Natural Remedies for Depression - Are They Effective?

Safe and effective natural treatments for depression do exist.

Although you can get these supplements over the counter, I always recommend taking supplements under the care of a physician, since they can have side effects and can interact with other medications, including anti-depressants and the birth control pill.

A well-researched remedy for treating depression is the herb St. John’s Wort 300mg three times/day. A systematic review of 29 human research trials of over 5000 patients showed that the effectiveness of SJW extract is comparable to standard antidepressants; and with fewer negative side effects, such as weight gain.

Another option is 5-HTP 50-300 mg up to three times/day. Converts directly into serotonin. If you are taking too much, you may feel tired or have loose stools.

SAMe can also be used for depression at a dose of 200mg on an empty stomach twice/day. Increase your dose every two weeks to a maximum of 600mg twice daily. This is a natural amino acid anti-depressant that is assists with the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. SAMe is contraindicated in Bipolar disorder.

Fish oil at a dose of 1.5-3g per day has been shown to be helpful in regulating mood in recent studies.

Hormone balance is important. If your thyroid, adrenal or sex hormones are out of whack, your mood will be as well. Ask your physician to order and interpret lab tests for the thyroid gland, adrenals or sex hormones if you have symptoms that may indicate hormonal dysfunction.

Consuming a balanced whole foods diet rich in fruit vegetables and protein is essential. Nutrient deficiencies, such as a deficiency in vitamin B12 or Iron, can cause mood disturbances. Also, exercise regularly to increase endorphins, which positively affect mood.

Consider Meditation. The positive effects of meditation on mood are very well documented.

Lastly, talk to a friend or therapist. Expressing your emotions and having a support system is vital for healing.

Linde K, Berner MM, Kriston L. St. John’s wort for major depression. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2009;(4):CD000448. Accessed at on June 7, 2012.

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