Treatment the Natural Way
I couldn’t run a website about depression without talking about natural herbs for depression. There is a lot of debate about whether or not natural remedies are effective in the treatment of depression. It seems that there are a few natural remedies that are proven or promising in the treatment of depression, but there are also a lot of myths surrounding herbal remedies. Having said that, no body really knows why synthetic medications help to treat depression. Indeed, sometimes prescription medication doesn’t work or causes very unpleasant side affects. No one can be forced down the route of prescribed medication, but what’s available if you decide to look to herbs for relief?
I do take prescription medication, however I didn’t want to at first. I started to take it because I was unaware of potential natural remedies and needed some relief from my symptoms. If I could go back now, I would probably try to explore natural remedies a little more. I’m not convinced that my medication isn’t messing with my brain chemistry to my detriment. I certainly get tired quite easily. I’ve done some digging around about herbal remedies and would like to present to you what seem to be the most promising and effective remedies.
A Holistic Approach
When talking about natural remedies a holistic approach can’t be ignored. A holistic approach involves not only herbal supplements, but also avoidance of certain foods and/or stimulants, exercise and commitment to exploring the mind. In effect, you have to avoid (as much as possible) those things that stress your body and mind, whilst getting more of what nourishes you.
This means avoiding things such as:
- Sugary foods
- Late nights
In contrast you can embrace things such as:
- A healthier diet
- Quality sleep (sleep hygiene)
- Herbal supplements
I once had a colleague who began to suffer from stress. She said that, after being diagnosed with stress and exhaustion, everything she did and everything she ate was medicinal. I think that’s the simplest way to explain a holistic approach. Until it becomes a habit it might be tough. After all you’re having to alter your lifestyle. But if it works for you it’s worth it.
Herbal teas can be a simple but excellent solution as an alternative to coffee.Of course you can have decaffenated coffee and tea, but you would be denied some of the benefits of herbal teas. For example, chamomile tea is wonderful for calming body and mind. It’s used for settling the stomach, but I also find it’s great for calming the mind. In fact I sometimes drink chamomile and honey tea at work. Green tea is also a great way to cleanse the body, chocked full of anti-oxidants that help to prevent diseases. You might need to add some sweetener, as I do, but herbal teas can be tasty and beneficial at the same time.
St John’s Wort – The Most Effective Natural Remedy
An article published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists professes that St John’s Wort has “been shown beyond reasonable doubt to be effective as a treatment for mild to moderate depression”. Interestingly the evidence suggests that it works by inhibiting serotonin re-uptake. The most popular prescription medications, known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) allegedly work in exactly the same way.
On the face of it, St John’s Wort seems to naturally do what synthetic drugs have been designed to do. Further more, St John’s Wort (in it’s various forms) has been used in the treatment of depressive type illnesses since Ancient Greek times. The article by the Royal College of Psychiatrists concludes that, following an experiment, the benefits of St John’s Wort are comparable to the benefits of prescribed SSRI’s.
We mustn’t forget that, although St John’s Wort is natural, it is still a type of drug. Many substances can become toxic at certain concentrations. Vitamin C, for example, becomes toxic above 1000 micro grams per day. Additionally, all drugs can have side effects. St John’s Wort may be no different. It’s also unsafe to take alongside prescribed medication. If you are thinking about taking St John’s Wort, you should speak with your doctor before hand.
Common Lavender – Not so Common
Another natural product, although not as scientifically supported as St John’s Wort, is common lavender. Again this plant has been used for thousands of years as a treatment for anxiety and depression. Taken orally a study summarized by holistic primary care demonstrates reductions in patient’s anxiety scores having taken lavender pills over a period of 10 weeks.
The greatest benefit of lavender seems to be when used as an aromatherapy. In a similar study anxiety levels were decreased by 50% in patients being undergoing aromatherapy using essential lavender oils. Although it’s good to have science behind the claims, I think everybody feels calmer having smelt the perfume like fragrances emitted by lavender plants. I love lavender, the color, the smell, the form and the bees that swarm over this magnificent plant.
Whilst not wishing to repeat myself it would be prudent to speak to a medical professional before taking lavender in conjunction with or as an alternative to other drugs (anti-depressant or otherwise).
If you are buying herbal supplements, it’s important to ensure that you are buying a quality product. Buying online can be especially dodgy business with some suppliers unable to guarantee the quality of their products. When buying herbal supplements and remedies you should always look for a quality mark, In the UK we have the THR leaf logo. This mark guarantees the customer that the ingredients in the remedy are actually what’s on the label. It’s important to remember that these quality marks don’t guarantee that the remedy will have the effect advertised, only guarantee that it’s quality and safe.
The Final Word…
We should realize that we have a choice when it comes to treating depression. There is no one size fits all solution. Some people are comfortable taking prescription drugs, whilst others are dead set against them. Some people find that a holistic approach is most comfortable for them to treat depression. Some may embrace herbal remedies. The key thing to remember is that finding the right combination for you, as an individual should be your main priority. Talking therapies usually compliment any treatment regime, but you must be comfortable. Taking prescription medications when you are stressed about their effects it probably not going to have a good net result. Always speak to your doctor and agree a treatment plan. It’s always your choice, but doctors can inform you of potential risks and benefits along the way.