Best Food for Antidepressant-Induced Sexual Dysfunction

Best Food for Antidepressant-Induced Sexual Dysfunction
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The spice saffron may not only work as well as SSRI antidepressant drugs like Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft without the side effects; they may be able to even treat the adverse sexual side effects that occur in up to 70% of people taking them.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

What’s the latest on treating depression with the spice saffron? Years ago, I covered this head-to-head comparison of saffron versus Prozac for the treatment of depression; it seemed to work just as well. In the years since, there’s been five other studies that found that saffron beat out placebo or rivaled antidepressant medications.

It may be the red pigment in the spice, called crocin, since it alone beat out placebo as an adjunct treatment, significantly decreasing symptoms of depression, symptoms of anxiety, and general psychological distress—perhaps in its antioxidant role “preventing free radical-induced damage in the brain.” The amount of crocin they used was equivalent to about a half-teaspoon of saffron a day.

If the spice works as well as the drugs, one could argue that the spice wins, since it doesn’t cause sexual dysfunction in the majority of men and women, like most prescribed antidepressants do—with drugs like Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft causing “adverse sexual side effects” in about 70% of people taking them. Physicians not only significantly underestimate the occurrence of side effects; they “tend…to underrate” how much they impact the lives of their patients.

Not only is this not a problem with saffron, the spice may even be able to treat it. “In folk medicine, there’s a widely held belief that saffron might have aphrodisiac effects.” So, men with Prozac-induced sexual impairment were randomized to saffron or placebo for a month. And, by week four, saffron resulted in significantly “greater improvement in erectile function…and intercourse satisfaction.” More than half of the men in the saffron group regained normal function. They conclude that “[s]affron is…[an] efficacious treatment for [Prozac]-related erectile dysfunction”—and, female sexual dysfunction as well.

Female sexual function increased by week four, “improv[ing] some of the [Prozac]-induced sexual problems, but not others. So better, perhaps, to try saffron in the first place for the depression, and avoid developing these problems, since sometimes they can persist even after stopping the drugs, potentially worsening one’s long-term depression prognosis.

This includes unusual side effects such as “genital anaesthesia”—where you literally lose sensation. It can happen in men and women. More rarely, antidepressants can induce a condition called restless genital syndrome. You’ve heard of restless legs syndrome? Well, this is restless between-the-legs syndrome. These PSSDs, these Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunctions—meaning dysfunctions that appear or persist after stopping taking these antidepressants—can be so serious that “[p]rescribing physicians should mention the…danger of,” for example, the risk of genital…anesthesia [for] every patient prior to [starting them on the drugs].” If you’re on one of these drugs, did your doctor warn you about that?

All hope is not lost, though. Evidently, “[p]enile anesthesia…responds to low-power laser irradiation.” After 20 laser treatments to his penis, one man who lost his penile sensation thanks to the drug Paxil partially regained his “touch and temperature sensation.” However, he still couldn’t perform to his girlfriend’s satisfaction, and she ended up evidently leaving him over it, which probably didn’t help his mood any. But, before you feel too bad for him, compare a little penile light therapy to clitoridectomy—clitoris removal surgery—or another Paxil-related case, where a woman’s symptoms only improved after six courses of electroshock therapy.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Icons created by Yazmin Alanis from the Noun Project.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

What’s the latest on treating depression with the spice saffron? Years ago, I covered this head-to-head comparison of saffron versus Prozac for the treatment of depression; it seemed to work just as well. In the years since, there’s been five other studies that found that saffron beat out placebo or rivaled antidepressant medications.

It may be the red pigment in the spice, called crocin, since it alone beat out placebo as an adjunct treatment, significantly decreasing symptoms of depression, symptoms of anxiety, and general psychological distress—perhaps in its antioxidant role “preventing free radical-induced damage in the brain.” The amount of crocin they used was equivalent to about a half-teaspoon of saffron a day.

If the spice works as well as the drugs, one could argue that the spice wins, since it doesn’t cause sexual dysfunction in the majority of men and women, like most prescribed antidepressants do—with drugs like Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft causing “adverse sexual side effects” in about 70% of people taking them. Physicians not only significantly underestimate the occurrence of side effects; they “tend…to underrate” how much they impact the lives of their patients.

Not only is this not a problem with saffron, the spice may even be able to treat it. “In folk medicine, there’s a widely held belief that saffron might have aphrodisiac effects.” So, men with Prozac-induced sexual impairment were randomized to saffron or placebo for a month. And, by week four, saffron resulted in significantly “greater improvement in erectile function…and intercourse satisfaction.” More than half of the men in the saffron group regained normal function. They conclude that “[s]affron is…[an] efficacious treatment for [Prozac]-related erectile dysfunction”—and, female sexual dysfunction as well.

Female sexual function increased by week four, “improv[ing] some of the [Prozac]-induced sexual problems, but not others. So better, perhaps, to try saffron in the first place for the depression, and avoid developing these problems, since sometimes they can persist even after stopping the drugs, potentially worsening one’s long-term depression prognosis.

This includes unusual side effects such as “genital anaesthesia”—where you literally lose sensation. It can happen in men and women. More rarely, antidepressants can induce a condition called restless genital syndrome. You’ve heard of restless legs syndrome? Well, this is restless between-the-legs syndrome. These PSSDs, these Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunctions—meaning dysfunctions that appear or persist after stopping taking these antidepressants—can be so serious that “[p]rescribing physicians should mention the…danger of,” for example, the risk of genital…anesthesia [for] every patient prior to [starting them on the drugs].” If you’re on one of these drugs, did your doctor warn you about that?

