Pumpkin seeds: A way to scare off symptoms of anxiety and depression

Please enjoy this article that I wrote for Examiner.com! The original article may be found here.

According to many organic/natural websites and a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, one effective way to combat mood symptoms comes straight from the ol’ Jack-O-Lantern: Pumpkin seeds!

The seeds that come from pumpkins are packed with L-Tryptophan, which is an amino acid that is a precursor to Melatonin, which is essential for sleep. This is especially true for older folks, as Melatonin production decreases naturally over time in the body. The seeds also contain fats that covert to 5-HTP, which is metabolized into Serotonin. Many people who experience the symptoms of anxiety and/or depression have low Serotonin levels in their brains, which is often the root cause of the symptoms. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), also known as anti-depressants, help build up Serotonin levels in the synapses between neurons in the brain. Popular SSRIs on the market today include ProzacZoloftCelexaLexapro and Paxil.

For people who want to try a more natural approach to treatment, pumpkin seeds (as well as squash and other vegetables in the same category) may provide some symptom relief withoutthe use of SSRIs. The same mechanism is at work in the body with both SSRIs and many natural remedies, though the organic sources may be less potent and/or take longer to feel an effect. One important thing to be aware of is that if you are already taking an anti-depressant or anti-anxiety drug prescribed by your doctor, DO NOT add natural/organic remedies to your existing regimen without speaking with your doctor first. Too much Serotonin can be a badthing, leading to Serotonin Syndrome.

The benefits of pumpkin seeds don’t end there. The seeds are a natural anti-parasitic and are regularly used in China to kill tapeworms and roundworms. They contain Phytosterols, which protect the prostate and bladder, as well as add to heart health and may have preventative effects against many types of cancer. The Phytosterols can also help lower “bad” cholesterol. Pumpkin and its seeds have been labeled a “superfood,” along with blueberries, beans, broccoli, walnuts and more.

If you’re interested in trying pumpkin seeds as a natural treatment for anxiety and/or depression symptoms, the list below contains links to recipe websites, as well as links to pre-packaged pumpkin snack bars. Please talk to your doctor FIRST before trying any natural remedy, especially if you are already taking medication.

Enjoy scaring away your unwanted mood symptoms with pumpkin seeds!

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