Herbal Medicines for Depression – are they Effective?

It is believed that in America approximately twenty million people in any year experience depression. There are currently numerous medications that doctors can prescribe to help reduce and perhaps eliminate depression in patients. Therapy is also used alone or is combined with depression medications which can be an effective combination. Some people choose to take herbal medicine for depression for a variety of reasons.

St. John’s Wort – Herbal Medicine for Depression

This is one of the more common and well known herbal medicines used for depression. St. John’s Wort is a plant and the flowers from the plant are used to produce the herbal medicine. There is scientific evidence that shows that St. John’s Wort is actually effective in helping patients who have mild or moderate depression. There have been two major studies performed on the effectiveness of St. John’s Wort on people who have to deal with major depression and both studies found that the herb was no more successful in treating the patients’ major depression than a placebo.

St. John’s Wort a somewhat popular herbal medicine used for depression does have unwanted side effects including sensitivity when exposed to sunlight, anxiety, dry mouth can occur, some people feel dizzy, fatigue occurs, headaches are experienced, gastrointestinal problems have been reported and sexual dysfunction. It can have negative effects on the way your body processes some drugs including slowing down or increasing the speed of processing drugs. Some of the drugs that are known to be affected by St. John’s Wort include Irinotecan, Indinavir, Warfin, birth control pills and anitidepressents. Researchers are not quite sure of the possible harmful long term effects from taking the herb. Research shows that you might have to take the herb for about four to six weeks before it will help you with your depression.

Omega -3 Fatty Acids

This is a variety of the good fat that is required for normal brain functions. The human body does not produce this substance. Some studies have shown a connection between having al low level of Omega 3 fatty acids and depression. Some researchers and doctors suggest that the patients’ anti-depression medicines will work more effectively if taken with Omega -3 fatty acids. You can find the substance in fish oil pills. You can choose to eat colds water fish such as sardines, salmon and anchovies in order to increase your level of Omega 3 fatty acids.

Sam –e

Sam-e also known as S-adenosyl-L-methionine is considered a chemical and it is found in our bodies. Researchers believe it can increase the amount of serotonin and dopamine you have in your body and these increases can help reduce your depression. Sam-e is an over the counter product.

Studies have shown that people who are on anti-depressants don’t receive the full effect of the medications if they have a lower than normal level of foliates in their system. Increasing your foliate level with supplements or by eating foods containing foliates such as green leafy vegetables, beans, some fruits and vegetables and fortified grains. Talk to your doctor before you take herbal medicines for depression.

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