Herbal remedies have been used for mood enhancement, depression, anxiety and for an overall boost for centuries around the globe. Recent history and western societies, in particular, have moved away from traditional herbs to prescription medications. What’s amazing is that Nature’s specialty is on herbs that make us feel plain and simple GOOD. There's a widespread amount of herbal powerhouses that have the chemical ability to elevate us, relax us, or set us in a blissful mood.
Long before pharmaceutical corporations starting making and marketing prescription anti-depressants in the 1940s, tribal cultures had already found countless solutions for mental health problems, growing right out of the ground. Humans have consumed plant-based medicinals like St. Johns Wort, Albizzia, and Mucuna Pruriens for depression symptoms for centuries.
Is St John’s wort effective as a depression treatment? There have been many clinical studies comparing the effectiveness of St John’s wort with placebos and antidepressant medication. Most have found the herbal remedy to be superior to placebo and equivalent to standard antidepressants for the treatment of mild to moderate depression. However, it is unlikely to be effective in the treatment of melancholic (biological) depression. In general, St John’s wort has been recommended as a useful alternative to prescription antidepressant medication for the treatment of mild depression and can be bought over the counter.
How does it work? It is thought that St John’s wort is a reuptake inhibitor of serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline, which are chemicals in the brain that are linked to depression and anxiety. Recent clinical trials have found that St John’s wort was superior to placebo, or as effective as standard antidepressants (e.g. Prozac, Tofranil and Zoloft).
Taking Mucuna Pruriens for depression is a natural solution that may help to restore balance to your mood.This all natural plant extract may be able to do what prescription anti-depressants like Prozac and Wellbutrin do for emotional stability and mood enhancement, but without the harsh chemical side effects. By releasing bioavailable L-Dopa into the bloodstream, taking Mucuna for depression boosts overall levels of dopamine, serotonin, and other vital hormones. It can also improve sexual health and support improved energy levels (this one is my one of my personal favorites to add into aphrodisiac drinks to elevate the spirits!) Now, scientists have learned why extracts of the plant have such incredible medicinal value – it is loaded with L-Dopa, the amino acid found in our bodies which is a pre-cursor to dopamine, and a host of other neurochemicals such as epinephrine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Click here to buy Mucuna powder
THE TREE OF ETERNAL HAPPINESS, ALBIZIA.
“The flowers and bark of the mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin) are among the most valued of Chinese botanicals for relieving anxiety, stress and depression. Recently some Chinese herbalists and acupuncturists have even called it ‘herbal Prozac. Its use was first documented in the Shen Nong Ben Cao (Divine Husbandman’s Classic of the Materia Medica) during the 2nd century for its mood supportive and calming properties as well as a tonic.Chinese people traditionally recommend its use for anyone who is suffering from grief as a result of a severe loss or trauma.” Michael Tierra
“Both the bark and the flowers of albizia are used as a calming sedative in Oriental traditional medicine.Categorized in the Chinese Materia Medica as a calming spirit herb, the bark is thought to ‘anchor’ the spirit, while the flowers lighten it. The flowers have also been used for the treatment of insomnia, amnesia, sore throat, and confusion in Oriental traditional medicine (Kang, et al) as well as depression, melancholy and anxiety.” Michael Tierra
“Taken daily, ashwagandha can significantly lower cortisol levels, stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms. It's better than standard anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs as it stabilizes mood, relieves insomnia, and revitalizes the body without any side effects or withdrawal symptoms. Moreover, it can manage weight and food cravings in chronic stress patients.
"Clinical studies on animals and humans have found that ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), also known as Indian ginseng, is an adaptogen – it makes the body adapt to stress. It is indispensable in treating various central nervous system (CNS) disorders, particularly epilepsy, stress, and neurodegenerative diseases. It has also been studied for its mood stabilizing effects, supporting hormone regulation, as well as preventing insomnia, and the blues."
Rhodiola rosea has also been suggested to have antidepressant properties by balancing the neurotransmitters in your brain. In one six-week study on the effectiveness of rhodiola on symptoms of depression, 89 people with mild or moderate depression were randomly assigned to receive either 340 mg or 680 mg of rhodiola or a placebo pill daily..
Both rhodiola groups experienced significant improvements in overall depression, insomnia and emotional stability, whereas the placebo group showed no improvements. Interestingly, only the group receiving the larger dose showed improvements in self-esteem.
Considering the proliferation of antidepressant drugs throughout the Western world with their increasingly recognized adverse effects, it’s wonderful that nature has, in abundance, a safer and better alternative probably growing in close proximity to one’s doorstep.