12 Patient-Approved Natural Supplements for Depression

Depression is a mood disorder that affects many millions across the world. Depression interferes with normal life and work, resulting in a lack of interest. In severe cases, depression can result in suicidal thoughts. Studies continue, and a cause such as an exam failure, loss of job, or divorce could be possible. Prescription medicines for depression are common in developed countries. 

Though not confirmed by research, certain natural supplements help some people reduce depression symptoms. Vitamins D and B12, omega-3 fatty acids, Rhodiola, and saffron are among them. Valerian and Lavender's oil also have rare benefits in alleviating anxiety and depression. 

1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Sea fish contains lots of the three fatty acids. Coastal regions eat ample fish and suffer less from depression. ALA, EPA, and DHA are the three fatty acid types. Docosahexaenoic acid, most important, helps the brain and retina found in fish and animal sources. Alpha-linolenic acid is common as an energy source and widely found in seeds. Eicosapentaenoic acid abounds in fatty fish and some algae.

Clinical trials believe that fatty acids impact mood-related molecules in the brain. The fatty acids were used in a study as add-on therapy for those who took prescription drugs for depression.

2. Probiotics

While most take probiotics to treat digestive issues, studies reveal they may help alleviate depression symptoms. Such surveys indicate that stress and anxiety find relief from probiotics. Lactobacillus plantarum P8 and Bifidobacterium are some such probiotics. The improvement of memory and learning ability shows a profound impact on mental health.

Yogurt and kimchi contain beneficial bacteria for the gut. Research now links the gut with the brain. Still, strong evidence may be lacking, but GI health and the brain share something. The gut manufactures most of the serotonin, a neurotransmitter that ensures sanity.

3. St. John's Wort

A well-known herb that helps control depression and anxiety, it is as effective as prescription medications. Side effects are few. Germany uses it for mild and moderate depression. Scientific evidence may be lacking, but many patients benefit in awesome ways. Using it requires discussing with a health professional due to possible drug interactions. Don't combine it with anti-depressants. The herb may interfere with the action of blood-thinning and HIV/AIDS drugs, birth control pills, and chemotherapy. Watch out for toxic side effects.

4. Vitamin B12

One authority highly regards vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12, along with folate, as mighty methylators for mental health. Studies reveal that 27% of severe depression cases among women over 65 in America lacked B12.

5. Turmeric

Chinese and Indian medicine has used curry seasoning turmeric for ages as medicine for many ailments. According to a specialist, turmeric can generate antioxidants by activating genes. The result is the protection of mitochondria that gives rise to chemical energy as ATP (adenosine triphosphate).

6. Ashwagandha

Ayurveda, the Indian system of herbal medicine, has used ashwagandha for over 5000 years. Referred to as the local ginseng, ashwagandha applies to several ailments. The herb energizes the intellect and promotes memory. While reducing stress, the herb slows neurotic atrophy and protects against synaptic loss in Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. One study showed that blood cortisol levels after 60 days substantially reduced with few side effects. 

Ashwagandha helps with bipolar disorder and improves auditory-verbal working memory, reaction times, and social cognition. Studies show that the herb is an anxiolytic, helps moods, and reduces obsessive-compulsive disorder.

7. Amino Acids

Proteins use amino acids for the formation, and a part of it becomes neurotransmitters. Eight essential amino acids from the diet build thousands of molecules in the body. If the level of amino acids is insufficient, the brain suffers. The result is a slow, foggy, and depressed brain.

8. Rhodiola

Also called the arctic root or golden root, Rhodiola Rosea beats stress. Scientific literature in European countries recognizes its remarkable effects. The herb grows at high altitudes in Asia and Europe and has been used for centuries as a tonic for improving attention and memory and reducing fatigue. A 2007 study indicates that mild and moderate depression finds ample relief after taking Rhodiola. Anxiety is helped, too, according to yet another study. Side effects reported are mild or moderate. Dry mouth and dizziness have been reported. Compared to prescription anti-depressants, Rhodiola works faster within a week.

9. Ginkgo Biloba

Europe uses leaf extract profusely, like in Germany. Americans use it as a nutritional supplement. Ginkgo Biloba is widely believed to aid memory loss, concentration problems, and mental confusion. Use it for depression and anxiety. It helps with dizziness, tinnitus, and headache. The belief remains that it increases blood supply and reduces blood viscosity. It boosts neurotransmitters and reduces free radicals. Depression reduces with increased serotonin and dopamine, which often lacks in such a condition. Ginkgo reduces stress and anxiety by lowering the level of cortisol. Those who are allergic had best avoid it with the leaves containing long-chain alkylphenols. 

10. Kava

Polynesian cultures have used the root in tea for ages. It does not cause addictions but helps anxiety conditions and promotes relaxation. Kava improves cognition and decreases anxiety. Comparatively, Valium relieves anxiety but decreases cognition. Avoid kava if suffering from liver issues.

11. Chamomile

Particularly effective for treating depression and anxiety together, Matricaria recutita and Chamaemelum nobile are the chief species found in Europe. Both have similar effects. A study revealed that Generalized Anxiety Disorder substantially reduced after eight weeks.

12. Maca

Peru has widely used Lepidium meyenii to treat depression in both sexes. It also elevates libido. A study found that depression in menopause also found relief. Psychological symptoms, anxiety, depression, and sexual dysfunction improved after maca consumption. 

Further experiments, research, and surveys in different parts of the world would intensify the faith in natural remedies. Already time-tested and approved by tradition, they should be practiced more widely to reduce harmful chemical medications. There is no doubt that the 'back to nature' theme would help the environment and humans too. There remains little doubt that black cohosh, chamomile, and Lavender help with mental trauma, among several other herbs.

Updated on: 07-Apr-2023


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