Therapy – Depression


When we speak of depression, we refer to a psychological condition characterized by feelings ranging from sadness to overwhelming hopelessness. Many people who suffer from depression feel impaired in their daily lives.  


Depressive disorders are among the most common and, in terms of their severity, the most underestimated dangers to our health. It is estimated that approximately 350 million people worldwide today suffer from depression. Up to ten million Germans are affected by it before they reach their 65th birthday. This averages out to one in eight Germans, with women being twice as likely to suffer from it as their male counterparts. according to the World Health Organization (WHO), by 2020, depression and/or mood disorders will be the second most common affliction worldwide.


Particularly in the western industrialized nations, burnout syndrome has developed into a widespread affliction. It refers to a condition in which the patient is both physically as well as emotionally and mentally exhausted. Their ability to performance suffers significantly. This mental and physical state of exhaustion usually develops slowly over a longer period of time.


A diagnosis of depression may be considered when various symptoms are present. These include:

  • a persistent pessimistic mood

  • reduced activity levels

  • loss of appetite

  • exhaustion

  • decreased energy or fatigue

  • sleep disorders

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions

  • low self-esteem

  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities.

In some people, depression is accompanied by a variety of physical symptoms in addition to the aforementioned signs. These can include - among others - insomnia, loss of appetite and/or indigestion, disruptions in normal cardiovascular functions, such as cardiac arrhythmia, dizziness, fainting, excessive tear or saliva production, abnormal sweating, pain such as headaches or backaches, and feelings of pressure in the chest.

The disorder ranges from mild forms to severe depression, where the risk of suicide may become a concern. The disorder resurfaces in cycles. In other words, symptom-free phases alternate with bouts of depression. Either phase can last anywhere from a few weeks to over a year. The amount of time between two phases can fluctuate extremely and persist from a few days to many years. The symptom-free part of the cycle typically becomes shorter, more phases a person goes through.

The symptoms of burnout are easily confused with those of depression. For this reason, sufferers or even doctors or therapists often fail to attribute state of mind to burnout syndrome. Both the psychological as well as the physical symptoms in the case of burnout often present in very different ways. Since even experts frequently do not connect physical ailments to mental illness, burnout syndrome may often go undetected or be misinterpreted over long periods of time. Common indications of burnout include chronic fatigue, exhaustion, mood swings, anger, anxiety or panic attacks, and/or insomnia.


Depression can be triggered by different things. What role hereditary and environmental factors play is varies from person to person.

Possible triggers include:

  • Losses, hardships, and excessive demands originating from one’s professional or private life

  • an imbalance in brain metabolism

  • low levels of certain neurotransmitters


Neurotransmitters are the natural messengers which neurons use to communicate among one another. These include, for example, serotonin and norepinephrine. Appropriate dietary supplementation with the precursor nutrients for the formation of these neurotransmitters can provide the building blocks for healthy metabolic brain function, thereby affecting neurotransmitter levels in the brain directly.

Healthy fats for a healthy brain metabolism

Among the causes of depression, nutrient or vital material deficits, such as a lack of healthy fatty acids, can also play an important role. Scientific studies have shown that a lack of polyunsaturated fatty acids can lead to depression. The reason for this is that these healthy fatty acids are essential building blocks of the cell membranes of our brain and nerve cells.

The relationship seems obvious: While people a few decades ago consumed essential fatty acids in a ratio of one-part omega-3 fatty acid to one-part omega-6 fatty acids, this ratio has shifted to 1:25 – to the detriment of omega-3 fatty acids. At the same time the occurrence of depressive moods has increased hundredfold.

Over the course of life, anyone can be affected by burnout syndrome. Often, people who are particularly performance-oriented or otherwise engaged in are particularly affected. This does not only apply to people in management positions. Even those in social or health professions, such as doctors, nurses, teachers, athletes, pastors and/or caregivers are often affected by burnout.

Natural remedies and their effects

Conventional medicine appears to have reached its limits with regard to the treatment of depression. According to recent studies, antidepressants cause numerous side effects, yet have little effect on depression. The reason: They fight the symptoms of a depression, but not the cause(s).

One of the many possible causes of depression can be found in our nutrition: A lack of healthy, polyunsaturated fatty acids in the nerve cells.

Various, peer-reviewed scientific studies have demonstrated that regularly consuming omega-3 fatty acids can result in significant improvement of even severe cases of depression. The inverse of this could be: depression often appears to be the result of an omega-3 deficiency, because omega-3 fatty acids are important components and messengers in our nervous systems. When we fail to consume enough essential fatty acids, our neurons suffer especially.

Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency is no longer in issue of a few individual isolated cases, but a full-blown, societal problem: Because the omega 3 fatty acids - especially those found in fish, wild herbs, and the milk from grazing animals – are disappearing from our food more and more, thanks to the modern food industry. We take in far too little of these healthy fatty acids. Dr. Johanna Budwig was already aware of this in the 1950s, and, in the meantime, even the Societies for Nutrition (Germany-Austria-Switzerland) agree. Some researchers even maintain that a lack of omega-3 fatty acids is the reason for the frequency of depression diagnoses multiplying so greatly in Western industrial societies over the last few decades.

