It’s December again, and the world is just as fucked as ever. Possibly slightly more, possibly slightly less. I guess it’s easy to lose track of these things without an ordered list to tell you what to think.Having been precariously perched on the 2015 bar stool for quite some time now, we’ll soon be staring down the menacing barrel of 2016. So how best to celebrate yet another successful orbit around the Sun?
We thought about publishing an objectively correct ranking of the year’s best records. But sadly we couldn’t get hold of any doof doof scientists to determine what the metrics should be. Instead, we’ve fallen back on our Top 8 Whatevers. You know the score – our trusted team of R$N scribes pitch in with lists of music they’ve enjoyed, petty grievances they want to air, obscure interests they want to highlight. Basically whatever’s on their mind. Let’s do this. Here's Tonya's Top 8 potions of 2015:
SICK NOTE FROM AIDEN
So as I’m a slave to the sale shoppers at the mo, I ain’t even had time for rack raid, let alone submit a Ransom Note Top 8. Not wanting to let the side down, I’ve got the Mrs (Tonya) to compile one instead as when I’m busy being a house harlot or vinyl vulture thankfully she has her own obsession – holistic health. I don’t know what she’s goin’ on about half the time but trust me she has become a holistic health hotline helping others and I ain’t had a day off work sick for about 8 years, so gotta be her influence. I’ll hand you over to the med marvel...
TONYA: As we approach the period when seasonal affective disorder (SAD) peaks and the excesses of Christmas and New Year leave us a little lack lustre, I thought this was the ideal time to look at ‘Whassup?’ and how we can ease ourselves into a brighter mind set with the aid of some of my favourite mood-enhancing supplements.
A magnesium deficiency can be responsible for a wide range of issues such as depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, migraine, muscle cramps and fibromyalgia. It’s estimated that 80% of the population are magnesium deficient. Magnesium is needed as a co-factor for 700-800 enzymatic reactions in the body, which means it serves hundreds of essential functions in the body. Our modern day lifestyles are responsible for the chronic depletion of magnesium, stress, sugar, caffeine, and many prescription drugs all burn magnesium at such a rate we are unable to replenish our stores. Calcium is also an antagonist to magnesium and with a diet rich in dairy produce our ratio of calcium to magnesium is often far too high. Many health food shops and online resources insist that magnesium should be taking in combination with calcium at a ratio of 2:1 calcium to magnesium; this doesn’t however take into account our all ready high dietary intake of calcium and our modern day magnesium burn rate. The best magnesium product I have found to date (and trust me I have tried every form and many brands) is Remag. It’s a highly absorbable ionic form of magnesium which is easy to take and doesn’t cause loose bowels like some of the other lesser forms. There are only two stockists of this US product in the UK. For me it enables me to deal with stress much more efficiently, it gives me the space to reflect from a calm and centred space. This is the one product I recommend to all of my family and friends. In turn friends have come back to me to say they have recommended it to their work colleagues and family, to make their life easier of course.
If you research SAMe online you’ll find a mixed bag of reviews ranging from ecstatic praise to cautionary tales; there is a really valid reason for this. Neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine are produced in the body by a process called methylation. Due to expressing copies of certain genes linked to methylation, some people can be overmethylators or undermethlaytors. When we are balanced and healthy we are normal methylators. According to research by Carl Pfeiffer, 45% of the population are under-methylators and 15% are over-methylators. If you happen to be an overmethylator, taking SAMe could result in a negative experience, you could potentially produce too many neurotransmitters, resulting in anxiety or agitation. If you are an undermethylator however, SAMe could well be the missing link to a happier existence. For me I can only describe it as awakening the best version of myself, on the days I’ve taken it Aiden has made comments such as ‘you’re perky today’. A friend said recently ‘I love it... I wouldn't want to be without it. It's the difference between feeling like I'm wading through mud and feeling light and optimistic’. I have found the quality of SAMe to vary greatly and have heard many reports of some brands not making the grade. Look for brands which are filler free to ensure the highest possible quality. Personally I cannot fault the Seeking Health brand.
B6 & ZINC
B6 and zinc is an important co-factor in the methylation cycle. It’s the methylation cycle that produces all of the feel good neurotransmitters. Many people can be low in these important co-factors, especially those with a condition called pyroluria. It’s thought that 10% of the population have this condition. Some of the common symptoms of someone with pyroluria are a poor tolerance to stress, quick to anger, mood swings, anxiety, sensitivities to sound, light and touch and depression. It has also been linked to conditions such as ADHD, bipolar disorders and autism. I’m sure we all know someone who fits this profile. You can be tested for this condition with a Kryptopyrrole urine test through a holistic practitioner. This test measures the level of Kryptopyrrole in the urine, a high kryptopyrrole result or elevated pyrroles (as it’s also known) results in a severe deficiency in B6 and zinc which in turn impacts on methylation and the production of all important neurotransmitters. A highly available form of zinc is zinc picolinate and the best form of B6 is P5P, which is an active form of B6 which your body can fully utilise.
The BeCalm spray has been developed by Dr Amy Yasko who has expertise in biochemistry, molecular biology and biotechnology. It is a propriety blend which lists GABA as its top ingredient. GABA is a calming neurotransmitter which is low in people with a B6 and zinc deficiency. I’ve found it to be an excellent rescue remedy during periods of stress, such as exposure to neurotoxins. It has an instant calming effect and its effects are long lasting. If you are one of those people who react negatively to MSG or aspartame (both of which are excitotoxins and excite the brain cells to death), you are mostly likely low on GABA but also magnesium which binds to the GABA receptors and increases its effect. Ultimately you should remove all forms of MSG or aspartame from your diet, but there are occasions when with the best will in the world, exposure to these neurotoxins is unavoidable. The negative effects that can be negated are migraine, depression, insomnia and anxiety.
A more recent addition to my regime, Niacinamide is proving to be subtly beneficial. For a long time I was wary of it taking it as my focus initially was to increase methylation. Niacin puts the breaks on methylation, which is very beneficial if an individual is overmethylating (presenting as anxiety or irritability) as it will have a calming effect. However an individual is undermethylating niacin could cause an adverse reaction. Up to 50% of the population carry at least one copy of the gene MTHFR. Expressing copies of MTHFR mean that methylation (our way of producing neutrotransmitters) is compromised. Individuals with expressing copies of MTHFR A1298C have particular issues with producing BH4 (Tetrahydrobiopterin). Niacin can be used to recycle BH4 which in turn aids the production of serotonin and dopamine. Interestingly, niacin can be derived from L-Trytophan, so if you are deficient in niacin your body will use L-Trytophan to make niacin instead of serotonin. By providing the body with niacin you are conserving your stores of L-Trytophan so that they can be used for serotonin. The best form of niacin to take is Niacinamide, which is non-flushing. Plain old niacin can create an almighty flush, which although harmless is seriously unpleasant.
I’ve been using 5-HTP on and off for more than 10 years now. Having spent the past 18 months researching methylation I’ve since found more effective ways to boost serotonin but it’s still a helpful addition in my mood arsenal. 5-HTP is an amino acid involved in converting the amino acid L-Tryptophan into serotonin; serotonin is needed to produce melatonin which allows us to sleep. If you want a fast, safe route to creating serotonin, 5-HTP can do this effectively and comparatively to prescription antidepressants such as fluoxetine (Prozac) without the serious side effects.
I don’t currently take Inositol but I have heard many great reports on it's use. It facilitates communication between the neurons, enabling neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and GABA to work their magic. It has been shown to be effective for panic disorder in a placebo-controlled study and can be effective in treating anxiety and OCD. Definitely worth a shot if any of these symptoms are an issue.