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On the Brink — Natural Solutions to Support Mental Health During These Trying Times

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The past year has pushed our mental health to the limits. Many are dealing with health concerns, grief, unemployment, homeschooling and loneliness, along with the threat of natural disasters and a contentious political climate. It’s clear: 2020 has been a bad year for mental health. In fact, 40% of all US adults reported struggling with mental health issues or substance abuse in June according to a report by the CDC


“We’ve seen a significant increase of anxiety in our patient population related to the pandemic,” Dr. Carolyn Weisswasser, a naturopathic doctor from Grass Valley, California, says.“Uncertainties about the future, fears of contracting the virus and infecting others has caused anxiety for people who never had it before.” 


So what can we do to heal and protect ourselves? Here’s the good news: Turns out a lot. Adopt a healthy diet and exercise routine. Safely connect with friends and family. Even if that means connecting digitally through Facetime or Zoom, you’re still getting the important benefits of social interaction. Unplug and spend time in nature. Just walking in the forest can lower blood pressure and fight depression.    


But what if you’re still struggling? For some, medication may be necessary. For many though, a natural supplement will work wonders—without the negative effects of prescription drugs. “Natural” means plant-based and non-habit forming with a low risk of side effects or overdose. “Plant-based medicines can be a great help for anxiety and other conditions that are aggravated by stress,” says Weisswasser.   


KAMU, a California wellness company that marries time-tested botanicals with cutting-edge science, created a new product to provide extra support during this unprecedented mental health crisis. Uplift is a plant-based formula that encourages a calm, peaceful mood and helps foster emotional resilience in the face of stress and uncertainty. 


“We expanded the KAMU product line to respond to the needs of the global community during this unique time we’re all living through,” says Robyn Caywood, chief science officer and lead formulator at KAMU. “Our bestseller has been Dream, a natural sleep aid, but we received a lot of requests for a daytime formula that promotes a balanced mood.” 


KAMU developed Uplift by drawing on the benefits of vitamins, botanicals and cannabinoids. The capsules are formulated to offer fast-acting benefits for immediate relief along with long-lasting, cumulative support for the body and brain. 


This simple yet effective formula contains ingredients long known to help the body cope with stress, depression and anxiety including: 


Saffron 

“Saffron, the stigma of the Crocus sativus flower, has been used for over 3,500 years in traditional medicine to support mental health,” says Caywood. A number of studies now validate saffron’s beneficial effect on depression. It elevates serotonin, dopamine and glutamate levels for improved mood and provides important antioxidants to protect brain neurons. Saffron also helps enhance memory and cognitive function, making it one of our most effective natural allies for supporting the health and well-being of our brains. 


Vitamin B-12

Vitamin B-12 is essential for supporting balance throughout the nervous system and boosting mood and memory. It’s an essential nutrient required by the brain to produce serotonin, one of the chemicals that regulate mood. “Vitamin B-12 is available in multiple forms,” says Caywood. “KAMU uses methylcobalamin because it's highly bioavailable, meaning your body can easily absorb it and put it to use.”   


Lion's Mane Mushroom

Research has found that lion's mane mushroom contains bioactive compounds that may protect against inflammation in the brain, reduce mild symptoms of anxiety and depression and repair nerve damage. “In herbalism, they talk about the Law of Signatures in which plants—or fungi, in this case—provide clues about their benefits in the way they look or grow,” says Caywood. “So it's no surprise this beautiful, brain-shaped mushroom has shown amazing promise in supporting brain health and cognitive function.” 


Lion’s mane contains two special compounds, hericenones and erinacines, that can stimulate the growth of brain cells. Animal studies have shown that lion's mane can also improve functioning of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for processing memories and emotional responses. 


L-theanine

L-theanine is an amino acid derived from green tea leaves. It has been widely studied and found to boost levels of GABA and other calming brain chemicals that work to regulate emotions, mood, concentration, alertness and other cognitive skills. “L-theanine also enhances alpha brain waves which are associated with wakeful relaxation. This is the state of mind created through meditation,” says Caywood.  


CBD & CBG

 

CBD & CBG work with your body’s Endocannabinoid System—an internal biological system that plays a role in regulating immune function, pain sensation, energy, mood, memory and more. It helps create a state of homeostasis, or balance, within the body. Cannabinoids, including CBD & CBG, interact with receptors in the Endocannabinoid System to help support that homeostasis. Since your body naturally produces its own cannabinoids, it’s perfectly set up to process CBD & CBG and take in its benefits. 


“CBD & CBG have a long list of potential therapeutic benefits including lowering anxiety, creating a sense of calm, reducing inflammation and nausea, supporting immune function and relieving pain,” says Caywood. “And no, they won’t make you high. That’s because they're derived from the hemp plant which contains very low levels of THC—the substance in marijuana that makes you feel high.”    



Despite all the challenges, there have been some silver linings to this strange era. Spending more time with family, working from home in the comfort of your pajamas and rediscovering outdoor activities come to mind. And for some, 2020 has also provided more time and space for reflection. “It has presented an opportunity for people to delve into their mental health in ways they may not have had time to before,” says Weisswasser. “People are turning inward and looking for therapies that promote wellness.” And at any time that’s a good thing.  

 


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