Rhodiola, frankincense and fruit, here are some of the tools we have at our disposal to counteract sadness, anxiety and depression, as emerges from three scientific studies. The first research, very recent, was published in the British Journal of Nutrition by a group of scientists from the United Kingdom of the College of Health and Life Sciences, Aston University (Tuck et al, BJN, 2022), the second was published in the journal Phytomedicine by an American team from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine (Mao et al, Phytomedicine, 2015) and the third appeared in the FASEB Journal thanks to the work of an Israeli team (Moussaieff et al, FASEB J, 2008 ).
Anxiety and depression are growing
Anxiety, but also sadness and depression are conditions that are observed more and more often, with an increase of 25%, according to scientists' estimates, following the COVID 19 pandemic. Anxiety and depression worsen the quality of life but also undermine health. In fact, as evidenced by scientific studies, depression can damage the cardiovascular system and can increase the risk of heart attack in the same way as high cholesterol and obesity (Ladwig et al, Atherosclerosis, 2017). For these conditions there are pharmacological treatments, which however are often abandoned due to the side effects that can occur and due to the fact that not everyone responds adequately to the therapies. For this reason, science is looking for natural, better tolerated alternatives that can help cope with anxiety and depression.
Fruit improves mental well-being
The first research we are talking about today was performed by an English team and analyzed the link between eating habits and mental well-being. What has emerged is that the greater the frequency with which fruit is consumed during the day, the lower the risk of developing mental illness, anxiety and depression. On the other hand, those who often indulge in unhealthy snacks, such as chips, show that they often have mental lapses during the day, forgetting, for example, the reason why they entered a room or where they put an object. Not only that, those who consume these unhealthy snacks more frequently also have an increase in stress and anxiety. It is believed that fruit, which is eaten raw and therefore preserves its maximum content of antioxidants and micronutrients, can act by supporting mental well-being.
Rhodiola acts as an antidepressant
The second research focused on the action of Rhodiola Rosea against anxiety and depression. The scientists recruited 57 volunteers, all adults diagnosed with depression. The study participants were divided into three groups, the first group was asked to take rhodiola extracts for 3 months, the second group sertraline, the active ingredient of some antidepressant drugs, and the third a placebo. What emerged was that those who had taken the antidepressant drug were about twice as likely to see their symptoms improve as those who had taken the placebo. But even those who took the rhodiola saw a reduction in symptoms, about 1.4 times, compared to those who took the placebo. However, those who took the drug were also twice as likely to experience side effects as those who took rhodiola. Therefore, rhodiola is a candidate to be an ally in the fight against depression, being beneficial in regulating mood and being more tolerated than drugs.
Incense to improve mood
The latest research, however, has shown that a substance contained in incense, called incensole acetate, activates processes in the brain, still little known, which counteract anxiety and depression. As suggested by the authors of the study, burning incense not only has a symbolic value handed down over the centuries but seems to be really beneficial on mood. However, always remember not to overdo it and air the house often!