All hope is not lost, though. Evidently, “[p]enile anesthesia…responds to low-power laser irradiation.” After 20 laser treatments to his penis, one man who lost his penile sensation thanks to the drug Paxil partially regained his “touch and temperature sensation.” However, he still couldn’t perform to his girlfriend’s satisfaction, and she ended up evidently leaving him over it, which probably didn’t help his mood any. But, before you feel too bad for him, compare a little penile light therapy to clitoridectomy—clitoris removal surgery—or another Paxil-related case, where a woman’s symptoms only improved after six courses of electroshock therapy.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Icons created by Yazmin Alanis from the Noun Project.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Doctor's Note

Pass the paella!

I touched on the spice before in Saffron vs. Prozac and Saffron for the Treatment of PMS.  Updating to add: After this video was released, I put out another one on the spice—Saffron for Erectile Dysfunction

Those drug side-effects sound devastating, but depression is no walk in the park. But, when one balances risk and benefit, one assumes that there’s actually benefits. That’s why the shocking science I explored in Do Antidepressant Drugs Really Work? is so important.

What else may boost mood? A healthy diet and exercise:

For more on sexual health generally, see:

What else can spices do? Here’s just a taste:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

96 responses to “Best Food for Antidepressant-Induced Sexual Dysfunction

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    1. Hi Kevin, I am one of the volunteer moderator at the website. Thanks for your question about saffron and general mood. Firstly, I like to say thank you to Dr Greger for this great video about the power of saffron. As I have been brought up using this magic spice in our Persian cuisine! This is a spice that is studied in Iran quite a lot as Iran is one of the best producer of saffron. I would say that it does have a mood enhancer effect but only a small amount should be consumed like all other spices that have beneficial aspects to health. The way we use it is to crush a few strands in mortar and pestle and add some water and that brings out the components much more and then add to your food for example rice or stews or soups or smoothies and desserts. I hope this is useful to you.
      I refer you to this study that shows the incidence rates for Alzheimer’s disease is much higher in the US and European nations than in East Asia [103,104]. The study shows consumption of certain spices such as turmeric and saffron in East Asia could be a contributing factor to lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in East Asia.
      Vitamin E, Turmeric and Saffron in Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease




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  1. I read something about saffron a few months ago and started taking it to insure good sleep. I bought some pills and some to cook with. I was very surprised when the amount for cooking was like a few small strands… and they were expensive. Being obviously worth more than their weight in gold, I just keep it in the cabinet, untouched.

    I cannot imagine taking a half teaspoon a day due to the cost.

    I do however, take the pill form but I’m guessing there’s not much saffron inside as the pills are affordable. I take it at night before retiring along with a 5-htp capsule, an ashwagandha capsule, white willow bark and magnesium. I sleep very well and wake up rested.




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        1. I really don’t have a recipe. It’s just me playing around in the kitchen. I sautee some chopped garlic & onions (using Dr. G’s hack & hold method) with a few strands of saffron in some low sodium vegetable broth and add it to some mashed up potatoes (I prefer them with skins). The amount of vegetable broth depends on how thick you like your mashed potatoes. To make them a little creamier, you can add a little almond milk or cashew cream. For a different flavor, I will sometimes bake the potatoes rather than boil them.




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  2. I agree. It is very expensive. Unless we are missing something. Is there a specific saffron supplement that would be ok to take that is more affordable?




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    1. Rachel: I doubt it. And you never know whether or not you’re actually getting any saffron at all. Supplement companies are not regulated, so they can claim there’s saffron in there, but we have no way of knowing if there’s as much as they say or even if there’s any at all. They may even contain dangerous compounds.

      Here’s a video Dr. G did black raspberry supplements: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/black-raspberry-supplements-put-to-the-test/




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    2. Hi Rachel,
      I am one of the volunteer moderators at the website. Thanks for your question. I agree that is an expensive spice. One only need a strand or two when adding to cooking. There are some on the market that comes from Spain or Turkey that are cheaper. The other alternative cheaper beneficial spice would be turmeric! As it has been covered by Dr Greger regarding Turmeric benefits. It is sometimes used instead of expensive saffron in some Middle Eastern cuisines.




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    3. Hey Rachel, I find my saffron from local markets like Buy Low. These are markets in the Hispanic neighborhoods. The produce and herbs sold there are inexpensive and just as good of a quality.




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  3. Because harvesting saffron is very labor intensive, it is terribly expensive. But often compounds found in one plant are found in others. An example is evening primrose oil, which is more expensive than the same oil when taken from borage. Has anybody searched the botanical world to discover the same active compound that is in saffron in another, more easily grown and processed plant?




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    1. Crocin is apparently also present in the fruit of Gardenia jasminoides (cape jasmine). I don’t know about actually eating them (safety, availability), but the crocin supplement makers might be using them.




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      1. I contacted one of the crocin supplement manufacturers and asked them how they keep the price so low and the rep said they do it by buying in bulk and using a grade that is different from the type sold as a spice to consumers. I picked that particular brand since they don’t add in any artificial colors.




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  4. Thank you Dr Greger for showing studies and issues for both men and women. I don’t see too many studies on women’s sexual (or otherwise) issues, so it was refreshing to see your balanced approach. Thank you from all the women of the world!




