‘Healing requires taking action–it is not a passive event.’ Carolyn Myss
Kava Kava to Relax the Nervous System
While many turn to pharmaceuticals to treat depression, the side effects of chemically induced ‘happiness’ can be devastating. Carolyn Myss, intuitive and Catholic Nun, talks in a recent workshop about how her brother committed suicide due to the long-term use of pharmaceutical drugs to treat his depression. There are other ways to treat the psychology of depression, and they include herbal remedies. Fortunately, they have very happy endings.
Furthermore, depression can merely be the side affect of a physiological problem such as a basic nutritional deficiency, hypothyroidism, chronic yeast, parasites, or even dehydration or a lack of important electrolytes like potassium. Simple B vitamins can often boost our moods and shift our endocrine and immune system into better health. Another simple homeopathic remedy is apple cider vinegar, honey, and water, which can rebalance low potassium levels.
Once these basic components of health have been addressed, herbals remedies can be added to augment overall vitality. Different herbs will affect people differently, but none of the following herbs have side effects, and can even increase mental acuity and balance the immune and endocrine responses in the body, in addition to increasing mental equanimity and happiness, overall. Try these herbs to boost your mood and treat depression without the side effects of many prescribed medications:
- Rhodiola Rosea – this herb is considered an adaptogen because it naturally augments the body’s ability to deal with stress. It is most often found in different parts of Europe and helps the body to deal with environmental stressors.
- Camu Camu – also known as Myrciaria dubia, this herb comes from a bushy river side tree which grows in the Amazon. It has very high levels of vitamin C as well as flavonoids, flavanols, catechins, gallic and ellagic acids and tannins similar to what are found in wine.
- Kava Kava – this Hawaiian and Polynesian delicacy is served in half coconut cups at Kava bars, but you can get Kava in a capsule form to enjoy its benefits. It is traditionally made by grinding the roots of the plant, and then making them into a tea. In Greek it means ‘intoxicating.’ It is known to calm the nervous system and has both sedative and anesthetic properties. It is known for its ability to calm the mind and nervous system without impairing your senses.
- St. John’s Wart – also known as Tipton’s weed or chase-devil has very anti-depressant qualities. It is a perennial plant with creeping rhizomes. It is most often prescribed in Germany as an aid to eliminating depression since there are several studies proving it was more effective than a placebo. A 300 mg dosage three times a day is an ideal dosage for reducing the blues.
- Ashwagandha – also known as Withania Somnifera is an herb, which has been used in India for hundreds of years. In fact, it is a regularly prescribed herb by Ayurvedic doctors. It is effective for reducing anxiety because its effects are similar to those found in GABA (a major inhibitory neurotransmitter which naturally occurs ion the human brain). It also increases axons and dendrites in the brain, which can be critical for relaying ‘happy’ hormonal messages, and for seratonin uptake.
- Maca Root – also known as Lepidium meyenii, is found in the high Andes in Peru. This herb is also derived from the root of the plant. It is rich in calcium and potassium, the later an important mineral which the body needs for numerous processes including keeping your mood elevated. Maca can also improve sxual functioning and even improve semen quality in men.
- Brahmi (Centella Asiatica and Bacopa Moniera) – this herb is wonderful for improving memory, reducing anxiety, and as a general adaptogen for helping the body deal successfully with stress. It is used in Ayuervedic medicine for treating Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder), allergies and even irritable bowel syndrome as well.
- Cardamom (Elattaria Cardamomum) – You can make a tea with this herb and combine it with Chmaomile, another soothing blam to the nervous system and brain. You can also put cardamom in a bath and use it as an aromatherapy to soothe frazzled nerves.
- Guggulu (Commiphora Wightii) this herb provides support for lowering triglycerides as well as reducing harmful cholesterol, but also improves your mood. While it is best when guggul is used with phosphate salts, tyrosine and hydroxycitrate along with a daily does of exercise, it can help alleviate depression symptoms even when used alone.
- Jatamansi (Nardostachys Jatamansi) – Also known as Himalayan Spikenard and often made into an oil made from the roots which grow in the foothills of Nepal, it greatly helps support a balanced mind and nervous system, reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Also an Ayurvedic herb, it is utilized to support deep sleep and can help one to release deeply held subconscious trauma. It has similar properties to Valerian root but with a sweet, fragrant aroma.
- Valerian Root – this root, grown mostly in Asia and Europe as well as the US, has both sedative and mood boosting qualities. Valerian root was used by the Greeks, Romans, and Hippocrates – the father of modern medicine. It is an inverse agonist for Adenosine A receptor sites in the brain. This translates into more sound sleep. Anyone who sleeps better, usually enjoys a better mood.
- Skull Cap – this herb is a perennial mint that is native to the North Americas. It grows near wetlands and marshes and has sedative properties. It is also an anti-anxiety promoting plant that has over 256 chemical compounds, which lead to a better mood when it is taken as a tea or supplement. Its phenols are in its stems, leaves, and roots.
- Passion Flower – this great herb can lead to greater passion because it has mood lifting properties as well as sedative and anti-anxiety and anti-nervousness qualities. It can reduce headaches as well as reverse insomnia. It is high in protein, phosphorous, Vitamin A, Potassium, Niacin, Chromium, and Magnesium, just to name a few of its better components.
- Hops – Also known as Humulus Lupulus, is known most often as an agent to flavor beer, but it was first used for its medicinal qualities because the water was tainted in places where beer was brewed. It actually originated in China and was not cultivated until at least 736. It is a climbing plant that treats insomnia, restlessness, and anxiety in much the same way that Valerian root addresses these issues. The specific chemical element that contributes to its effectiveness is called dimethylvinyl carbinol.
- Linden Blossom – This herb comes from the flower that the plant produces in Linden or Basswood. It grows in Asia, Europe and North America, primarily and grows to be a very large tree under the right conditions. You may find the herb called Limeflower tea, also. It is the same. It has tannins, anti-inflammatory agents, sedative, and anti-spasmodic agents so it reduces anxiety, inflammation of the skin and other organs and calms the mind.
- Tumeric (Curcurma Longa) – The primary action of this bright orange Ayurvedic herb is derived is from the curcumins it contains. Tumeric comes form a root. It has been used in ancient Chinese medicine as well as all over India as a remedy for depression. Curcumins have a host of great properties, including being a power-packed antidepressant, anti-inflammatory agent, immune system booster, and neurological supportive. Alzheimer’s patients are given this herb to reduce amyloid plaques, which form in the brain. It also has anti viral, anti fungal and bacteria killing properties. It has even been shown to reduce cancer tumors. This wonder herb is good for reducing your depression, but also a host of other ailments.
About the Author
Christina Sarich is a musician, yogi, humanitarian and freelance writer who channels many hours of studying Lao Tzu, Paramahansa Yogananda, Rob Brezny, Miles Davis, and Tom Robbins into interesting tidbits to help you Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World.