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n. A physical activity that improves mental health, particularly by reducing stress or anxiety.

It’s a fusion of “behavior” + “pharmaceutical.” It was created by Kelly Lambert, a neuroscientist at the University of Richmond:

I made up this term called “behaviorceuticals,” instead of pharmaceuticals, in the sense that when we move and when we engage in activities, we change the neurochemistry of our brain in ways that a drug can change the neurochemistry of our brain.

I’d never heard this word before, but I love it! It speaks directly to the power of behavior change for preventing and reversing disease.

Imagine if you went to the doctor and discovered you had high blood sugar and high cholesterol. Instead of prescribing metformin and a statin to lower them, she wrote you prescriptions for “behaviorceuticals.” These might include:

  • A nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet
  • Getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night
  • A movement program (spending less time sitting, more time walking/moving, and exercise)
  • A stress-management program

Here’s the thing: these “behaviorceuticals” would be even more effective than the drugs—with none of the side effects.

In the conventional paradigm, we’ve come to believe that drugs are the most powerful interventions, but that’s simply not true....

“Behaviorceuticals” is Gold!

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