How To Combat Postpartum Depression Naturally With Spices
Most think Postpartum Depression (PPD) to be some sort of mood swing hormonal changes in women after giving birth.
However, it is a bit deeper than just a mood swing. It’s a complex combination of emotional, physical, social and behavioural turmoil that goes within a woman’s body and mind especially after giving birth.
This happens because of the changes in a woman’s body, aka, the chemical and hormones factors which makes women a bit edgy about life with a newborn.
It is also important to point out that not all women suffer from PPD immediately after birth or may not suffer at all. The onset of PPD can occur between the early weeks after birth or within the first two years.
What Causes Postpartum Depression
To complicate matters further, it is difficult to set down the causes of PPD. Postpartum depression has many different forms and symptoms which affects different women in different ways.
For instance, a woman may find it difficult to manage the everyday stress of looking after a newborn making her feel frustrated and tired leading to PPD, for another, it may be more emotional such as lack of support from the partner or family, or loneliness.
Although the exact cause may not be precise; research and study suggest that the following factors may contribute to its onset:
One of the most common or studied causes of PPD which is relevant to all PPD suffers is the sudden changes in hormone during and post-delivery. The hormonal changes tend to decrease the flow of happy hormones or chemicals, which has a positive effect on our mood.
Life with a newborn demands a lot more of a new mother. This sudden lifestyle change from everyday routine can cause stress and lead to depression.
Being a new mother gives rise to various emotional feeling. You may feel happy and elated one moment and sad and weepy the next. This emotional turmoil impacts the behaviour of a new mother who is unable to deal with such range of emotions.
Having a newborn at home also means limited time for yourself and not much of social interactions especially in the first few weeks after birth. This can result in isolation and a feeling of loneliness.
Pregnancy puts a lot of pressure and brings about many changes in a woman’s body and health. There is a tendency to gain weight to support the growing foetus. Many find it difficult to return back to their pre-baby body and weight which causes a lack of self-worth and self-confidence.
Genetic and Medical Factors:
Studies have shown that there is a possible genetic factor in developing postpartum depression. If one or more of your family member has suffered from PPD in the past, the likelihood of you getting PPD becomes greater.
How to Overcome Postpartum Depression Naturally
PPD can be mild to moderate and requires dealing with either personally or with professional help.
As long as these symptoms are not too severe, requiring medical attention, they can be easily self-combated at home.
Taking medication to deal with PPD is perhaps not ideal especially if you are breastfeeding.
Our intake of food during breastfeeding days has a direct impact on the babies health and growth.
So why not make it a good experience for both the mother and the baby by simply changing what you eat for better health and happiness!
Spices are a great natural alternative to anti-depressant medicine and can help you overcome postpartum depression naturally. Many studies conducted by universities and scientists show that specific spices have mood enhancing benefits since it contains the feel-good chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins.
It is these chemicals especially serotonin which reducing during pregnancy. So by adding a teaspoon of this and a pinch of that you can naturally alleviate PPD symptoms.
Top 5 Mood Enhancing Spices
Saffron, one of the most expensive spices in the world. It is a popular Persian spice which has long been used in traditional Persian medicine as a mood enhancer.
It has antidepressant effects similar to those found in Prozac.
A study conducted on 60 new mothers by Researchers at Mashhad University of Medical Sciences concluded that consuming a small amount of saffron (15mg per day) helped in relieving Postpartum depression and mood.
Apart from being an anti-depressant, Saffron is said to have positive effect in treating other ailments such as sexual dysfunction (particularly in men), Alzheimer’s disease, menstrual cramp, anxiety and insomnia among many others.
Meal Ideas with Saffron
Saffron is a sweet smelling spice, often used to make rice dishes and desserts. You can add a few strands to most dairy based dishes either sweet or savoury.
Try making a saffron risotto or paella with added chicken or fish.
You can also add few strands of saffron to normal mayonnaise or cream and use it as a dip or sauce base for pasta or with baked potato.
Add few strand to warm milk with honey and you have a soothing warm saffron drink!