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  5. Where in the Dell do you find all these goofy human syndromes? Restless penile syndrome? What? Is your penis wandering around at night? Is it smacking you on your chest? (I wish for me.) Restless clitorial syndrome???! This is the strangest thing I have ever heard of. However, by using Chiropractic Manipulation Techniques, I believe I can cure these afflicted sufferers. The treatment process involves oral, manual (even toes!) along with penile manipulation; i.e. Massage. While I make no claims as to permanent abatement, I feel confident that my methods will, at least, provide a temporary relief. One must keep in mind, more sessions may be required, possibly involving Anal Massage.




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  6. Well, from what I understand, this is one time medication cost is way lower than the cost of the natural alternative.

    I was on anti depressants for over 10 years and they helped till they didn’t. But can you write a prescription for saffron, and where would you get it filled.

    Hmm just $3000 am oz. guess I’m going to have to remain depressed.




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    1. The supplement 5HTP or the amino acid, L Tryptophan, cleared my lifelong depression. I haven’t taken them regularly for years, but now and then I find myself feeling depressed and weepy, so I take one or the other for a day or two and the gray clouds disperse.

      Maybe it’s the placebo effect. Maybe not. Either way, it works for me.
      Before learning about 5HTP, which is a precursor to serotonin, I had been depressed as long as I can remember. Not down in the dumps as much as having the least little thing bringing on tears. Now I rarely cry.

      My paternal grandmother appears to have been chronically depressed. She had good reason to be sad after her husband and baby died on the same day in the 1918 flu epidemic, but she never seemed to get out of that mode even though she lived many more years. My sister, who eats a cruddy, meat-centric diet, has taken anti-depressants for years. So I do think there is probably some unexplored genetic component to depression. Or maybe it was just eating a SAD diet, which wasn’t nearly as SAD in my grandmother’s time as it is today.




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    2. Hi David Armstrong,
      I am one of the volunteer moderators at the website. Thanks for your comment. I just wanted to point out that all the power of food as medicine that Dr Greger is providing us is great to empower us to help us improve our health. Here is a practical way to use Saffron. One only need to use a small amount a strand or two and then crush it with mortar and pestle and add water and it goes a long way. You can keep this mixture and put it in a glass jar and use it for a few days. I wish you happy healthy long life.




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  7. Iranian saffron listed at $142/oz. Taking ‘one tsp’ /day would rack up quite a bill, I’m guessing. The supplement pills seem cheap enough, no idea if they will compare with the studies, since the data on sources and costs are not presented.




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    1. Hi Bob Luhrs,
      I am one of the volunteer moderators at the website. I am quite familiar with this spice as we have used it in our Persian cuisine as long as I remember. I would like to point out that one only need a strand or two.I would say roughly there are about 560 strands in a gram. So the way it is sold is in a small box of 1 gram or 2 gram and that goes a long way. I hope this information is useful to you.




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        1. Thank whoever it was who posted the name of the nursery where the saffron crocus can be ordered. After reading about them I realized they’re the same autumn crocus that many people grow in this area! I think I’m going to see if I can harvest some next fall from a neighbor down the street.




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  8. Check this out…. I am following the diet from the daily dozen app, I’m doing pretty good. But when I inserted my foods in cron-o-meter a few thing came to light, I am not getting enough vitamin B3 (niacin) (80%) and vitamin B5 (pantothnic acid) (70%) despite drinking coffee and having all the food groups covered in the daily dozen! And even if I would add 5 grams of spirulina to a shake, it would be insufficient… do you think I should take a supplement? Next problem was the fat ratio between omega 3 and omega 6. I am not getting enough omega 6. Cron-o-meter does count the ALA from the broken flax seeds as omega 3, and offcourse the daily omega 3 supplement that is recommended by Dr. Gregor tips the balance. It feels weird to have to add some spoons off calorie dense oil just to tip the balance and have a good omega 3 – omega 6 ratio. Any thoughts on this?




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    1. ALA should count as omega-3. I heard it is “not efficiently” converted to DHA/EPA active omega-3 but there should have been some estimate included in cronometer. Vegans supposedly have serum levels of omega-3 similar to others.




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      1. Thank you for the reply’s, it would be nice to know a good, yet healthy way to get more omega 6 in my diet, without adding more omega 3 to the picture. So anyways, nutritional yeast was indeed the next best thing on my mind to raise my B vitamins. And when I put just a little dose nutritional yeast in cron-o-meter the B vitamins go off the chart. So I was pleased to see this until I grabbed my own brand and went over the label. I live in Europe, the brands of nutritional yeast in my country come from The Netherlands or from Germany and the amounts of B vitamins are like nihil compared to the brands in America. They would only add like a couple off percent to the amounts, not nearly enough. So I guess these vitamins are added to the nutritional yeast in the USA to fortify them and this is done a little less in the European brands. This helps me to change my aversion to supplementing B vitamins in pill form because it is similiar as “fortifying” the foodstuff. So long story short, I think this B-shortage thing should be adressed more by Dr. Gregor and at least mentioned in his recommendation page during the next update. I eat the daily dozen, I eat mushrooms and add spirulina and nutritional yeast and drink coffee and yet there is insufficient in the diet, so there you have it.




