified Psychiatrist

In another study, victims of torture who had not responded to conventional treatment did 20 sessions of neurofeedback and demonstrated a “substantial recovery” (5). 

Researchers have also concluded that neurofeedback is “helpful in the shedding of substance dependencies that are common in treatment-resistant PTSD” (4). 

If you’re interested in digging more into the research, here is a list of studies looking at neurofeedback for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety. 

It’s best to work with a qualified practitioner.

But I also like the Muse headband. It’s a good substitute and gives you real-time feedback in your brainwaves while you meditate.

I previously wrote about it here, and you can get it through Amazon or the Muse website

Click here to subscribe

2. Vagus Nerve Stimulation

The vagus nerve is the longest nerve in your body and part of your parasympathetic “rest and digest” nervous system.

Stimulating your vagus nerve allows you to more effectively respond to emotional trauma and overcome it. 

Research shows that vagus nerve stimulation can help treat a number of treatment-resistant anxiety disorders. This includes patients with PTSD that haven’t responded to medication (34-35). 

Vagus nerve stimulation has also been shown to enhance the “extinction of conditioned fear”, making it useful for severe anxiety and PTSD (36-38). 

So how do you stimulate your vagus nerve naturally?

I previously provided 13 ways to activate your vagus nerve in this post.

I recommend reading that post alongside this one because many of the mind-body practices and nutrients discussed – such as yoga, acupuncture, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids – have also been shown to directly help people overcome emotional trauma. 

3. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

The cure for the pain is the pain.
— Rumi

I mentioned above that neurofeedback lets you move past traumatic events without actually having to talk about them and re-live them.

But sometimes that isn’t enough.

Sometimes you have to relive your trauma to actually move past it. 

That’s where Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) comes in.  

EMDR is a fairly new, non-traditional type of psychotherapy, but it’s growing in popularity, particularly for treating emotional trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

During a session, your therapist will move his or her fingers back and forth in front of your face. You’ll then follow the hand motions with your eyes while thinking of a disturbing event from your past. 

As you do this, your brain will start to reprocess the traumatic memory until it no longer bothers you. It allows you to come to peaceful terms with previously-disturbing events and, surprisingly, leads to increased insight about yourself. 

In my experience, it is one of the most impactful actions you can take for your mental health. 

This is a very good video about EMDR and trauma. More people should see it. 

I did 4 sessions of EMDR and it really helped me come to terms with certain traumatic experiences from my past. I didn’t know it at the time, but these previously traumatic events were wearing me down, and life is now lighter and brighter since finishing the treatments.  

According to Dr. Norman Doidge, the author of The Brain’s Way of Healing, EMDR is the most promising treatment for trauma and PTSD.

More than 30 controlled clinical trials have demonstrated the effectiveness of EMDR therapy for overcoming emotional trauma and PTSD (15, 25-33). 

Several studies have found that 84 to 100% of single-trauma victims no longer have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after just three 90-minute EMDR sessions (16). 

Other studies have found that 77% of multiple trauma victims were no longer diagnosed with PTSD after only six sessions, and 77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD in 12 sessions (17, 18). 

And EMDR has also been shown to be effective in children who have experienced emotional trauma (19). 

As a result of this, researchers and multiple health organizations have concluded that EMDR should be a first-line treatment for acute and chronic PTSD, and must be considered before medication because it’s been shown to be more effective than SSRI antidepressants (20-24). 

Although the research continues to pile up in support of EMDR, it remains controversial among some health care professionals. This is likely because it does not rely on life-long talk therapy or medication, and therefore puts a lot of people out of business.

It’s best to work with a qualified EMDR therapist first so that you understand how EMDR works.

Once you experience the treatment and understand it, you can actually self-administer EMDR

4. Loving-Kindness Meditation (Metta)

I recently found out about loving-kindness meditation in Tim Ferriss’ new book Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers, and have been practicing it since.

Loving-kindness meditation, or metta, is a practice designed to enhance feelings of kindness and compassion for yourself and others.

