“The dead of the winter”
It is a quote we use often but forget the depths of it’s meaning. The themes for this time of year include the array of experiences in an inner, contracted, cold, dead, and depending where you live – challenging phase.
What is Seasonal Depression?
As the weather changes, up to 10% of people living in northern latitudes will be categorized as depressed. Considered an independent disorder, seasonal depression is a box given to people who report feeling sluggish, have difficulty concentrating, crave carbs, and withdraw from social activities a.k.a “Hibernating”.
Risk factors for seasonal depression include living far from the equator, having a history of depression, and being female! As women are four times more likely to be diagnosed with seasonal depression than men – and then put on antidepressants to mask these symptoms.
Our society fails to recognize the cyclical nature of life that was celebrated for centuries by our tribal ancestors. What if we begin to recognize that the universe is governed by cycles: within the day, within the month, and within the year? Amazingly, even our bodies are governed by cycles. You’ve likely heard of circadian rhythms, the idea that our hormones and blood pressure fluctuate in harmony with the sun, and women’s cycles align with the moon. Maintenance of these cycles is so important that their disruption can lead to neurodegenerative diseases and mood disorders like depression.
This goes even deeper as our individual cells operate in a cyclical nature as well, where recent studies have shown that our immunity is different depending on the time of day; a wound at night heals slower than a daytime wound. It’s also key to note that thyroid functioning also slows in the winter, which is not a pathology – just a response to the season.
Recognizing that winter is just part of the cycle, can we reframe our experience of this season? What if we considered winter as a sacred time of hibernation and preparation for the rebirth of spring?
Little do we know, if we can be constructive in this time, finding beauty in it, we can use this phase to charge up what we want to birth out in the spring. In order for us to use this time wisely it is important that we are feeling our very best!
Below you will find my recommendations for helping to manage seasonal affective disorder (NOTE* this information is not intended as medical advice and should not be interpreted as such) allowing for balance in times when our tendency is to go to the dark side. By making sure that you are well nourished and you have all your mineral levels on point you will raise your vibration and begin to embrace the cycle of winter.
I want to start by saying that I wish we didn’t need to supplement but truth be told, we are living in a toxic world that depletes our bodies. We are living domesticated lives, where we do not connect to the earth’s healing energies and elements as much as needed. Spending most of our time indoors, wearing shoes, breathing and eating toxins – this all takes a toll. Unless we live on a beach exposing ourselves to spectrums of sunlight, and are outside all day eating foods grown from nutrient dense uncontaminated soils then we need to replenish what is lost, and that is where supplements come to the rescue!
#1. Sungaze and get outside. The eyes need to drink in the full spectrum of sunlight each day! Sunlight activates our pineal gland, which is connected to the hypothalamus, where the sun-energy triggers vital magnetic, electrical, and chemical reactions in the human body. Don’t stare directly into the sun midday, only as it rises and sets (an hour after sunrise/ within the hour of sunset.) Science proves that sunlight stimulates the production of serotonin (the neurotransmitter that promotes well-being), and melatonin (a hormone that promotes calmness). Even if the sky is clouded over, light is still nourishing you with essential vitamins which leads me to the next tip.
#2. Vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D is not your typical vitamin. Dubbed as the sunshine vitamin, that’s best obtained through safe sun exposure, not through fortified foods like milk! When sunshine is lacking, it’s crucial to be taking a Vitamin D supplement. It is a vital nutrient that provides a wide range of health benefits, which help you combat different types of infections and diseases. It has been found to affect the expression of almost 3,000 different genes and is critical for good overall health. It impacts not only our skeletal structure, but also our blood pressure, immunity, mood, brain and nervous system function, and regulating cell growth and for healthy cell-to-cell communication. With that said, a deficiency in it makes you vulnerable to feeling low.
I use a really cool product from Living Libations that allows me to obtain the Vitamin D transdermally through a cream. Transdermal (topical) application is one of the best ways of administering substances quickly and effectively because it allows absorption directly through the skin!
#3. Activated B Complex. B vitamins are important for your brain, nervous system and immune function, energy production, cell metabolism, organ and tissue health and much more. It’s one of the basic building blocks of life. And it’s one of the all-star antidepressants. Specifically, We all need vitamin B12 to make red blood cells and nerve cell membranes and to regulate the expression of our DNA and multiple other brain and body-based functions. It protects the brain and nervous system, regulates rest and mood cycles, and keeps the immune system functioning properly. A severe deficiency can lead not only to deep depression, paranoia and delusions, and memory loss, but also incontinence, the loss of taste and smell, and, eventually, physical brain shrinkage and dementia. I prefer this product in liquid form, and I take it at the same time as my D3/K2 drops on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.
#4. Detox Minerals: Magnesium, Selenium, Zinc, and Iodine. Virtually everyone living in the 21st century has a toxic load as a result of more than 80,000 chemicals we are exposed to. If we are deficient in minerals our body will be seriously limited in it’s ability to remove these toxins. In synergy, these minerals will work as powerful antioxidants and help to neutralize the harmful effects of toxins while optimizing your brain, heart, and thyroid health.
I personally recommend this product Liquid Light, Not only does it contain the minerals listed above but it also have other very important trace elements and detoxifying minerals. In addition you can simply start with Magnesium, by getting it into your body via taking a bath with Epsom Salts.
