Contemporary times are witness to an increasing number of ailments and mental conditions connected with higher stress levels and poor lifestyle. Statistical figures prove beyond doubt that there are more patients suffering from depression and anxiety in the recent times than ever before.
Depression is referred to the mental condition which marks the onset of persistent feelings and emotions of hopelessness, sadness, despair and low mood. On the other hand, anxiety is a concerning disorder which is generally characterized by worry, nervousness and fear and often accompanies depression in most patients. Depression and anxiety go hand in hand and have the power to aggravate each other.
Depression and anxiety are common mental problems which can be treated with proper medication and various natural as well as herbal means. There are various herbal remedies for anxiety and depression and many of these can be found in the local drugstores.
Effective Herbal Remedies for Depression and Anxiety
Valerian is often termed as “Nature’s Valium” by consumers and herbologists alike. Derived as a supplement from the roots of the plant, Valerian Officianalis, it is used as a common means for treating insomnia, muscle spasms and anxiety. Valerian is a herbal sedative which interacts with GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid). GABA is typically the neurotransmitter, which affects the excitability of tiny nerves or neurons present across all portions of the central nervous system and muscle tone. It poses as the chief target for anti anxiety and depression medications such as benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax).
According to herbal experts and the reputed journal, American Family Physician, Valerian serves as an active agent in producing muscle relaxation, calmness and sedation by increasing the levels of GABA in the nervous system. The side effects of Valerian include allergic reactions, nausea and dizziness in certain patients.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort or Hypericum perforatum is an important supplement used for the treatment of anxiety and depression. According to reports issued by the American Academy of Family Physicians, this herbal remedy is an effective supplement used for the treatment of depression and anxiety. Branded as one of the most popular herbs and available easily in drugstores, St. John’s Wort has proved its effectiveness and is often listed along with other popular selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Zoloft and Prozac. This herbal remedy is used for the treatment of inflammatory injuries, insect bites and burns along with depression and anxiety.
St. John’s Wort should be taken under medical supervision as it can be dangerous if combined with other medications or herbs. The side effects of St. John’s Wort are varied and include headache, dryness in the mouth, and nausea and sun sensitivity among other symptoms. The potency of St. John’s Wort differs across different brands of herbal supplements and it is therefore best to select one which contains 0.2-0.3 percent of the active ingredient-Hypericin.
Used traditionally in the islands of the Pacific as a herbal depressant, Kava is widely known for its relaxing and anti depressant effects. It is marketed in the United States as a well known remedy for insomnia and anxiety and is composed of kava lactones, which is typically a combination of 15 active compounds. The effects of Kava are namely numbness in the mouth cavity, sedation, relaxation of the muscles and increased levels of sociability. The effects of Kava can last up to eight hours after ingestion and start revealing themselves within 30 minutes of the remedy being administered.
Kava is known to have strong effects on GABA present in all parts of the central nervous system and therefore excessive use of the same may lead to over dependence in patients showcasing addictive behavioral traits.
5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid which has a natural existence inside the body. Derived from African Griffonia Simplicifolia, the supplement is widely used for insomnia, depression, anxiety and weight loss. The role of 5-HTP in the body is the production of Tryptophan, which acts as a precursor to Serotonin, the neurotransmitter. Serotonin is responsible for controlling sleep patterns, moods and appetite and is considered to be deficient in patients suffering from certain types of depression.
Taken in doses ranging between 25mg to 100 mg, 5-HTP serves as a nontoxic supplement. However, it should not be taken in combination with other anti depressants which also affect the levels of Serotonin. Most experts recommend a daily dose of 50-100 mg of 5-HTP to avoid the risks of serotonin syndrome.
Melissa officinalis or Lemon Balm has a calming effect on nerves and is being used as herbal remedy for anxiety and depression. Used in combination with other popular herbs such as chamomile, hops and valerian, Lemon Balm helps in the alleviation of anxiety and depressive traits in patients. The frequency of intake of lemon balm should be limited to once or twice daily and should be administered under medical supervision. Lemon balm may interact in an adverse manner with other anti depressants and thyroid medications being taken by the patient.
According to experts, a combination of Crataegus oxyacantha (hawthorn) and Eschscholzia californica (Californian poppy) along with magnesium, acts as a promising remedy for patients suffering from anxiety. Matricaria recutita (German chamomile) is also making its presence felt in the list of herbal remedies for depression but researches are still on for establishing the efficacy of the same.
Ginger, chamomile and licorice are some other popular herbs which are often recommended for providing relief to patients suffering from anxiety and depression. The extracts and essential oils from bergamot and jasmine also have a calming and soothing effect and are used in aromatherapy and bath water as herbal remedies for these ailments.
Herbal remedies and alternative treatment options provide safe and natural means for the treatment of most diseases and have very limited side effects. However, when combined with other medications or supplements, they may result in harmful effects which can lead to serious complications. It is best to consult medical experts before starting on these remedies, to make sure that the correct dosage and duration is prescribed in accordance with the state of the patient.