Depression or anxiety should not be taken lightly, it can be divided into different phases, and in the most severe cases it can lead to self-harm or suicide. It goes without saying that in such cases it is necessary to seek professional help, which usually consists of biological treatment (drug therapy) and psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral or interpersonal). However, there are also natural paths through which depression and anxiety can be fought, and along with such uplifting activities as massage, relaxing bath, running, yoga, dancing or aromatherapy, it is also taking the right herbs. And since they are herbs and not chemistry, it is not unreasonable to use them for prevention – your body and mind can only benefit from their natural pith.
People with depression and anxiety are increasing in percentage (According to the World Health Organization, depression affects more than 300 million people worldwide), and the time we live in is only deepening this problem. Before we go on, here is a link to a site that deals with depression and anxiety in general and where you can do an online self-test to identify if you or someone in your surroundings is not suffering from one of these psyche disorders.
Depression & Anxiety self-test:
Now we would like to remind you of the power of nature and the simple efficiency that lies in its gifts. These are some of the best herbs for depression and anxiety:
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
When you squeeze its yellow flower or look at it against the light, you will see tiny red dots in its structure – glands containing red dye hypericin, also known as St. John – hence the name of this herb. Its beneficial effect has been known for a long time since it was already used in ancient Greece. Healing effects have stems and flowers of St John’s wort which contain, in addition to hypeciline, green essential oil, traces of choline, tannins, organic acids, provitamin A, vitamin C, glycosides, resin and other active substances. The extract of St. John’s wort promotes mental balance, contributes to relaxation and promotes positive mood. In 1525, well known medicine reformer Paracelsus wrote that «Each physician should know that God has placed a great arcanum (secret) in the herb, just for the spirits and mad fantasies that drive people to despair.» This herb also has positive effects on the respiratory and cardiovascular system, promotes normal digestion, has an impact on a firm, deep sleep, affect the skin, flowers affect gallbladder function, and the plant has a positive effect even during the menstrual cycle.
It is no coincidence that it is part of a mixture of herbal teas against the unpleasant states of our mind and body. It is recommended to drink St. John’s wort with a mixture of other herbs (e.g. lemon balm and gooseberry). Only occasionally drink tea made from St. John’s wort alone.
It is also good to know that St. John’s Wort alters the effects of some drugs (especially those for blood pressure, diabetes or cholesterol). May also cause problems to allergy sufferers. So if you are taking medicines, talk about using St. John’s wort with a doctor. At the same time, this herb can reduce the effects of contraception.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Let’s mention Paracelsus once more, for he has recognized the undeniable qualities of this herb too. He was not afraid to call the lemon balm a medical elixir of life, apparently because it is an extraordinary remedy for calming the whole organism. It acts not only on the nervous system and the psyche, but also treats all the organs of the body, affected by pathological changes due to stress. It relieves spasmodic withdrawal caused by nerve strain, soothes palpitations, respiratory and digestive organs. Soothes coughs, relieves stomach cramps and bewildered winds, helps against vomiting in pregnancy. At the same time, it is an excellent tranquilizer (for children as well as for old people). A cup of lemon balm, sweetened with honey, replaces the sleeping pill, while generally benefiting. Lemon balm is completely harmless, you can drink it daily.
Lemon liqueur is also prepared from the leaves. The stem is used in folk medicine as a hypnotic and sedative. It is also used as a spice. In the kitchen it is added to mixed drinks and fruit salads for its fresh citrus scent.
Lemon balm contains essential oils, tannins, organic acids, mucilage, flavonoids and minerals. Antiviral effects have been newly recognized, especially in herpesviruses (cold sores).
Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
Chamomile is one of the herbs recommended especially for children, but it also helps adults effectively. It has a beneficial effect on tense nerves. Tea from this herb soothes irritation, improves depressing moods and strokes the soul. It contains a number of active ingredients and essential oils that help relieve mental tension. In addition to problems with the psyche, chamomile solves other ailments, such as bloating, digestive problems, intestinal problems, strengthens immunity, helps in coughing and colds, insomnia, impure skin, but also, for example, in urinary tract inflammation. In addition, it also relieves pain and helps with healing of wounds.
The treatment is mainly made using its flower, which is dried and drunk as tea. In addition, it is a herb suitable for long-term use.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Valerian is an herb that was prescribed to treat neuroses already by ancient healers and shamans. Perfect especially for those who have trouble sleeping. Tea or drops from valerian moderate insomnia, reduce time to fall asleep and generally improve sleep quality as the herb contains sedative substances. It relieves anxiety and depression, lowers blood pressure and has a slightly analgesic effects. At the same time, it helps with hysterical conditions, migraine, epilepsy and nausea.
This herb is usually used in the form of a tincture from the root, it is also a part of soothing tea blends, while in case of internal use it should be taken in mind that even small doses have a stimulating effect on the central nervous systém (it contains so called Valepotriates and terpentic substances). Not suitable for children, pregnant and nursing women.
The herb has a slightly unpleasant smell, but it is very effective. Just be careful and do not use the valerian for too long, ideally in fits and starts, maximum period of three weeks.
Valerian should definitely not be taken immediately, before you get behind the wheel!
Lavender is a fragrant plant and already its characteristic smell is intoxicating and soothing. In aromatherapy use it significantly relaxes and removes irritability, stress, tension and headaches (on the contrary, in larger volume it can cause them to be). You can scent your house or flat with it. Lavender bath improves blood circulation and generally revives the body of adults and children. In the bath for young children, it supports falling asleep.
For external use, lavender is best in the form of oil. This oil can be used undiluted on the skin. Smearing painful spots surprisingly helps in rheumatism, injuries, dislocations, torn muscles, pain, nerve inflammation, and migraine. Oil also cures ulcers, infectious wounds and superficial inflammations. Lavender oil is excellent against various mycoses (blight). Diluted lavender oil is used for delicate massage of babies.
Inhaling Lavender is great for calming and muscle relaxation during labor pains. Furthermore breathing accelerates the treatment of flu, tonsillitis and bronchitis. Like thyme, lavender is great in a fragrant cushion that will make your sleep more comfortable.
Internally, it is recommended to use only in small amounts in tea mixtures and is not recommended to be used during pregnancy due to the possibility of increased blood circulation and the risk of miscarriage.
Also Feel free to use lavender in the kitchen. Perfect for beverages, desserts. However, keep in mind that this aromatic plant may allergize, so try it carefully first.