The Best Herbs For Fighting Depression

treat depression naturally

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Depression is terrible thing to have to handle. We aren’t talking about feeling sad when your team loses the final, or even the crushing sadness that’s felt when you have to put down a beloved pet. Depression is much deeper and longer-lasting than any of these things. It’s a chronic sadness, a disinterest in life — sadness so intense that it makes everyday activities seem like a chore. Depression can interfere with your life and causes many to seek professional help.

Although the symptoms of depression are varied and quite complex, most people go years before receiving a proper diagnosis. Some of the symptoms of depression include suicidal thoughts, lack of energy, recurring thoughts about death, frustration, trouble concentrating, a lack of interest in anything, restlessness, indecisiveness, and lack of motivation. The symptoms of depression are not the same for everyone, and not everyone responds to medication.

If you are taking medication, never stop talking it without first speaking to your doctor. An abrupt end to anti-depressants can cause life-threatening side effects. Always speak to your doctor before consuming any herbal products to be certain that you are taking the right herb and the correct dosage for your particular situation.

Many people respond well to herbal remedies for the control of depression. Keep reading and discover the top 11 herbs that have been proven to work wonders for many people. One of them might be the answer you are looking for.

 

1. St. John’s Wort

Undeniably, this is the most common and well-known natural antidepressant on the planet. This herb is indigenous to Europe and has a long history of being used as a traditional remedy for depression and other mental and emotional problems. Often recommended today by naturopaths and practitioners of alternative medicine, St. John’s Wort has been studied at length. Numerous clinical trials show that this herb is quite effective for those with mild to moderate depression. One study, published in the 2006 edition of BMC Medicine, found that a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study showed that St. John’s Wort was notably superior to a placebo in the treatment of those with major depression symptoms. The active components in this herb prevent the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain, which makes it a much better alternative to the typical pharmaceutical solution known as SSRI’s. This herb is available everywhere in many different forms including capsule, tincture, powders, and teas.

 

2. Turmeric

The spice created from this herb has been used as medicine for thousands of years in both Chinese and Ayurvedic cultures. It’s loaded with much-needed antioxidants that protect the mitochondria, which are the tiny organelles in the cells that make chemical energy. This spice can help to keep the brain in good chemical balance. Studies have even shown that regular consumption of turmeric can calm inflammation in the brain, preventing Alzheimer’s. Try adding one tablespoon of turmeric to a glass of warm milk and drinking daily. You should see results within six weeks.

 

3. Peppermint

Peppermint is perhaps one of the most underrated herbs ever! In many minds, peppermint equals candy, but those with depression who try this herb almost always have amazing results. Over the years, peppermint has proven to be effective when it comes to dealing with depression; in fact, the University Of Maryland Medical Center even offers peppermint oil to calm and sooth those who suffer from depression and anxiety. Try drinking peppermint tea three times each day. You can also consume a peppermint extract after consulting with your doctor for the proper dose.

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Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

4. 5-HTP

You have probably seen these supplements for sale and wondered what the heck they are. 5-Hydroxytrytophan, extracted from the seeds of Griffonia simplicifolia, more commonly known as 5-HTP, is an essential amino acid derived from tryptophan. This chemical is required for the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which makes us feel happy. Of course, you can consume tryptophan in your diet by eating plenty of turkey, kale, collard greens, dairy products, pumpkin, squash, sunflower seeds, and potatoes; but for those suffering from depression, the levels of tryptophan that you can consume from food vary too much to be helpful. Also, some people have a limited ability to absorb tryptophan easily, and they find that consuming it via 5-HTP is helpful. Studies have shown that this supplement works well for many people who are suffering with depression. Talk to your doctor and see if 5-HTP might be right for you, and ask for the proper dosage.

