Uplifting Herbal Remedies:
There are many herbal remedies for depression which are easily obtainable, and which have been proven to be effective in treating depression.
It is a good idea to get professional help if you are depressed. Go to your doctor, your acupuncturist, naturopath or health professional for advice. You should discuss the information below with your health professional before beginning any treatment.
First of all – check that you do not have SAD, or seasonal affective disorder. If SAD is the reason you are depressed, then increasing exposure of the body to natural sunlight on a regular basis, and supplementing the diet with Vitamin D rich foods, or a supplement, should help the condition. Deficiencies of sunlight and Vitamin D accompany this type of depression.
Diet For Depression: The best foods are alkaline greens, fruits and vegetables. Avoid sugar, preservatives in food, and avoid wheat products and dairy foods except for butter. Prepare your meals at home fresh. Eat plenty of salads, brown rice instead of wheat bread and pasta, cooked green vegetables. Make sure you have enough protein – organic free range eggs and meats and chicken. If you are vegetarian, then you need to eat plenty of sprouted seeds and grains to get adequate protein and vitamin B. Vitamin B deficiency, lack of Vitamin D and iron deficiency can lead to depression.
Protein In The Diet: Choose any of this list to complement your diet: Egg yolk, Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, avocado, almonds and nuts. These are importan additions to the diet if you do not eat any meat or fish.
Gotu Kola (Hydrocotyle asiatica) is a natural stimulant. It is considered to be a helpful herbal remedy for depression. This herb benefits the central nervous system, and brain and hormone function. Gotu kola has been used to treat schizophrenia, epilepsy and memory loss, which are related to brain function. It also helps the body to rid itself of toxins via the kidneys. Gotu kola contains Vitamins A, K, and the mineral magnesium, which is another nervine. Gotu kola is not recommended for expectant mothers, or nursing mothers, though, because of its diuretic effect. People with intestinal disfunction, such as irritable bowel syndrome, or colitis, are best to avoid this herb.
Ginseng (Panex spp), that wonder of Oriental medicine, is another stimulating and reviving health herb which is useful in treating depression. Ginseng helps brain function, increases vitality, and nourishes the nerves. It is a good restorative medicine. Ginseng root has been used in Chinese medicine for over 5000 years. It is mineral-rich, and contains Vitamins A, B12 and Vitamin E.
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) is another popular stimulating Chinese herb which is used to counteract depression, in combination with other treatments. It is reputed to be a great memory herb. However, this herb lowers the blood pressure dramatically, and so ginkgo should definitely be avoided by people with low blood pressure and avoided also by people who have disturbances with their sugar metabolism. I would recommend that you take this herb only under the guidance of a qualified health practitioner. My experience of this herb is that it certainly improved memory function, and increased alertness, but it had an unpleasant and disturbing side effect in that it made me feel terrible because of lowered blood pressure.
Ayurvedic Medicine: However, the reason this herb is not suitable for everyone might have something to do with the different mental and physiological types, known as doshas in Ayurvedic medicine. Vata, Pitta and Kapha are the three dosha types:
Vasant Lad, is the author of The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies, A Comprehensive Guide to the Ancient Healing of India. In this book, Vasant Lad recommends Ginkgo tea for Pitta depression. You obviously need to know your body type if this herb is going to be effective. Vasant Lad’s book is published in the UK by Judy Piatkus (Publishers) Limited, 5 Windmill Street, London W1T 2JA, 1999. Reprinted 2002.
Hawthorn Berries have a tonic and stimulating effect on the digestion, the heart, and the nervous system. Hawthorn is useful, in combination with other herbs and modalities in treating depression, as it helps improve kidney function and aids in the elimination of waste products.
Cayenne Pepper (Capsicum frutescens) is a safe herb to take to help drive those blues away. Cayenne pepper helps melancholia, mainly because it has a marked beneficial effect on the blood circulation, and also the digestion. You can use it in your food, or use it in foot baths to gain benefit from this stimulating herb. Cayenne contains the Vitamins A, C, and also has traces of iron and calcium.
The following are some other stimulating herbs which are safe to use in treating depression:
The mint family; marjoram, lemon verbena, thyme and basil. These can be used in your food, as herbal teas, as herbal treatments for the bath, or for use in a foot bath.
Herbs which Calm and Help With Natural Hormone Production:
Borage (Borago officinalis) Borage is the herb of courage, according to John Gerard, who quoted: ‘ego borago gaudia semper ago’, “I Borage, always bring courage’. Borage is a safe herb to use, and you can grow it easily in your garden. Just collect a few borage seeds after the purple flowers have died down, and sprinkle them around your garden, or your flower pots. They grow easily, as long as they are watered. Bees love this plant, especially bumble bees. Borage stimulates the adrenal glands, and healthy adrenal glands help promote that feeling of ‘joie de vivre’. Borage is rich in silica, which helps to soothe and heal the nerves. Make herbal tea with borage, or use a few leaves every day in your salad.
Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) is an herb which has been used in traditional medicine by the North American Indian people. It is often used for treating depression, as it is helpful in regulating hormones, and benefits the central nervous system, the brain, and emotions. Black Cohosh has nervine minerals calcium and magnesium. Black Cohosh is one of those herbs which should really only be used under the guidance of a health professional.
Dong Quai (Angelica Sinensis) This is another herb which, like ginkgo and ginseng, has been used in Chinese and Tibetan medicine for thousands of years. It is a valuable women’s herb, as it helps to restore estrogen levels. It is regarded as a general tonic for the female glandular/endocrine system. It also has a beneficial effect on the central nervous system. Dong Quai contains Vitamin E, B12, cobalt and iron, which contribute to its tonic effects.
Chaste Tree (Vitex agnuscastus) This herb helps the pituitary gland, which in turn, regulates hormone function. Vitamin B is recommended to supplement Chaste Tree berries.
Other Nervine herbs to Help Calm and Soothe: (Use under guidance from your health professional)
Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) (Note – chamomile tea is safe to use at any time); Pasque Flower (Anemone pulsatilla); Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora); Wood Betony (Stachys officinalis); Vervain (Verbena officinalis); Valerian Root (Valeriana officinalis); Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata); Lavender (Lavandula spp.)
Herbal Bath With Uplifting Herbs:
Lavender Bath: Put a handful of fresh lavender flowers into your bath as it is filling.
Rosemary Bath: Alternatively, you can use a sprig or two of rosemary. Leave the herbs in the bath to infuse as you soak in the water.
Homeopathic Arsen alb. 30x is very useful homeopathic for alleviating depression. Other ones which might be considered are Lachesis, or Ignation, Nat. mur, Lycopodium, Aconite, Belladona or Pulsatilla, depending on what the other symptoms are. Generally, you would choose just one, or maybe two, to treat the individual. Best to see a professional homeopath for advice, of course.