The postpartum fix every woman needs to know about

If you’re pregnant or you know anyone who is, you’re not going to want to miss what I have to tell you today.

And even if you’re not in the baby-making stage of life, this message will resonate with you if you’re prone to bouts of the blues. And let’s face it — that’s all of us. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t feel down from time to time. But all too often, people have unhealthy ways of dealing with the blues when they creep in — whether it’s overeating or alcohol or street drugs. (Or even antidepressants, which are notorious for their negative side effects.)

I always wonder…If people knew about the natural, safe, proven ways to help with depression, would they fall into these dependent and destructive patterns? I doubt it. Which is why I’m always eager to share studies like this one.

This study looked specifically at women who had just given birth — a population prone to mood problems ranging from the “baby blues” to full-blown postpartum psychosis. At the milder end of the spectrum is what’s called PPB, or postpartum blues.

Women with PPB experience low mood, crying jags, exhaustion, insomnia, anxiety, and poor appetite. It affects three out of four women in the week after childbirth, usually peaking on day 5 and resolving within 10 days.

The reason for these mood swings is that soon after giving birth, women have a surge in the binding of monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) in the parts of the brain that control mood. If MAO-A sounds familiar, that’s because it was the target of early antidepressants. That’s how closely linked it is with depression.

This study looked at a natural approach to heading off PPB. It included 41 women, 21 of whom were given a supplement kit and a control group of 20 of whom received no treatment (the control group). On the evening of day 3 and the morning of day 4, the women in the supplement group drank a blueberry juice/extract drink, presumably for the antioxidants.

On the evening of day 4 postpartum, the women in the supplement group took 2 grams of the amino acid L-tryptophan, which is known to help people fall asleep. Then on the morning of day 5, they took 10 grams of L-tyrosine, an amino acid that helps people deal with stressful events.

On day 5, when PPB usually peaks, the women in both groups rated their mood. Those in the treatment group reported that they were in a far better mood than the women in the control group. Which suggests that the supplement combination was effective at preventing PPB.

One weakness of the study was that the control group wasn’t given a placebo. So it’s impossible to know if the women in the treatment group were really reacting to the supplements or if they were just experiencing the placebo effect.

But given what I know about amino acids, I lean toward believing that the supplements really helped. After all, lack of sleep and stress are both off the charts in the first week with a new baby. Why wouldn’t remedies that are proven to help those two things help improve mood?

Of course, new mothers aren’t the only people dealing with stress and insomnia. Which is why I think this study is promising for other populations as well. I use these amino acids often in my practice for these exact reasons.

The more I read about amino acids, the more I’m convinced that they’re essential for everyone. They truly are nature’s building blocks in more ways than one — the cornerstones of good health at every level.

In fact, if you’ve read the A-List Diet, by now you know that getting just the right amounts of the right amino acids for your body is essential to good health. (And if you haven’t read the A-List Diet yet, what are you waiting for? Get your copy here.)