MEDICINAL HERBS: Researched Benefits for Depression and Anxiety

escapetothefarmacyheader

Although conventional drug treatment helps many people suffering from depression, there are many people who do not benefit from these treatments, and others who suffer unwanted side effects.  Please do not stop taking your medications. This is not a post to encourage you to stop using your medications, including anti-depressants. My goal in sharing this information to help those who are not benefiting from their present treatments and are considering other options. If you are considering adding any of the medicinal herbs mentioned in this post, speak to your regular healthcare provider for guidance and supervision as you make the changes to your treatment regime. Not all natural plants are safe and some could interact negatively with prescribed drugs. Do not go out into your garden and use plants that are considered bedding plants as medicinal herbs.

Many, many years ago, I was one of the people suffering from depression who did not benefit from conventional drug treatments. My passion to help match the right symptom relief solutions for each unique client prompts me to continue my research into non-conventional treatments, not only for depression, but other symptoms. What works for one person with anxiety or depression will not necessarily be the right fit for another person with the same symptoms. Before you consider adding herbs to your treatment plan, please read my blog post Mental Health by Design for my holistic mental health recommendations for ‘where to begin’.

A number of studies have researched adjunctive therapeutic approaches to improve outcomes for depression patients. I have summarized some of them below.

Medicinal Herbs Studied:

The fruit of the Nelumbo nucifera (Nelumbinis semen) plant has long been used as a natural tranquilizer in Asian countries. “Nelumbinis Semen reverses a decrease in 5-HT1A receptor binding induced by chronic mild stress, a depression-like symptom”(1)

nelumbonucifera

Carvacrol, the main compound in oregano oil, has been found to induce antidepressant effects that seem to be dependent on an interaction with the dopaminergic brain pathways.(2)  Carvacrol can raise 5-HT and dopamine ranges in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex and influence neuronal activity through modulation of neurotransmitters.(3)

oregano-plant

Camellia sinensis (or tea plant) is used to make most traditional caffeinated teas, including black tea, white tea, oolong tea, and green tea. Research results suggest that green tea polyphenols can regulate the HPA axis involved in the pathology of depression.(4)

greentea

Crocus sativus, commonly known as saffron crocus, or autumn crocus, improves the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression and improves the Beck Depression Inventory and Beck Anxiety Inventory Scores with rare side effects.(5)

Crocus_sativus

Hypericum perforatum commonly known as St. John’s wort, is used in the treatment of anxiety and depression and can prevent relapse after recovery from acute depression.(6)

yelow-hypericum-flower

Piper methysticum, commonly called kava, improves the Montgomery–Asberg Depression Rating Scale with no serious adverse effects and no clinical hepatotoxicity.(7)

kava

Rhodiola rosea showed increased hippocampus 5-HT level-induced proliferation of neural stem cells, repairing the damaged neuronal cells in hippocamps.(8)  Improves overall depression, together with insomnia, emotional instability, and somatization, but not self-esteem with no serious side effects.(9)

rhodeola

Lavandula angustifolia, the well known and loved lavender plant, reduces stress, anxiety, and depression in pregnant women.(10) Lavender Improves the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale.(11)

lavendel

Curcumin: The medicinal properties of turmeric, which is the major source of the polyphenol curcumin, have been known for thousands of years.  Curcumin requires enhancing agents like piperine (found in black pepper) to provide the multiple health benefits. Curcumen restores biochemical and behavioral changes induced by chronic stress, reverses the decreased immobility period and MAO activity induced chronic stress and attenuates the stress-induced hippocampus in mice studies. (12)

turmeric

Proanthocyanidins are a class of polyphenols found in a variety of plants such as blueberry. They enhance 5-HT levels in hypothalamus, hypothalamus, and the frontal cortex.(13)

wildblueberry

Quercetin is a plant pigment (flavonoid). It is found in many plants and foods, such as red wine, onions, green tea, apples, berries, Ginkgo biloba, St. John’s wort, American elder, and others. Buckwheat tea has a large amount of quercetin. Studies show that Quercetin prevents hyperactivation of the HPA axis, (14), preventing a skewed stress response, like ‘flight mode’.

buckwheat

Resveratrol, is a natural polyphenol has been detected in more than 70 plant species, especially in grapes’ skin and seeds. Resveratrol raises 5-HT, dopamine, and noradrenaline concentrations in the brain and reduces MAO activity.(15)

_____________

The previous phytochemicals and medicinal herbs are just a few of the possible natural treatment options for anxiety and depression. Finding the right mix and dosage of these medicinal alternatives requires time and experimenting under the supervision of a qualified healthcare practitioner experienced in their use. Please review the research information and discuss the information with your regular health care provider before adding phytochemicals and medicinal herbs to your treatment regime and before making adjustments to your present treatment plan. Do not stop taking your medication. 

