Lowdown & Pick-Me-Up

Lowdown & Pick-Me-Up

“It’s not good to have high levels of hostility, anger and depression.”

That irrefutable no-brainer comes from Dr. Stephen H. Boyle of Duke University Medical Center, who shared his observation with Reuters Health. Dr. Boyle recently led a study that may have uncovered the biological mechanism that links these volatile emotional states with an increased risk of heart disease.

Another study, reported just one day after the Duke research, offers a potential remedy for those lowdown moods.

The flame game

How does a prolonged state of anger or depression damage the heart? That’s a question researchers have been asking for years, with plenty of theories, but no clear answers.

Dr. Boyle’s team set out to determine if a troubled mind might trigger the type of inflammation that takes a toll on the heart and blood vessels. In a cohort of more than 300 healthy middle-age men, the Duke researchers monitored levels of two key inflammation markers known as C3 and C4. C3 has been linked to higher risk of heart disease and diabetes. All of the men were enrolled in the Air Force Health Study – a research project designed to monitor the long-range effects of Agent Orange.

In each subject, the two inflammation markers were measured in 1992, 1997, and 2002. Depression, anger, and hostility were also assessed. In a recent issue of the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, the Duke team reports that the highest increases in C3 between 1992 and 2002 were seen in men who displayed the highest levels of depression, anger, and hostility.

Hospital food

As if on cue, the day after the release of the Duke study, a new study examining the effect of supplements on depression appeared in the journal Clinical Nutrition.

Researchers at the University of Sheffield in the UK recruited 225 elderly, hospitalized subjects and divided them into two groups. One group received a daily multivitamin with minerals, while the other group received a placebo. During the six-week trial, all of the subjects continued their normal hospital diets. (Apparently the study doesn’t address the fact that anyone who spends more than a month eating the unappetizing and nutrient- deprived food served in most hospitals certainly has good reason to feel depressed.)

Using the abbreviated mental test questionnaire (AMT) and the geriatric depression questionnaire (GDS), researchers found a substantial difference in depressive symptoms in the two groups. Symptoms in the supplement group generally improved, even among subjects who began the trial with severe depression. Little change was noted in the placebo group.

Anger management

Anyone surprised at the Sheffield results? Not really. In previous e-Alerts we’ve seen clinical proof that symptoms of depression and anxiety can be relieved in many patients who supplement with certain vitamins, minerals, and herbal preparations, including:

Omega-3 fatty acids

Vitamin D

B vitamins (especially B-12 and folate)


St. John’s wort

Valerian root

Of course, hostility and anger are not quite in the same ballpark as depression, but at least one of the above supplements might be helpful in managing anger.

In the e-Alert “No So Fast!” I told you about an Oxford University study in which 230 British prisoners were given an omega-3 fatty acid supplement or placebo. Results showed a significant drop in assaults and other antisocial behaviors in the omega-3 group, but little change in the placebo group. In addition, a Finland study has shown that prisoners with a record of violent crimes tend to have low levels of omega-3 fatty acids. In a follow up study, symptoms of anger were cut in half when omega-3 supplements were given to subjects with a history of substance abuse.

Talk to your doctor before adding any of these supplements to your daily regimen.

“Hostility, Anger Linked to Chronic Inflammation” Anne Harding, Reuters Health, 8/2/07, reutershealth.com
“Multivitamins and Minerals May Boost Mood in Elderly” Stephan Daniells, NutraIngredients-USA, 8/3/07, nutraingredients-usa.com