Staying Happy and Healthy

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Does your mood improve as the daylight increases?  Light therapy is a common treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that occurs in the autumn and winter seasons.  Now, scientists are studying the use of light therapy for other types of depression.  A small study done at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center tested the effects of bright light exposure as treatment for the depression phase of bipolar disorder.  The researchers found that light exposure at mid-day had the most promising results for improving depression symptoms.  However, the study only had nine participants, and the light treatment had to be adjusted for each individual, so it is unclear how these results might apply to the general population.

A traditional Chinese herb is also showing promise for treating depression, according to laboratory tests.  Researchers at Nanjing University gave Magnolia bark extracts to rats and found that the extracts had effects in the rats’ brains that were similar to those of anti-depressants. 

Magnolia bark (Hou Po) has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for digestive disorders and lung congestion.  It is also a chief ingredient in the classic TCM herbal formula Ban Xia Hou Po Tang, which is indicated to relieve the feeling of a lump in throat caused by pent-up emotions.  For more information on the therapeutic effects of Magnolia, see the Chinese Medicine News.

For reasons why staying happy may lead to better health, refer to my past blog entry: Keep Your Heart Happy This Valentine’s Day.

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