A cartoon Buddhist monk meditating. Loving-Kindness Meditation can help you overcome trauma and PTSD without medication.

You repeat positive phrases to yourself and direct well-wishes towards other people.

You can learn how to practice it here or through this video

In one study, veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) practiced loving-kindness meditation for 12 weeks. 

At the end of the 12 weeks, the researchers reported increased levels of mindfulness and self-compassion in the veterans. 

And three months later, the veterans had reduced symptoms of trauma and depression because of their enhanced feelings of compassion (1). 

Another study found increased positive emotions and self-acceptance in veterans who practiced loving-kindness meditation (2). 

Click here to subscribe

5. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

Emotional Freedom Technique, or “tapping”, is a form of therapy based on ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology. 

A woman tapping and using EFT. EFT can help you overcome trauma and PTSD without medication.

It involves tapping a series of acupressure points while thinking about a traumatic event and stating positive affirmations.

It’s best to do EFT alongside a therapist, but you can also practice it yourself.

If you’re interested in learning how to do it yourself, check out The Tapping World Summit, and the book, The Tapping Solution: A Revolutionary System for Stress-Free Living

I’ve never done EFT with a therapist but I use the technique myself on a regular basis to reduce stress.

I previously discussed how it can lower your stress hormone here

Research also shows that it can also help you manage and overcome emotional trauma. 

Last year, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of all high-quality EFT studies and concluded that 4 to 10 sessions of EFT can effectively treat post-traumatic stress disorder without side effects. They determined that it’s just as effective as EMDR and cognitive behavior therapy (6). 
    
Researchers have stated that even though the approach has been controversial, there’s no doubt that EFT “is unusually effective in its speed and power because deactivating signals are sent directly to the [fear centre of the brain]” (12).

Tapping on selected acupoints during imaginal psychological exposure quickly and permanently reduces maladaptive fear responses to traumatic memories and related cues.
— Dr. David Feinstein

Several individual studies have also found that it quickly and permanently reduces PTSD symptoms in military veterans, disaster survivors, and other traumatized individuals (7-11).

With veterans, studies have found that EFT significantly reduces their psychological distress, and 90% participants no longer score positive for PTSD after just six treatment sessions. These improvements remained one year later (13-14). 

The film Operation: Emotional Freedom also documents a number of veterans and their families as they go through EFT therapy.

6. Forgiveness

Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.
— Nelson Mandela

Research shows that difficulty forgiving oneself and difficulty forgiving others is associated with increased symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (51). 

One study found that a when a victim of emotional trauma forgives the person at fault, there is a significant reduction in their PTSD symptoms (52). 

Two people holding hands. Forgiving one another can help us overcome trauma and PTSD.

And emotionally-abused women that did forgiveness therapy experienced significantly greater improvements in their PTSD symptoms than women who received an alternative treatment (53). 

So if you’ve experienced emotional trauma, you need to focus on letting go. 

Easier said than done, I know. Luckily, a lot of the therapies above – particularly EMDR – make it easier to forgive. 

I started using “forgiveness affirmations” several years ago after reading The Success Principles:  How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield.

Below is the main forgiveness affirmation from the book, and I recommend reading the full book for more tips on forgiveness.

I release myself from all the demands and judgments that have kept me limited. I allow myself to go free – to live in joy and love and peace. I allow myself to create fulfilling relationships, to have success in my life, to experience pleasure, to know that I am worthy and deserve to have what I want. I now go free. In that process I release all others from any demands and expectations I have placed on them. I choose to be free. I allow others to be free. I forgive myself and I forgive them. And so it is.

7. Brain Stimulation

There are several forms of brain stimulation, but two stand out for the treatment of emotional trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

The first is cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES), which I have personal experience with. 

CES involves the application of a low intensity micro-current (less than 2 mA) to the brain. This current stimulates the brain via electrodes placed on the earlobes, and affects emotional regulation by influencing neurotransmission in the brain – including serotonin, norepinephrine and melatonin – which play a role in depression, anxiety and sleep (42-44). 

