herbs for depression

10 Herbs for Depression

People who have been diagnosed with depression often feel hopeless and have lost interest in their favorite activities. These people may be withdrawn, and they can also be suicidal. Depression can be situational, which means it’s triggered by traumatic events like losing a loved one, or it can be chronic, which is a long-term form of depression.

It’s important to seek treatment for moderate to severe depression to help control mood swings, improve your state of mind, and renew your interest in life. Effective treatments can also restore the ability to sleep through the night, reduce anxiety, and prevent suicidal thoughts.

Treating Depression with Medication: Not Right for Everyone

Treatments for depression often include psychotherapy and being prescribed antidepressants. However, antidepressants can have adverse side effects for many people, including:

  • Nausea
  • Sexual dysfunctions like erectile dysfunction decreased orgasms or loss of sexual desire.
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Irritability

People who experience these side effects may stop taking antidepressants, which can prevent them from getting better. Also, many people don’t like taking chemicals to help them heal when there are other alternatives. Fortunately, there are many herbs which alleviate depression symptoms, so those who don’t want to take medications can choose these herbs for depression.  

Treating Depression with Herbal Remedies

Herbs have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries and are being rediscovered today by people who don’t want potentially harmful chemicals in their bodies. Also, antidepressant medications have limited success, with only about 30% of those taking them having good results.

Ayurvedic medicine, which is the world’s oldest holistic medicine, combines herbs with massage therapy and a healthy diet for treating conditions like depression. These ten herbs for depression are recommended by holistic practitioners for treating its symptoms.

Arctic Root

This natural antidepressant is a flowering plant found in the arctic climates of Europe, North America, and Asia. It contains a natural substance that helps the body adapt to physical and emotional stress. The ancient Greeks used arctic root to boost both mental and physical energy.

It works by stimulating neurotransmitters of the brain like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine and reduces the levels of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone, ” and elevated levels of it has many negative effects on the body, including increasing the risk of depression.

When used as directed, arctic root can reduce depression faster than chemical antidepressants. It works well for depression caused by the seasonal affective disorder, SAD, or when accompanied by anxiety and fatigue.

Arctic root extract, which is also labeled under its Latin name Rhodiola Rosea, can be found in health food stores in capsule form. When buying the extract, it should contain 3% Rosavins and 1% Salidroside. Start by taking 100mg per day for a week; then you can gradually increase the dosage by 100mg per week to a maximum of 400mg daily.

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is an herbal supplement often used in Ayurvedic medicine for treating depression complicated with stress, anxiety, and insomnia. Like arctic root, ashwagandha helps to reduce the levels of cortisol in the body.

The plant which produces this herb is also known as Indian ginseng or wild cherry and is a member of the nightshade family. It can be found in the form of a capsule or powder in stores which sell holistic remedies.

Start taking 600 to 1,000 mg of ashwagandha capsules every day or, since it can also help with insomnia, add a teaspoon of powdered ashwagandha in a hot cup of milk before going to bed.

Chamomile

Chamomile is a plant which looks like a daisy but has long been used for medicinal purposes like treating depression, anxiety, and upset stomachs. The flowers of the chamomile plant are used to make chamomile tea, which is one of the teas for depression.

If you want to try chamomile for depression, steep either a chamomile tea bag or chamomile flowers in hot water for five to 10 minutes before drinking it. Chamomile capsules can also be found where herbal medicines are sold, and dosages from 400mg to 1,600mg can be taken daily. Start off with the lowest dosage, 400mg, try it for a week, and then gradually increase the dosage each week to the maximum 1,600mg.

Curcumin

Curcumin is the main active ingredient in Turmeric, which is the spice used to make Indian curries and used for many medicinal purposes. Curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties and is used to help stimulate brain activity.

It works by boosting levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. It’s beneficial for treating severe depression, and it can be taken indefinitely, unlike most prescription or over the counter antidepressants. Some studies have found taking curcumin is as effective as taking the antidepressant Prozac.

To take curcumin for depression, buy it in capsule form from a health food store or wherever herbal supplements are sold. Take 500 mg twice a day for as long as you have good results. Talk with your doctor about taking curcumin though as it shouldn’t be taken by pregnant women or by people who have indigestion or gallbladder problems.

Ginkgo

Ginkgo biloba is one of the most popular natural supplements in the world. It’s derived from the Ginkgo biloba, or maidenhair tree, which dates back 270 million years.

While it has been used to boost memory, it’s also used to elevate moods and fight depression. It works by increasing blood flow to the brain and increases the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which are known for elevating moods.

Ginkgo extracts can be found in capsule form, but it is also available as tablets, liquid extracts and as dried leaves. To help treat depression, you should take about 120mg to 240mg each day. Gingko can also be used to boost the effectiveness of antidepressant medications.

