Herbs for Depression
It should be noted that if you have serious depression, you might want to seek professional help. However, herbs have helped me. They are calming and soothing and can also, instead of having side effects of making you lethargic, actually improve your energy levels. Herbs are not as fast acting or powerful as psychiatric medications. They also need to be given time.
Motherwort is the herb for depression I have used most commonly. It is known as a nerve tonic and is really good for anxiety. Motherwort is very soothing. The best way to take it, due to its bitter taste is in tincture form. 10-30 drops a day every day is what’s advised. I took it in the morning, but you can also take it before bed to help insomnia. It can be effective immediately in high stress situations and should be taken every 5 to 10 minutes.
Skull cap can be make you very sleepy, so be aware of that before taking. I like to take it before bed. It escalates the nervous system during times of stress and can be used to treat anxiety, depression, and insomnia. There is also a difference between American and Chinese skull cap and American is the variety you want when attempting to treat depression. It’s good as in infusion or tincture several times a day.
Oatstraw infusion is a great way to treat depression. You make an infusion by a cup of the dried herbs in a quart of boiling water, steeping for four hours, then straining. Refrigerate and drink as needed. It’s most effective when used over time and can also be very relaxing.
Lavender is a wonderful nerve tonic, good for headaches, migraines, depression, restlessness, and stress. It’s incredibly calming and works in many ways. I love to use lavender essential oil, personally. It’s also great as a tea, tincture, in oils, and in the bath tub.
Lemon balm, pat of the mint family, is a mild sedative that soothes the nervous system in a gentle way. It helps anxiety and works with the thyroid an output of excess T3 (which can cause tension). It helps insomnia, pains, headaches, and can calm the stomach. It can be used as a tincture, but also makes a delicious tea. I’ve never taken it specifically for depression, but love to use it for beverage teas rather than medicinal infusions.
Licorice is wonderful in any tea or decoction to enhance flavor and is also available as capsules and extractions. Licorice actually contains glycyrrhzin that helps the body breakdown cortisol so it can better deal with stress. It also contains natural serotonin reuptake inhibitors. I use it in most teas I make and I advise it. Just watch out for any side effects.
Hops are incredibly bitter, so it’s best as a tincture. It’s effective for insomnia and is relaxing to the nervous system. However, since hops is a strong sedative some say it can make depression worse. If used, use at night and pay close attention to how you feel.
Kava is a wonderful herb because it heightens awareness while relieving stress and relaxing. It helps insomnia and anxiety disorders. Watch your dosage however, because it can make you sleepy. A tincture is best for treating depression. Kava should be taken with moderation and can impair liver functioning. Do not take it with medications or two weeks before surgery. It is a very strong diuretic.
St. John’s Wort
St John’s Wort is one of the most commonly recommended herbs for depression. I have never taken it because it can effect psychiatric medication and speeds liver functioning. You should not take it with any medications. However, it has strong scientific evidence as being very effective for treating depression.
GLA or Gamma-linolenic acid
GLA is found in evening primrose, borage and black currant seed oils. Hops also contains GLA. Essential fatty acid/GLA deficiency can cause depression, so taking capsules that contain GLA can be effective.
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