Herbal Remedies for Depression

More and more of my clients are searching for herbal remedies for depression and and other ways to treat depression naturally. These methods are becoming more popular than taking depression medications. Herbs can be helpful in combating your depression symptoms. However, there are several things to consider before taking herbal remedies for depression.


Considerations When Looking at Herbal Remedies for Depression

Herbs are most effective on mild to moderate cases of depression. So, if you're depression is more serious, using herbs for depression may not be the answer.

Herbs are not regulated by the FDA Herbs are considered to be dietary supplements. Therefore, hrebal remedies for depression are not regulated by or held to FDA standards. As a result, manufactures are not required to adhere to any standards, prove that they work, or publish any safety data such as potential risks and side effects, which can be quite serious. So, be cautious when chosing an herbal remedy.

Herbs and drugs do not mix! 

Taking herbs with an antidepressant will not make you feel twice as good. Instead, it will bring double trouble! The combination of the two causes "serotonin syndrome" where your serotonin levels get completely out of whack causing side effects such as confusion, excessive sweating, muscle spasms, seizures, and headaches. So, don't take herbs with antidepressants. 

In addition, herbs can diminish the effectiveness of other medications by up to 50%. This includes medications such as antibiotics, anti-psychotics, cholesterol lowering drugs, birth control pills, sedatives, asthma drugs and heart mediations. 

So, please consult your physician before mixing herbal remedies for depression with medications.

Herbal Remedies for Depression

  1. St. John's Wort - while a very popular supplement for treating depression, it may not be the miracle everyone thinks it is. And, studies have shown that it only works for mild to moderate cases, not severe cases. There have been many studies showing that this weed helps with depression, there have been other research studies done that show that it may not be as effective as we once hoped. A Vanderbilt study included 200 people in the U.S., giving 1/2 St. John's and the other 1/2 a placebo. They studied the participants for 8 weeks and 25% of those who took St. John's had shown improvement, while 19% improved taking the placebo. Not a significant difference. However, what it does say is that taking St. John's is probably better than doing nothing at all. However, its important to note that the FDA has issued a warning stating that there are significant risks when taken with a huge list of prescription drugs So, if you choose to go this route, consult your physician beforehand.
  2. Ginko Biloba- Made from the leaves of the Maidenhari tree, and is now one of the top selling herbs in the U.S. Studies have found it to be effective in helping with memory loss, improving concentration, improving physical performance and reducing depression and anxiety symptoms. However, it is important to note that the studies are not conclusive and more research needs to be done.
  3. SAMe or S-Adenosylmethionine- This is a chemical that resides in every cell of our body. Its main job is to improve the quality of other cells including neurotransmitters. There have been some small studies done that have shown SAMe's to help with depression. However, a lot more research is needed. Also, this is very expensive and more difficult to find.
  4. Ginseng- There are 3 different typepress of Ginseng plants, Chinese, American and Siberian and all of them are believed to have certain medicinal benefits. Specifically, it is known to help balance the neurotransmitters, boost the immune system, and improve concentratio and energy levels. This leads people to thinking that it helps with depression. Although, there aren't any significant studies proving this.
  5. Omega-3 fatty acids. These are fats that are found in cold-water fish, some nuts, flaxseed, and some other foods. This particular remedy is being tested as a potential treatment for people with bipolar disorder. Additional research needs to be done to verify its effectiveness in treating depression. Also, a work of caution though because in high doses, it may interact with other meds. 
  6. Saffron. Saffron extract is being studies as a possible treatment for depression symptoms. There are concerns about serious side effects when this is taken in high doses. 
  7. 5-HTP. Also known as 5-hydroxytryptophan (hi-drok-see-TRIP-to-fan), is an amino acid that is available as a supplment to treat depression because it is likely to boost levels of serotonin. It is available without a presecription in the U.S., but a prescription may be required in some other countries. More research is needed about its effectiveness as well as risk of side effects. There is a concern that this may cause paralysis, neurological issues and heart problems. 
  8. Tryptophan. This is an amino acid that is found in a lot of foods such as turkey, chicken, sunflower seeds, potatoes and milk.Tryptophan gets converted to 5 HTP which, as mentioned above, boosts serotonin levels. While it can be found in foods, it is not approved as a supplement in the U.S. anymore because it comes with the same risks as 5-HTP. 
  9. DHEA. Also known as Dehydroepiandrosterone (dee-hi-droe-ep-e-an-DROS-tur-own), is a hormone that your body naturally makes. Preliminary studies show symptoms of depression improving when this is taken. However, as with some of the others, more research is needed as it is known to result in serious side effects. Also, if it is made from soy or wild yam is has been found to be ineffective.

There are several other herbal remedies for depression and I will continue to expand on this section. However, before looking at herbal remedies for depression, I refer you back to the warnings at the top of this page. Most herbs seem to have such a small benefit for depression and the side effects can be significant so they may not really be a good option. In addition to herbs, there are many other natural remedies for depression.

Are you ready to overcome depression? Consider scheduling a consultation with me!  Click on the image on the top, right hand side of this page and let's talk!!

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