 

5. Valerian

Second only to St. John’s Wort, valerian is well-known for its sedating effects. It calms the nerves and reduces feelings of anxiety, even helping calm phobias. When consumed on a regular basis, this herb can bring amazing results. Studies show that regular consumption of valerian can eliminate or reduce many common symptoms of depression, including anxiety, irritability, insomnia, lack of concentration, and it can even lower blood pressure levels. The active ingredients in valerian, valepotriates, are known to be natural relaxants that reduce stress and relax the entire central nervous system. Valerian is most commonly consumed as a tea.

 

6. Lavender

It’s been used for centuries for the symptoms of depression, so why does everyone think lavender is simply something that smells good? This is one of the few essential oils that are mild enough for use directly on the skin. Lavender promotes relaxation and is known for encouraging deep, quality sleep. This can help to alleviate stress, one of the major causes of depression. Lavender also naturally balances cortisol levels in the body, and it naturally slows down brain waves. Lavender is a natural sedative that is scientifically proven to calm the mind and body. If you suffer from nervousness, restlessness, insomnia, and feelings of anxiety, try lavender!  

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Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

7. Flaxseed

Sometimes called linseed, flaxseed has been used for hundreds, if not thousands, of years in ancient cultures as a remedy for various ailments. Flax seeds are high in a powerful omega-3 fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA. Studies have shown that flaxseed can help to reduce ADHD, eating disorders, addiction, and depression. Other studies involving animals showed that flaxseeds were effective in treating various mental problems, including depression. In 2009, French scientists found  that when compared to a placebo group, rats that received a supplement with ALA from flaxseeds had much lower levels of depression. Ask your doctor about proper amounts that you should consume.

 

8. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been used since ancient times to treat lack of energy, memory problems, and depression. Consuming gingko biloba on a regular basis can eliminate many of the symptoms of depression, according to research done at the University Of Maryland Medical Center. The leaves of this plant have lipophilic extracts, which have powerful anti-depressant and anti-stress effects when consumed regularly. Consult with your doctor for proper dosage for your unique situation.

 

9. Rhodiola Rocea

Sometimes called golden root, or rose root, rhodiola rosea is a little-known herb that can really help with depression. This herb inhibits the activity of monoamine oxidase A and B, which break down neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, preventing them from being available to the brain. Low levels of these kinds of neurotransmitters often lead to depression. This herb is also effective in the reduction of the stress hormone cortisol. Speak to your doctor about trying this herbal supplement.

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Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

10. Vervain

Vervain is another herb that has been used for hundreds of years throughout Eastern Europe and northern Africa for everything from snake bites to fever, headaches to gout, epilepsy to ulcers. This herb is mentioned in ancient historical texts as a natural remedy for feelings of depression and fatigue. Vervain has active phytochemicals and tannins, including beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A. Beta-carotene is linked with the prevention and treatment of depression. Although it has not been studied as much as other herbs, vervain has been used successfully for the treatment of mild depression by many modern day herbalists.

 

SEE ALSO: Could This One Thing be the Cause of Your Depression?

 

11. B Vitamins

B vitamins are absolutely essential to the proper maintenance of healthy brain chemistry, including the production of neurotransmitters that stop depression. Numerous clinical trials show that a deficiency in B vitamins is linked to depression. Don’t believe that just because you eat a healthy diet, you could not have a B vitamin deficiency. Your doctor would need to run a blood test to determine if you have a deficiency in any of the B vitamins, or you can simply begin taking a B vitamin complex supplement and note if you feel any improvement in the next six to eight weeks. B12 is perhaps that most important of all the B vitamins when it comes to depression. Lack of B12 can cause symptoms such as depression, irritability, loss of appetite, fatigue, and mood swings. In extreme cases, it can cause what appears to be severe mental illness, including hallucinations. You can get B12 by eating plenty of salmon, cod, scallops, sardines, tuna, beef, shrimp, milk, and yogurt; but sometimes even then, deficiencies happen. Talk to your doctor about taking a B complex supplement.

As always, you should talk to your doctor before consuming any herbal supplement. Although you might be anxious to find relief from your depression, you don’t want to sacrifice your health in the process.

References:

Mayoclinic.com

Nccam.nih.gov

Umm.edu