Antidepressants commonly refer to drugs or medication used for the treatment of major depressive disorder and other conditions, including some chronic pain conditions, anxiety disorders, and even addictions. All of these conditions are crippling to one’s life and well-being and should be treated seriously. The problem with using drugs and medication to resolve these issues is that they usually come with many adverse side effects on your health.
Natural remedies can help treat your conditions while producing limited (or no) side effects. Often times, these remedies don’t just reduce symptoms of your conditions but improve many other aspects of your life. Below are the top 6 natural antidepressants that should be considered in your treatment plan.
1. Ginkgo Biloba
This herb originated in China and has roots in ancient forms of medicine. It is known to increase blood flow to the brain, boosting energy and improving concentration. Research has not yet linked this herb directly with mood, but one study found it beneficial for attention and memory (common problems experienced with depression) among healthy people. Similar studies have found that an extract of ginkgo biloba (EGb 761) was clinically effective in treating Alzheimer’s dementia: stabilizing and improving cognitive functions.
In addition, it is used to treat several other mental illnesses like schizophrenia, anxiety, and depression. The main aspect associated with Ginkgo Biloba, which makes it effective in treating mental disorders, is its amazing ability to reduce inflammation and improve cognitive functions.
In an 63-people study of ginkgo biloba, it was found that the Chinese leaf was 84% effective in treating antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction caused predominantly by selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
2. 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)
5-HTP is a naturally occurring compound in your body that increases levels of serotonin, the mood-boosting brain chemical. You can increase the level of 5-HTP in your body by taking health supplements available online and over-the-counter (OTC).
Serotonin is a kind of neurotransmitter that carries signals between the nerve cells in the brain. This chemical is very important for the brain to function properly as it regulates various body functions, including mood, behavior, and concentration. Improving the levels of serotonin to the desired quantities will ensure that your brain functions well and you are able to perform your tasks to the best of your ability.
Studies show that taking 5-HTP in doses of 150-3000 mg per day for 2-4 weeks improved symptoms of depression. Some early research even supports that 5-HTP might be as beneficial as antidepressant therapy for some people.
Since 5-HTP increases the synthesis of serotonin, it is also used for the following diseases where serotonin plays an important role:
- Lack of Sexual Desire
- Various Pains
Manufactured from the seeds of Griffonia simplicifolia, an African plant, these supplements are highly powerful in increasing the levels of serotonin and have been found to be as effective as those antidepressants that are thought to provide the necessary amounts of serotonin to the brain.
Alternatively, you can increase your intake of L- tryptophan which your body converts into 5-HTP. Food sources rich in L- tryptophan include potatoes, milk, chicken, bananas, collard greens, pumpkin seeds, spinach, and Turnip greens.
3. B vitamins
B vitamins such as folate, vitamin B-6, and vitamin B-12 all play crucial roles in helping the brain convert amino acids into mood-boosting brain chemicals like serotonin.
Low levels of B vitamins are often linked to depression, as the brain functions poorly. Older adults and people with digestive disorders may have trouble absorbing these vitamins. In addition, vegetarians may not get enough B vitamins through their diets. These groups of individuals are, therefore, advised to take vitamin B supplements to help reduce the risk of depression.
To ensure you’re getting enough B-12 and other vitamins, try to include the following foods in your diet:
- Lean meat
- Legumes (Vegetables & Nuts)
- Leafy greens
- Low-fat and fat-free milk
- Fortified breakfast cereals
If you prefer using supplements, the recommended daily dosage is 800 micrograms (mcg) of folate and 400 mcg of vitamin B12
4. S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe)
S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM-e) is a naturally occurring compound found in your body that produces and regulates hormones. The compound is available as oral supplements (in the form of capsules) or intravenously through muscle injections. According to Mayo Clinic, SAM-e is considered a supplement in the U.S. since the FDA doesn’t regard it as a medication. In Europe, however, SAM-e is viewed as a prescription drug.
Most people use SAM-e to treat the following conditions:
The compound treats these conditions by regulating hormones and maintaining cell membranes, much like prescription antidepressants.
Some people claim that SAM-e is as effective as prescription medications and kicks in faster (1-2 weeks). In addition, this supplement is favored over prescription drugs because it has a lower risk of side effects. The recommended dosage is 200mg twice a day for a week. Some people take 3-6 doses of 200mg for a maximum of 1,200mg per day. Speak to a health advisor prior to increasing your dosage.
Low zinc levels are one of the leading triggers of low immunity, which subsequently is also an indication of mood issues like depression. Mental illnesses like depression and anxiety disorders could be highly debilitating, developing a negative feeling towards life among patients. These health conditions vary across individuals, with some getting cured in a few weeks or months while others have to deal with it for their entire life. That said, metals like Zinc constitute a very crucial component of our body composition. When zinc levels go down, it could trigger serious mental health conditions. In a 2013 study of 44 patients suffering from depression, those who took a zinc supplement with a prescription antidepressant were drastically less depressed after 6 weeks compared to those taking only the antidepressant. Research suggests that Zinc helps improve symptoms of depression or mood disorders primarily because it lowers inflammation which inhibits brain functions and cognitive behaviors. When we increase our intake of Zinc, inflammation reduces or gets removed, which helps the immune and brain systems function at their best levels, contributing to a healthier body and mind.
