12 Natural Herbs to Treat Depression
Is depression affecting your ability to enjoy life?
You may be wondering why your depression symptoms return after a period of recess following treatment. There is a time and a place for modern medicine, but maybe, in your case, antidepressant medication isn’t working, or you want to find a natural alternative that is not harmful to your body.
What is Depression?
Depression is a mental health condition which has some characteristics such as low motivation, sad mood, and disinterest in things that you loved most. Brain cells usually produce levels of neurotransmitters that keep senses, learning, movements, and moods moving along. If any of these neurotransmitters aren’t working properly, they can have an effect on our moods.
Did you know that the side effects of antidepressant prescription medications can be worse than depression itself?
Unfortunately, one of the worst side effects that you endure every time you use antidepressants is getting addicted to those antidepressants. What may follow after that is the withdrawal effect of those antidepressants when you discontinue them. They can also adversely affect your libido, cause suicidal feelings, and increase your chances for obesity.
Let’s take a look at some natural herbs that can have an even greater effect on curing your depression without the negative side effects.
How to Cure Depression Naturally Using Herbs
St John’s Wort
St John’s Wort is an herb with yellow flowers. St John’s Wort is an herb used for centuries in many parts of the world for various treatments. Europe and Asia are some of the regions that regard St John’s Worts for its medicinal value. European doctors prescribe this herb while treating depression and anxiety. It contains various active ingredients which help to boost serotonin and dopamine some of the neurotransmitters responsible for happiness. When these chemicals are low in the body, they trigger depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and other mood-related health issues.
Ashwagandha is popular in the Asian region and therefore known for its use in Ayurvedic medicines while treating various diseases. This plant beats most modern prescriptions in curing depression and its related symptoms. Ashwagandha plant derives its strength of treating depression from its powerful herbal pharmaceuticals known as adaptogens. Adaptogens are powerful in counteracting stress effects in the body which one of them is depression. These chemicals contain stimulants that help to stabilize physiological processes in the body. A study performed on subjects taking ashwagandha roots showed a significant reduction on stress-assessment scales when compared to a placebo group.
Rhodiola Rosea has medicinal value in treating depression that goes back many centuries. The plant is found mainly in the Alpine regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The medicine comes from its roots which contain sap known to cure depression effectively. Besides working on depression, it is useful in relieving stress, attention span, memory loss, and other mental health conditions. It inhibits depression by lifting neurotransmitters which eventually improves the mood.
Maca is a plant found mainly in Peru and also known as “Peruvian Ginseng.” The use of this plant among the traditional healers goes back many thousands of years, and even today, it remains famous for its power in curing depression. Scientific research has found that Maca is an aphrodisiac plant which boosts sexual desire, which can increase your overall vitality.
This is a less familiar plant known botanically as Myrciaria Dubia and bears red cherry-like fruit. It’s a plant that grows in rainforests such as the Amazon rainforest. The fruits of this plant have a mixture of tangy and sweet taste and are rich in vitamin C more than any other plant in the world. It is also an adaptogenic plant which is potent over depression. It contains various nutrients that nourish and strengthen the nervous system, the main reason for its ability in curing depression. The plant contains powerful antioxidants which are essential in balancing hormone levels. Erratic levels of hormones can negatively affect mood leading to more depression. The scents from Camu Camu have for many years been in the top of the list of aromatherapy treatment for depression due to its relaxation effect.
The Kava plant’s origin is in the South Pacific. Traditional healers have valued this plant because of its potency in curing cognitive health issues, such as depression. Kava has the same effect as valium in treating depression. A dosage of 300mg once daily will eventually cure depression. Unlike valium which decreases cognitive functions, kava improves function. However, using this herb should not exceed four weeks and you should consult your naturopathic physician or herbalist if you have liver health issues before using it.
Ginko Biloba is so effective in treating depression that Germany approved its use either as a prescription or an OTC (over the counter) medication. This known “depression buster” plant works by boosting the levels of serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitters which usually are low in people with depression. The only downside to this wonder plant is that it contains some compounds related to poison ivy and can cause an allergic reaction in anyone who has an ivy allergy.
You definitely know this spice plant that has many uses in the kitchen. Believe it or not, this same plant is a treatment for depression. It contains the ingredients rosmanol, salvigenin, and circimaritin which are effective in depression and other mental health issues. A study on Kerman University students with depression showed more favorable results of using rosemary compared to a placebo after only one month of use. The conclusion was that the rosemary herb could reduce depression among other mental conditions.
Oftentimes depression can result in insomnia. Valerian root assists in these cases due to its sleep-inducing qualities. Relaxation is one way of dealing with depression. Lack of sleep and poor cognitive function escalates depression symptoms. Due to its sleep-inducing effects, be sure to only use valerian root when there won’t be any risk of driving while feeling sleepy.
Ginseng herb from Asia and the Americas may be effective in treating depression and stress. There are other versions of ginseng found in other regions which might not treat depression due to their different active ingredients. According to one study by NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information), ginseng is also useful in blocking depression recurrence. The research also concluded that ginsenosides, ginseng natural antioxidants compounds extracted from the stem, roots, leaves, and fruits support neurotransmitters responsible for a happy mood. Ginseng is also an adaptogen which deals effectively with stress, and therefore depression as well.
Chamomile has been used to calm and relax the mind. In the traditional days, stress, trauma, and also shock were effectively soothed with a cup of chamomile tea. Mothers always had chamomile on standby in their medicinal cabinets for such times. Breastfeeding and pregnant mothers can also use chamomile with no known negative side effects. Chamomile contains compounds that relieve tension. One study performed by researchers of the University of Pennsylvania to check whether chamomile can be used in treatment prescription for depression determined that chamomile was “clinically meaningful” in treating depression.
It is well known that depression sometimes results from a deficiency of serotonin, otherwise known as the “happy chemical.” More research has revealed that depression can happen due to inflammation which can lower serotonin. So what does inflammation have to do with serotonin and depression? The gut and the brain impact each other as it relates to your health. Therefore, hormonal imbalance can be triggered by immunity and inflammation. These then can affect other issues such as energy, mood, and your body’s overall wellness, which can result in depression. Treating this kind of depression will require anti-inflammatory herbs such as curcumin from saffron or turmeric to beat the inflammation. Also, it will boost the levels of serotonin naturally.
Be an Active Participant in Your Wellness Journey
These herbs have been proven to work effectively on depression, but I also encourage you to be an active participant in your wellness journey by eating plenty of whole foods, exercising, getting plenty of sunshine, and sleeping well. Be mindful of your mental health and keep a positive mindset- try not to dwell on negative thoughts. Remember, you are responsible for what you put in your body- positive or negative.
Some of these herbs work differently with individuals, so be sure to consult a naturopathic physician when you are ready to make the switch to more natural alternatives for depression. If after trying herbal supplements, your depression symptoms continue, you may consider doing a hormone panel screening to identify where your levels are in the event you have another masked issue.