Medicinal herbs have been used since ancient history, before conventional medicine was introduced, and were once considered the gold standard of medicine along with homeopathic and dietary treatments.
Today we are aware of the importance of dietary supplements and herbal extracts and how they can improve anxiety, depression, obsessions, and many other mental disorders.
Medicinal herbs can be taken in order to supplement prescription drugs and/or psychological treatment, but it is upmost importance to speak to a professional in order to know which herb and in which dosage is the correct one.
The prevalence of depression has been steadily on the rise, and it is estimated today that one in five people suffer, have suffered or will suffer from depression.
Almost everybody has experienced a time in their lives when they were feeling “down”, whether it lasted hours, days or weeks.
Changes in mood are a natural and legitimate reaction in certain instances (such as mourning, unemployment, a break-up, etc.) but depression is characterized as specific symptoms which last for at least two weeks.
These symptoms include low mood, anhedonia (not finding enjoyment in activities which were once enjoyable), less day to day and social activities, low or no energy, sadness, seclusion, angry outbursts, changes in appetite and sleep, and feeling emptiness, despair, hopelessness, and more.
When left untreated, depression goes away on its own, usually within a few weeks to a few months, but that does not mean it goes away forever.
Actually, it’s the opposite - untreated depression tends to come back and usually stronger.
Full remission from depression means the chances of a relapse have been lowered or reduced completely. Full remission is possible only with the help of a medical professional.
The treatments which are available today for depression are pharmaceutical and psychological, with treatments such as dynamic therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy
, biofeedback and others.
Furthermore, there are dietary supplements and medicinal herbs which can improve depression, such as St. John’s Wart and Omega 3.
St. John’s Wart
St. John’s Wart is a medicinal herb, which comes from the Greek word “hyper icon” which means supernatural, and was known to expel spirits and treat melancholy.
In certain dosages St. John’s Wart is incredibly similar to psychiatric medications, and some medications contain the herb itself.
St. John’s Wart appears to suppress the enzyme MAO (monoamine oxidase), thus enhancing serotonin and dopamine activity, which relieves symptoms of depression.
The herb comes in liquid form, which does not require a prescription, but it is recommended to consult a health care professional in order to make sure the dosage is correct. The dosage varies for different symptoms such as depression, anxiety
Another reason to consult a health care professional before starting St. John’s Wart treatment is to make sure the active ingredients in the herb will not interact with any other medications taken at the time.
Omega 3 is a dietary supplement which has been found to have a mild to medium affect on depression.
Omega 3 is a fatty acid which comes from certain animals and plants and is known to be important for brain function, inflammatory response and cardiac function.
Omega 3 is not recommended as a sole treatment for depression
, but rather as a supplement to other pharmaceutical treatments.
In light of recent research it is recommended to take Omega 3 in a high dosage in order for it be most effective, to be able to reduce the dosage of pharmaceutical drugs thus being able to lessen drug side effects.
Treating Anxiety with Medicinal Herbs
Anxiety is considered one of the most common mental illnesses today, and includes many sub-categories such as panic attacks, General Anxiety Disorder, phobias, social anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
The most common treatment for anxiety is focused therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy and pharmaceutical treatment.
In addition, St. John’s Wart and probiotics can aid in relieving anxiety symptoms.
Probiotics are thought to be “good” bacteria found in the intestine which aid in digestion and protect the intestine from infections.
Eating dairy products (such as yogurt) doesn’t always ensure a good amount of probiotics, and therefore it is important to supplement with a probiotic.
Aside from the aforementioned advantages of probiotics, research has shown a connection between probiotics and improved mood and decreased anxiety and stress symptoms, especially in those who already suffer from a sensitive stomach.
As similar to Omega 3 and St. John’s Wart, taking probiotics as a supplement needs to be discussed with a healthcare professional in order to ensure the correct dosage and to discuss possible drug interactions.