Natural Health Remedies for You

Natural Depression Treatments
Herbal Supplements for Depression

Natural depression treatments include the use of herbal supplements and other natural nutritional supplements such as vitamins and fish oil, complemented by aromatherapy.

To find out more about major depression symptoms including the physical symptoms of depression, please visit our page on Major Depression Symptoms.

Natural depression treatments include dietary change, and the use of herbal and other nutritional supplements, complemented by aromatherapy.

Many people have also reported positive results using mind-body techniques such as meditation, yoga, acupuncture and body massage.

Please do remember that, because depression is quite often a symptom of some other condition, you should try to find out and eliminate the underlying root cause before trying any natural depression treatments.

Natural Depression Treatments - Herbal Supplements for Depression

Many commonly prescribed antidepressants (such as Prozac) work by keeping the neurotransmitter serotonin circulating in the brain. There are some herbs that function in the same way - they also increase the availability of serotonin in the brain. These herbs include:

  • Saint-John's-wort: Numerous studies have found that this herb is effective for mild to moderate depression. Many people have reported significant improvement in anxiety, depression and feelings of worthlessness after taking this herbal supplement. St.-John's-wort can also improve sleep quality, which is often a problem for people with depression. Some studies show that it is a more powerful antidepressant than some pharmaceutical drugs such as amitriptyline (Elavil) and imiprimine (Tofranil) without the side-effects.
  • Siberian Ginseng: Siberian ginseng has been shown to act as a monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor (MAO inhibitors are compounds capable of potent antidepressant action); therefore the herb helps improve the sense of well-being in people with depression.
  • Licorice: This herb also contains compounds that are monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors.
  • Ginkgo: Studies have shown that ginkgo may help relieve depression by improving blood flow to the brain and enhancing neurotransmitter activity. You can try taking 60 to 240 mg a day of a standardized ginkgo preparation which is a 50:1 extract that uses 50 parts of leaves to come up with 1 part of extract.

For synergistic effects, you can make an "antidepressant tincture" using:

  • 1 teaspoon tincture of Saint-John's-wort leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon tinctures of licorice root, ginseng root, and lemon balm leaf

Combine the ingredients. Take 1 dropperful 3 times a day.


Natural Depression Treatments - Nutritional Supplements

  • SAMe: The name is short for S-adenosyl-methionine. It is a synthetic form of a chemical that occurs naturally in the body. SAMe increases the concentration of brain neurotransmitters which affect your mood.
  • Essential Fatty Acids: Essential fatty acids such as DHA can improve neurotransmitter activity. Studies have found that EFAs (especially Omega-3's), when taken together with antidepressants, are more effective than antidepressants alone. You can try to take a product of fish oil that contains a daily dosage of 500 to 1000 mg of EPA/DHA.
  • Vitamin B-complex: B vitamins, especially B6, B12, and folic acid (also called folate), are involved in neurotrasmitter metabolism. It has been found that depressed people with low folate levels do not respond as well to antidepressents. If you are taking antidepressants (e.g. SAMe), take a 50-mg B-complex to facilitate proper metabolism of the antidepressant.


Natural Depression Treatments - Diet

A well-balanced, healthy diet is essential in combating depression because a healthy diet can help to create healthier brain chemistry.

Try to eat a diet balanced with complex carbohydrates which are high in serotonin (a neurotransmitter). A deficiency of serotonin can cause depression and insomnia. Foods that are good sources of complex carbohydrates include whole grains, vegetables, and legumes.

Also include foods that are high in B vitamins, especially folic acid, B6 and B12. Good sources of folic acid include pinto beans, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. Foods rich in vitamin B6 include cauliflower, watercress, spinach, bananas, okra, onions, broccoli, squash, kale, peas and radishes. Foods rich in B12 include liver (best source), beef, chicken, pork, fish, egg, and dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt.

In addition, consume foods rich in essential fatty acids, such as cold-water fish (salmon, cod, mackerel) and flaxseeds.

Finally, avoid foods and drinks that are depressants (e.g. alcohol), and those that make you feel sluggish (e.g. saturated fats, sugar, caffeine).


Natural Depression Treatments - Aromatherapy

You may also complement your natural depression treatments with essential oils. Here are some blends that can help drive away depressive feelings and other symptoms associated with depression. Use the blends in a room diffuser, or in a bath, or add any of the blends to a carrier oil and use the mixture as a massage oil.

To combat fatigue:

  • 4 drops of Bergamot
  • 1 drop of Geranium
  • 2 drops of Lavender

To calm down:

  • 3 drops of Roman Chamomile
  • 2 drops of Lavender
  • 2 drops of Melissa

To combat anxiety:

  • 2 drops of Ginger
  • 3 drops of Palmarosa
  • 2 drops of Geranium

Related Topic

Major Depression Symptoms


Balch and Stengler, Prescription for Natural Cures, (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2004).
Duke, J.A. The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook. (St. Martin's Paperbacks, 2002).

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