In part one we took an overview of the role of herbs in the treatment for depression. In this article we shall take a more detailed look at three popular herbs for depression. We shall provide an overview and describ how they work, how to take them and what contraindications are present.
There are a great amount of herbs available, but in this article we shall take a quick overview od Kava Kava, St John’s Wort and Chamomile!
Kava (Piper methysticum) is a medicinal plant, which originates from the Pacific Islands and has been used to treat emotional problems for hundreds of years. There were some concerns over the safety of Kava resulting in it been banned from the European Union, but this ban was lifted in 2014.
Kava can be hepatotoxic, meaning it’s hard on the liver, so do not take if you have any problems with hour liver!
How to Take Kava Kava
Two tablespoons per day of Kava extract will produce a relief in symptoms within a week or two. Also you can make some Kava tea.
- Add two tablespoons (30 grams) of kava with water.
- Boil and leave to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Strain and pour.
Also, if you like you can add Kava to lemonade (as in Sprite or 7Up), some people find this tasty!
- Do not take if you have liver problems, as it is hepatotoxic
- Kava reduces dopamine levels in the brain, so this is contraindicated for anyone who take dopamine boosting medication (Levodopa), for example Parkinson’s sufferer’s should not take Kava Kava.
St John’s Wort
St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is one of the most famous herbal remedies in the world today and is found in many places including Europe, Asia and the USA.
St John’s Worth is high in hyperforin and hypercin.
Hyperforin reduces spasms in the gastro-intestinal tract1, but also it has been noted for its mood enhancing properties2.
Hypercin provides a wide variety of benefits which includes wound healing3, anti-inflammatory4, sinusitis5 and Seasonal Adjustment Disorder (SAD)6.
How to Take St John’s worth
St John’s wort can be taken as a powder extract, in capsule form or liquid form. Dosage is sale around 300mg a day.
How to make St John’s Worth Tea
- Add two tablespoons (300 grams) of St John’s wort with water.
- Boil and leave to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Strain and pour.
St Johns Wort Contraindications
- Do not take with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). Too much serotonin can result in an overdose which can be lethal. Examples of SSRI medications includes
- citalopram (Celera)
- citalopram (Lexapro)
- fluvoxamine (Lenox)
- fluoxetine (Prozac, Saracen)
- paroxetine (Paxil, Peeve, Brielle)
- sertraline (Zoloft)
- trazodone (Oleptro)
- Avoid if using anti-convulsants, oral contraceptives,warfarin or HIV protease inhibitors.
- St John’s worth potentially has extensive interactions. For more information take a look here: Webmd
I have added in chamomile, as it is such a popular ‘tea’ that it might well be present in your kitchen cupboard, but you might not realise that chamomile is a powerful anti-depressant!
There is a tendency to think of herbs has been esoteric and unusual, and to some degree this is the case. However, some herbs, such as chamomile are popular and easily available and yet they are quite effective. And by effective I mean clinically effective, as has been testified to by clinical research, whereby in a 1995 study they noted that chamomile was as effective as a benzodiazepine receptor targeted anxiolytic/anti-depressant7.
How to Take Chamomile
The easiest and most famous way to take chamomile is to take it as a tea. If you want to make inroads with depression, you will have to take quite a bit of chamomile, so one cup a day won’t cut it; rather take at least four or five cups a day.
You can get perfectly fine chamomile in your local supermarket. Although like all herbal teas, take a look around and try to get the highest quality one which you can find; which is not necessarily the most expensive. If you are drinking good quality chamomile, you will feel immediate relaxation after taking it.
Final Considerations on Herbal Remedies for Depression and Anxiety
In this article, we have taken a quick look at three popular herbal remedies for depression and anxiety, and hopefully that it has given you some idea about the way that these herbs work and how there is a lot of scientific research, to back this up.
Also, there is no hard and fast way to take herbs for depression. You can take herbs on their own, or you can take herbs with allopathic medications.
So even if you are sceptical about the value of herbs, then just drink some chamomile, as it will definitely help!
Finally this leads onto another consideration, which is levels of coping. In general most anti-depressants and anxiolytic drugs, only bring the patient up to a more reasonable level of mental-emotional wellbeing. So most people, who take anti-depressants, are still feeling only ok, and even while on the drugs, they still feel anxious. So herbs can certainly be used to replace drugs, in some cases, but even if they don’t turn out to be so effective, they will still have a relaxing and nurturing effect and are certainly worth a go!
- Hyperforin, the active component of St. John’s wort, induces IL-8 expression in human intestinal epithelial cells via a MAPK-dependent, NF-kappaB-independent pathway.
Zhou C1, Tabb MM, Sadatrafiei A, Grün F, Sun A, Blumberg B.
- Laakmann G, Schule C, Baghai T, et al. St. John’s wort in mild to moderate depression: the relevance of hyperforin for the clinical efficacy. Pharmacopsychiat 1998; 31(suppl): 54-59.]
- Zaichikova SG, Grinkevich NI, Barabanov EI, et al. Healing properties and determination of the upper parameters of toxicity of Hypericum herb. Farmatsiya. 1985;34:62-64.
- Barbagallo C, Chisari G. Antimicrobial activity of three hypericum species.Fitoterapia. 1987;58:175-180.
- Razinkov SP, Yerofeyeva LN, Khovrina MP, Lazarev AI. Validation of the use of Hypericum perforatum medicamentous form with a prolonged action to treat patients with maxillary sinusitis. Zh Ushn Nos Gorl Bolezn. 1989;49:43-46.
- Martinez B, Kasper S, Ruhrmann S, Moller H-J. Hypericum in the treatment of seasonal affective disorders. Nervenheilkunde. 1993;12:302-307.
- Planta Med. 1995 Jun;61(3):213-6. Apigenin, a component of Matricaria recutita flowers, is a central benzodiazepine receptors-ligand with anxiolytic effects. Viola H1, Wasowski C, Levi de Stein M, Wolfman C, Silveira R, Dajas F, Medina JH, Paladini AC.