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  • Writer's pictureLaura Sesana

Blueberries May Effectively Treat PTSD

Blueberries May Effectively Treat PTSD
box0, Flickr Creative Commons

WASHINGTON—Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects up to eight percent of Americans. However, currently approved medication used to treat PTSD has had limited success. In a possible breakthrough, researchers at Louisiana State University have found that blueberries can be an effective treatment. Their research was presented today at Experimental Biology 2015.

PTSD can occur when an individual experiences a traumatic event, such as war, an accident, a disaster, physical attack or rape. Symptoms of PTSD can be disruptive to the individual’s daily life and sufferers often need help to overcome this anxiety disorder.

At present, the only approved therapy to treat PTSD is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Zoloft and Paxil are commonly used SSRIs. However, they are only marginally effective in treating PTSD.

Previous research by the team demonstrated that SSRIs increase levels of serotonin (5-HT) and norepinephrine (NE). It also demonstrated that higher levels of NE may reduce the effectiveness of SSRIs in treating PTSD.

For this study, researchers used a rat model to analyze the effect of blueberries on serotonin and NE levels. Some of the rats were fed a blueberry-enriched (2 percent) diet, while the others were fed a standard diet without blueberries.

The results showed that the rats that were not fed blueberries experienced the expected increase in NE and serotonin after traumatic conditions, when compared to control rats. However, the rats that were fed blueberries showed a beneficial increase in serotonin (lower than the mice not fed blueberries), but no change in NE levels, suggesting that blueberries could effectively treat PTSD.

“These findings indicate non-pharmacological approaches might modulate neurotransmitters in PTSD,” said researchers in a press release. “Further studies to understand the molecular mechanism of neuro-protection by blueberries can provide a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of PTSD.”

For more information on the study visit the American Physiological Society (APS) page.

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