Monthly Archives: December 2017

Magnesium, Anxiety, Depression and The Brain

The statistics are shocking: mental illness affects one in five Canadians and costs our healthcare system about fifty billion dollars a year. The cost of treating mental illness and addiction is 1.5 times that of all cancers and seven times the cost of all infectious diseases.

When conventional therapies end up being ineffective or result in a long list of undesirable side effects and dependencies, it’s no wonder individuals suffering from mental illnesses can feel defeated and turn to alternative therapies.

Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mood disorders with anxiety holding the number one spot in Canada. One in four Canadians experiences at least one anxiety disorder in their lifetime. It is not unlikely to find anxiety coexist with depression and the two often occur together. Feeling anxious and sad are natural emotions and it can be difficult to diagnose the severity.


Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and major depressive disorder (MDD) interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work and relationships. Mental illness is the leading cause of disability and accounts for approximately 30 percent of all short and long-term disability claims. In fact, it is reported to be one of the top three claims made by 80 percent of Canadian employers. Depression and anxiety can be extremely debilitating.


Anxiety has a remarkably high comorbidity with depression and vice versa. The reasons may in part be due to a strong genetic correlation, and possibly partially due to the strong overlap in diagnostic criteria. Similar neuropeptides and pathways are shared in the pathophysiology of these disorders and therefore they commonly occur together and can be thought of as the fraternal twins of mood disorders.

According to The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), some GAD and MDD symptoms that overlap includes difficulty sleeping, concentrating, being easily fatigued, and exhibiting psychomotor agitation. It is important to make sure an anxiety diagnosis does not mask that of depression and vice versa because the two often co-exist and the clinical implications can be severe.

Increased risk of suicide, psychiatric hospitalization, disability and decreased compliance with treatment are all hazards of misdiagnosis.

Magnesium and GABA Receptors In The Brain

Magnesium plays an important role in a multitude of biochemical reactions in the body, including the brain. Neurological functions of magnesium include cellular energy production, regulating neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), regulating ion gradients, and neuronal excitability.

Dysregulation of these systems plays an important role in the etiology of both depression and anxiety.

GABA Receptors

Magnesium has been shown to modulate GABA activity in the brain. Magnesium ions can occupy GABA receptors acting as GABA receptor agonists to help facilitate GABA neurotransmission. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain that plays a role in motor control, vision, and anxiety.

GABA and magnesium bind to benzodiazepine receptors resulting in an anxiolytic effect. These are the same receptors that are targeted with anxiolytic prescription medications like Lorazepam (Ativan) or Diazepam (Valium).

NMDA Receptor Inhibition + Glutamate

Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter that plays an important role in the development of the brain and is a key player in neuroplasticity, learning, memory, and locomotion. The amount of glutamate released in the brain is tightly regulated by the central nervous system.

When this equilibrium is disrupted through some form of trauma, glutamate concentrations in the brain can increase. Contrary to its primitive function, in excess, this neuropeptide is toxic and destructive in the brain, leading to neurotoxicity and cell death. Increased levels are found in the brains of patients suffering from major depressive disorder, which may play a role in its pathophysiology.

Magnesium is a very potent inhibitor of NMDA receptors (N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor), which are a subtype of glutamate receptors. Magnesium is a natural antagonist to calcium and exerts its inhibitory effect in the nervous system by blocking the flow of calcium through the voltage-dependent NMDA receptors, preventing an excitatory response in the brain.

A magnesium deficiency coupled with high levels of calcium and glutamate is a recipe for disaster in the brain. This combination can depolarize neuronal membranes and lead to altered synaptic function and the development of anxiety and depression. The NMDA/glutamate pathway is one-way magnesium exerts its anxiolytic and antidepressant effects in the brain.

Up to 80% of the brain uses GABA and glutamate for inhibitory and excitatory responses, respectively.


Magnesium exhibits anti-depressive effects through its interaction with serotonin, noradrenaline, and dopamine receptors. The mechanism of how this works is not fully understood, but several studies indicate that a relationship does exist. This pharmacokinetic relationship has been illustrated in studies that show an increase in erythrocyte magnesium concentration with the administration of psychotropic drugs such as antidepressants and antipsychotics.

Furthermore, magnesium supplementation has been shown to enhance the activity of antidepressants, demonstrating a synergistic action with these drugs.

This last point is important to consider if you are supplementing with magnesium and also taking an antidepressant drug — such as a norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI) like Wellbutrin, a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) such as Pristiq, Cymbalta or Effexor; or a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) such as Celexa, Prozac or Zoloft.

