Herbal Supplements for Depression and Related Disorders
Relief Depression Naturally with Herbs
Depression plagues nearly 11 million Americans. Some estimates claim that about 50 million Americans will suffer from depression
Depression is not a state of mind one can "snap out of." It is a disorder. Signs of depression include unreasonable feelings of sorrow, guilt, discouragement, powerlessness, loss of appetite, altered sleep patterns, difficulty concentrating, lethargy, and suicidal thoughts. If you are suffering from depression, depression also leads to other dangerous ways such as drugs and alcohol.
Dr. Martin Teicher, a Harvard researcher, has noted that the side effects of Prozac can include violent, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, and insomnia. If you experience side effects, consult your doctor. Low blood sugar, food allergies, and lack of exercise often contribute to depression. Studies show between 30 and 85 percent of those suffering from depression also have food allergies. Dr. Andrew Weil states that the best single treatment for depression is vigorous, regular aerobic exercise. He also advises avoiding alcohol and all unnecessary drugs, and making dietary improvements. Depression is often accompanied by anxiety, stress and insomnia.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a particular kind of depression that affects some people in the darker, winter months. It is often accompanied by sleep disturbances. If you are having difficulty with your sleep patterns, you may want to try melatonin. SAD has been successfully treated with light therapy. You may want to consult your physician or a specialist in light therapy for assistance.
St. John's Wort (Concentrate) (100 capsules) $27.50
St. John's Wort (Concentrate) (60 capsules) $18.50
In an article published in the British Medical Journal, researchers reported their analysis of 23 studies comparing the use of St. John's Wort, standard antidepressants and a placebo on 1,757 people with mild to moderate depression. When the results were analyzed, extracts of the herb performed significantly better than the placebo and as well as standard antidepressants after an average of six weeks of treatment. St. John's Wort seems to increase dopamine production in the brain. It provides feelings of well-being even to those who aren't depressed. Dr. Whitaker states that St. John's Wort has been shown to greatly improve sleep quality and is without significant side effects.
St. John's Wort (Concentrate) contains hypericin, a natural compound that has been shown in studies to help relieve depression without the side effects of many antidepressants. Each capsule contains 1 mg. of hypericin, standardized to 0.3 percent. Dr. Whitaker suggests 2 to 3 capsules (standardized to 0.3 percent) daily. While other brands are certainly less expensive, do they contain as much hypericin (the active ingredient)? NSP includes passion flower in this formula for its calming effect. Note - St. John's Wort may cause sensitivity in the sun. Exercise care in the summer months.
Lobelia/St. John's Wort (100 capsules) $23.70
Lobelia is chemically similar to nicotine, but it's non-addictive and helps nourish the respiratory system. This combination contains .5 mg of hypericin (see St. John's Wort) and .5 mg of lobelia. May be used to assist quitting cigarette smoking.
Kudzu/St. John's Wort (Concentrate) (100 capsules) $28.20
This effective combination contains 1 mg of daidzin and 1 mg of hypericin. Researchers at Harvard Medical School injected golden Syrian hamsters, who by nature have an high craving for alcohol, with daidzin. The hamsters immediately cut back on their alcohol consumption and began to drink more water. Daidzin blocks alcohol metabolism in the liver. This product may help reduce consumption of alcohol in those who want to reduce their use of alcohol. The liver has amazing recuperative powers. You may want to consider adding milk thistle to help your liver.
Kava Kava (Concentrate) 50 gms $42.55
Kava kava works on the central nervous system to promote relaxation among those suffering from anxiety or depression. It may also promote more restful sleep for those struggling with insomnia or restlessness. Additionally, it helps relax sore, tired muscles and may relieve tension headaches. The active ingredients are kavalactones. Herbal Gram (No. 39) mentions a study in which 58 patients with anxiety symptoms were given 100 mg. of either kava extract or a placebo. After only one week, the patients receiving kava found a significant reduction in anxiety symptoms as compared to the group taking the placebo. Those taking kava found a continual decline in anxiety symptoms without any side effects. According to Andrew Weil, M.D., kava may be very useful as a natural alternative to Valium and other addictive depressants. Kava kava contains 200 mg of concentrated kava kava root extract, standardized to 30 percent kavalactones. Note: Probably wise to limit daily intake to no longer than three consecutive months.
Passion Flower (100 capsules) $11.70
Passion Flower has a mild tranquilizing effect. It may also relax blood vessel spasms, which could make it helpful for migraines. Dr. Weil states that passion flower is calming without being sedating and is a useful adjunct to programs of stress reduction, much safer than pharmaceutical tranquilizers. Each capsule contains 360 mg passion flower.