It's SAD's Law during Winter; Beat the Seasonal Blues with the Help of Mother Nature - and the Health Food Industry

By Young, Alison | Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), October 9, 1999 | Go to article overview

It's SAD's Law during Winter; Beat the Seasonal Blues with the Help of Mother Nature - and the Health Food Industry


Young, Alison, Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)


THE bikini is packed away, the suntan has faded, and it's not only your skin that's got a blue tinge.

The livin' might be easy in summertime, but from October to March in Scotland the livin' is definitely sneezy.

Cosy evenings curled up in front of the fire, a glass of wine in hand and the rain drumming on the windows can turn into damp squibs when that same rain goes on for weeks and weeks.

And by the time you've got your third dose of the cold - the average each person gets per year - you've had enough of romantic thundery skies.

Wintertime blues happen to around three-quarters of the population at some point, and a new term has been coined - Sub SAD.

Sub SAD is used to describe a mild form of the symptoms of SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, which include lethargy, listlessness and depression, thought to result from a lack of light during long dark winters.

Light treatment therapy is being widely used to alleviate many of these `winter blues', and there's many more products on the market which claim to help you avoid feeling like slitting your wrists by January.

With so many to choose from, what's the best bet to help keep your spirits up and your temperature down?

Because many therapies and herbal supplements are unlicensed owing to lack of clinical tests, it's really up to you to decide which one works. But some things have been proved almost beyond a doubt.

And it seems that mother did know best - chicken soup is just the business for colds. Chicken contains an amino acid called cysteine, and without going into lurid detail the effect helps clear your lungs.

And a patriotic bowl of porridge in the morning is still one of the best, if not the best- looking way to start the day - its slow release of energy keeps your blood sugar levels steady.

Most people know to knock back vitamin C when their system's down, and it's a fantastic anti- viral agent, but less are aware that vitamin A is also an important immune- boosting agent. Once again we're back to granny's medicine cabinet - you'll find it in cod liver oil, although I don't blame you if you don't look too hard.

But what of the more esoteric-sounding remedies which sound as if they might have come from Merlin's medicine cabinet? Does cat's claw actually work or would you be better with a hot toddy?

Agnes Adamson, manager of Holland and Barrett in Glasgow's Queen Street, admits there's about 15 different things she might recommend to keep you bouncing with health during the winter months, and it seems you can only experiment to find out what works for you. Echinacea has become very popular recently, apparently a great favourite among supermodels to counteract less healthy things they've used to boost their systems.

Native American Indians have used the herb for hundreds of years and it's claimed to have both antibacterial and antiviral properties. Agnes takes hers with Golden Seal root added, which acts as a decongestant.

"I'd also recommend people try Astragalus to boost the system, and Coenzyme Q10 to release energy from cells. And Royal Jelly contains a substance called HDA, believed to prevent infection."

If Echinacea is the new garlic, then should we swap?

Not if you know what's good for you. Research has shown that garlic is immune- boosting, antibiotic, an anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, a decongestant and can lower cholesterol and blood pressure. …

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