HPA Axis

Chronic stress leads to excess cortisol levels which can negatively affect other neuropeptides like serotonin and be a contributing factor to anxiety and depression. Magnesium has been shown to play a positive role in the stress response through its influence in the limbic-hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis.

Magnesium can reduce the release of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and affect adrenocortical sensitivity to ACTH, which helps to modulate the amount of circulating cortisol in the body. High cortisol levels can also deplete magnesium levels, which further supports the benefits of supplementation.

Choosing the best magnesium for anxiety and depression

Several forms of magnesium exist so it is important to recognize the therapeutic applications of each. Magnesium bis-glycinate is an excellent choice for treating anxiety and depression for the following reasons:

  • it is the optimal form for correcting a deficiency due to its superior bioavailability to other forms
  • glycine enhances its anxiolytic properties
  • it is the optimal form to achieve therapeutic doses without a laxation effect

Why Magnesium Bis-Glycinate?

Glycine, like GABA, is a significant inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. Glycine helps to regulate NMDA receptors and glutamate transmission, thereby creating a sense of calm in the nervous system. Taurine, another amino acid, plays a very similar calming role in the brain.

Very interesting case studies presented by Eby and Eby (2006) demonstrated that 125-300 mg of magnesium glycinate and taurinate per day alleviated symptoms of major depression within seven days.

In addition to its profound antidepressant effects, it also provided relief from a headache, suicidal ideation, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and short-term memory loss. What a collection of multi-beneficial side effects!

Holiday Health: Five Natural Therapies to Lower Your Blood Pressure

The holiday season is here!  The days are filled with hustle and bustle to get organized, presents purchased, house cleaned, food prepped, attend social gatherings and orchestrate who will host dinner on Christmas Day.

You might not feel your blood pressure rising during all of the hustle and bustle — but that doesn’t mean it isn’t. High blood pressure, hypertension and cardiovascular disease are notoriously referred to as  ‘the silent killers’, for a good reason!

Consider Natural Therapies

Hypertension is thought to affect more than 1 in 5 Canadians which means many people are likely on prescription blood pressure medication.

Sometimes, blood pressure is well controlled on these medications, other times individuals may experience side effects from long-term usage and need extra support at a cellular level to prevent further hypertension from occurring and arterial damage down the road.

Here are the top 5 natural therapies to lower blood pressure: 

1. Magnesium

An important mineral to supplement with if you have chronic high blood pressure as it can help relax the blood vessels. Many individuals are magnesium deficient and prescription medication can further deplete mineral absorption. Magnesium is required for over 300 biochemical reactions necessary to keep systems of the body functioning properly. Maybe most notably magnesium is involved in the function of the sodium-potassium pump that regulates the concentration of minerals inside and outside of our cells.

Magnesium Cardio was specifically formulated to help with proper cardiovascular function.

2. Water

Water is vital for any living organism, yet, so underutilized as a therapy for health concerns.  It is one of the most cost-effective natural therapies to help almost all of your physiological systems function optimally.

Dehydration can cause the release of a hormone called vasopressin which is telling the body to release more water but this hormone will constrict the blood vessels thus increasing blood pressure.

3. CoQ10

Coenzyme Q10  is a vitamin-like component that is important for energy production in each cell’s mitochondria, which functions like the cell’s own engine. CoQ10 is found in organs that have large energy needs like the heart — so a deficiency in CoQ10 is going to affect those systems first.

Statin drugs (cholesterol-lowering medications) can inhibit CoQ10 to work properly and after the age of thirty, your body is less able to metabolize CoQ10 on its own.

Supplementing with Ubiquinol — the active form of CoQ10 is superior for its absorption ability and therapeutic benefits for cardiovascular health. It may help the fight to reduce chronic high blood pressure levels and prevent further disease.

4. Exercise, Meditation and Relaxation Methods

Similar to water, exercise, meditation or other relaxation methods can sometimes be underutilized but extremely effective therapies to help lower your blood pressure.

As these activities help to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system which dilates the blood vessels to release heat, slows heart rate down and induce that ‘rest and digest’ state that allows our bodies to switch into a restful and calm mode.

5. Diet

There are certain foods that you can incorporate daily to give your body the nutrients that help specifically with lowering high blood pressure. The plate is a great place to start when implementing preventative measures in your own healthcare routine.