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        1. You are correct, Bragg’s is fortified, so it is like taking a supplement. What’s nice though is that Dr Greger / Nutritionfacts looked into lead contamination in nutritional yeast, and Bragg’s provided them with a certificate of analysis:
          “My favorite response was from Bragg’s, who sent me the analysis certificate from the lab showing less than 0.01 ppm, which means at most less than half the California standard, which I believe is the most stringent in the world.”
          https://nutritionfacts.org/video/nutritional-yeast-to-prevent-the-common-cold/

          On the other hand, Bragg’s has a lot of riboflavin (as do a lot of B-complex supplements and multivitamins) and that may not be a good thing since high riboflavin is linked to genome instability:
          https://academic.oup.com/carcin/article/26/5/991/2390856/Low-intake-of-calcium-folate-nicotinic-acid
          I recall reading about the Okinawans generally having very low riboflavin levels, to the point of cracks at the corners of the mouth being common.

          On the other hand, I feel niacin is very important and it is hard to come by without eating animal products. I take nicotinamide riboside (NR) daily; I highly recommend it (along with blueberries or pterostilbene) but it is a bit pricey and I’m not sure if it will help with all functions of niacin (NR is meant to boost NAD+ levels). Niacin supplement capsules are always megadoses. I have pure niacinamide* powder that I use to make skin serums; it is food grade and I could use it to make a niacinamide solution in water that I could measure out by the drop. I think I may also do that with vitamin C (since you don’t want too much at a time or per day) and perhaps B5 and B6. I buy my supplements from what I believe to be reputable sources and hope for the best as far as contaminants are concerned.

          *note that some people say niacinamide is a SIRT1 inhibitor and should be avoided for that reason




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          1. CD,

            As I was reading your last paragraph I thought momentarily that it was written by me, because I take Nicotinamide Riboside daily as well.

            But I also take the flushing kind of Niacin by adding the powder to different foods and drinks. I drink or eat just enough to give me a noticeable flush on my face numerous times a day or evening. I find that especially useful around bedtime as it often causes me to nod off.

            Had not heard about any concerns of any of the Niacins being a SIRT1 inhibitor… actually thought it was the opposite and that Niacin (like NR) was a SIRT1 activator that produced either NADH or NAD+ (can’t remember which) but don’t have a link to support that, off hand.




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            1. I think the flush type (nicotinic acid) would probably be a better bet; I should probably do that instead (but more stuff in my supplement cupboard!). Also, it seems as though sometimes my cholesterol levels get too low (slow wound healing), so I might not need that effect.

              You are correct in that NR is supposed to up SIRT1 activity by increasing NAD+. I think it is only niacinamide that may be a SIRT1 inhibitor (but it might be an activator in some situations) even though it ups NAD+. Nicotinic acid also ups NAD+, but not nearly as much as NR or niacinamide. I will probably try nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) when it becomes available.

              Niacin also induces PPAR activity; I’m not sure which form is more effective, but I’ve read that that’s likely how niacinamide helps with sun damaged skin.




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              1. CD, there are few supplements recommended by most plant based doctors, like Drs Greger, Esselstyn, McDougall, etc. If you eat a wide variety of plant foods, including beans, whole intact grains, greens, other veggies and fruits, you don’t need to worry so much about the details.

                Many supplements have a detrimental effect, because they throw the balance off. It’s much better to get your nutrients from food.

                I didn’t always believe this, and over a lifetime I’ve taken tons of supplements, but I’m done with that now. I take D3, K2, magnesium, and not a lot else. I wish I had all the $$$ I’ve spent on supplements over the last 50 years!

                Look to the Blue Zones books to find that the healthiest, longest living people on Earth don’t take supplements. They eat natural food, lots of beans, grains, sweet potatoes, and veggies they grow.




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              2. Just thought of a couple of personal anecdotes in re: Niacin. Before I began taking the Nicotinamide Riboside, I took capsules of Niacin often. One incident I remember vividly was when I was walking to the house and stepped in a hole hidden by grass, and turned my ankle.

                At that time, Niacin was my treatment for everything so I limped on to the house and downed a Niacin. (One thing I have noticed is if you have an injury for the Niacin to go to, you don’t flush as much) Almost immediately my rolled ankle was back to normal and I continued with what I was doing, giving the incident no thought.

                Another such incident was when I went to the dentist to have a tooth pulled. The tooth was so lodged in my jawbone that the dentist had to put a knee on my chest and pull with the pliers to get it out. I had a 60 mile drive back home and on the way I took a Niacin.

                Two days later I was back at the same dentist office as I had taken my mother for an appointment. When the dentist saw me he immediately came over and asked me how I was doing and I said “fine, as if it had never happened.” He looked into my mouth and was amazed at the level of normalcy in the place where the stubborn tooth had been.

                Like I have said, I still take small amounts of Niacin most of the time but not all the time. But I do keep a bottle of dissolved Niacin to use topically for anything including a cut or insect bite or sting. For me anyway, the minor pain or discomfort goes away and the bite, sting or cut is forgotten.




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                  1. As I look back on it, surprising too.

                    Surprising because I don’t remember reading where Niacin is an anti-inflammatory, especially with the flushing of the skin, yet in the two cases I mentioned anti-inflammatory is the apparent outcome of taking it.




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          2. Thank you once again for the suggestions. I guess I will start supplementing these 2 B vitamins just like I do with B12. Never thought about getting the pure vitamin powders, this will really be convenient for fine tuning. I know these minor defficiencies are not the worst thing in the world but if you give credit to something as the triage theory for example, it would possibly make a bit more sense. I also looked into nicotinamide riboside and if I had the spare money laying around I would defenitly get some. CD if you would like to contact me my email is zesduizend@gmail.com it would be interesting to learn more about your fridge / supplement cupboard :-)




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            1. Hi Netgogate, I sent you an email with the subject line ‘my supplement cupboard’ detailing what I take/eat but not much on the whys, but with recommendations on more knowledgeable people to follow* (well, one person in particular). HTH.

