According to an evidence review published earlier this week in the American Journal of Psychiatry, researchers confirmed that certain nutritional supplements can increase the efficacy of antidepressants for individuals with clinical depression.
Researchers at Harvard and the University of Melbourne examined 40 clinical trials along with a systematic review of the evidence for nutrient supplements that are used as adjuncts to help with clinical depression. As a result, fish oil, SAMe, folate, and vitamin D all demonstrated an increased efficacy of the medications, which include SSRIs, SNRIs and tricyclic antidepressants.
The most significant finding from their review was seen in those taking a fish oil supplement in addition to an antidepressant. Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of fish oil supplements for overall brain and cognitive health; however, this review validated their use in combination with antidepressant medications.
In addition, the research team also confirmed supporting research for the use of folate, vitamin D, and SAMe for improving mood when taken with antidepressant medications. Interestingly, folic acid did not demonstrate positive results in the way that methylfolate did. We can speculate that a large percent of this population may have an MTHFR SNP, and this reinforces the importance of using natural, bioactive forms of folate.
While millions of people worldwide currently take antidepressants, there is a significant amount of research supporting the use of nutritional supplements to improve mental health.
Many medical doctors are aware of the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids these days, but may be unaware of the advantages of combining them with antidepressant medication for a better outcome.
The researchers found no safety concerns in incorporating the use of these nutritional supplements with antidepressant medication; however, all patients should always talk with their health care provider before taking these supplements.
We should also consider natural alternatives to antidepressants, such as Sceletium tortuosum and saffron flower. Sceletium tortuosum has attracted increasing attention over the past few decades for promoting a sense of wellbeing and helping with depression, and saffron flower has been supported by numerous studies that demonstrated positive outcomes on mild clinical depression. Saffron has even gone head to head with SSRIs and tricyclic antidepressants demonstrating the same efficacy. These two botanicals can be used in conjunction with L-5-MTHF and vitamin B12 to help improve mood, decrease anxiety, and support individuals with depression.
By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN
Source: Jerome Sarris, Jenifer Murphy, David Mischoulon, George I. Papakostas, Maurizio Fava, Michael Berk, Chee H. Ng. Adjunctive Nutraceuticals for Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses. American Journal of Psychiatry, 2016; appi.ajp.2016.1 DOI:10.1176/appi.ajp.2016.15091228