  • 3 celery stalks and avocados provide: fiber, magnesium and potassium
  • ½ cup of beet juice; inorganic nitrates release nitric oxide which allows for the blood vessels to relax

  • ½ cup of pomegranate juice: contains natural ACE (Angiotensin Converting Enzymes) inhibiting properties that allow the blood vessels to relax and ACE inhibitors are a class of pharmaceutical drugs to lower blood pressure

  • ½ tsp of turmeric powder: a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent that reduces the platelets sticking together in the blood

  • 2 tbsp of raw olive oil (not cooked or heated): potent antioxidants that are protective of your LDL cholesterol levels and reduces plaque buildup that can cause narrowing of the blood vessels and subsequently raise blood pressure

  • ¼ cup of almonds or walnuts: a source magnesium, fiber and healthy fats — that moderates your cholesterol levels and reduces plaque build-up in blood vessels

  • 23-30 g (1 small square) of unsweetened 70% or more dark chocolate: provides flavonoids that dilate blood vessels and helps to moderate healthy LDL and HDL cholesterol levels

  • ½ raw onion or 1- 4 cloves of raw cloves of garlic: contains the flavonol quercetin that acts as a natural anti hypertensive

  • 6 prunes or 1 avocado: contains potassium which helps to control the negative effect of too much salt in your body

Be sure to always check with your healthcare practitioner about your health concerns and goals and before starting new natural therapies!


How to Imbibe More Healthfully & Prevent a Hangover this Holiday Season

As we head into the holiday season, we will be faced with many, many opportunities to overindulge, undoubtedly including a few extra cocktails! Because alcohol has become such a big part of our social culture, it naturally trickles in a bit more this time of year.

While taking an extra drink (or two) every now and then is generally ok, there are some truths about alcohol you may not be aware of.

The hard truth: what alcohol really does to your body

First, alcohol is a diuretic (i.e. makes you pee more than usual) and its tendency to dehydrate the body is what gives us the typical hangover symptoms like nausea, headache, extreme thirst, palpitations, sensitivity to light, poor motor skills, achy muscles – just to mention a few.

Let’s travel the path of an alcoholic beverage in the body:

After a drink is ingested, alcohol is rapidly absorbed into the blood (20% through the stomach and 80% through the small intestine), the effects of which are generally felt within only 5 to 10 minutes post-ingestion.

Once in the bloodstream, alcohol makes its way into almost every biological tissue in the body, including all of your organs, because cell membranes are highly permeable. The peak is usually observed in the blood around 30-90 minutes after.

And you thought alcohol only affected the brain and the liver — nope, it’s a full body experience!

Now that you know some of the effects of it, when you do choose to imbibe, we wanted to offer some really practical advice this holiday season – tips that you might actually use!

Holiday Hangover Prevention 101:

First off, we want to urge you to cut yourself some slack when you do overindulge – because you will – you’re only human.

However, indulging in alcohol, like binge drinking on a single occasion as well as drinking multiple days in a row – can have so many far-reaching negative effects on the body, more so than when you just indulge with an extra dessert or go crazy with the spinach dip!

Actionable hangover prevention tips: Mind your A’s, and take your B’s and C’s

Take 500-1000 mg of Vitamin C before you begin consuming alcohol. This will help to lower the acetaldehyde that your liver creates as a by-product to the breakdown of ethanol (pure alcohol).

Acetaldehyde is 10-30 times more toxic than the ethanol itself, and is by far the most damaging, not to mention – aging alcohol toxin.

For more targeted supplemental prevention measures, you could also take NAC (n-acetyl-cysteine), L-glutathione and Vitamin B1 (thiamine) or a B-complex – at least 30 minutes before you have your first drink.

Eat up to slow down.

Eat at least a small meal before you imbibe (or while you’re having some drinks) to slow down the rate of alcohol uptake into your bloodstream. This would preferably be something containing protein and healthy fats.

There’s more than just the “foodie experience” of pairing cheese with wine!

This may also help you to stop mindlessly munching on all of those salty, creamy and fatty holiday foods because drinking a moderate amount of alcohol has been shown to increase our appetites, not reduce it.

Here are the basics of being a smarter sipper:

  • drink higher quality liquor
  • skip the sugary mixes
  • consider watering down your booze
  • think about post detox methods to help provide nutrients and rejuvenation to organs

But let’s break that down a little bit more…

1. Your best bets for booze with little to no congeners are:

  • gluten-free beer – which is also relatively low alcohol
  • good quality craft beer
  • organic red wine
  • organic white wine
  • gluten-free vodka (preferably potato, not corn)
  • high-quality gin
  • 100% agave tequila

By the way, congeners are considered toxins or impurities that occur in alcoholic beverages due to the distillation or fermentation process.

Examples of congeners in wine are sulphites – the chemical compounds that stop bacterial growth and act as preservatives.

Sounds pretty innocuous, beneficial even – but inside the digestive system, these break down and create sulphur dioxide, which can trigger headaches. In asthmatics, it can even cause breathing problems.