Approximately 60 percent of the brain’s (dehydrated) weight is composed of fat. Healthy, polyunsaturated fatty acids are the basis of healthy cells and a healthy cell metabolism. This is important for cells to be able to communicate with one another, and, in particular, for the cells that make up our brain and nervous system, in general.


Particularly high quality, natural, gently pressed oils make ideal sources of healthy fatty acids.  Polyunsaturated fatty acids can be consumed in special compositions which can have beneficial effects on the symptoms of depression and their consequences. As Dr. Johanna Budwig stated in her 1979 book “Fettfibel":

"The electromotive force of the [...] highly unsaturated fatty acids, biologically driven by the accompanying substances of the oils in whole oil compositions, is necessary in people to uphold membrane function in its entirety." "These whole oils [...] are essential for biological existence today, essential to being human. "

During her lifetime, Dr. Johanna Budwig tirelessly reiterated that she knew of no other oil capable of having the same beneficial effects on health as linseed oil. For this reason, she set strict quality standards for the production of linseed oil. It is paramount to ensure that the electron richness of the linseed oil is preserved, thus, conserving its intense beneficial effects for the human organism.


Today, we are aware that there are a number of other important fatty acids found in natural, whole oils, which are - in particular combinations - are essential for the health of our cells – especially when fighting certain diseases. Supplementation with such oils helps regulate cellular process and keep our cells – and therefore, our bodies – healthy. Once cellular health has been restored, medications prescribed to treat illnesses can achieve their maximum benefit.

Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)

ALA is an essential fatty acid, which means that we must consume it daily through food. The body cannot produce it itself. ALA can compensate for an imbalance in the intake of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. It is also a key element in the formation and function of the cell membranes, which is critical for the flexibility of cell membranes, the transport of substances within the cell, and the communication between the cells.

Its presence is vital for the optimal function of important metabolic processes to proceed optimally, such as transmitting neurotransmitters in the brain.

Flax seed oil is one of the richest sources of ALA. Dr. Johanna Budwig tirelessly stated that there was no other oil known to her which exercised quite the intense effects on the human organism as flax seed oil.  Precisely for this reason she has been placed great demands on the quality extraction of linseed oil - from the sowing of the seeds to the pressing process and subsequent storage.

Hemp oil, in addition, has been known to contain a significant content of ALA. Furthermore, hemp oil contains valuable stearidonic acid. The body is capable, to some extent, of synthesizing further, vital omega-3 fatty acids, such as EPA and DHA, from ALA and stearidonic acid. However, the synthesis of DHA from ALA and stearidonic results in limited amounts of DHA. Therefore, it should be taken as a supplement to daily diet. Algae oil provides a sustainable, vegetable source of DHA.

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

DHA is an integral part of our cell membranes, particularly those in our brain and nerve cells. An adequate supply of DHA is a basic prerequisite for the ability of nerve cells to communicate with each other. Therefore, a daily intake of 250 mg DHA contributes to the maintenance of normal brain and nerve function.

Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA)

GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid which is found in nature in a significant concentration in nature in borage seed oil. This particular fatty acid has a stabilizing effect on the psyche and the nervous system.

Sea buckthorn oil

Sea buckthorn oil contains a mix of different sterols, tocopherols - especially alpha-tocopherol - as well as gamma and delta tocopherols, vitamin A, vitamin K, carotenoids, flavonoids, and lecithin. It is traditionally taken to support general physical and mental strength.


Tocotrienols have 40 to 60 times more antioxidant protection effect than tocopherols. They protect the brain from neurodegeneration and thereby support the mind and mental balance.

Orange oil

Citrus oils in general, but orange oil in particular, have mood-lightening, harmonizing, and soothing effects.


The fact of the matter is that - especially in industrialized nations - the consumption of polyunsaturated fatty acids has changed radically over the past few decades. The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids in diet has shifted drastically over the last hundred years, namely from 1: 1 to 1:25. At the same time, the frequency of depressive episodes has increased by about a hundred fold. It is also striking to examine depression in people in different countries around the world. For example, the incidence of depression in Iraq was ten times higher than in Taiwan, and in New Zealand it was 60 times higher than in Japan.


Consequently, a change in diet can have a positive influence on the course of a depressive episode. Therefore, it is vitally important to compensate for a lack of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Simultaneously, it is important to avoid unfavorable fats, such as trans fats, as well as an excess of omega-6 fatty acids. It is important to integrate the consumption of beneficial fatty acids such as ALA, DHA, GLA, etc. into a varied, balanced, lacto-vegetarian wholefood diet. Just as Dr. Johanna Budwig outlined in her nutritional concept, the oil-protein diet. Particular attention should be paid to the quality of the selected of fatty sources. Only in this way - as Dr. Johanna Budwig reiterated again and again – are the cells able to come into the whole benefit of the full electron richness of the oils. Great importance must be attached to the selection of the seed, the crop rotation, the pressing process, as well as to any further processing. For this reason, Dr. Johanna Budwig defined and recorded strict quality standards. For the extraction, she developed a very gentle pressing process, the "Original Dr. Budwig pressing method" – which is still used under the name today.

