The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA ) has approved certain medications for the treatment of depression, but you may not be comfortable with the idea of taking a synthetic or manufactured pill to treat this condition.
Another option that some people use to help themselves feel better are herbs and natural remedies.
Many of these options have been used medicinally for centuries as alternative treatments. Today, many herbs are marketed to improve the mood of people who experience chronic feelings of sadness or hopelessness.
Studies have attempted to demonstrate the benefits of natural remedies for the treatment of depression.
Listed below are several herbs and natural medicines that can help lift your mood when you’re feeling down.
1. St. John’s wort
St. John’s wort is a plant native to Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa. Europeans commonly take St. John’s wort as a way to treat depression, but the FDA has not approved this herb to treat depression.
Consuming St. John’s wort has been linked to increasing the amount of serotonin in the body.
Serotonin is a chemical that soothes or maintains balance in the brain, which is why people with depression often have low serotonin levels. Several antidepressants work by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH ) group , St. John’s wort may help milder forms of depression , but its effects have not been conclusively proven.
A 2008 review of 29 studies on St. John’s wort found that the plant was just as effective as antidepressants in treating mild to moderate depression, however, it did have some side effects.
On the other hand, the NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, sponsored two separate studies, found that St. John’s wort was no better than a placebo for treating depression.
It is important to note that St. John’s wort can interact with many medications.
This is especially true for blood thinners, birth control pills, and chemotherapy drugs. You should always consult with your doctor before taking this herb.
A fruit that helps increase serotonin levels is garcinia cambogia, what’s more, you will be surprised by other benefits that this fruit has, discover more in our article: Does garcinia cambogia have real benefits?
2. Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega -3 fatty acids are a type of beneficial fat found in fatty fish such as salmon, trout, and sardines. Omega-3 is also available in supplement form, often called fish oil capsules.
The brain chemicals DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), are the two main types of omega-3 fatty acids, and can be found in dietary sources or in omega-3 supplements.
Researchers have found that people who have low levels of these brain chemicals may be at increased risk of depression. The ideal is to obtain a higher proportion of DHA than EPA.
In addition to taking fish oil supplements to get omega-3 fatty acids, you can also increase the amount of fish you eat. Eating fish three times a week can increase your omega-3 fatty acid levels without having to take supplements.
You should be aware that some fish may have high levels of mercury. These include: swordfish, tilefish, mackerel, and shark.
It is advisable to avoid these types of fish and substitute fish with lower mercury levels, such as canned light tuna, salmon, freshwater trout and sardines.
Omega-3 can help with depression, but it also offers you these: 15 Omega-3 Benefits You Can’t Miss .
Saffron is a spice derived from a dried portion of Crocus Sativus, a flower in the iris family.
According to researchers, consuming crocus stigmas (the female part of the flower that receives pollen during pollination) has been shown to be effective in the treatment of mild to moderate depression.
4. S-Adenosyl Methionine
SAM-e is short for S-Adenosyl Methionine. This supplement is synthetically engineered to mimic natural chemicals in their role of enhancing the body’s mood. According to studies, SAM-e is considered a supplement in the United States, although the FDA does not consider it a drug.
You should not take SAM-e together with antidepressants. You should also be aware that if you take too much SAM-e, it can cause side effects on your health, such as upset stomach and constipation.
5. Folate or Vitamin B9
There may be a link between low levels of folic acid (the synthetic form of folate) and depression. Taking 500 mcg of folic acid has been linked to improving the effectiveness of other antidepressant medications.
One way to increase folate levels is to consume folate-rich foods daily. These include: beans, lentils, fortified cereals, dark leafy greens, sunflower seeds, and avocados.
It is highly recommended to see your trusted doctor to find out if it is advisable for you to consume vitamin B9.
Zinc is a nutrient linked to mental functions, be it learning or behavior. According to research, low blood zinc levels are associated with depression.
According to studies, taking a zinc supplement of 25 milligrams per day for 12 weeks may help reduce symptoms of depression. Taking zinc supplements can also increase the amount of omega-3 fatty acids available to the body.
Although the results are promising, more research is needed to reach any firm conclusions.
If you want to start consuming a zinc supplement, it is advisable to see your trusted doctor, to have more information about the dose.
Herbs not proven to relieve depression
Health food stores may carry herbs and supplements to treat depression. However, according to various reviews, most of these treatments have not been shown to be effective in treating depression.
These include the following herbs:
- Crataegus oxyacantha (Whitethorn)
- Eschscholzia californica (California Poppy)
- Ginkgo biloba
- Lavandula angustifolia (Espliego)
- Matricaria recutita (Chamomile)
- Melissa Officials (Toronjil)
- Purple Passionflower (Pasiflora)
- Piper methysticum (Kava)
- Valeriana officinalis (Valeriana)
If you choose to use these or any other herbs, always check with your doctor first to make sure they won’t interact with any medications you’re taking.
You should also keep in mind that not all herbs and supplements are controlled by the FDA, so you should be sure about purity or quality. Always buy from a reputable source.
consult your doctor
Although some herbs and supplements show promising results in the treatment of depression, they are not a consistent, responsible, or reliable option when you are experiencing severe or chronic depression.
You should not rely on supplements as a way to deal with the symptoms of severe depression. Depression can be a serious illness. Consult your doctor to find a particular treatment that works for you, as each person is different and individual treatment is recommended.