A Functional Medicine Perspective on Balancing Your Mood

A-Functional-Medicine-Perspective-On-Balancing-Your-Mood

As a functional medicine practitioner, my approach to mental well-being extends beyond symptom management to address the root causes of imbalances. Stressors are everywhere today, and cultivating emotional resilience should be on everyone’s radar. 

In this guide, we’ll explore the science behind several key supplements renowned for their mood-balancing properties, empowering you to make informed choices on your journey toward emotional vitality and resilience.

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Magnesium Glycinate

Magnesium, an essential mineral involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body, plays a crucial role in mood regulation. Magnesium glycinate, a form of magnesium bound to glycine, offers enhanced bioavailability and absorption. Research suggests that magnesium supplementation may alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety by modulating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and reducing the release of stress hormones such as cortisol (1). 

Plus, magnesium glycinate promotes the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter that exerts calming effects on the central nervous system, which contributes to improved mood (2).

Be sure you’re aware of which type of magnesium you’re taking, because different types have various effects. 

CoQ10

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), a vital cofactor in mitochondrial energy production, also functions as a potent antioxidant in the brain. Studies indicate that CoQ10 supplementation may enhance mood and alleviate symptoms of depression by improving mitochondrial function and attenuating oxidative stress-induced damage to neuronal cells (3). 

Furthermore, CoQ10 has been shown to elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters crucial for regulating mood and emotional well-being, thereby promoting a more positive outlook (4).

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha, an adaptogenic herb revered in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, has gained recognition for its stress-relieving and mood-enhancing properties. Research suggests that ashwagandha supplementation may help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression by modulating the body's stress response system, reducing cortisol levels, and enhancing the activity of neurotransmitters such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and serotonin (5). 

Additionally, ashwagandha exhibits neuroprotective effects, safeguarding against the detrimental impact of chronic stress on brain function (6). It’s one of my absolute favorite adaptogens because there are so many benefits to taking ashwagandha

Inositol

Inositol, a naturally occurring compound belonging to the B-vitamin family, is involved in cellular signaling pathways and neurotransmitter function. Studies suggest that inositol supplementation may be beneficial for individuals experiencing mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder.

Inositol appears to modulate neurotransmitter signaling, particularly serotonin and dopamine, thereby exerting mood-stabilizing effects. Inositol's role in phosphatidylinositol signaling pathways may contribute to its therapeutic potential in mood regulation (7).

GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid)

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, plays a crucial role in promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety. While direct supplementation with GABA may have limited efficacy due to its inability to cross the blood-brain barrier effectively, compounds that enhance GABA activity indirectly, such as L-theanine, may offer mood-balancing benefits. 

L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, has been shown to increase levels of GABA in the brain, leading to reduced stress and improved mood (8). We’ll talk more about that one, too.

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Taurine

Taurine, a sulfur-containing amino acid abundant in the brain and nervous system, exhibits diverse physiological functions, including neurotransmitter modulation and antioxidant activity. 

Research suggests that taurine supplementation may exert anxiolytic and mood-stabilizing effects by enhancing GABAergic neurotransmission, promoting neurogenesis, and mitigating oxidative stress-induced damage (9). Furthermore, taurine's interactions with the glutamatergic system may contribute to its mood-balancing properties (10).

L-theanine

L-theanine, an amino acid primarily found in tea leaves, has garnered attention for its calming and mood-enhancing effects. By increasing alpha brain wave activity and modulating neurotransmitter levels, particularly serotonin, dopamine, and GABA, L-theanine promotes relaxation and attenuates stress responses (8). Additionally, L-theanine may enhance cognitive function and improve attention, further supporting emotional well-being (11).

How to Get Everything Your Body Needs to Elevate Your Mood

Supplementation with magnesium glycinate, CoQ10, ashwagandha, inositol, GABA, taurine, and L-theanine offers promising avenues for supporting mood balance and emotional resilience. But it’s not easy to have to take so many different supplements! 

I noticed my patients at the functional medicine telehealth center struggled with finding all the supplements they needed to balance their mood. That’s why I created the Mood Support Stack, which is a curated collection that contains every single beneficial supplement discussed in this article. 

When you get the Mood Support Stack, you know that you’ll get everything that you possibly can to support your emotional well-being. You can also choose from the individual supplements contained in the stack, if you prefer to try out one in particular. 

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References:

  1. Abbasi, B., Kimiagar, M., Sadeghniiat, K., Shirazi, M. M., Hedayati, M., & Rashidkhani, B. (2012). The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, 17(12), 1161–1169.
  2. Boyle, N. B., Lawton, C., & Dye, L. (2017). The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress—A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 9(5), 429.
  3. Sanoobar, M., Eghtesadi, S., Azimi, A., Khalili, M., Khodadadi, B., Jazayeri, S., Gohari, M. R., & Aryaeian, N. (2016). Coenzyme Q10 supplementation reduces oxidative stress and increases antioxidant enzyme activity in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. International Journal of Neuroscience, 126(8), 752–758.
  4. Forester, B. P., Harper, D. G., Georgakas, J., Ravichandran, C., & Madurai, N. (2012). Coenzyme Q10 Effects on Creatine Kinase Activity and Mood in Geriatric Bipolar Depression. Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology, 25(1), 43–50.
  5. Pratte, M. A., Nanavati, K. B., Young, V., & Morley, C. P. (2017). An Alternative Treatment for Anxiety: A Systematic Review of Human Trial Results Reported for the Ayurvedic Herb Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera). The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 23(12), 909–914.
  6. Wadhwa, R., Konar, A., Kaul, S. C., & Taira, K. (2016). Ashwagandha Reverses Alzheimer's Disease Pathology by Enhancing Low-Density Lipoprotein Receptor-Related Protein in Liver. Current Alzheimer Research, 13(3), 297–306.
  7. Levine, J. (1997). Controlled trials of inositol in psychiatry. European Neuropsychopharmacology, 7(2), 147–155.
  8. Kimura, K., Ozeki, M., Juneja, L. R., & Ohira, H. (2007). l-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses. Biological Psychology, 74(1), 39–45.
  9. El Idrissi, A., & Trenkner, E. (2004). Taurine as a modulator of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission. Neuroscience, 123(3), 695–701.
  10. Kong, W. M., Chik, Z., Ramachandra, M., & Subramaniam, U. (2019). Taurine in energy drinks and its cardiovascular effects. Austin Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 7(1), 1067.
  11. Higashiyama, A., Htay, H. H., Ozeki, M., Juneja, L. R., & Kapoor, M. P. (2011). Effects of l-theanine on attention and reaction time response. Journal of Functional Foods, 3(3), 171–178.

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The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.

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BY DR. WILL COLE

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Dr. Will Cole, DNM, IFMCP, DC is a leading functional medicine expert who consults people around the globe, starting one of the first functional medicine telehealth centers in the world. Named one of the top 50 functional and integrative doctors in the nation, Dr. Will Cole provides a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. He is the host of the popular The Art Of Being Well podcast and the New York Times bestselling author of Intuitive Fasting, Ketotarian, The Inflammation Spectrum and the brand new book Gut Feelings: Healing the Shame-Fueled Relationship Between What You Eat and How You Feel.

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Gut Feelings

Healing The Shame-Fueled Relationship
Between What You Eat And How You Feel