Many phytochemicals can be found in essential oils and are easy to use. Lavender essential oil is one of my favourites and I use it often, applying it to the inside of my wrists and ankles over the Chinese meridian channels, the base of my skull, my toes (reflexology points) and my sternum (this is where I first feel stress). Find out more about phytochemicals in essential oils at my page My Green Medicine Cabinet.

__________________________________________________________________

Escapes to nature and other body, mind and spirit experiences promote mental health and overall well-being!

Follow my ‘escape to the farmacy’ adventures here!

Wishing you health, happiness and peace of mind!

Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.P., Holistic Wellness Practitioner, Health by Design, http://www.mybodycanhealitself.ca/

Author of The Whole Person Well-being Equation available at http://www.mybodycanhealitself.ca/books.htm

Wishing you many health promoting escapes! Follow some of my escapes at  https://www.instagram.com/escape_to_the_farmacy/ .

https://www.facebook.com/Escape-to-the-Farmacy-112804460556962

https://www.facebook.com/HealthbyDesignForAHealthierYou/

https://www.facebook.com/LIVE.DEPRESSION.FREE/

_________________________________________________

Sources:

Table 1 – Therapeutic Effects of Phytochemicals and Medicinal Herbs on Depression, https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2017/6596241/tab2/

Table 2 – Therapeutic Effects of Phytochemicals and Medicinal Herbs on Depression, https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2017/6596241/tab2/

1    C.-G. Jang, M. Kang, J.-H. Cho et al., Archives of Pharmacal Research, vol. 27, no. 10, pp. 1065–1072, 2004.

2    F. H. C. Melo, B. A. Moura, D. P. de Sousa et al., “Antidepressant-like effect of carvacrol (5-Isopropyl-2-methylphenol) in mice: involvement of dopaminergic system,” Fundamental and Clinical Pharmacology, vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 362–367, 2011.

3    M. Zotti, M. Colaianna, M. G. Morgese et al., “Carvacrol: from ancient flavoring to neuromodulatory agent,” Molecules, vol. 18, no. 6, pp. 6161–6172, 2013.

4    W.-L. Zhu, H.-S. Shi, Y.-M. Wei et al., “Green tea polyphenols produce antidepressant-like effects in adult mice,” Pharmacological Research, vol. 65, no. 1, pp. 74–80, 2012.

5    E. Moshiri, A. A. Basti, A.-A. Noorbala, A.-H. Jamshidi, S. Hesameddin Abbasi, and S. Akhondzadeh, “Crocus sativus L. (petal) in the treatment of mild-to-moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial,” Phytomedicine, vol. 13, no. 9-10, pp. 607–611, 2006.

5    S. Akhondzadeh, N. Tahmacebi-Pour, A.-A. Noorbala et al., “Crocus sativus L. in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial,” Phytotherapy Research, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 148–151, 2005.

5    A. Akhondzadeh Basti, E. Moshiri, A.-A. Noorbala, A.-H. Jamshidi, S. H. Abbasi, and S. Akhondzadeh, “Comparison of petal of Crocus sativus L. and fluoxetine in the treatment of depressed outpatients: a pilot double-blind randomized trial,” Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, vol. 31, no. 2, pp. 439–442, 2007.

5    S. Akhondzadeh, H. Fallah-Pour, K. Afkham, A.-H. Jamshidi, and F. Khalighi-Cigaroudi, “Comparison of Crocus sativus L. and imipramine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a pilot double-blind randomized trial [ISRCTN45683816],” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 4, article 12, 2004.

5    A. A. Noorbala, S. Akhondzadeh, N. Tahmacebi-Pour, and A. H. Jamshidi, “Hydro-alcoholic extract of Crocus sativus L. versus fluoxetine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized pilot trial,” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, vol. 97, no. 2, pp. 281–284, 2005.