Have you noticed just how burning a cinnamon apple scented candle at home lifts your mood!?
According to new studies, cinnamon is said to help in maintaining dopamine and manganese levels, an important chemical that carries signals between nerves and brain.
This aids other cognitive functions such as sleeping, movement, feeling of anxiousness, attention and also learning. All of which gets impacted after childbirth.
Dopamine helps to remove bacteria from the gut which often is the cause of irritability and bad mood. Manganese, a mineral found in abundance in Cinnamon helps to keep depression and anxiety under control.
Meal Ideas with Cinnamon
Add ½ tsp of cinnamon powder to your hot chocolate or coffee.
Make a fresh fruit breakfast parfait with cinnamon powder on top or fruit salad with orange juice and cinnamon
Throw in a stick of Cinnamon when you make soup, broths or stews
Add cinnamon powder with other spices and make a rub or marinade for meat.
Cardamom is a fresh warming aromatic spice, with a subtle citrus undertone.
It’s extensively used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines.
Similar to cinnamon, the strong aroma of cardamom pods has a therapeutic effect on mind and hence acts as a mood enhancer!
The manganese content in cardamom is the largest making it a favourable anti-depressant spice. It’s a great spice to add to your meals when you feel overwhelmed or just a bit low.
Meal Ideas with Cardamom
Break a few pods of cardamom into boiling milk and make cardamom milk or cardamom tea when you are in need of instant energy and mood lift!
Add cardamom powder to plain vanilla ice cream, top with nuts and fruits and treat yourself to a healthy sundae.
Add with other spices and make rubs.
Add whole cardamoms to rice and make an aromatic cardamom rice to go with any curry.
Nutmeg is an aromatic seed covered by an outer layering popularly known as mace flower!
It is used in many culinary preparations for a spicy-sweet, sensual flavour. It can be used to make both sweet and savoury dishes.
It is believed that Nutmeg has anti-depressant quality due to the presence of Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOI). MAOI stops the breakdown of enzymes like dopamine, serotonin and others. This helps to maintain the level of happy enzymes and improve mood, concentration and positive drive.
Meal Ideas with Nutmeg
Add a pinch of nutmeg to French toast.
A dash of nutmeg to a glass of hot rum, cola or wine gives the drink a very energizing taste
Make banana or any fruit smoothie with a pinch of nutmeg
Add it with other spices such as cumin, cinnamon, cloves and turn it into an instant mood enhancing spice blend for curries and marinades.
Turmeric is the golden spice which gives Indian curries its characteristic yellow colour.
It is considered one the most popular and healthy spices with many medicinal properties primarily due to the curcuminoid content in it.
The presence of curcumin reduces depressive symptoms. Curcumin is one of the best anti-inflammatory nutrients in the world which has mood-lifting benefits.
Inflammation in the brain can cause high levels of oxidative stress, and stressed nerve signals. The anti-inflammatory properties of Turmeric address the root causes of depression hence making it easier for suffers to combat depression related syndromes
Meal Ideas with Turmeric
Turmeric milk is perhaps the most popular, easiest and fastest way to consume turmeric. Add a tsp of turmeric powder to warm milk, add honey and drink it as a soothing before bedtime drink.
Add turmeric to any curries, thick soups for the added colour and benefit.
Make aromatic colourful yellow rice with turmeric, cardamom and cumin seeds.
Add it to scrambled eggs, roast vegetables or even noodles.
Having a new born is exciting while challenging at the same time. Each day comes with its own little surprises. Some we coo on and some we cry about!
If its mostly the latter that you find yourself doing most, then its time to ask for help.
Other than calling for emotional support you can start self-helping yourself by making slight alternations to your spice cabinet.
Consuming spices reacts with the receptors in the tongue that sends messages to your brain causing it to trigger the release of the happy endorphins hormones.
Take to nature when you nurture!
BIO : Sunrita Dutta is the blogger at www.spiceitupp.com
Here at Mummy It’s OK we always recommend getting professional help for Postpartum Depression. If you would like to treat your postpartum depression naturally rather than with prescription drugs – we still recommend that you speak to your health care professional first.