              *I don’t mean follow as in stalk or follow blindly, just as in read their posts and give them particular consideration




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        2. Raw sunflower seeds are very high in omega-6s and low in omega-3s and are high in vitamin E, B6, folate, thiamine, and niacin, with modest amounts of B5. When buying you have to make sure they are fresh and not rancid or moldy.




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    2. Hi Netgogate, it sounds like you’re doing very well and I congratulate you for that.

      I’m not sure if your concerns reflect real issues that have any impact on your health, but since you are concerned: don’t forget that different foods within the “food groups” can be higher in some nutrients and lower in others. One food that will easily up both your niacin and pantothenic acid intake is mushrooms. One cup of “Mushrooms, cooked from fresh”, according to Cronometer, provides only 43.7 calories, as well as 43% and 67% of the RDA of niacin and p. acid, respectively. I presume that refers to the common button mushrooms, but I’m not sure. Anyway, mushrooms are recommended for many reasons: https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/mushrooms/

      As to not getting enough omega 6, I’m wondering how that might happen. Do you consume the recommended quarter cup of nuts and seeds a day? Even a quarter cup of walnuts covers you easily in terms of omega 6. There is no reason to worry about Omega 6 to 3 ratio, as long as you’re getting enough of both, especially if you’re taking an EPA/DHA supplement.

      Hope this helps!




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      1. Netgogate is concerned because there are some (okay, Barry Sears) who theorize that there is an optimal ratio of omega 3 to 6 which will produce an optimal balance of eicosanoids in the body. Some of the ones that are considered to be pro-inflammatory are actually important for wound healing. I mentioned above that sometimes I have difficulty with wound healing and that it may be due to low cholesterol; another theory I had was that it was due to an imbalance in prostaglandins / eicosanoids.

        Probably not something to worry too much about, but I, and I suspect others, find this sort of fine-tuning of nutrition to be an interesting pastime which occasionally results in surprising health effects.




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          1. I take a zinc supp ;)

            Note that the blue zones populations do include small amounts of animal products in their diets.

            I think we are just starting to understand the role of micronutrients in health. Things might get a bit clearer in future when we can perform better biochemical testing and relevant genetic testing. It would be nice if the government spent more (a lot more) money on basic nutrition research.

            I very much appreciate what Dr. Greger and Nutritionfacts have done to raise awareness of the importance of diet and nutrition to health and hope that this will lead to greater public support for research.




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            1. CD, I do recognize that most of the Blue Zones people eat small amounts of animal protein. However, those Seventh Day Adventists who ate no animal products at all were healthiest of the various subgroups studied within their larger group.

              I doubt if very small amounts of animal protein would harm most people, though cancer patients would do better without it. But after going off all animal protein I find it unpleasant to be around the sights and smells of meat and fish, and TV ads showing huge pieces of meat are quite repellant.




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  9. Does american saffron have the same qualities as european or turkish ones? I know that we have to be careful about cinnamon, so I was wondering if you have any counsels about saffron. Thanks in advance.




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    1. Hi Louiselle Paquin,
      Thanks for your question. I am one of the volunteer moderators at this website. The American saffron is also referred to safflower, Carthamus “This plant is not in any way related to Saffron, though the flowers are used similarly. (It largely replaces the use of Saffron owing to the large price of the latter.) … Another common use of Safflower is in adulterating Saffron.”
      Yellow Saffron, also called American Saffron and Safflower, Edgar Cayce recommended




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  10. I have been wanted to try saffron but the spice is expensive. The cheapest I have found is around $60 an ounce. With a dose of 1/2 teaspoon a day which is 2.845 grams, that is $5.68 a day. I suppose if you compare to prescription drugs that is a deal. But as a general additive to your diet it adds up.

    Anyone know is there are less expensive places to obtain saffron?




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    1. Maybe you could grow your own saffron crocuses. Does anybody know anything about that? Where they can be grown, how to harvest the little stamens, etc? I suppose Mama Google can tell me. She knows everything!




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    2. To everyone who has concerns about the cost of saffron etc, I looked at the sources given, and found that mostly 30 mg per day for a period of 6 to 8 weeks was used. That means that a small box of spanish saffron weighing two grams would last 66 days or 2 months. You can get 2 grams for just over $20 or check around for what is available in your local stores. Ten dollars per month is very reasonable.

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4994794/?report=classic This link is good.. its a summary of the canadian guidelines for evidence based natural health remedies for depression. Check out Table 3 for a quick overview. I was not surprised to see St John’s Wort discussed but I was to see favorable comments on L- Carnitine. I would be more inclined to try the saffron though.




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  11. I started growing saffron crocus last fall so am able to harvest my own. It is a autumn blooming crocus and you can order bulbs on line. You get three strands from each blossom. I’ve been ordering Crocus Sativus from whiteflowerfarm.com in Connecticut. phone 1-800-503-9624




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    1. Thanks for the link. Just ordered the minimum order of 25… if they all produce that should give me 75 strands to last a year. ‘-)




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  12. this seems fake ,every time i see reports about some miracle food or supplement i always wonder . what else are these people eating or doing?
    are they already getting exercise , healthy food and social interactions?
    most people who are depressed that i have meet fail in basic healthy living lifestyle .
    i’ll put saffron right along side raspberry ketones and green coffee beans for weight loss solutions , that is in my junk drawer.