6    S. Kasper, H. P. Volz, H. J. Möller, A. Dienel, and M. Kieser, “Continuation and long-term maintenance treatment with Hypericum extract WS® 5570 after recovery from an acute episode of moderate depression—a double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled long-term trial,” European Neuropsychopharmacology, vol. 18, no. 11, pp. 803–813, 2008.

7    J. Sarris, D. J. Kavanagh, G. Byrne, K. M. Bone, J. Adams, and G. Deed, “The Kava Anxiety Depression Spectrum Study (KADSS): a randomized, placebo-controlled crossover trial using an aqueous extract of Piper methysticum,” Psychopharmacology, vol. 205, no. 3, pp. 399–407, 2009.

8    Q. G. Chen, Y. S. Zeng, Z. Q. Qu et al., “The effects of Rhodiola rosea extract on 5-HT level, cell proliferation and quantity of neurons at cerebral hippocampus of depressive rats,” Phytomedicine, vol. 16, no. 9, pp. 830–838, 2009.

9    V. Darbinyan, G. Aslanyan, E. Amroyan, E. Gabrielyan, C. Malmström, and A. Panossian, “Clinical trial of Rhodiola rosea L. extract SHR-5 in the treatment of mild to moderate depression,” Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 61, no. 5, pp. 343–348, 2007.

10    F. Effati-Daryani, S. Mohammad-Alizadeh-Charandabi, M. Mirghafourvand, M. Taghizadeh, and A. Mohammadi, “Effect of lavender cream with or without foot-bath on anxiety, stress and depression in pregnancy: a randomized placebo-controlled trial,” Journal of Caring Sciences, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 63–73, 2015.

11   M. Nikfarjam, N. Parvin, N. Assarzadegan, and S. Asghari, “The effects of lavandula angustifolia mill infusion on depression in patients using citalopram: a comparison study,” Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal, vol. 15, no. 8, pp. 734–739, 2013.

11    P. Conrad and C. Adams, “The effects of clinical aromatherapy for anxiety and depression in the high risk postpartum woman—a pilot study,” Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 164–168, 2012.

11     I.-S. Lee and G.-J. Lee, “Effects of lavender aromatherapy on insomnia and depression in women college students,” Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 136–143, 2006.

11     S. Akhondzadeh, L. Kashani, A. Fotouhi et al., “Comparison of Lavandula angustifolia Mill. tincture and imipramine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized trial,” Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 123–127, 2003.

12    M. K. Bhutani, M. Bishnoi, and S. K. Kulkarni, “Anti-depressant like effect of curcumin and its combination with piperine in unpredictable chronic stress-induced behavioral, biochemical and neurochemical changes,” Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, vol. 92, no. 1, pp. 39–43, 2009.

13    Y. Xu, S. Li, R. Chen et al., “Antidepressant-like effect of low molecular proanthocyanidin in mice: involvement of monoaminergic system,” Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, vol. 94, no. 3, pp. 447–453, 2010.

14    P. Bhutada, Y. Mundhada, K. Bansod et al., “Reversal by quercetin of corticotrophin releasing factor induced anxiety- and depression-like effect in mice,” Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry, vol. 34, no. 6, pp. 955–960, 2010.

15    Y. Yu, R. Wang, C. Chen et al., “Antidepressant-like effect of trans-resveratrol in chronic stress model: behavioral and neurochemical evidences,” Journal of Psychiatric Research, vol. 47, no. 3, pp. 315–322, 2013.

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2017/6596241/#acknowledgments

‘ITCHING’ TO RUN or FIGHT: Managing a ‘Ready to Take Off’ Stress, Fight or Flight Response

Itching

Remaining cool, calm and collected has been my ongoing goal to ensure that I stay grounded during times of stress, emotional upset and tragedy. My baseline calm default was altered in the past due to stress trauma and at times had me ‘idling’ on the edge. When stress and grief became a factor in my life, my ‘itchy’, ready to respond sympathetic nervous system ‘gas pedal’ would activate. This disrupted my overall balance, exaggerating my ‘not yet’ overcome vulnerabilities.