Rhodiola Rosea

We’ve already seen how Rhodiola Rosea, or arctic root, can be used to treat depression, but it can also help treat many other conditions often associated with depression. For instance, Rhodiola Rosea can effectively treat many physical symptoms like exhaustion, insomnia, daytime sleepiness, and sleep disruptions. It can also be used to treat cognitive disorders like trouble with concentration, memory loss, forgetfulness, irritability and being susceptible to stress.

Maca

The maca plant is a cruciferous herb found in the Andes mountains in Peru. Its root is used to create herbal supplements, or it's eaten for its dense nutritional value.

Maca root can boost energy, balance hormones and it can also treat depression. It’s considered an adaptogen since it helps the body adapt to both physical and mental stress.

It’s believed to work by stabilizing blood sugar levels and help adrenal health to maintain energy levels and mood. Maca root also helps the pituitary gland to function correctly, which helps boost energy and makes it easier to concentrate. Improved mood, concentration, and energy levels can combat depression.

Maca is usually found in powder form but is also available as capsules, liquid or as an extract. The dosage for treating depression depends on the weight and health of the individual, but in general, you can take one to three teaspoons of powdered Maca every day or two to eight capsules daily. This dosage is a for a 160-pound person who is in good health so that it can be adjusted for every person.

Valerian root

Valerian is a flowering plant with pink or white flowers that blooms in the summer. While the flowers were used for perfumes in the 16th century, today the root is another natural treatment using herbs for depression.

Valerian root has many medicinal applications and is often used to help people sleep, to combat anxiety, to treat migraines, asthma, and depression. Although the evidence is sparse, there are studies showing that when Valerian root is taken with St. John’s Wort, it can effectively treat depression.

Valerian root is available as a powder, in tablet or capsule forms, as extracts, tinctures, and teas. To use as an herbal antidepressant, take three 500mg capsules before going to bed each night. However, for a more accurate dosage, consult your doctor.

Kava

Kava or kava-kava is a small shrub native to the South Pacific islands. It is grown as a crop, and its roots and stems are used to make a beverage drank mostly in Hawaii, Tonga, and Fiji.  

The plant is also produced for medicinal purposes as it can help treat anxiety, stress, and insomnia. There are compounds in kava called kavalactones that have psychoactive qualities. These compounds work on the non-opiate pathways of the brain to relieve anxiety.

Studies have shown that 150 mg of kavalactones, combined with St. John’s Wort, can effectively treat depression. A 250mg kava capsule contains about 75mg of kavalactones, so you should take 500mg of kava daily for depression symptoms.

Saffron

This rare, and expensive, culinary spice is considered one of the most promising natural supplements for depression. Studies have found it to be as effective as Prozac and it can also treat anxiety and stress.

Saffron comes from the thin red stigmas of the crocus plant and must be harvested by hand, which makes it so expensive.  Since it is expensive, imitation saffron is often sold as the real herb, so you should check the quality of the product before buying it. Check the label of saffron supplements for Crocus sativus extract to make sure you are getting the real deal.

Although it isn’t fully understood how saffron fights depression, it seems to work by acting on serotonin metabolism. Studies have shown taking a 30 mg saffron capsule twice a day can help treat depression.

MORE NATURAL HERBS TO HELP EASE DEPRESSION SYMPTOMS

Black Cohosh herb helps alleviate panic attacks.
Catnip is a popular herb for severe anxiety. It is considered one of the best herbs for managing chronic anger and fear.
Chasteberry helps people manage stress
Cranberry herbs are used for panic attacks and constant irritation as well.
Garlic is one of the best herbs for anxiety and ailments is
Garlic can usually be found in your kitchen.
Ginger teas or dried ginger can manage stress and other health issues.
Echinacea is in the list of herbs that help in cases of severe anxiety.
CBD oil is a great best herb for anxiety, and Cannabidiol is undoubtedly the best to treat
depression and stress without any worries of side effects.
Hibiscus helps in lowering your blood pressure and reducing stress.
Hops ease daytime tension and restlessness but also helps in reducing the signs of
anxiety by working as an excellent sleeping aid.
Lemon Balm is one of the best herbs for anger and issues related to aggressive outrage,
as it is a gentle calmative. It helps in treating stress, eases up the tension, and helps in relieving digestive problems as well.
Licorice not only helps in reducing stress symptoms with its soothing effects but also
acts as an excellent anti-inflammatory agent to protect and heal the gastrointestinal
tract.
Marshmallow is of the best remedies for depression its roots and leaves are rich in
mucilage.
Nettle herb fresh and dried leaves help significantly in treating extreme anger and
anxiety.
The effects of Kratom help manage stress and depression.
Mullein herbs are great natural anti-depressants.
Milk Thistle is one of the herbs for social anxiety.
Sage is one of the best remedies for depression as helps in treating excessive sweating
due to angry feelings.

Other Natural Ways to Treat Depression

Along with taking herbs for depression, there are many other alternate treatments for depression. These treatments may include taking certain vitamins for depression, eating a healthy diet, and lifestyle changes like exercising every day. The herbal treatments listed above can be combined with many of these alternative solutions to treat depression successfully.

