Sunny Mood is a mood support formula by Irwin Naturals which contains several effective ingredients at pretty effective doses…[Skip to the Bottom Line]
Rhodiola Rosea is an herb, the use of which dates back to ancient China. Rhodiol is primarily touted to counter fatigue as well as improve cognitive function. While each of these claims is supported to some degree by preliminary research, Rhodiola also appears to be an effective alternative treatment for depression. A 2007 double-blind placebo controlled study found that individuals who consumed 340mg or 680mg of Rhodiola extract daily reported noticeable improvements in overall symptoms of depression. Sunny Mood contains the lower dose of 340mg which, according to the above mentioned study, is an effective dose for treating mild-moderate depression. The alleged mechanism of action is monoamine oxidase (the enzyme that breaks down monoamines like dopamine and noradrenaline) inhibition, as evidenced in a 2009 in vitro study from the “Journal of Ethnopharmacology”.
Fish oil is a combination of two different fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid DHA, which may have a variety of health benefits including treatment for depression. While both fatty acids are present in most fish oil supplements, only EPA (at 1000mg) has demonstrated efficacy in treating depression, while three separate studies using just DHA (in doses ranging from 200-2000mg daily) failed to influence depression in any way. EPA appears to only be noticeably effective in individuals with severe depression, and higher doses (2000-4000mg) have demonstrated less efficacy than a lower dose (1000mg). Each serving of Sunny Mood contains 234mg of EPA, which may or may not be noticeably effective for treating depression (that particular dose has never been studied).
Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm) is used in alternative medicine primarily as a stress-reducer and anxiolytic as evidenced by several animal studies and preliminary human studies. A 2011 pilot study concluded that Lemon Balm (300mg twice daily) effectively reduced general anxiety in human subjects. While a direct anti-depressive effect has not been observed, symptoms of anxiety and depression often overlap so it makes sense to include an anxiolytic a mood-support formula. Sunny Mood contains 300mg of Lemon Balm extract.
Like Lemon Balm, Passionflower is used as an alternative treatment for anxiety. A 2001 pilot study concluded that Passionflower was effective for managing generalized anxiety disorder, and resulted in less impairment of job performance when compared to a prescription medication, Oxazepam. So, while there appears to be strong support for Passionflower as a treatment for anxiety, it is unclear how concentrated the extract in the study was compared to extract present in the Sunny Mood formula.
Turnera Diffusa (Damiana) is indigenous to certain areas of Central American where it has been used historically as an aphrodisiac (though evidence is lacking). It has also been investigated, in preliminary animal studies, as a potential anxiolytic. Indeed, a 2005 study noted an anxiolytic effect in rats, but human studies are non-existent. While there is preliminary evidence for Damiana as a treatment for anxiety, further research would be required before we can give it much thought. In the context of the Sunny Mood formula, it certainly would not be considered a “main ingredient”.
Theanine is an amino acid found primarily in green tea, and is alleged to counteract the jitteriness generally associated with caffeine consumption. Animal studies have shown a decrease in markers of stress when theanine is consumed, as well as decreased corticosterone (a hormone which regulates the stress response) levels, indicating reduced corticosterone is likely the mechanism of action. In humans, doses of 200mg have been effective at reducing perceived stress, but more studies are needed to determine the degree of efficacy at different doses.
You may be familiar with saffron as a spice, but research indicates it may also possess some benefits as an alternative treatment for depression. In a 2007 study, in which subjects with depression consumed 15mg of saffron twice daily, it was concluded that saffron had an anti-depressant effect similar to the reference drug fluoxetine. A 2008 study evaluating the safety and tolerability of saffron treatment in healthy individuals noted that, after one week of supplementation with 400mg of Saffron, 40% of the subject reported elevated mood. Overall, it appears saffron is effective at elevating mood in both healthy individuals and those with depression. Given it has demonstrated efficacy rivaling that of a commonly prescribed anti-depressant (fluoxetine), saffron may make for an effective treatment for depression on its own, but the low dose (10mg) present in Sunny Mood creates some uncertainty.
BioPerine is a patented, standardized form of black pepper extract. In several studies, black pepper extract, when combined with other substances, has increased the absorption of those substances (as measured by plasma levels) at least somewhat significantly. The active ingredient responsible for this increased bioavilability is known as peperine. The mechanism of action is relatively straight forward: peperine increases absorption by slowing down the rate at which substances move through the intestines, thus enlarging the window for absorption to take place.While we can’t say with any certainty that peperine enhances the bioavailablity of ALL other compounds, it does have a well-established track record when it comes to vitamins, minerals, and amino acids as well as herbal derivatives such as curcumin.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Sunny Mood contains a relatively well-established blend of ingredients, most of which show at least preliminary efficacy at treating depression and/or anxiety. The doses of these ingredients are roughly in-line with the literature, and Sunny Mood may very well benefit those suffering from mild-moderate depression. As with most supplements aimed at treating medical conditions, we would reccommend consulting a medical professional before taking Sunny Mood as an alternative treatment for depression. Individuals already taking a prescription anti-depressant should not combine the two as potential chemical intervention is still uncharted territory for most of these ingredients.
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