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    1. Being a skeptic is a good thing, and you are right to question what other things may be at play.

      Close-minded is another thing. You seem to be discounting anything you are skeptical about.

      I think we can all benefit from the experience of others even in cases when their experiences seem counter to one another. When that happens, you just gotta go with your gut and pick a side. ‘-)




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  13. Where is the cheapest place online to purchase quality saffron? Fairway in Douglaston Queens sells saffron but it is quite expensive.What is the proper dose,or maybe I should ask how many strands should one have daily? What is the quickest easiest way to ingest saffron, i.e., mixing with potatoes ? Some very basic wfpb recipes including saffron would be helpful, but would that provide sufficient saffron to be efficacious? What vegan dishes improve with addition of saffron, i.e.,chili, stews, soups, paella, or simply adding to grains and beans and vegetables? Thanks!




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  14. I would like to try Saffron to get off Paxil. How much do I need to consume to get the effect? Is just a few strands daily going to be enough or do I need to consume the amount in the study?




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    1. buttonhut, it would be nice if you could work with the right kind of doctor to get off Paxil. It would probably be something to wean yourself off slowly, rather than go cold turkey, especially if you’ve been taking it for very long.




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  15. Off topic: I am trying to build a good amount of muscle on a healthy vegan diet, and I am. According to the workout program I am following, an main target for muscle building is to produce testosterone by activating the mTor pathway through eating a lot of protein (one gram per pound of bodyweight), but I do not know what to do since activating mTor causes aging, can lead to cancer, acne (I have minor acne), and more. I am currently eating about 140 grams of protein and 3,600 calories per day. I use rice and pea protein powder. I really want to build muscle and be as healthy as I can, but it seems like those don’t go together…




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  16. Hi Duvy,

    I am a volunteer for Dr. Greger. Thanks so much for your question.

    Check out this video on plant-based diets and muscle-building: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/plant-based-bodybuilding/. While this topic has never been directly tested in any studies, there may not be as much of a difference in muscle growth as one would think.

    Many plant-based body builders claim that they recover faster and have more energy for workouts than before being plant-based. If you’re eating a balanced diet with beans, grains, nuts/seeds, etc., you will be getting plenty of protein.

    I hope this helps, and best of luck!




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  17. Dr. Gregor, could you please do a video on dietary interventions for helping with stuttering? Or maybe any interventions with stuttering in general? There is strikingly scarce amount of information available, and you are such an excellent orator!




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  18. Dr G is the best best. I share his videos wth patients all the time….

    But this belaboring of rare complications of antidepressants could have some unintended consequences. These are lifesaving medications at times even if they are overused.




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  19. This is off the subject, but I feel that it is very important to everyone and that is the ketogenic diet. First of all I am totally against the ketogenic diet, I subscribe to a whole plant food diet, but, what concerns me is the spread in the belief that a ketogenic diet is the most healthful diet available. Mercola has written a book about it, and many people are taking it up. A friend my mine who believes in a whole plant food diet is stymied because friends of hers are eating a ketogenic diet and are saying that it ha lowered their blood pressure to normal values and has given them a lot of energy, and they have lost weight. I just can’t believe that. These people are eating BACON, butter, eggs, and other fatty foods. There is no way this is going to improve blood pressure. These foods are going to clog up their arteries with fat. My question is, how it is that people are saying that the ketogenic diet is helping them….to me this goes against all of the scientific studies that Dr. Greger has been showing us. These people are either fibbing or just not realizing the danger they are putting themselves in. The fat you eat is the fat you will wear. I suspect also, that some of these people who are boasting about the ketogenic diet are also trying to get others to join some kind of keotgenic diet MLM. What are your thoughts, and have you also run into this latest fad?




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    1. John, I think you are drawing conclusions about your friends that are based on your bias.

      So allow me to promote my bias, which is in favor of the ketogenic diet (that is, for me… not suggesting it is the be all do all for everyone.)

      And the way I will promote it is by addressing the blood pressure issue. The last few years I have cut out red meat except for some pulled pork on occasion, but continued eating chicken and salmon.

      I have been a proponent of 3 to 4 day fasting for a number of years and if you aren’t familiar with that, it switches your body over to burning fat rather than glucose. I would feel like my well being improved after one of these fasts and decided to continue with having my body burn ketone bodies instead of reverting back to being glucose fueled.

      Here’s the thing… for the longest my first blood pressure reading in my doctor’s office would be above 140 on the systolic, high 80s or low 90s on the diastolic. Another reading or two would put it in the 130s over the high 80s.

      Just before getting on the internet and reading your post I took my blood pressure. I have been working outside in the garden and even though the morning is a cool one (around 80 degrees) I expected my BP to be in the high 120s and mid 80s. Imagine my surprise when my first reading was 116 over 77. Then my second reading was 111 over 71. But my third reading was 101 over 69!!

      To be fair, there is more at play here than a loosely termed ketogenic diet as I do not measure this or that food or fat, so I never get the same amount of anything day after day. And I have for the past few weeks eaten a rather sparse amount of a set number of foods with only an occasional tin of kipper snacks (herring filets) with some liquid turmeric and black pepper plus tabasco sauce on them as a meat source.

