Out of the Maize

An extract taken from corn leaves may help soothe anxiety and depression.

April 2013

by Lisa James


For some people it feels like they are being shadowed by a dark cloud that turns everything in life a dull gray. For others, the persistent sense that something awful is about to happen disrupts their sleep and colors every waking moment.

Whether these people are told they have depression or anxiety, what their brains have in common is trouble using neurotransmitters. Fortunately, there are natural ways to improve neurotransmitter balance, including a substance found in corn leaves.

Dropped Connections

Nerve cells, or neurons, don’t connect with each other directly. Instead, neurotransmitters carry impulses across the spaces, or synapses, between neurons. Excitatory neurotransmitters speed up the system; inhibitory ones slow it down. If enough neurotransmitters aren’t produced, or if the receptors they lock onto aren’t working correctly, impulse transmission malfunctions.

Several neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, help control mood; imbalances among them can lead to depression, anxiety and other mood disorders. In addition, the hormone melatonin—best known for its role in regulating sleep—helps regulate mood as well.

Besides genetics, factors that can influence neurotransmitter balance including poor diet, prolonged stress, alcohol use and exposure to toxins, such as heavy metals and pesticides. As a result, nearly 29% of all Americans experience some form of anxiety at some point in their lives, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, and more than 20% suffer from depression and related disorders.

Corn Power

Corn, also called maize (Zea mays), has long been valued by many Native American tribes as both a dietary staple and a healing remedy. Modern scientists have found that an extract taken from young corn leaves, 6-MBOA, promotes healthy balances of both serotonin and melatonin.

Maizinol is a mood-support supplement that supplies 6-MBOA at consistent concentrations strong enough to be effective. In studies Mazinol has eased symptoms of mild depression and anxiety; in fact, it helped resolve anxiety more quickly than SAMe, a commonly available mood supplement.

Overcoming depression and other mood disorders requires a multipronged approach, which is why Mazinol works best when combined with complementary therapies. The brain needs vitamins B6 and B12 to function at peak efficiency, and deficits in either nutrient have been associated with neurological problems. Zinc plays a crucial role in regulating the transmission of impulses between nerve cells. The amino acid L-tyrosine is required for proper neurotransmitter production. Another amino acid, cysteine (commonly available in supplemental form as NAC), is used by the body to tone down neurotransmitter activity associated with anxiety, while 5-HTP, a form of the amino tryptophan, provides a gentle lift in cases of depression.

A trio of herbal remedies also helps regulate mood. Velvet bean, which has been used in Ayurvedic medicine as an aphrodesiac, supplies the dopamine precursor L-dopa. Rhodiola fights stress while boosting endurance and energy. L-theanine, a compound found in green tea, promotes deep relaxation with heightened focus.

Depression and other mood disorders can make life miserable. But Mazinol, used in concert with other natural mood lifters, can help chase the blues away.

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