Mixed anxiety and depression are the most common mental disorders in the UK. According to the MHF at least 1 in 4 of us will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year. Most of us will have either experienced it first hand or know someone who’s experiencing it.
Now it goes without saying that if you are suffering from anxiety, depression or any kind of mental disorder it’s essential that you book an appointment to see your doctor. While these are all natural products that can be bought over the counter you should discuss all your options with a health professional first and foremost.
Today I’m taking a look at 7 of nature’s most powerful mood lifters and anti depressants…
These are a selection of natural tonics that a number of people have reported to be effective mood lifters. Some of these have even been used since ancient times.
1. 5-HTP – The African bean extract that can help fight anxiety
Serotonin the ‘happy chemical’ is produced by the body and brain from an amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan is most commonly found in turkey, milk, potatoes, pumpkin, various greens and in particularly high levels in the African Griffonia bean. But you don’t need to go bean hunting in Africa to get hold of it because it can be bought over the counter as 5-HTP in most health food shops or chemists. As well as depression 5-HTP has also been used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Some trials have even found it to be more effective than a number of prescribed antidepressants.
2. St Johns Wort – An antidepressant weed popular with German doctors
The ancient Greeks first brought this one to our attention. This plant species, also known as ‘Tipton’s Weed’, is often used as a herbal treatment for depression. While some experience no side effects whatsoever others have reported mild insomnia and headaches – and in extremely rare cases anxiety. It can be bought over the counter in most health food shops in vitamin form and is recognized by many as an effective treatment for depression. It is particularly popular in Germany where it is widely prescribed by doctors.
3. Royal Jelly – Uplifting food of the Queen Bee that’s great for boosting energy levels
What is Royal Jelly exactly? It’s not honey or pollen but literally the food of the Queen Bee (which she’ll feed on for up to 6 years). Again this is widely available over the counter in most health food shops in capsule form. Some users find it provides an effective and natural antidepressant and other reported effects are increased energy and even anti ageing properties.
4. The Vitamin B – Have you got enough folic acid in your blood?
People with low levels of folic acid are more prone to depression and less likely to get effective treatment from anti-depressant drugs. Not enough B6 can lead to irritability, nervousness and insomnia. You can increase your levels of folic acid through wholefoods, fruits, nuts, seeds and certain vegetables and also by taking over the counter vitamins. The vitamins to look out for are: Vitamin B3, B6, folic acid, zinc and magnesium.
5. Omega 3 – ‘Brain food’ that could also give you a lift
Most of us are aware that a regular intake of Omega 3 can help improve memory and brain function… perhaps less well known is that it can also help fight depression and mood disorders. Omega 3 fats are unique in the sense we can’t produce them ourselves, so the only way to benefit from them is through our diet. Oily fish have the highest levels (for example mackerel, sardines, salmon, herring, trout) but you can also get your intake through Omega 3 vitamins which are available over the counter.
6. Rhodiola Rosea – Chinese Emperors used this hardy root to fight fatigue
Also known as Golden Root or Arctic Root, Rhodiola Rosea is a plant that grows in colder regions of the world – such as the Arctic, Siberia, Northwestern China and even some parts of the UK and Ireland. The ancient Greeks, the Vikings and even Chinese Emperors all harnessed it for it’s powerful anti stress properties. It’s often used to fight off fatigue, boost stamina and improving mental clarity. Rhodiola Rosea is commonly referred to as an ‘adaptogen’ – a metabolic regulator which helps us to adapt to physical and mental stresses while improving our energy levels and endurance.
7. Kanna – The South African herb some call a ‘miracle plant’
Many users have reported a decreased feeling or anxiety, stress and tension when taking Kanna. According to studies, Kanna (also known as Sceletium tortuosum) may help prevent the brain’s overactive re-uptake of serotonin.
It was traditionally eaten or chewed by hunter gatherers in what is now modern day South Africa. Relatively little is known about this herb and it is not recommended to be taken in conjunction with prescription anti depressants.
It’s important to do more research if you are thinking of taking any of these as they can have different impacts on different people – also they can of course have side effects on some people so make sure you read up on these. While one person may experience the mood lifting properties without any of the side effects, another taking the same drug may experience anxiety with none of the benefits. I know people who swear by St Johns Wort… and others who tried it and said it actually increased their anxiety. Always speak to a health professional first.
Have you used these or any other natural ‘mood lifters’? Please share your experiences below in the comments section.