      I ensure I get some ginger, turmeric, cinnamon plus an extensive array of supplements every day. Watermelon from the fridge has also been my go-to cool-down snack on local high temperature hot days which have been often above 100 degrees. And yes, I do sprinkle a little salt on the melon to enhance the flavor.

      Oh, almost forgot… in March of this year I participated in a patient funded study of receiving 7 units of young persons’ plasma, so that could also be a factor. But I think my normal regimen would have brought down my BP even without the young plasma intervention.




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      1. Forgot to mention, I don’t weigh or measure myself so the only yardstick I can use as to any weight loss is that I can once again wear Bluebell Wrangler jeans that I wore more than thirty years ago and some shirts I wore only a few months ago are very loose fitting now. (Yes, I’ve kept perfectly good jeans for more than thirty years… I’m not a clothes horse so did not need the closet space. ‘-)




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      2. Lonie,

        Your reply to my “alarmist” e-mail is very interesting. I liked your reply a lot.

        Your approach to diet is centered around fasting. Yes, I think you are right.

        If you are fasting 3 days a week, you can probably moderately eat some eggs,

        meat, cheese, and do well. Fasting is a very powerful tool. I do not have the

        right environment to fast because I would have to be living in solitude with no

        outside forces tempting me to eat from family and friends. But, Mercola who is

        a big proponent of the ketogenic diet does not mention fasting. His approach is

        for people to eat meat, eggs, cheese, and drink milk everyday. To me that

        is a formula for a heart attack. Keep posting, I would like to follow your

        progress. Your post was very interesting to me because you are on a track

        that is quite different from mine.




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        1. I better understand your concerns for your friends now, and agree they should not consider a ketogenic diet as freedom to eat any fat they choose. For me, healthy fats are the only way to experience a ketogenic diet. And even as you suggest doing a fast for 3 days of a week could allow one to eat unhealthy the rest of the week, well maybe, but that would not be o.k. for me.

          My own fasting regimen was holidays… that is, when others feast, I fast. And yes, it is difficult to go to a family gathering and not eat but I have found that if I take my camera(s) and make a record of the get-together I stay busy and family does not continually bombard me with “are you sure you don’t want something to eat?”

          Here’s a link to one of those video results:

          This is an excerpt I decided to use as an opener for an investor meeting of potential backers for a script I’m ready to shoot. Don’t forget to click on the speaker icon for sound.

          After getting the plasma transfusion I mentioned earlier, I have not fasted except I just don’t eat as much. Not intended as caloric restriction but may be playing out that way unintentionally.

          But with the young plasma in my veins, I felt I should get enough nutrition (as opposed to calories) to assist the new young proteins to act upon my hematopoietic (blood) stem cells to repair and/or regenerate my various organs that may or may not be in disrepair.




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          1. Lonie,

            This is very interesting about getting young plasma.

            It seems like I read in one of Mercola’s newsletters

            that he talked about young plasma. This sounds

            expensive. I don’t think Obamacare is going to pay

            for it. Ha ha ha… I’ll take a look at your video

            of the meeting. I am also a videographer.




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            1. *I’ll take a look at your video *

              * of the meeting. I am also a videographer.* Good to know. Let me know your thoughts on the little 1 minute video…
              Good or bad.




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    2. John,

      Back in the 1970s, long before I knew better, I went on Dr Atkin’s ketogenic diet. It did help me lose weight and I had lots of energy and felt great, except for the constipation. People can feel better in the short term, though not all do. I think I felt good because the diet excluded some items I was unknowingly allergic to.

      But there are no studies showing that it is a good idea to do long term. It is NOT a lifestyle without the consequences you mention: clogged arteries, heart attacks, strokes, cancer stimulation, and diabetes, to name a few.

      There are lots of valid studies showing that you are right. Dr Atkins died 60 or so pounds overweight and with heart disease, as his post mortem report showed. This was published in the NY Times, The Wall Street Journal, and by Dr Neal Barnard of Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). The next paragraph is from the NY Times.

      The latest twist is the publication in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday of details from Dr. Atkins’s confidential medical report. The report concludes that Dr. Atkins, 72, had a history of heart attack and congestive heart failure and notes that he weighed 258 pounds at death.

      D​ r Neal Barnard has a talk about low carb diets on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0C6ps5H5Z4

      ​It’s sad when people​ think only in terms of losing weight, instead of considering the long term negative health consequences or, in the case of a whole food plant only diet, the positive health consequences.




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      1. Thank you for your informative response. I am alarmed at the

        number of people jumping on the ketogenic diet proclaimed by

        Mercola. I guess Mercola is the new Dr. Atkins. The bottom line

        is that the longest lived group of people are the Seventh Day Adventist

        in Loma Linda, California. They are vegetarian, and many of them

        are at a higher level of eating a whole plant food based diet. I look

        to those statistics instead of relying on “the feel good” Mercola plan

        of getting into a ketogenic diet. I subscribe to Mercola’s newsletter

        and he has mentioned in the past several times that he eats

        a bunch of raw eggs in his blender everyday. He has never told us

        what his cholesterol levels are. I think if a person is going to

        proclaim any kind of diet and right books about it they should

        be obligated to show us what their lipid levels are, and other

        vital blood work. By the way, has Dr. Greger ever revealed

        to his listening audience what his lipid levels are?




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        1. John, don’t take my following comments as criticism of your comments. It’s just that in reading your post some things come to mind from my own experience that may be relevant in the debate.