2. Your not-so-great alcoholic beverage options are:

  • regular beer
  • dark liquors (= lots of congeners + paired with dark, sugary mixes)
  • sugary liqueurs
  • regular red wine (you would be shocked at the poor quality, fillers & preservatives of most wine!)
  • regular white wine or worse – cheap sparkling wine.

3. Get mixed up!

Sparkling water (no sodium), unsweetened pure coconut water, naturally decaffeinated green tea and kombucha (fermented tea) all make good hydrating, low/no-sugar drink bases – so get creative!

Drink more…water. Drink gobs of water before and during your alcohol intake. A good rule of thumb is for every alcoholic drink you consume, drink 2 glasses of water in between. Then, after an evening of drinking, drink another 2 huge glasses of water before bed.

You can also replace 1 glass of water with pure, unsweetened coconut water, which is naturally loaded with potassium + add a pinch of sea salt or pink salt in it.

But why coconut water + salt? Alcohol also depletes our electrolytes so this is a simple, yet effective electrolyte replenishment combo.

Better yet – here’s an incredibly easy recipe to get those electrolytes back in fast!

Mix up the following:

1 packet of ElectroMag Lemon Lime
1 cup of pure, unsweetened coconut water and then add a pinch of pink salt

You’ll want to drink 1 or 2 cups of this mixture in the morning to head off, the after-party electrolyte slide. Another 500-1000 mg of Vitamin C would be a good idea at this time too. Again, it’s about replenishing what’s been lost during alcohol consumption: water, vitamins + minerals, especially electrolytes (Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, Sodium & Chloride). To choose a magnesium that may help you with the aftermath of a night out visit:

There you have it – some surprisingly simple things you can do to “hack your hangover” and indulge mindfully.

Here’s a great additional resource that covers all of the far-reaching effects of alcohol on the body – that may also make you think before you drink:

Meet Joseph Cheung – Your Health Is Your Wealth

Here at CanPrev, we are all about our community. Because without a platform to connect with individuals – we cannot learn, grow, educate, motivate or inspire. That’s where our ambassadors come in. These individuals are dedicated to living life to the fullest! They are continually learning and growing, sharing their knowledge and experience, in hopes to motivate another and let inspiration, by default, move more and more individuals forward.

For anyone who has thought about giving up on achieving better health – look to these individuals for inspiration in order to improve the quality of your life. Their collective goal is always to offer inspiration and to be a catalyst in spreading CanPrev’s healthy lifestyle vibe across the nation!

Meet Joseph Cheung Registered Massage Therapist and Structural Integrator

At age 30, his father passed away from cancer. At the time he had been working as a corporate accountant for 6 years. He realized that life is too short to not do what you love — so he decided to take a leap of faith and pursue his passion for manual therapy and movement. He had studied many movement disciplines throughout his life such as martial arts, traditional strength training, and tai chi. But when he left the corporate world he traveled abroad to study structural integration (of anatomy) under the legendary Tom Myers, the originator of the Anatomy Trains Myofascial Meridians. This training coupled with his background in different movement modalities ensures his practice as a therapist today, is uniquely tailored to the individual.

Words From The Therapist

I am grateful to work with a fantastic team of fitness professionals and therapists at Myodetox and am grateful for the amazing clients I get to interact with and help daily. I feel blessed every morning I wake up – I truly love what I do and to add to that – I get to help others feel better!

Everyone has control over their lives and should take their health into their own hands. Without your health, nothing else matters. Living a preventative lifestyle is necessary for finding your best health — that is what CanPrev life is all about!

Why He Chooses to Live a Healthy Lifestyle

I love to move and practice Martial Arts. Watching my dad fall ill, and seeing my clients come in with different health concerns reminds me to take care of myself so I can be the best that I can be, and live a long, healthy life.

You Can Prevent

I love using Mens CORE a plant-based protein with a multivitamin and mineral component to it for extra support. I also love using Adrenal-Pro™. I see dozens of clients every week and I need to be able to interact with them, give them an amazing experience, but also let myself rest and recover. These products help me do just that.

My wife Jessie and I plan to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in January 2018, and we will definitely be packing some CORE travel packs with us and Adrenal-Pro! We will probably take along some Joint-Pro as well, to save our knees!

Connect and learn more about Joseph online for key health and movement information that he shares regularly with his 90,000 plus followers @joerehab

Meet other CanPrev ambassadors: 

Meet Mike Levine – Do What You Love 

Meet Krista Goncalves – aka Making Lemonade

Meet Jill Bunny – Finding My Best Health 

Meet Jessie Lam – Corporate Junkie Turns Fitness Guru