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December Blog: Stay Happy at Christmas

December Blog: Stay Happy at Christmas
26/11/2014 Olivia

Written by Allie Burdet, Wild Oats Advisor 


For most of us December is the busiest month and whilst it is full of excitement and happy gatherings, it can leave us feeling shredded and wiped out for the darkest, coldest month of January.


So here are some thoughts on how we can support ourselves through these times.

In addition to supplementing Magnesium and the B-complex vitamins which we need to run our nervous system and all our chemical pathways, there is another simple thing we can try to help us feel calmer.

Theanine is an amino acid (protein building block) which is a key component of our quietening neuro-transmitter GABA (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid). It is naturally occurring in green tea and chocolate but it is worth trying capsules to really get a meaningful amount. (The quickest way is to empty a capsule under the tongue and let it dissolve in the mouth. Very helpful if you are waking in the night and your mind starts whizzing with thoughts…)

Our neuro-transmitter chemistry is composed of a number of ‘excitory’ chemicals with various roles, e.g. acetylcholine, dopamine, serotonin. These quite simply stimulate bunches of neurons to pass electrical and chemical messages onto each other, and affect our mood and function. Without regulation the stimulus often spreads beyond the contained streams, or bunches, we want to stimulate – I often describe this as a ‘bloom’ – and the results can feel chaotic and jangled within one’s mind and reactions.

We produce roughly four times as much quietening GABA as each of the stimulatory neuro chemicals because it ‘guides’ the neuronal messages by switching off excessive stimulation in near-by neurons bordering the pathways which are actively in use. Calm, clear focus is what we experience when we can produce enough GABA.

A lovely all-in-one package called Balance for Nerves does just what it says on the pack. You can find it on the shelf in store.


As for our body’s take on Christmas, rich and plentiful food, celebratory glassfuls and late nights can also wear us down. Many people now take Milk Thistle over the Yule festivities as it helps regenerate liver tissue and thus helps with detoxing. It’s even better in combination with other herbs like Dandelion and Artichoke to help the gall bladder too.

Digestive enzymes or a tincture of digestive herbs (e.g. Vogel Yarrow complex) is very handy for those times when we’ve eaten too much and we feel bloated and gassy with indigestion. Bitter herbs have all but disappeared in our diets but are more common than we’d think – Rocket, Sorrel, Dandelion and Mizuna are just a few such herbs and may still be growing in the garden in December. They stimulate production of gastric juices and digestive enzymes, and are astringent to varying degrees. This astringency helps tone the rings of muscle through our gut which control the smooth transit of food.

Umeboshi Plum or paste is a wonderful antidote to nausea and gut health – whatever the cause. A staple in Japanese origin macrobiotics, it has been enjoyed and gratefully received for probably thousands of years. It’s even better mixed with ginger juice (fresh ginger root squeezed through a garlic press). If no Umeboshi is close at hand try the ginger in hot water with a tiny grain of salt in it to aid fluid absorption.

Chlorella is another useful aid to soothing the after-effects of an exuberant night, in addition to its value in filtering out toxins. A shot of alkalinising Chlorella, Barley Grass and Wheat Grass in juice, coconut water or water is great first thing in the morning for reducing residual acidity from a late night.

NAC (N-Acetylcysteine) is an amino sugar which is a powerful antioxidant and support to liver and heavy metal detoxification. It is a mucolytic which clears mucus build-up – especially useful for stubborn bronchial mucus. It has also been shown to reduce craving and addiction. It is a key component in some of the more sophisticated liver support formulas available and works tremendously well alongside the ‘green foods’ mentioned above.


Whatever else it brings, December usually brings a lot of laughter as we have get-togethers with friends and family.

Laughter is a healing activity. You may have seen the movie called “Patch Adams,” which is about a real life doctor who still practices today and uses laughter as a healing method.

When you laugh, there’s a lot more going on in your body than just the physical effect. You’re also generating a wealth of beneficial biochemicals.

Some of these are mood-improving chemicals like serotonin, others are immune-boosting chemicals such as interleukins. These chemicals have extraordinary positive healing effects on your body and mind, boosting immunity, improving your outlook on life. They diminish symptoms of depression, and because they help to reduce stress, they also prevent many of the various disorders caused by chronic stress.

(Check out the science field called psychoneuroimmunology to learn more on this. It’s a fascinating area that looks at the link between the mind and immune system function. What researchers have found is that your state of mind has everything to do with the functioning of your immune system.)

So bring on the Ho ho ho and have a bit of Ha ha ha and may Peace be with us all.