          First of all, being Dr. does not necessarily equate to wise. Case in point was my first experience with a Dr. when trying to get my plasma infusion (cited in a recent post in this thread.) The California Dr. refused to give me the treatment citing my ketone bodies and glucose levels. I tried to explain to him about being on a ketogenic diet for a number of years but all he could think about was ketoacidosis and how getting the treatment might kill me and stop the study. Duh… this was just plasma. I assured him I was not going to die.

          To top it all off, the old gentleman., who was probably 20 years my junior, had to use a walker to get around and would run out of breath even during a short trip to his outer office. When I returned home I immediately told the person running the trial that he had better get a back-up plan because I wasn’t sure his California clinic Dr. would be around at the end.

          He did get another clinic involved, in Tampa this time, and I went there and got the treatment without a hitch. All I’m sayin’ is that equating a Dr.’s health with a treatment isn’t a good test of the treatment.

          And something that keeps gnawing at me when the Loma Linda Adventists are referred to as longest living because of their diet, I wonder if their religion is controlled for. That is, being religious is sometimes considered a factor in living longer. How much does diet contribute and how much does religious demeanor add?

          I would like to see non-vegan Adventists compared to non-vegan Christians, Muslims, Jews Buddhists as well as agnostics to determine how each group fared when compared to one another.




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          1. I don’t think organized religion plays to much of a factor

            in health or longevity. However, the power of faith or belief

            can play a significant role in health. I know many fervent

            Christians who were models of holiness who died young from

            serious diseases.

            I was at your FaceBook page and I noticed that you

            graduated from Angelo State University. I graduated

            from Angelo State University in 1971 with a major

            in English and a minor in German and psychology.

            Dr. Tetzloff was a really good German teacher.

            He passed several years back from cancer.




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            1. Interesting! I was there for a second stint in 1968 after coming back from ‘Nam. Somehow I just didn’t feel like I belonged so I dropped out. I think I was classified as a junior at the time majoring in either English or journalism… something that didn’t require math. ‘-)

              German and psychology, eh? So I guess you could have refereed a debate between Jung and Freud had they been contemporaries. ‘-) Who knows, if they had been plant based eaters, maybe they would still be around today?

              See how I cleverly steered the conversation back on topic so as to avert a reprimand from a moderator? ‘-)




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            2. Also intended to mention that my thinking vis a vis the religion aspect of health is the shared community of the followers, more than the religiosity aspect.




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  20. Thank you, Dr, Greger, for this new great video.

    Saffron has been found to be beneficial to the eyes too.
    In the UK, the company Persavita manufactures and markets Saffron 20/20, a formula said to be protective of the macular pigment.




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    1. I want to use the saffron, but I can only seem to find it in threads and very expensive for a small amount. Does anyone know how to determine how to take the threads and convert to a half a teaspoon per day? Any help or guidance will be most appreciated.




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  21. Hi Jesse: this is Dr. Daniela Sozanski PhD Natural Medicine and Moderator with Nutrition facts: you can start with 30 mg/day and monitor the effects, though 80+ mg capsules are available on the market and seem safe; it would probably take a while to see results; the study mentioned in one of the videos https://nutritionfacts.org/video/saffron-vs-prozac/, used saffron capsules. As I cannot promote any particular supplier, but I can mention the fact that any product containing a standardized extract of 0.3% safranal (the active component) may be the right thing.
    On an additional note, please keep in mind that anxiety is a serious condition which can be managed holistically; there are techniques and best practices available that could go a long way to help, including a healthy diet, at appropriate times during the day and physical exercise.
    I hope this helps, Daniela




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    1. Hey thanks Daniela I’ll definitely give that a try my anxiety is so intense that I can’t even do simple things without having a panic attack or having other symptoms like depersonalization do you have any suggestions to what I can do for this I’ve been struggling for 7 years




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      1. Hi Jesse, this is Dr. Sozanski PhD, Moderator with Nutritionfacts: 7 years is a long time and I cannot even begin to imagine what you are going thru. This is not simple matter. I would look at this holistically. Your mind, your body. If your spirituality is strong, bring it in too for help. I am sure you are working with a specialist and by now you should understand if this is a matter of psychology and/or related to other disorders, such as heart or lung disease, and/or if it is getting exacerbated by other conditions such as PMS, hypoglycemia, depression or alcoholism. Diet and lifestyle are important too: a balanced diet, with plenty of vegetables, without processed foods like flour and sugars, with little or no caffeine or alcohol needs to be considered. Also focused interventions such as saffron and other herbs/supplements. All this has to complement your current medication if any. Also, plenty of exercise has a vast capacity to defuse the episodes. And then there are techniques to take control of the anxiety attacks, in which new pathways are established in the brain thru new habits. One needs to identify whatever has the capacity to calm him/her down and use it all the time. Breathing techniques, deep muscle relaxation, imagery… learn what works best for you.
        Most importantly, try to do something that Mother Teresa said: fight for something good, not against something evil…. so you can prepare to feel safe in a situation and enjoy it instead of preparing to fight the anxiety usually associated with this particular moment. There are many tutorials teaching how to stay aware of your symptoms, accept them instead of fighting them and then be prepared to take supportive action. Every facet needs to be addressed and every trick employed to get over this.
        I hope this helps.




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        1. Hey doctor I am presently on a whole food vegan diet just plants and I’m exercising 2 hours a day also I meditate when it gets bad it’s been helping a little but I’ve only been at this for 4 days now thanks for your help




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