Some people have an over active, under active or faulty blood sugar, hormone, immune, heart or blood pressure response. Medically and generally accepted as ‘out of a person’s control’. An over active or run away stress, fight or flight response is seldom given the same understanding or acceptance. Extreme cases may be diagnosed as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

So what do you do if you find yourself somewhere between an ‘itchy’ stress, fight or flight response and PTSD? I am not going to mislead you by telling you there is a quick fix.  I have been working on restoring my baseline calm default for years using a variety of natural strategies and have made gains and experienced set backs.  The good news is the gains have been greater than the set backs. I am a ‘work in progress’, daily keeping my focus on my ultimate goal of ‘think, feel and respond like a Buddha’. You can find many of the holistic strategies that I have used in the past that have helped me to make huge gains in my health in my book The Whole Person Well-being Equation. Below you will find some additional and expanded strategies that I use and you can use to help you.

  1. Maintain life balance. This can be a challenge when you are going through major stress provoking times of your life.  Sometimes I feel like I am on a roller coaster ride when these major life stressors come my way. I have worked really hard to maintain life balance over the years and help clients and workshop participants to assess, restore and maintain life balance so that they are better prepared when the major life stressors come their way. You can learn about my life balance tools and workshops by clicking on the image below.  Board with
  2. Create a mantra.  This can help reprogram how your body and mind respond, gradually resetting your base ‘calm’ default. One of my mantras is ‘I chose to remain cool, calm and collected in the midst of stress, drama and the unexpected’.
  3. Use breathing. I recently started this practice again after a major life stressor. Inhaling to a count of ‘1,2,3’ while exhaling to a count of ‘1,2,3,4,5,6’ prompts the parasympathetic nervous system to slow your heart, putting on the brakes to prevent an out of control stress, fight or flight response. When at home I set my cell phone timer to remind me every hour to repeat the breathing sequence several times. When away I can ignore it when it goes off or take a few moments in my busy day to repeat the breathing sequence.
  4. Use imagery and visualization. Combined with the breathing sequences, imagery and visualization help engage my parasympathetic nervous system’s braking action, decreasing my stress hormones and ‘itchy’ sympathetic nervous system’s gas pedal response. Lily of the valley has been a favourite image for me since I was a child visiting my grandmother’s farm garden, and I use it as my ‘go to’ visual and sensory reset. The perfect little bell shaped flowers and calming aroma bring me back to my grandmother’s garden. I have a picture of the lily of the valley on my cell phone wallpaper. I use a variety of sensory essential oils to provide a calm reset.
  5. Incorporate Symphony of the Cells. Symphony of the Cells is an orchestrated application of therapeutic grade essential oils developed by Boyd Truman after 20 years of experience working on thousands of people with chronic and acute emotional and physical conditions. The professionally designed protocols combine the layering of specially selected essential oils with therapeutic properties which are applied in layers to the spine and feet and inhaled aromatically. The spine is an excellent application site since the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system travel along the spine and the spinal cord fluid can carry the therapeutic benefits up to the brain and central nervous system. Each protocol application provides an immediate relaxing and sometimes releasing impact with continued therapeutic benefits as the oils therapeutic properties reach the cellular level. I alternate the neurological, sensory and forgiveness protocols regularly since they can be helpful for managing stress, PTSD, emotional trauma, fear, anger, tension, hyperesthesia, anxiousness, OCD, mental fatigue, loneliness, self-doubt and grief. I highly recommend adding the Symphony of the Cells to your wellness plan. Come and see me for a one on one complimentary introduction and application to get started.  Attend or host a Symphony of the Cells workshop. Contact me at elisabethlhines@gmail.com  or my daughter Amanda Dumouchel @mamasandoils for more information.
  6. Prayer, gratitude, nature and quiet.  My daily companions to promote calm and keep me balanced.

Wishing you ‘cool, calm and collected’ living!

Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.P., Holistic Wellness Practitioner, Health by Design, www.mybodycanhealitself.ca,

Health by Design on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HealthbyDesignForAHealthierYou/

Mamas and Oils on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/771660452886708/

#stress #PTSD #emotionaltrauma #fear #anger  #tension  #hyperesthesia #anxiousness   #OCD  #mentalfatigue  #loneliness #selfdoubt #grief #fightorflight #posttraumaticstressdisorder #lifebalance #bloodsugarregulation