I know it sounds dangerous but it is very safe and has been widely used in Europe since 1950 and in the US since the 1960s (39). 

It’s also been cleared by Health Canada and the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of depression, anxiety, addiction and insomnia (41). 

Research has found that CES treatment (20 to 60 minutes daily, 3 to 5 days each week for 4 weeks) decreases the frequency of PTSD symptoms in veterans (40). 

In an online survey of 145 veterans and military personnel, 60% of individuals used CES to treat their PTSD, and the majority of participants reported at least a 50% reduction in their PTSD symptoms when using their CES device for at least 20 minutes, once or twice daily. The results shows that individuals who were not taking any prescription medication rated CES more effective than veterans who were also taking medication (45, 46). 

Unlike all other brain stimulation modalities, it’s relatively inexpensive and you don’t need to go see a professional to take advantage of it. 

I use it based on the presentation of the client – do they have difficulty falling asleep? Are they anxious or depressed? Do they have chronic pain? These symptoms respond well to CES. It is a non-addictive alternative to medication; a gentler solution.
— Dr. Jonathan Douglas

I personally use the cranial electrical stimulation that comes with the David Delight Pro device. You can get it here or through Amazon.

I find it really helpful when I’m stuck in an “anxious rut.” It snaps me out of it. It also calms my nervous system and makes me sleepy before bed. I often combine it with this acupressure mat.

I've also heard that the Fischer Wallace CES device helps a lot of people but haven’t used it personally. 

The other form of brain stimulation that can help you overcome emotional trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder is called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) 

TMS is a noninvasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain.

Studies have found that TMS can significantly reduce depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms including hyperarousal, intrusive thoughts, vigilance, withdrawal and emotional numbness. The effects are persistent and remained significant 3 months after treatment (47-49). 

However, unlike CES, you cannot do TMS at home. You need to find a practitioner who provides the treatment. 

8. Gratitude

Gratitude is the tendency to appreciate positive occurrences or being thankful for receiving certain benefits in your life.

A piece of paper that says “I am grateful for…”. Gratitude can help you overcome trauma and PTSD without medication.

Studies have shown that gratitude is associated with increased resilience to emotional trauma, and individuals with PTSD have significantly lower dispositional gratitude (54-55, 58).

But luckily, this can be changed through practice. 

Research shows that over time, daily gratitude promotes positive outcomes after trauma and reduces symptoms of PTSD (56-57). 

My recommendation is to write down five things that you’re grateful for every day. I try to do this regularly.

They don’t have to be big things. Anything will do. It could be as simple as being grateful for the apple that you ate today.

And if you do this every day, you’ll start to gather a pretty big list of things that you can look over whenever you’re feeling ungrateful. 

Click here to subscribe

9. Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Biofeedback

Heart rate variability (HRV) is the variation in the time interval between heartbeats.

It’s a reliable psycho-physiological marker for the functioning of your nervous system and accurately reflects your ability to cope with stress.

People with good HRV tend to be more optimistic, take initiative and are stress resistant.

People with low HRV tend to be depressed or anxious and have trouble learning.

Several studies show that higher HRV is associated with less anxiety and fear, and individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder display lower levels of HRV (63, 65-66, 69-72). 

Our results don’t necessarily suggest that lower HRV causes PTSD, rather that it’s a harbinger or a signal that the body’s stress response system is not functioning optimally and that may put the individual at greater risk of developing PTSD once he or she has been exposed to a trauma.
— Dr. Arpi Minassian, Ph.D

In one study, marines whose HRV was low before they were deployed were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with PTSD after deployment (73, 74). 

Luckily you can increase your HRV

Researchers have found that HRV biofeedback significantly reduces symptoms of PTSD, improves cognition for those suffering from PTSD, and improves the efficacy of other therapies that treat emotional trauma (64, 67-68, 75). 

