Inflammation and depression, a holistic approach


Flaws in how the medical community treats depression can be overcome by studying inflammation and depression

Many chiropractors understand how flawed the medical system is; understanding how poorly he treats patients with chronic conditions should inspire us to become proficient at providing “non-chiropractic” solutions to “medical” problems such as inflammation and depression.

The opioid epidemic has given us a first-hand look at how flawed, unscientific, and possibly corrupt (thanks to the pharmaceutical industry) traditional medicine can be.

The pharmaceutical industry, opioids and antidepressants

The estimated economic costs of the opioid epidemic in the United States topped $1 trillion in 2017, according to a pair of CDC analyses. Nearly 500,000 people have died from opioid overdoses in the past 20 years. This crisis is largely due to the propensity of the pharmaceutical industry to “falsify” the results of studies.

We may face similar manipulation of data when it comes to antidepressants.

There are many studies regarding the effectiveness of antidepressants, almost 80% of which are funded by the pharmaceutical industry. According to the British Medical Journal,1 only 40-60 out of 100 people who took an antidepressant noticed an improvement in their symptoms within 6-8 weeks.

A report published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics states, “Meta-analyses of FDA trials suggest that antidepressants are only marginally effective compared to placebos and document a profound publication bias that inflates their apparent effectiveness. These meta-analyses also document a second form of bias in which researchers do not report negative results for the pre-specified primary outcome measure submitted to the FDA, while highlighting in published studies positive results for a secondary measure. or even new as if it were their main measure of interest. The STAR*D analysis revealed that the efficacy of antidepressant treatments was likely even lower than the modest one reported by the study authors, with a drop-out rate apparently gradually increasing with each phase of the treatment. study. Conclusions: The findings reviewed support a reassessment of the currently recommended standard of care for depression. »

Magazine Ad Revenue vs. Study Results

Richard Smith, former editor of the BMJ, publicly criticized his former publication, saying it was too dependent on advertising revenue to be considered unbiased.

A third of the studies published in the BMJ are funded by the pharmaceutical industry. Smith estimates that between two-thirds and three-quarters of trials published in major journals – Annals of Internal Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association, Lancet and New England Journal of Medicine – are also funded by the pharmaceutical industry.

Trials are so valuable to pharmaceutical companies that they often spend over $1 million on reprint costs (which are important additional sources of revenue for medical journals). Consumers trust medical journals to be the unbiased and “true” source of information, but Big Pharma’s money influences both drug trials and medical journals. Medical science is to science what cherry Kool-Aid is to cherries. There’s a vague scientific “flavor” to it, but it’s not the same as real science.

The medical approach to depression

The medical approach to depression is based on the idea that it is caused by a lack of the neurotransmitter, either norepinephrine or serotonin (GABA, if you are talking about sleep disorders or anxiety). Really? It has not been proven. The results have been falsified, with a tendency to publish only favorable results. The medical approach to depression (and almost every other health problem) is based on obtaining a patent – do not improve patients.

According to a report published by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the rate of antidepressant use in this country among adolescents and adults (those aged 12 and older) increased by almost 400% between 1988-1994 and 2005-2008. In 2008, 11% of the population took it. In 2017, it represented 17% of the population. Treating depression as if it has a singular cause is good if you want a patent, but not so good if you want results. It may be better to treat the patient with depression than to treat the depression.

Treat the patient, not the depression

Depression is a symptom, not its own disease. If you scan the literature, you will find it linked to problems with the thyroid, vitamin deficiency, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis,2 inflammation and even gut ecology.3,4,5,6,7

The problem with examining these issues is that it is impossible to find a single patentable treatment – so they are largely ignored.

The link between inflammation and depression is interesting. One study looked at CRP levels in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD).8 The researchers found that high levels of CRP made patients less responsive to treatment. High levels were also associated with cognitive impairment (which antidepressant treatment did not affect). Another study9 found a strong correlation between high levels of IL-6 and CRP with depression. Patients with depression had higher levels of these inflammatory markers than healthy controls.

Inflammation and depression

Inflammation causes depression. This tells us that diet is important, and studies back it up.10,11,12 This is something that should be addressed in chiropractic offices, as you can reduce inflammation with basic dietary advice. Chiropractors may be the answer to our country’s skyrocketing medical costs (18% of GDP and rising).

If we consider depression as a symptom with many possible causes, we can suggest strategies to help these patients. Vitamin B intake can improve depression.13 Low vitamin D levels are linked to depression. 14 Low levels of DHA in the frontal lobe are linked to depression.15 Exercise outperforms drug therapy.16

You got the idea; depression does not have a single cause. Repairing the body’s infrastructure can be more effective than aggressively manipulating the body’s biochemistry with medication.

There are many more references than those listed here. Also, other nutrients are helpful. We think of lithium and magnesium in low doses. We are the profession that cures the patient and not the disease; we must broaden our scope.

A holistic approach by inflammation specialists

Going beyond manipulation and adding basic nutritional therapy can increase the number of patients we can effectively treat.

Plus, we can be the answer to spiraling medical costs ($3 billion a year and growing). Inflammation is a problem that needs to be addressed in patients with depression. It is also a component of almost all diseases. Inflammation and depression can then be effectively treated with diet. Even if you’re only treating folds and strains, treating inflammation with dietary advice will improve your results.

PAUL VARNAS, DC, DACBN, is a graduate of the National College of Chiropractic and has practiced functional medicine for 34 years. He is the author of several books and has taught nutrition at the National University of Health Sciences. For a free PDF of “Instantly Having a Functional Medicine Practice”, email him at


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