Over the past few decades, research for the best alternative remedies for depression and anxiety has been on the rise and nearly 20 different herbs have been identified as being anti depressive. These natural herbs for depression can easily be used to treat symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Here we will consider 14 of the best herbs for depression that can also combat stress, anger, sleeplessness and anxiety.
1. St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
This bushy plant has turpentine like odor but is considered as one of the best herbs for depression and anxiety. A German study has also been conducted on this plant-comparing it with other well known antidepressant drugs. Participants were either given 250 mg of Hypericum perforatum/St. John’s Wort or 75mg of imipramine twice each daily. The study concluded that 250 mg of St. John’s Wort extract was therapeutically equivalent to imipramine in treating mild to moderate depression.
2. Gingko Biloba
Gingko is one of the best known Chinese herbs for depression, anxiety and stress that also provide a multitude of other health benefits. Chinese herbalists have used Gingko widely for thousands of years and it is also one of the most studied herbs today. The extracts of Gingko Biloba (GBE) contain antioxidants and flavonoids. Many lab studies have shown that GBE helps improve blood circulation by dilating blood vessels. This in turn improve cerebral circulation, short term memory loss and can be used as an aid with other conventional treatments to treat moderate depression. For dementia and depression, take 40 mg of extract three times each day.
3. Siberian Ginseng
Siberian Ginseng is another of the well known Chinese natural herbs for depression and stress. Its botanical name is Eleuthero and it has been used in Russia and China for years for restoring vigor, increasing longevity and stimulating appetite and memory. Chinese herbalists use Siberian Ginseng (a distant cousin of Asian and American Ginseng) for balancing Qi (Chi energy which is the primordial life force) and also controlling cortisol levels to reduce depression and anxiety. Recommended dosage of Ginseng is 500mg daily in supplement form or the dried root steeped as a tea.
Blue vervain or Verbena Hastata is another of the most powerful natural herbs for depression. It particularly helps with constant excess thinking, worrying and anxiety. It is available in form of tea or tincture. Recommended daily dose for calming the mind and soothing anxiety and depression is 10-60 drops of the tincture.
5. California Poppy
Eschscholtzia or California Poppy helps with body aches associated with stress, depression and anxiety. Take 10-60 drops of the tincture to help relax the mind, soothe pain and treat mild depression.
Hops or Humulus lupulus is a natural sleep aid or sedative that can help treat mild to moderate depression symptoms. Take about 50 drops of the tincture to relax and sleep better.
7. Kava kava (Piper methysticum)
Kava kava is another relaxant and a powerful natural remedy to fight depression and stress. You can take it in powdered form (1/4 to 1 teaspoon) daily as a tea.
8. Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis)
This is an antidepressant herbal remedy that provides many benefits including boosting memory, reducing stress and anxiety and also fighting depression. Lemon balm belongs to the Mint family and can stimulate GABA receptors that produce a sedative or calming effect. It is available in the form of topical rub for massage or even as tea or tincture. 400 mg supplements are also available. Avoid taking too much as it can cause drowsiness.
9. Oat straw
Oat straw or Avena Sativa is one of the best Indian herbs for depression, anxiety , ADHD and stress. It is especially recommended in stressful situations. It is the same part of the plant that yields oats. The other names of this plant are Wild Oats, Groats or herb oats. The use of this plant as a behavior modification agent dates back to the Middle Ages. Today, many studies have been conducted on Green oats extracts and these have shown to reduce stress and also improve socialization in rats. Oats straw extracts can be used for smoking cessation and in combination with Saw Palmetto for enhancing testosterone and sexual performance in men. If taking as an extract, the recommended dosage is 1-2 teaspoons per cup of hot water (steep for 10minutes). If taking as a tincture containing alcohol, take 3-5 ml thrice a day. You can even add a pound of the herb to your bath water and soak in it for 30 minutes to relieve stress and anxiety.
Passionflower or Passi Flora is used in many countries including Germany as a pediatric sedative and antidepressant in combination with other herbs like Lemon balm and St. John’s Wort. It is a German Homeopathic remedy for pain, insomnia and neurasthenia. Many clinical trials have shown that it modulates the GABA receptors to reduce anxiety. It can be used as herbal anxiety medication for pre-surgery anxiety, heart palpitations, insomnia, hypertension, low libido and general anxiety disorders. Dosage of Passionflower-Take 2grams of the dried herb in water or 2ml of the fluid extract three times a day or 2 capsules 3 times a day.
11. American Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)
Research has demonstrated the ability of Skullcap flavonoids to bind to brain receptors implicated in modulation of anxiety. Many herbal practitioners in UK and Ireland indicated that their treatment of choice for anxiety and other related disorders was American Skullcap. Dosage of Skullcap for anxiety and depression-To make a relaxing tea for depression and anxiety, take 25 grams each of powdered SkullCap, Chamomile and Lemon Balm, 15 grams of Passion Flower and 10 grams of Lavender flower. This makes 100 grams of tea of which you can take 1 heaped teaspoon daily to make a tea.
12. Valerian Root
Valerian root is known botanically as Valeriana officinalis. It is one of the best natural herbs for depression, general anxiety disorder, panic attacks and stress. It is often recommended for post-menopausal women battling depression, sleeplessness and anxiety. It can also relieve headaches and body aches. In short, Valerian root is like Valium but without the associated side effects. Valerian root extract dosage to prevent anxiety and depression is 2 to 3 equal administrations of 150-300mg through the day. In tincture form, take 10-80 drops as needed every day. Do not use it as a long term natural herbal remedy for anxiety.
Lavender is one of the most popular non drug treatments for depression and anxiety. A total of 77 test subjects showing symptoms of GAD or General Anxiety Disorder were divided into 2 groups. One group was administered Lavender extract and another group was given lorazepam –a drug known to treat symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety related disorders. At the end of the trial, only 27% of the lorazepam group was in remission whereas nearly 40% of Lavender extract group met the criteria for remission. Lavender aromatherapy oil can also reduce anxiety. It has a positive influence on sleep related disorders and general mental health. You can drink a cup of Lavender tea daily or take diluted essential oil extracted from lavender flowers orally. You can take up to 80-160mg of supplement daily. You can also use the oil in your bath water or for massage.
Saffron is obtained from saffron crocus (Crocus sativus) plant. It has been used since as early as the 11th century for the treatment of melancholy and insomnia. In a placebo controlled trial of nearly 6 weeks, Saffron was found to reduce depression by nearly 14 points on the Hamilton Scale. You can safely take 30mg of Saffron extract pills 3 times daily to combat depression without the side effects of drugs.
Depression is a common disease, one that is predicted by the WHO to become a primary cause of disability in the future. These 14 herbal remedies are the best possible documented natural remedies for treating mild to moderate depression. They have good tolerance and very limited risk of interactions.