I increase my HRV by using the EmWave2 biofeedback device

You can get it through Amazon or the HeartMath website, and I previously wrote about the benefits of using it here.

It’s been shown to increases HRV coherence in combat veterans with PTSD (76-77). 

And it’s important to note that when your HRV is high, your vagal tone is also high. They are correlated with each other (78-80). 

So stimulating your vagus nerve will also increase your HRV. Check out this post for 13 ways to do it. 

10. Curcumin

Curcumin is the most heavily researched compound within turmeric, the spice that gives curry its yellow colour.

It’s one of my favourite compounds for the brain

As I discussed before, it can lower your stress hormone, increase your brain’s growth hormone, and strengthen the integrity of your blood-brain barrier

It may also be able to help treat post-traumatic stress disorder. 

PTSD is characterized by unusually strong and persistently reactivated “fear memories", and researchers have found that curcumin impairs the reconsolidation of fear memories in animals, and concluded that it could be used to treat PTSD (50). 

In other words, supplementing with curcumin may help your brain forget about previously traumatic experiences. 

There are several different forms of “bioavailable” curcumin and I've tried most of them. The “Longvida” form is my favourite. You can get it here.

11. Magnesium

Magnesium is a vital mineral that participates in more than 300 biochemical reactions in your body. This includes neurotransmitter, enzyme, and hormonal activity, all of which can have a huge effect on your mood and brain function.

It’s one of the three nutrients that I think everyone should be taking for their brain, as most people are deficient.

As I’ve discussed before, it can help you overcome addiction and withdrawal and support your brain's mitochondria.

Studies reveal that magnesium enhances this process so that events which previously caused an emotional response no longer trigger fear. Magnesium L-threonate helps the prefrontal region of the brain block the return of old fear memories.
— Dr. Michael Smith

It can also help you overcome emotional trauma. 

Studies have found that supplementing with magnesium threonate increases levels of magnesium in the brain and enhances the extinction of conditioned fear responses to traumatic memories. The researchers concluded that it may be used to enhance PTSD therapy (59, 60). 

Foods that contain magnesium include spinach, chard, pumpkin seeds, almonds, avocado, dark chocolate and bananas.

But supplementation or taking Epsom salt baths is still necessary for most people because magnesium is rapidly used up during times of stress and certain psychiatric drugs can deplete magnesium. You can get the threonate form here. 

12. Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone released by your pineal gland, a small gland in your brain. It helps control your sleep and wake cycles (circadian rhythm), and adequate levels of melatonin are necessary to fall asleep quickly and sleep deeply throughout the night.

A disrupted circadian rhythm is linked to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and researchers have concluded that supplementing with melatonin is a “promising treatment strategy in the management of PTSD” (61). 

Animal research has also shown that melatonin reduces PTSD-induced anxiety-like behaviors in rats (62). 

You can get melatonin here.

Or you can take this sleep supplement. It contains magnesium and a number of natural compounds that increase the production of melatonin naturally. You can use the coupon code FIVE$45496275 for a 5% discount. 

Other than supplementing with melatonin or taking a sleep supplement, here are some others actions you can take to naturally produce more melatonin and improve the quality of your sleep:

Conclusion

You don’t have to live with emotional trauma for the rest of your life. 

You can overcome post-traumatic stress disorder and live a happy, fulfilling life

An illustration of a solider or war veteran with a broken brain and PTSD.

And medication and life-long talk therapy are not your only solutions, despite what many so-called experts say.

There is a much better way.

Remember, traumatic stress has very little to do with cognition. Instead, it stems from the emotional part of the brain that is rewired to constantly send out messages of danger.

These therapies and treatments have helped me come out on the other side of emotionally traumatizing experiences and post-traumatic stress disorder, and have allowed me to live more fully in the present moment:

I hope you get the chance to try them and they help you too. :)

Enjoy This Article? You Might Also Like My FREE Food Guide for Optimal Brain and Mental Health!

