Highlights from Jonathan Otto's interview with Dr. Masato Kinjo, for the Depression & Anxiety Series. Dr. Kinjo discusses some simple, practical protocols to reversing depression, such as hydrotherapy, massage and turmeric/curcumin.

Masato Kinjo

Dr. Kinjo: So, a lot of things get maybe put to the side. The hydrotherapy part. We do a lot with hydrotherapy. You talk to 50 different naturopaths, you’ll get 50 different protocols for treating whatever disease, right? But, I really like the physical medicine. Massage, hydrotherapy, the hot and cold contrast showers to get people waking up in the morning, to get that blood circulating, that can really do wonders for people who are depressed, and that’s one of the first things I’ll recommend to the patients coming into the clinic. They need something to energize them, and that hot and cold contrast showers, really good for, not just depression but all kinds of illnesses, right?

So, hydrotherapy’s a big part of my practice. Massage, I really love massage. People who haven’t been used to exercising for themselves maybe ned a little help and so, massage is actually like an extrinsic form of exercise. Getting that blood flowing, the muscle moving, and so if you have a skillful medical massage person that can do that, it can really help to deal with all kinds of illnesses, and we find that for depression, that human contact, skin to skin contact can really help with different people.

So, those are two things.

Jonathan: Do you find that hydrotherapy and massage can work together?

Dr. Kinjo: Oh, definitely. We try to always put those two together.

Jonathan: How does someone put that together? And, imagine somebody’s doing this at home, so they might get int their shower and do the intervals of three minutes hot, one minute cold. You can just tell it to me, so it’s coming from their physician, and then they go get a massage.

Jonathan: How could that work, and what would be the improved benefits of doing those two things together?

Dr. Kinjo: The hit and cold showers, you wanna do more in the morning, right? In the evening, you try to relax and get ready for sleeping, so you don’t wanna do the hot and cold shower closer to bedtime. At that time, you do more like a neutral bath, is what we call it. And the neutral bath is kind of close to body temperature, it’s not hot, it’s not cool, it’s kind of a neutral temperature, and that really helps to sooth the sympathetic nervous system, so that you’re getting ready to relax and go to sleep. And at that time, maybe a massage before that will help to relax the muscles, and prepare you for bedtime.

And so, a lot of times that’s the way we do it in the evening with a massage and then a light, neutral bath before retiring for the night.

Jonathan: Neutral bath is lukewarm.

Dr. Kinjo: Lukewarm. So, it’s about somewhere around body temperature, 98 degrees, maybe a little warmer. You don’t want a hot bath, you don’t want a cold bath before you go to sleep. And that neutral bath will just help to calm down the sympathetic nervous system for people who are kind of wired up, and have a hard time getting their minds to shut off at night. That neutral bath can really help a lot.

Jonathan: Wonderful, that’s incredible. Anything else that comes to mind? With hydrotherapy, I haven’t had necessarily someone from a scientific background speak about it. You’re a scientist, right? And you’re a naturopathic doctor. Going hot and cold to a lot of people seems like “This is some kind of quackery, this is some kind of middle ages, speculative thing.” But, do you see signs that supports why this could be effective in stimulating the brain when it comes to depression and anxiety?

Dr. Kinjo: Well, there have been quite a few studies. I can’t quote them off the top of my head, but we know that, especially for the immune system, it’s really very stimulating. They’ve actually done studies where white blood cell count will dramatically rise after that hot and cold shower, right?

It’s not that your bone marrow is suddenly releasing more white blood cells, it won’t do that, that quickly, right? But, when they’re circulating in your blood, they tend to be stuck to your blood vessel, kind of just rolling along, and they’re not actually circulating as much. But when you do that hot and cold shower, the velocity of the blood vessels circling through your body increases, and it seems to knocking off some of those white blood cells that kind of stuck to your blood vessels.

And that’s whre that huge rise in white blood vessel count actually takes place. Like when you’re fighting an infection or whatever the problem might be, the white blood cells can get to the sight of the problem much quicker when they’re actually circulating in the blood vessel system, right?

So, that is a documented effect that this hot and cold shower, very simple, to just boost your immune system right away. So, when you feel that illness coming along, at the first sign of that, just get into that shower, hot and cold, and it can really boost that immune system.

Jonathan: Anything else come to mind, some unique things that you’ve learned as a naturopath?

Dr. Kinjo: The [inaudible ] doctor that you were talking with, you talked about the importance of tamping down inflammation, and a lot of the disease effects that we’re having in our society today. And, Time Magazine came out with this huge article on inflammation underlines so many diseases, and that’s one thing I think we need to focus on and let’s see: the herb that really comes to mind in the beginning for inflammation for me, would be Tumeric.

Tumeric is really great, it’s one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory foods that we have, and not commonly used here in the US, but Indian food has a lot of Tumeric, all the curry and so, really effective for that is an extract from Tumeric, called curcumin and that is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory foods that you can take.

The thing with curry, with Tumeric, you have to have oil with it in order for your body to absorb it. Traditionally, in Indian curry, I think you have a little bit of oil, maybe some milk and things like that, oil-based to be able to absorb that.

So when you’re taking tumeric, just taking the herbs powder alone, will not do as much good. You need to have some kind of an oil based to absorb that. And so, a lot of the supplements that naturopaths will use, they combine some kind of a [inaudible ] that will help increase the absorption, without that, you have very little absorption from the gut and it won’t do you that much good.

Jonathan: So, Curcumin would be with olive oil, as a carry oil?

Dr. Kinjo: Olive oil would be good, when you’re cooking, when you use tumeric, make sure you use a little bit of oil with it in order to be able to absorb that. If you’re using it as a supplement, a lot of times we’ll mix it with Bromelain. Bromelain is a pineapple enzyme mixture. That helps to increase absorption of Curcumin or Tumeric. And Bromelain is anti-inflammatory in itself, and so those two would be really good together.

Just a note on Bromelain, that pineapple enzyme, there’s more Bromelain in the core of the pineapple tat we usually throw away, there’s more Bromelain in the core compared to the fruit itself. So when hyoure preparing pineapple, don’t throw that core away, you can chop that up and eat that core with it. You’re getting a lot of good anti-inflammatory effects just from the core of the pineapples.

Jonathan: Excellent. So, Curcumin, it’s good in combating a lot of things in the body. You would use it for even, as something to help supplement someone when it comes to depression and anxiety?

Dr. Kinjo: I would of course go with the specific herbs, like the St. Johns Wort, there’s some other herbs help to calm down and uplift the mood of the people.

Jonathan: Like what?

Dr. Kinjo: Some of the mints definitely would do that, so of the Camomile teas, different gentle things like that would help with the emotional aspect of that, the depression, anxiety, things like that.