#6. Evening Primrose Oil. Extracted from the seeds of it’s namesake wildflower, Evening Primrose offers a rich source of Omega-6 fatty acids, specifically the anti-inflammatory omega-6 gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is hard to come by in the diet alone. This flower has been used for the past nearly 100 years to address various health conditions, from premenstrual syndrome, and menopausal symptoms to rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, neurological disorders to brittle hair and nails, and eczema. Make sure the supplement is certified organic and is high quality.
#7. Grandmas favourite medicine. Used in the fuel for lamps, tanning of hides, liquid soaps, and most importantly as food and therapy Cod Liver Oil from Atlantic cod has helped humankind for centuries! Contains naturally occurring vitamins A and D, it is also a very rich source of the omega fatty acids EPA and DHA. It cures vitamin D deficiency and it’s horrid consequences at the extreme: Rickets! My favourite company that makes a clean Cod Liver Oil supplement is Green Pastures.
#8. SAMe. Approved as a nutraceutical since the 1990s and prescribed in Europe for depression for three decades, SAMe has a time-tested proven efficacy for depression and anxiety. A naturally occurring molecule synthesized by the one-carbon cycle that is dependant on B12 and folate, it is a precursor to many key biomolecules including creatine, phosphatidylcholine, co-enzyme Q10, carnation, and myelin. All of these chemicals in the body play a role in pain, depression, liver disease, and other conditions. Look for capsules that are enteric coated and packaged into a blister pack.
#9. L-Theanine. I call this substance “Meditation”, found primarily in tea this calming amino acid can promote alpha wave brain production, which can reduce anxiety and support a relaxed but focused mind-set. You can get it in capsule form but my favourite source is in Matcha tea. I love whipping up one of my infamous potions and dosing it nicely with Matcha as the centrepiece.
#10. N-Acetyl Cysteine. Replenishing intracellular levels of the natural antioxidant glutathione (GSH), NAC helps to restore the ability of cells to fight damage from free radicals. It has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and to be effective for treating compulsive disorders. Don’t be fooled by it’s name, which sounds chemical and unnatural, N-acetyl Cysteine is a slightly modified version of the sulfur containing amino acid cysteine. I like the brand Pure Encapsulations for this product.
#11. Rhodiola. This adaptogenic herb grows at high altitudes in arctic areas of Europe and Asia. Appropriately called Arctic root or Golden root, Rhodiola rosea acts in nonspecific ways to increase resistance to stress without disrupting normal biological functions. Increasing athletic and sexual energy, evidence also suggests that this antioxidant boosts immune function. Multiple studies have been shown that Rhodiola is effective in improving the conditions of patients with anxiety and depression. I love taking Rhodiola in tincture or powder form in my potions, you may prefer it in capsule form for easy dosing.
#12. Turmeric. There are more than 7 thousand published studies that explore the efficacy of curcumin, which is the most active polyphenol in the Indian spice Turmeric. I truly consider this root nature’s gift to us, not only is it highly anti-inflammatory it also a potent anti-oxidant, neuroprotective agent, hormone and neurochemical modulator, and a general friend to our genome. You can cook with it to get it into your diet, however I love juicing it with cucumber, celery, lemons, ginger, and topping it with a sprinkle of black pepper. It’s available in supplement form for those who would rather the convenience.
I truly hope you found this list resourceful, I was struggling so deeply years ago after a concussion left me in a manic state back in 2016. Having battled with depression time to time most of my life, my concussion took it to the next level. I truly thought I was losing my mind, and it frustrated me greatly as I was someone who had studied nutrition and was been using nutrition therapy as a means to keep my symptoms at bay, and couldn’t seem to receive relief of any kind after my head injury. Going on medication was not an option for me, because I know in my heart how nature is the greatest healer of all. But even at this time, it felt like nature was failing me, and from time to time we really need a little extra help from supplements.
This information comes from a deep place of walking in the shoes of someone who lived with what felt like a terrifying psychiatric condition. I know what it’s like to feel completely at wits end and suicidal – but it was this protocol in combination with other therapies that sincerely changed my life. My one wish is that you will employ these powerful supplements, in combination with living a most naturalistic life.
I offer personal sessions and programs in addition to help guide those to a safe place of radiant health and healing for those with depression and mental conditions. If you are someone who suffers from Seasonal Depression, or any mental conditions of any kind please take this advice and share this article with your loved ones or those you know who are struggling – it can save a life!
To your Radiant and Warm Winter,
Marina Love is an Alchemist and Purveyor of Transformation. Being a leader in the fields of Holistic Healing, Nutrition, Herbalism, Longevity, Beauty, Entrepreneurship & Personal/Spiritual Development. Marina studied extensively with The BodyMind Institute and various private programs and individuals to acquire authentic knowledge and wisdom. Marina offers Goddess Circles, Cacao Ceremonies and Individual therapy sessions & Programs in addition to her projects Goddesspreneur Academy, Love Movement, House of Aphrodisia and Guiltless Chocolates/Beyond Desserts. Her heart’s mission is to return humanity from headless living into heart harmony based conscious living for the freedom, expansion, and sustainability of the greater good.