Herbal treatments for depression are becoming popular day by day because scientific research is proving them to be effective and they do not have significant adverse effects.
These herbal treatments for depression have been found to be more beneficial in sub threshold to moderate cases of depression. When the symptoms do not fully meet the criteria for major depression, it is termed as sub threshold depression or minor depression.
Persons suffering from sub threshold depression have increased chances of having major depression later on in the life. In severe depression the efficacy of herbal remedies is not yet supported.
The extracts of natural herbs contain active agents that are believed to exert their effect on mood and alleviate depression. Of all the herbal treatments studied so far, saint johns wort has undergone the maximum research. It has been found effective in treating mild to moderate depression but not severe depression.
Saint Johns wort which is scientifically known as hypericum perforatum is a yellow colored flower having five petals. Traditionally there have been numerous benefits of St Johns wort however it is mainly being used for the treatment of depression.
The active agents present in this herb exert the mood enhancing effects. Research studies have shown that it is effective in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. However, it is not effective for the treatment of severe depression.
The dose which is effective is 300mg three times a day. However the preparation should contain 0.3-0.5% hypericin and 3-5% of hyperforin in each dose.
It is recommended that you use the same commercial brand on regular basis because different brands have different concentrations of the active agents.
Switching between different brands is not advisable.
Once the treatment is started with st johns wort, it should be continued for at least 4-6 weeks to obtain the results. The duration of treatment should not be longer than 12 weeks because safety data is not available beyond this duration.
The side effects of st johns wort are fewer than the other antidepressant medicines for e.g Tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
The common side effects include bloating, nausea, dryness of mouth, increase in urinary frequency and skin allergy. Read in detail st johns wort side effects, drug interactions, cautions and contraindications here.
It is the most expensive spice in the world prepared from the flower parts of Crocus sativus. The petals and the stigma parts of the flower are cheaper which are used as herbal treatments for depression.
In the traditional Persian medicine, saffron has been used as one of the herbal treatments for depression and low mood.
The mechanism by which it exerts the antidepressant effects is not yet clear but it has been suggested that there are two components, crocin and safranal in the spice that exert the healing effects.
They are believed to block the reuptake of the brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) like serotonin, dopamine and nor epinephrine that control mood.
It has been shown that the efficacy of 30 mg/day of saffron extracts is comparable to 20 mg/day of fluoxetine.
Saffron has shown promising results for the treatment of depression and studies conducted over longer duration will help us further understand the role of saffron in treating depression.
It has been shown that saffron is an effective treatment option for the erectile dysfunction caused by fluoxetine (an SSRI) used for the treatment of depression.
Saffron in the dose of 15 mg twice per day improves sexual functions and increases sexual satisfaction.
Extreme caution should be taken in the use of herbal supplements in children less than 2 years of age, pregnant females and lactating mothers.
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