Moreover, zinc is interrelated with mental functions such as learning and memory. According to Nutrition Neuroscience, consuming 25mg of zinc supplement daily for 12 weeks can significantly reduce depression symptoms. Zinc supplements can also increase the amount of healthy omega-3 fatty acids in the body. Omega-3 are essential fats that you can get from your diet, and they are found to be significant mood regulators that help in reducing the symptoms of depression. As per NIH, zinc supplements are required for those suffering from zinc deficiency which might include:
- Vegetarians or Vegans
- Pregnant women and nursing mothers
- People with sickle cell anemia
- People with gastrointestinal Crohn’s disease
- People who misuse alcohol
Even these categories mentioned above are likely to suffer from mental illnesses like depression or anxiety due to a lack of adequate zinc in their bodies.
There are natural food sources that can help you avoid these problems
Some other foods that are high in zinc levels include:
- Meat (all meats, especially red meat)
- Shellfish (i.e. grab, oysters, shrimp)
- Legumes (i.e. chickpeas, lentils, beans)
- Seeds (i.e. squash, pumpkin, sesame)
- Nuts (i.e. pine nuts, peanuts, cashews)
- Whole Grains (i.e. wheat, quinoa, oats)
- Dark chocolate
6. St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort is a plant originating in Europe, Northern Africa and Western Asia. Similar to SAM-e, this plant has not been approved by the FDA for depression treatment. However, in Europe, people commonly take St. John’s wort as a way to treat depression. In Canada, it is sold as a natural health supplement and not a prescription drug.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), St. John’s wort has the ability to increase the level of serotonin in our bodies, which cures milder forms of depression.
A 2008 review of 29 studies on St. John’s wort found that the plant was just as effective for treating mild to moderate depression as antidepressants, yet resulted in fewer side effects.
St. John’s wort has a long list of major interactions with other medications that should be avoided to prevent adverse outcomes. Some of these medications include:
- Aminolevulinic acid
- Blood thinners
- Narcotic drugs such as morphine and OxyContin
- Birth control pills
- Other antidepressant drugs
- Chemotherapy medications
For a full breakdown of St. John’s wort uses, side effects, and interactions, visit WebMD.com.
Packed with antioxidant compounds like carotenoids crocin and crocetin, saffron is a bright-colored spice that is found to play a significant role in increasing the levels of mood-transmitter serotonin in the brain. While the researchers don’t exactly know how it works, it’s believed that, most likely, saffron inhibits serotonin reuptake and ensures it stays in the brain for longer
In 2019, two reviews highlighted that saffron considerably improved depression severity and anxiety problems and proved to be more effective than a placebo.
Recently, 50mg doses of saffron have been shown to be highly resourceful in alleviating the symptoms of depression.
Talk to your doctor
Although certain natural supplements show promise in depression treatment, they aren’t consistently reliable. Particularly when you are suffering from severe depression. Depression is a life-altering and serious disease that often arises as a result of several underlying factors. Therefore, don’t just rely on supplements as a way to cope with severe depression symptoms. Work with your doctor to find a treatment plan that works for you. Most importantly, open up with your friends, your family members, and yourself, and commit to building a healthy and positive life.
DISCLAIMER: ALL CONTENTS ON THE CANADA KRATOM EXPRESS SITE ARE FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. THE CONTENT IS NOT INTENDED TO BE A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE, DIAGNOSIS, OR TREATMENT. ALWAYS SEEK THE GUIDANCE OF A PHYSICIAN OR QUALIFIED HEALTH CARE PROVIDER BEFORE BEGINNING ANY DIETARY PROGRAM. IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY, CALL YOUR DOCTOR OR DIAL 911 IMMEDIATELY. CANADA KRATOM EXPRESS DISTRIBUTES AND SELLS RAW KRATOM POWDER FOR RESEARCH AND ETHNOBOTANICAL USE ONLY. ALL PURCHASES ARE GOVERNED BY OUR TERMS AND CONDITIONS. RELIANCE OF ANY INFORMATION PROVIDED BY CANADA KRATOM EXPRESS OR EMPLOYEES OF CANADA KRATOM EXPRESS IS SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.
- Anti-Aging Secrets: How Herbs Can Promote Longevity
- Understanding Kratom: A Comprehensive Guide for Safe Usage
- The Science Behind St. John’s Wort for Depression
- Kratom and Mindfulness: The Perfect Pair for 2023’s Wellness Trend
- Breathe, Sip, Reflect: Integrating Herbal Teas into Routines for Mindful Moments