Take good care of your digestive tract!

Whether our cells actually benefit from the food we consume each day, depends largely on our intestinal health. The decisive factor is our intestines’ ability to absorb the nutrients that we eat. Dr. Johanna Budwig, thus, recommended daily consumption of fresh sauerkraut juice or sour milk to maintain our intestines and their intestinal flora. Furthermore, the regular consumption of dietary fiber plays an important role in healthy bowel function. Therefore, an integral part our daily diet should include 1-2 tablespoons of shredded and fortified flax seed, blended into a Budwig cream, made of quark and flax seed oil, or in Muttersaft such as Fermentgold.

A regular exercise regimen should be integrated into everyday life to reduce tension. In addition, learning relaxation techniques as well as consciously and regularly practicing stress management can also beneficial to people suffering from depression.

People who are affected by depression should adhere strictly to the requirements laid out in the oil-protein diet. It is of particular importance that people suffering from depression eat a light diet which is rich in fruits and vegetables, with sufficient intake of magnesium and B vitamins. Tryptophan-containing foods such as bananas and nuts should also be included. Foods with which are not especially nutritious, such as sugary foods and products made from white flour, should be avoided. Furthermore, ensuring an adequate intake of dietary fiber is also important. Teas made from St. John's wort and valerian are good for alleviating tension, while those made from milk thistle, dandelion, dark wood, goldenrod or juniper are stimulating, and can be enjoyed throughout the day.

Compensating for a deficiency

Should one become ill, any existing dietary deficiency – especially one pertaining to essential, polyunsaturated fatty acids - should be compensated. It is important to integrate beneficial fatty acids into a varied, balanced, lacto-vegetarian wholefood diet. Just as Dr. Johanna Budwig’s designed her concept of the oil-protein diet. People in poor health should follow the regulatory guidelines of the oil-protein. Only then can their cells and, thus, the person as a whole restore order in vital cellular processes and become healthy again. If you have any questions about the implementation of the oil-protein diet, please do not hesitate to call to the Dr. Budwig Foundation’s helpline or contact an experienced Dr. Budwig consultant.


Various, peer-reviewed studies have shown that the regular consumption of healthy, polyunsaturated fatty acids can have a positive impact on the severity and course of depression.

Following decades in medicine where treatment of depression has relied heavily on powerful drugs which act by intervening with the level of chemical messengers in the brain and nervous system, there is hope for an acceptable and healthy alternative: Polyunsaturated fatty acids. Different research teams have demonstrated that the regular intake of healthy, polyunsaturated fatty acids by patients suffering from regular depressive episodes led to statistically significant improvements in their symptoms. One possible explanation for these effects could be the contribution of healthy fatty acids to the correct lipid composition of the cell membrane.

Less linoleic acid and increased ALA intake reduce the risk of clinical depression

From 1996-2006, a comprehensive "nurses' health study" investigating the connection between depression and omega-3 and omega-6 intake (M. Lucas, Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, USA) observed 73,449 nurses, comparing their dietary habits with the frequency of depression diagnoses (both previously diagnosed as well as new-onset depression) (3,406 cases). According to the results, a high intake of the omega-3 fatty acid, ALA, and a low intake of the omega-6 fatty acid, linoleic acid, seem to reduce the likelihood of developing depression.

A further study performed at the University of Perth (Australia) found that an increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids correlated with fewer depressive symptoms in adolescent youth (995 participants). In the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study, the dietary habits and fatty acids parameters aged 14 to 17 years were examined. At the same time, the participants had to complete the "Beck Depression Inventory for Youth" (BDI-Y) questionnaire. It was found that the dietary habits correlated significantly with the serum concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids. Moreover, there was a negative correlation between omega-3 and omega-6 intake and depressive symptoms also identified using the BDI-Y.

Dr. Budwig consultant

The Dr. Johanna Budwig Foundation is committed to supporting those in suffering from ailments to their health.  In the spirit of this commitment, we are happy to recommend qualified "Dr. recommend "Budwig consultants, who have been trained in the implementation of the oil-protein diet. Currently, we are working on setting up a corresponding nationwide network.


Important note: Dr. Johanna Budwig had no doubt that many modern ailments could be treated with her oil-protein diet. The Dr. Johanna Budwig Foundation has made it its mission to supplement her work with modern, intensively reviewed scientific findings. These are vital issues too serious for false hopes. Therefore, we find it very important to emphasize: While there are primary scientific findings which indicate that the oil-protein diet may support- under certain circumstances – medical treatments, diet alone cannot replace proper medical treatment. We distance ourselves from promises of false miracles.