Click here to subscribe

Live Optimally,

Jordan Fallis

Connect with me

About the Author

Jordan Fallis is a health and science journalist and researcher, and the founder of Optimal Living Dynamics, a website that has helped more than 1.5 million people improve their brain and mental health. His work has been featured in the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, the Canadian Medical Association Journal, and the Canadian Pharmacists Journal. Jordan has also interviewed, consulted, and worked with more than one hundred medical doctors, health practitioners and leading researchers. He spends a lot of time scouring medical research, writing about what he finds, and putting the theories to the test on himself.

References:

(1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23893519/

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25397820

(3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26782083

(4) https://www.eeginfo.com/research/articles/PTSD-NeurofeedbackRemedy.pdf

(5) http://www.eeginfo.com/research/researchpapers/RodaKorset_update%20graphics%20corrected.pdf

(6) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/articles/27889444/

(7) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24439093

(8) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21629014

(9) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27543343

(10) http://journals.sfu.ca/seemj/index.php/seemj/article/view/377

(11) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22402094/

(12) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22402094/

(13) http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1534765609347549?journalCode=tmta

(14) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23364126

(15) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_movement_desensitization_and_reprocessing

(16) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10225500

(17) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3951033/

(18) http://www.emdr.com.au/faq.php

(19) http://www.istss.org/treating-trauma/effective-treatments-for-ptsd,-2nd-edition.aspx

(20) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24338345

(21) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23842024

(22) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17267924

(23) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19169192

(24) https://goo.gl/mUXgC7.

(25) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3951033/

(26) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17990196

(27) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22622278

(28) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16740177

(29) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25101684

(30) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25188700

(31) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25974059

(32) https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02109568

(33) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21629014

(34) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3402102/

(35) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20633378/

(36) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4166996/

(37) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25278857

(38) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4176918/

(39) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11455071/

(40) https://stress.org/wp-content/uploads/CES_Research/CES-for-PTSD.pdf

(41) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=cranial+electrotherapy+stimulation+psychiatric+clinics

(42) http://www.bestbrainmachines.com/Cerebrospinal_fluid_and_cranial_electrical_stimulation.pdf

(43) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=cranial+electrotherapy+stimulation+psychiatric+clinics

(44) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22741094

(45) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25830798

(46) http://medistim.hu/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Military-Survey-Poster.pdf

(47) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14992978/

(48) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20051219/

(49) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4177524/

(50) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25430781

(51) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15253099

(52) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24898771

(53) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17032096

(54) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/articles/16389060/

(55) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4588123/

(56) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27548470

(57) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4676265/

(58) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26626947

(59) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3668337/

(60) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22016520

(61) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jpi.12330/pdf

(62) http://koomeshjournal.semums.ac.ir/browse.php?a_id=2598&sid=1&slc_lang=en

(63) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9821570

(64) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4375291/

(65) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26095980

(66) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4152223/

(67) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20680439

(68) https://www.resourcenter.net/images/AAPB/Files/Biofeedback/2008/biof_trauma_treatment.pdf

(69) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27311838

(70) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10804906

(71) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4862083/

(72) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3246136/

(73) http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/851634

(74) http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/2436276

(75) http://www.aapb-biofeedback.com/doi/abs/10.5298/1081-5937-41.3.05?code=aapb-site

(76) https://goo.gl/jAUzHZ

(77) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20653296

(78) http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/118/8/863.long

(79) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_rate_variability

(80) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vagal_tone

Medically reviewed by Dr. Robert Blake Gibb, MD

Terms and Conditions

Privacy Policy

Affiliate Disclosure

Disclaimer

9 Supplements Proven to Help You Overcome Addiction and Withdrawal

I've been dependent on a lot of substances over the years. 

When my brain wasn’t working and I struggled with mental illness, it simply made sense to find immediate relief from something outside myself – even if it wasn't good for me - at least until I found better long-term, sustainable solutions.

I really felt like I had no other choice at the time. 

And I know there are a lot of people out there grappling with the same thing.

Read More