Monday, July 13, 2009

Dealing with Anxiety and Depression - Herbal Treatment

As noted elsewhere, my interest in alternative treatments for anxiety and depression is the result of my own life-long battle with these tricky troublemakers. As is quite often the case anxiety and depression are a tag-team in my experience, so I will not try separating my accounts of them - but it is important to note that there are many different kinds of depression, anxiety, and stress. As usual, I am writing from my own experience and this will likely be quite different from any other person's.

One area I have explored is herbal treatment for both anxiety and depression, including:

Holy Basil - at some point while using Holy Basil in combination with other supplements including 5-HTP and adrenal support I did feel I had achieved a good emotional balance. Life stresses got in the way, and I am currently "out of stock" but this may be a product I would like to continue with.

St John's Wort - although certainly well known as a natural remedy for depression, this is one I discontinued early due to abnormally intense menstrual cramping while taking it. I've no idea if this is a common side effect, but I decided not to take any further chances. It's important to remember that any herbal product can have unexpected side effects and that these will differ between people.

Omega 3 - this is becoming more mainstream as a mood-stabilizing supplement as well as for various other health benefits. It was strongly recommended by staff at a natural pharmacy when I inquired about herbal remedies for depression. I have taken Omega 3's intermittently for a few years and think there is probably enough evidence to include it as part of a balanced health regimen.

5-HTP - I have been taking 5-HTP this year because of its potential to reduce migraine headaches in addition to its role in anxiety and depression treatment. I am quite satisfied with it, and plan to continue its use.

Niacinamide - this is what was recommended to me for depression by the naturopathic doctor. I have not used it much yet, but my additional research shows that it is a water soluble member of the B vitamins, also known for its potential to work as an anti anxiety medication and anti-inflammatory properties which may also help alleviate skin conditions such as acne.

Herbal adrenal formulas (including ingredients such as Rhodiola, Suma, Siberian Ginseng, Schisandra, Ashwagandha) - I consider this an integral part of my strategy for coping with anxiety. Our adrenal functions suffer from prolonged periods of stress and may be an underlying cause of anxiety feelings as we are no longer able to effectively regulate cortisol and adrenaline in our systems. I was fascinated to discover this, and have been encouraged by numerous alternative health practitioners to include this type of natural anti anxiety formula in my treatment program.

Stress Formula vitamins (B vitamins with added herbal ingredients including Pomegranate, Ashwagandha and Lemon Balm) - similar to the above Vitamin B and adrenal formulas - I took this at other times when not on the other remedies (as with any medication it is necessary to be cautious with depression and anxiety herbs to avoid exceeding recommended doses or toxic combinations - remember to do your research and consult with the professionals).

Calcium and Magnesium - it has become typical in our modern lifestyles to be deficient in these essential minerals, necessary for stress management as well as most of our body's vital functions. Particularly where there are dietary challenges such as lactose intolerance, it is important to plan your natural anxiety and depression treatment with a focus on the whole system and your health in general. Wherever there are deficiencies, consequences can be serious. I am not as diligent in this area as I should be, but I will try harder. To find out how much is right for you speak to your doctor, alternative health practitioner or pharmacist.

Bach's Rescue Remedy - I consider these essences almost esoteric, but am delighted by them just the same. Their properties read almost like magic potions and specific formulas exist for most emotional ailments. I utilize them from time to time, and have bought them as gifts for friends. I don't know if they work but if you take them with the right intention and focus I don't see how they could hurt :)

As mentioned, herbal treatment is just one facet of learning to deal with anxiety and depression. Part of artsciencespirit is recognizing the need for balance between mind body and soul, and this is as true in anxiety and depression treatment as in any other area of health and wellness. Talk therapy, relaxation techniques, adequate nutrition, rest and exercise must all be incorporated
for a truly effective "cure." More to come on these in future posts - thanks for stopping by.

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