Herbs for Depression
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra).
Licorice is a very powerful antidepressant. Its role take a back seat due to the media attention on St. John's Wort. At least eight licorice compounds are monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors. (MAO inhibitors are compounds capable of potent antidepressant action.)
Safety Warning: Licorice and its extracts are safe for normal use in moderate amounts--up to about three cups of tea a day. However, long-term use or ingestion of larger amounts can produce headache, lethargy, sodium and water retention, excessive loss of potassium and high blood pressure.
St.-John's-wort (Hypericum perforatum).
St. John's wort has a long history of folk use for treating anxiety and depression. Modern science has shown that generations of folk herbalists were right. The flowers of this herb make an infusion that is effective in relieving sadness and melancholy.
Clinical studies show that treatment with just one of the active compounds in this herb, hypericin, results in significant improvement in anxiety, depression and feelings of worthlessness. Some studies show that it's a more powerful antidepressant than some pharmaceutical drugs such as amitriptyline (Elavil) and imiprimine (Tofranil). What's more, it has fewer side effects.
Studies also show that St.-John's-wort improves sleep quality, often a major problem for people who are seriously depressed. In one study, German researchers gave St.-John's-wort to 105 people with moderate depression. Compared with a similar group not receiving the herb, they slept better and exhibited less sadness, helplessness, hopelessness, exhaustion and headache. They also reported no side effects.
In a 1984 study conducted in Germany, depressed women were given a tincture of Saint-John's-wort. These women's symptoms, including anxiety, anorexia, lack of interest in life and psychomotor problems, all changed for the better. They even had fewer feelings of being worthless.
Research on Saint-John's-wort was also conducted in Russia-the herb was combined with psychotherapy to treat alcoholics suffering from depression. One of the major advantages of Saint-John's-wort is that, unlike many antidepressant drugs, it does not impair your attention, concentration or reaction time.
How To Take: Make a tea made by steeping one to two teaspoons of dried herb in a cup of boiling water for ten minutes. St.-John's-wort appears to be most effective if you take one to two cups of tea a day for four to six weeks. Different chemical compounds in St.-John's-wort work together to relieve mild depression in several different ways. The advantage of this combined action is fewer side effects, because the total response is not due to a single strong action. Also see the antidepressant tea described below.
Dosage: 900 mg daily of 0.3 percent hypericin concentration-600 mg with breakfast and 300 mg with lunch.
Safety Warning: Do not take St.-John's-wort if you're pregnant. And avoid intense sun exposure while using it, since this herb can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight. Do not take St. John's wort along with the amino acids if you've just started the treatment program. After four to six weeks on DLPA or L-tyrosine, you can then begin St. John's wort. Likewise, do not take St. John's wort with the SSRI drugs (Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil).
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