Nutrients and Herbs for Depression?
There are many wonderful and safe nutrients and botanical medicines (herbs) that can help with low mood. For this article, we are going to focus on a few nutrients that we have seen to be very useful, and sometimes miraculous to help our patients who are suffering from depression. Of course, it is very important to remember that if you are not looking into the many factors listed earlier to address the underlying causes of depression, these nutrients or herbs alone may not do the trick.
Also, if you are taking antidepressant medications, you should always check with your prescribing doctor before changing your medication dosage, or using these supplements along with your medications.
St. John’s Wort for Low-Level Depression
St. John’s wort is the most studied herb of all time. It’s Latin name Hypericum perforatum means “above a ghost” and the plant was originally gathered as a way to ward off evil spirits. Rigorous studies have shown St. John’s wort to be quite useful in treating depression illness. While early researchers thought St. John’s wort worked like a weak version of an antidepressant drug, current research suggests that St. John’s wort has many effects on both the brain and the body. St. John’s wort is known to help digestion, act as an antiviral, has anti-inflammatory properties and supports thyroid function. It also gently balances the neurotransmitters GABA, norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine.
In our practice, we find depression sufferers who have a long-term chronic type of depression called dysthymia often do the best with this herb. If you can get out of bed and function at a job, but are just generally still low in mood, self-esteem and zest for life, this may be a good herb for you.
You can take St. John’s wort in capsule, as a tea, or as a liquid extract, which is a concentrated form of the herb. It is usually dosed in capsule form at 900 mg to 1800 mg a day in divided doses.
Please note St. John’s wort can affect the effectiveness of other medications. Two studies show it can help the drug Plavix work better in people for whom it did not initially work. Other studies show it can lower the effects of birth control pills and immune suppressants. So, if you are taking medications, check with your doctor or pharmacist before using St. John’s wort.