Have you noticed more and more people are suffering from depression? Winston Churchill suffered with depression and called it his “Black Dog.” It can be a relentless dark and negative feeling pervading every aspect of life.  Depression affects more than 15 million Americans and is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for people ages 15 to 45. The average age when depression typically occurs is 32 years old and it is more common in women than men.

Symptoms include feeling depressed most days for at least two years. Low energy, disturbances in sleep or in appetite (meaning too much or too little), low self-esteem, and feelings of hopelessness or pessimism are common.

A study published in Glycobiology, Volume 12, Issue 1, 1 January 2002, Pages 1R–7R by Paul Martin documents the key role glycans or sugar nutrients play in supporting synapses. Synapses are the junctures connecting and linking brain cells (neurons) and the nervous system. Neural Cell Adhesion Molecules called NCAMs consist of high concentrations of sugar structures. Glycans like polysialic acid and mannose are very abundant in NCAMs. When sugars are lacking, it affects the ability of the brain to function properly.  NCAMs are proteins glycosylated or modified with sugar like PSA. NCAMs have an important role in synaptic plasticity (the ability of the synapse to form new pathways), both in the brain and at the neuromuscular junction. NCAMs are required for long-term potentiation (LTP) of synaptic activity.  Both LTP and long-term depression (LTD) (not the same as chronic depression) regulate the ability of the synapse to send signals.

Martin states, “The presence of high levels of mannose at glutaminergic synapses suggests an important role at excitatory synapses in the brain.” This means that neurotransmitters like serotonin which cross synaptic junctions and allow the brain to function and directly affect mood are dependent upon these sugars structures being in place.

The bottom line is: glycans have very important roles in the formation of synapses and their ability to adapt (synaptic plasticity). People describe the feeling of depression disappearing as “a fog lifting” or “turning on the lights in a dark house.” They feel trapped and unable to unlock the door to freedom. Psilocybin mushrooms have been utilized in depression therapy approaches for years. Psilocybin mushrooms come in over 200 species but often have a psychedelic affect. However, there are tens of thousands of other mushroom species which do not have those affects. In general, mushrooms are extremely rich in glycan structures. The GRM has vetted several companies and their products who provide glycan supplements. If interested in those resources, make sure you are getting our weekly email list by requesting it at GRMVetted.org.

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