Exercise

Studies have shown there is a strong connection between exercising and improving moods. Everyone knows running, walking and other aerobic activities can produce endorphins, commonly known as a “runner’s high.”

Regular exercise can create neurons that have a calming effect and boost levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine to reduce stress. To get the most benefit from exercising, strive for at least 30 minutes of continuous activity, five times a week.

Omega III Fatty Acids

Known for their heart-healthy qualities, the fatty acids found in fish are also beneficial for the brain and nerves. They contain docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, which is an essential fatty acid that protects brain health as the brain is 60% fat.

Since most people do not get enough of Omega 3 fatty acids from their diet, consider taking fish oil for depression. A dosage of 1,000mg to 2,000mg every day can protect your brain and heart. If the fish oil capsules taste fishy, store them in the freezer and take them frozen.

Eat Healthy

Improving your diet and adding healthy foods will have many benefits for your body, including acting as natural antidepressants. Increase the number of fresh fruits and vegetables you eat, especially dark green leafy vegetables as they contain protective antioxidants. Fresh produce also contains essential vitamins and minerals that are needed to maintain a healthy mind.

Although you may need to reduce salt intake if you have high blood pressure, salt is essential to your health, and a salt deficiency can produce depression-like symptoms. Instead of table salt, or iodized salt, use a natural salt containing micronutrients like sea salt or Himalayan salt.

Make Sure You're Getting Enough Sleep

A good night’s sleep is essential for good health and to function well mentally. Sleep acts to repair the body and mind, and getting the right amount of sleep can reduce stress. Sleep disruptions and insomnia are symptoms of depression, so if you can sleep well, you can reduce depression.

Try one of the herb supplements above, like ashwagandha that helps with insomnia, so you can get the sleep you need. Adults should try to get seven to eight hours of sleep per night for optimal cognitive functioning.

Meditate

Studies have found that meditation has many benefits for the mind and body, like fighting depression. The main benefit to mediation is stress reduction, which in turn can reduce cortisol levels. Meditation also lowers the heart rate, high blood pressure and it can help achieve a better night’s sleep. All these benefits are important for reducing depression symptoms.

Lavender Oil

The essential oil derived from the lavender plant can be used to treat depression. Diffusing lavender oil in your home can help lift your mood, relieve anxiety, and it has a relaxing effective that can help you fall asleep.

Studies show lavender aromatherapy helps relieve postpartum depression; it can improve the moods of people with PTSD, and, when used daily, it reduces depression by almost 33%. It also decreases sleep disturbances and mood swings.

B-Vitamins

The B vitamins can help alleviate some of the symptoms of depression. Folic acid and B6 are especially helpful in treating mild depression, and studies have found nearly 27% of severely depressed women over 65 had vitamin B12 deficiencies. B12 shots, often taken by older people, can reduce depression. Also, if you take antidepressants, B6 can make them more effective.

Magnesium

This mineral provides relief from stress and is a natural relaxant. However, most Americans do not get enough of it in their diet, and it’s also depleted by stress, consuming caffeine, sugar, and alcohol. Have your doctor check your magnesium levels and add supplements to your diet.

L-Theanine

L-theanine is an amino acid found in green tea, which has been turned into a dietary supplement. Taking this supplement, or drinking green tea every day, can help elevate the symptoms of depression like moodiness, it promotes relaxation, and it helps you think clearly.

SAM-e

This supplement is a combination of the amino acid methionine and adenosyl-triphosphate (ATP), which helps synthesise neurotransmitters. As a supplement for depression, it can be taken by itself to reduce depression or with a prescription antidepressant to help improve results when they have been ineffective.

Zinc

This essential mineral helps the brain and body adjust to stress. Studies have shown many people who suffer from depression have low zinc levels, especially in the brain, which can affect inflammation and lower the body’s immunity.

Eating more foods containing zinc or taking zinc supplements can help improve depression symptoms. However, too much zinc can affect copper metabolism and cause problems with iron and immune functions. You should only take 25mg to 50mg every few days, or you can consume all the oysters you like.

Folate

Low levels of folate can cause people to have depression symptoms. Folate, also called folic acid or vitamin B9, produces new cells, supports nerve and immune functions, and copies and synthesizes DNA. A link between low folate levels and depression has been well-known for decades.

Folic acid can be taken in supplement form, or you can eat foods like spinach, green beans, bananas, or which fortified with it to increase its levels. The recommended daily allowance of folate for adults is 400 micrograms.

When to See a Doctor or Therapist

Going to therapy can be used in conjunction with any antidepressant, including herbal antidepressants. It can sometimes help resolve it for those with situational depression.

However, if you’ve tried natural or over the counter depression meds and they don’t seem to work or have stopped working, you need to consult a doctor for help. They may prescribe an antidepressant or try another antidepressant to reduce your depression symptoms.

Gregory Melhorn

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