Smoke Away the Sadness: Natural Herbs and Depression
With a growing understanding and acceptance of mental health issues comes a growing need to find the newest, best ways to alleviate them. Oftentimes, people would rather turn to more natural approaches to handling their mental health before relying on synthetic drugs. Some people still use synthetic drugs as treatment but wish to supplement them with natural remedies to provide a more holistic approach. This rings true for individuals who struggle with depression just like any other mental illness.
In this article, we will explore depression, its symptoms, and how natural remedies like smoking herbs can alleviate them.
What is Depression?
Major Depressive Disorder, more commonly referred to as Depression or Clinical Depression, is a mental health disorder that’s thought to be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain and difficulties with neurotransmitters. These issues can cause a significant mood imbalance that can negatively impact an individual’s life mentally, physically, and emotionally
The symptoms a person with depression may struggle with vary greatly, but there are a few very common ones. These include a persistent, profound feeling of sadness, loss of interest in things that usually spark joy like favorite hobbies or activities, persistent lowered energy and fatigue (sometimes coupled with sleep issues such as insomnia or hypersomnia), weight and appetite changes, and unsafe thoughts.
An Herb to Help Alleviate Depression: St. John’s Wort
Using natural herbs to counteract depression symptoms isn’t something new. In ancient times around the globe, plants were used as medicine for all kinds of maladies we still have today, depression included. Whether they ate, drank, or smoked these plants, the benefits were so helpful that to this day people still choose to take advantage of them.
St. John’s Wort is one of the best herbs to turn to for help with depression. This particular herb has been used by civilizations and ancient healers for centuries to improve a person’s mood and help them with symptoms that we know today are linked with depression.
One of the most important things St. John’s Wort can do to help a person struggling with depression is to help them regulate their serotonin. As we already covered earlier, depression is thought to be caused by serotonin imbalances and issues with neurotransmitters. Often, medications meant to treat depression target serotonin and neurotransmitters in the brain to help regulate the symptoms of depression. St. John’s Wort has the same sort of regulating abilities. It also has the added benefit of containing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, allowing the person with depression to find relief and comfort.
Herbs That Help Alleviate Depression Symptoms
It’s important to note that the following herbs are often studied over a period of time, usually around 6 weeks to 2 months, and improvements will not be seen after just one or two times trying them.
Lavender is an herb very commonly linked to sleep. There are many lavender-scented items out in stores to help create a sleep-positive environment and lavender drinks and supplements are often marketed toward people who struggle with sleep. This is because lavender has shown great improvements in sleep quality and reductions in sleep disturbances in multiple studies.
Chamomile is another popular herb used to help people sleep, improving both the quality and latency of a person’s sleep. Similar results have been found for other herbs as well, such as valerian and rosemary.
Studies have also shown that valerian can improve sleep quality as well as the duration and latency of sleep. It’s also been shown to mildly improve insomnia. Other
Herbs like Asian ginseng and eleuthero root are strong adaptogenic herbs, which make them perfect for helping the body adapt to conditions and keep the body at homeostasis. This means they can help support health, manage stress, and maintain necessary energy levels. They’re also known to have positive cognitive effects on the person consuming them.
Peppermint is another popular herbal choice for helping energy levels either improve or remain balanced. It also has the additional benefit of giving the mind a boost to improve a person’s focus and cognitive abilities.
Holy basil is not only an herb that supports fatigue and sleep issues, but also an herb that is seen to promote healthy metabolic functions. Consuming holy basil can help a person better manage their weight, especially when their body is working against them like it often does with depression.
Another common herb for weight management (as well as energy and healthy sleep) is ashwagandha. This herb is a great all-around herb for people who are already healthy and want to maintain their good health or people who need a little help in certain areas of their health.
It’s important that you speak with your doctor before going on a new treatment journey alone, especially if you’re already on medication as herbs can interact with certain drugs. Whether you’re hoping to steep your herbs in hot water or smoke them, check out your options and take a step toward a healthier, happier you.