Depression is a serious mental illness, but it is far from uncommon. Millions of teenagers and adults all over the globe suffer from depression, and a large number of them resort to prescribed anti-depressants. While taking doctor-prescribed medication is completely okay, the truth is that there are certain herbs for depression that have been used since centuries, with lesser side effects than any over-the-counter conventional drug.
Anti-depressants have been said to be only mildly effective for patients with severe depression, which is only 13% of all people suffering from depression. For mild to moderate depression, anti-depressants usually play no significant role. Maybe these natural herbs for depression and anxiety are worth a try. Do remember to consult your doctor before trying them out though.
Alternative Medical Treatment for Depression
St. John’s wort
A well-known herb that helps with depression and anxiety, st. John’s wort has been used for medical purposes for over thousands of years. It is a plant that grows in subtropical and temperate areas of the world, and has yellow flowers.
A 2008 review done as part of the cochrane systemic review conducted an assessment of 29 studies of 5489 patients with depression. These studies compared the effects of treatment with st. John’s wort and regular antidepressants. It was found that st. John’s wort was just as effective when it came to depression treatment as antidepressants, with fewer side effects.
The common dosage recommended is 300mg, three times a day but be sure never to prescribe yourself without talking to a doctor. It is also equally important to remember that st. John’s wort has been proven to interfere with other medications, such as birth control.
S-adenosyl-l-methionine or sam-e is a chemical occurring naturally in our bodies, involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, the feel-good chemical. Sam-e is also responsible for the production of important brain chemicals and hormones crucial for mood regulation.
according to robert howland, md, professor of psychiatry at the university of pittsburgh, sam-e is one of the safest and most effective natural herbs for depression and anxiety.
The usual recommended dose of this depression medicine for a healthy adult is 400mg of sam-e taken orally and daily. This can be increased to 800mg later on. Most people have not experienced any untoward side effects with this herbal remedy but some people have reported experiencing diarrhea, vomiting, or nausea.
Valerian root is a perennial herb that is native to europe, southern africa and northern asia. Best known for its calming properties, valerian is often used in “sleep teas” and as depression treatment. It is also used to treat menstrual cramps, muscle spasms, headaches and stress. With no addictive properties, valerian works by calming the brain and relaxing the muscles.
An extremely mild antidepressant, valerian can be used by people trying medication for the first time. Valerian has not been reported as having any side effects, but because of its sleep-inducing properties, it should not be used by people who have to drive or do any work that requires alertness. It should also not be used by pregnant women or very young children.
Kava root has been used for centuries in the polynesian islands as a ceremonial tea. Kava creates a sensation similar to one created by alcohol – it relaxes and reduces anxiety, but does not have any addictive properties.
Kava has been shown in a dozen placebo studies to be effective in the treatment of generalized anxiety, stress, depression and insomnia. People with depression are more prone to feeling pain, and the numbing feeling of kava may provide some relief. Chronic depression also causes a large amount of stress, destroying one’s attention span and focus. Kava has been shown to improve mental health and focus, while decreasing stress, making it a perfect natural herb for depression and anxiety.
Kava should not be taken if you have any liver problems, or taken for more than four weeks at a time. Always consult your doctor before taking kava.
Rhodiola rosea has been used traditionally as a herb that helps with depression, in parts of russia, scandinavia and other cold, mountainous regions. It is believed to reduce the symptoms of anxiety, stress, mild depression, headache and anaemia.
A 2015 study in phytomedicine found that rhodiola was effective in reducing the symptoms of depression, but its effects were mild. The herb did not combat symptoms as effectively as prescribed and conventional depression medicine but its side effects very lesser and milder.
tieraona low dog, m.d. Says that it is one of the best natural treatments for people suffering from “21st century stress”: fatigue, mental fog, trouble concentrating, low energy and mild depression. She recommends starting with 100mg once a day for a week and then increasing the dosage by 100mg every week, upto 400mg a day.
Better known as indian ginseng, ashwagandha is a herb made from the roots of a small, evergreen shrub. It is native to india, northern africe and the middle east. It has always been used in ayurveda, or indian medicine.
Ashwagandha has shown effectiveness in reducing stress hormone, helping with bipolar disorder, and promoting memory and intellect. Ashwagandha root can be used to heal anxiety, stress, mental and physical fatigue, mild depression, nervousness, tension and mood swings. Ashwagandha is considered an “adaptogenic herb” which means it helps the body to adapt better to stressors present in the environment. In the 2007 december issue of the indian journal of physiology and pharmacology, researchers found that ashwagandha was as effective as diazepam, a common anti-depressant, for cases of depression.
The side effects of ashwagandha may include gastrointestinal discomfort, nausea, bloating. Pregnant women should avoid ashwagandha at all costs as it may trigger abortion.
Chamomile is an herb that comes from the flowers of the asteraceae plant family. It has been used for centuries as a natural herb for depression and anxiety, as well as stress and insomnia. Chamomile tea is very popular for its relaxing, calming and sleep-inducing properties.
Researchers speculate that the large amount of flavonoids in chamomile trigger the secretion of dopamine, serotonin and other such hormones in the body, which uplifts one’s mood, has a calming effect and helps to tackle anxiety and depression. The most popular and easy way to use chamomile for its anti-depressive properties is to drink chamomile tea.
Ginkgo biloba is used heavily in europe, where it is often prescribed as a natural herb for depression and an alternative to conventional depression medicine. Ginkgo extracts are used to treat a wide range of conditions, ranging from memory loss, lack of concentration, anxiety, depression, dizziness and headaches.
Its anti-depressant properties come from its ability to increase the production of dopamine and serotonin, which are low in a depressed individual. It boosts neurotransmitters, increases blood supply and rids the body of harmful free radicals.
The common dosage for ginkgo extract is 40mg, three times a day. It is recommended to start with low dosages and take them with meals.
Maca, or lepidium meyenii, is a starchy root vegetable native to south america. It is an adaptogen, used to strengthen the body’s ability to deal with stress, anxiety and fatigue.
Maca benefits energy levels, by correcting adrenal fatigue and balancing hormones. It works as a natural energizer. Maca shows anti-depressant activities, though no studies have been conducted on humans, but because of its energizing properties, it is also linked with uplifting of mood.
Rosemary is a woody plant whose leaves are used for flavouring and seasoning purposes in cooking. The herb has been found to reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression and insomnia.
A clinical study from the kerman university of medical sciences gave a group of students 500mg of powdered rosemary daily, and found that their depression scores (according to the hospital anxiety and depression scale) has considerably decreased after a period of 30 days.
Like rosemary, thyme is also best known for its usage in cooking but it contains anti-depressant properties. The herb is full of lithium, which is a mineral that can treat depression, as well as tryptophan, which creates serotonin hormone and induces sleep. In addition, thyme can calm one down and stimulate their brain. Thyme can best be consumed as tea.
It is incorrect to think that only allopathic medications prescribed by doctors and conventional antidepressants can treat depression. Using natural herbs for depression and anxiety can be a good idea, but it is always important to check with your doctor as many herbs can interfere with existing health conditions or other types of medication.