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Flashback Friday: Coconut Water and Melancholy

Beneath is an approximation of this video’s audio content material. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, pictures, and quotes to which Dr. Greger could also be referring, watch the above video.

When you go browsing, you possibly can see claims that coconut water could also be “helpful for melancholy.” And, they even cite research. There it’s, in black and white: “Coconut water ameliorates melancholy.” Did they only make that up? No, click on on it and there it’s in PubMed, identical to they stated. And, for a restricted time provide of simply $39.95, the writer will allow you to learn it. However, why waste your time—it says it proper there within the title: “coconut water ameliorates melancholy.” Would possibly as properly spend that 40 bucks shopping for some coconut water to spice up your temper! And, anyway, studying all of the research, so that you don’t need to—that’s my job!

When you have a look at the research, it begins out saying that “vegetation are continuously examined [these days] for [their] antidepressant potential. Okay, sounds good. “Subsequently coconut water a generally used plant primarily based beverage was chosen to discover its antidepressant potential.” I’m with you thus far. So, “[r]odents had been chosen for this research and a pressured swim take a look at was carried out.” What?

The pressured swim take a look at is without doubt one of the “most generally [used] take a look at[s] to discover antidepressant exercise.” You replenish a “clear cylinder” with water over the mouse’s head, so it’s “pressured to swim.” After which, you drop a mouse in and see how lengthy it struggles to maintain from drowning earlier than you see it merely surrender and simply float to the highest. And, lo and behold, you feed them some coconut water first, they usually maintain out a bit longer earlier than giving up—demonstrating an antidepressant impact. Subsequently, we must always use coconut water to deal with “depressive issues” in individuals. What?! It depresses me to even learn such wasted analysis alternatives. The place did they even get this concept?

It was invented by a gaggle of French scientists within the 70s to mannequin “behavioral despair.” Jogs my memory of the Harlow experiments with “vertical chamber confinement” that he known as “the pit of despair,” which was mainly only a metallic contraption with sloped sides. Lock a child monkey in it for 45 days, and you may produce “profound” behavioral modifications. They find yourself simply form of hugging themselves in a fetal place. And, afterwards, after 10 weeks alone within the chamber, they exhibit behaviors like “contact cling[ing],” the place they only come collectively and hug one another for lengthy intervals of time. “It isn’t but clear why confinement within the vertical chamber is outwardly so efficient in producing irregular conduct.” However, to not fear; they’ve acquired heaps extra research to do. I’ll spare you the analysis on puppies.

I can see why you’d need some mannequin to check out new antidepressant medication. However, if you wish to work out if pomegranates have antidepressant results, why not simply feed individuals some pomegranates, quite than chucking some mice off the deep finish? There are actually hundreds of printed research on meals or meals merchandise utilizing this pressured swim take a look at, permitting the egg business to be like, see, “eggs could also be an [egg]cellent meals for stopping and assuaging the circumstances of main melancholy.” Why? All as a result of rats struggled longer? Whereas in individuals, eradicating eggs from the eating regimen improves temper, although additionally they eliminated meat. So, it’s not clear which did what, or perhaps they had been simply consuming extra wholesome plant meals, like soy—which the soy business is completely happy to inform you “decreases depressive-related conduct” in postmenopausal rats, who had been swimming for his or her lives.

In individuals, although, one of the best soy merchandise might be able to do is simply work in addition to medication like Prozac and Zoloft, and everyone knows how little that’s really saying. I imply, the pressured swim take a look at is simply “a response to the acute annoying stimulus of being positioned in a container with out an escape route,” whereas “human melancholy displays a persistent subjective emotional state”—an “inner emotional state.” And, to this point, we haven’t been in a position to ask animals how they’re feeling. You possibly can’t even simply have a look at human conduct and inform if somebody has a melancholy prognosis.

So, “it’s not possible to conclude” that the swim take a look at is a few take a look at for human melancholy. “The convenience with which” hundreds of scientists do this, nevertheless, “is disquieting,” in that it makes assumptions “that discourage…essential thought.” In truth, the entire thing has been in comparison with some Monty Python skit, the place you see if the witch floats or not. “[B]ut as we speak it’s in use to label a rodent as being depressed.”

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