By Ellen J. Kamhi, Ph. D. with Dorie Greenblatt
Depression is a widespread health imbalance that effects many people at some point in their lives, and may be caused by a multifaceted list of factors. Depression can be triggered by personal tragedy, loss of a loved one, or changes in life situations (even if they are positive!). Some of the less recognized causes of depression may involve diet, including over-consumption of sugar, artificial sweeteners, chemical flavorings and preservatives, insufficient nutrition and foods that causes an allergic or sensitivity reaction in an individual. Lack of exercise and not enough sunlight, (i.e. Seasonal Affective Disorder), may be implicated as well. It is essential that those suffering from severe depression seek professional care. Since depression can arise from many different sources and operate on multiple levels, it is helpful to remember that “true healing” requires one to explore and address the root cause(s), not just attempt to cover up the symptom. Proper nutrition is essential. B vitamins can be helpful, such as Nature’s Answer’s B-Stress with Herbs, along with other nutrients such as the amino acids, GABA (particularly for anxiety), Tyrosine and Phenylalanine. Regular exercise, and a nice relaxing bath in lavender oil and sea salt are also enjoyable aids for lifting one’s spirits.
Herbs can be useful in relieving the symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Nature’s Answer offers many high-quality, single herb and combination formulas (liquid or capsule) that feature ingredients well-known for balancing emotional mood. Relora®* features a patented propriety blend of two herbs, Magnolia (standardized to 1.5% honokiol (3.75mg)) and Phellodendron (standardized to 0.1% berberine (0.25mg)) which, when combined according to a particular method, may help reduce the negative effects of stress, a factor that leads to depression as well as “stress overeating”. When the body is under stress, it causes the release of specific “stress hormones” that influence mood and emotional well-being. Relora® is unique because its active plant constituents work on the body’s natural chemistry to re-establish a normal equilibrium of stress hormones, while enhancing feelings of relaxation and cheerful outlook.
Another powerful, “all-in-one” proprietary herbal blend formula from Nature’s Answer® is Mood Balance 2™ (alcohol free liquid, vegetarian capsule). Mood Balance 2™ contains key ingredients well-recognized for their beneficial actions on emotional health, including St. John’s Wort, California Spikenard, Gotu Kola, Skullcap and Eleuthero root**. This combination of ingredients can help “lift the spirits”. (Note that these herbs are also available from Nature’s Answer® as single herb formulas in concentrated liquid herbal extracts and/or vegetarian capsules; Kosher).
Key ingredients in Mood Balance 2™include:
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum), used for a range of nerve disorders and said to “chase away evil spirits.” Since 1996, it has become one of the most popular herbs in the US due to its use as a mild to moderate antidepressant. A number of current studies confirm its effectiveness, including a review in the British Medical Journal of 23 clinical trials, which reported that it worked nearly as well as the leading pharmaceuticals with far fewer side effects. Although more research is needed, it appears that the activity of St. John’s Wort is due to a variety of naturally occurring components, including Hypericin and Hyperforin. Nature’s Answer’s exclusive formula, Super St. John’s Wort (vegetarian capsule), is standardized to both 3.0% hyperforin and 0.3% hypericin.
Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica), used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine as a nerve tonic and to treat emotional upset, insomnia, stress, anxiety and memory problems. It is currently used along with meditation and yoga due to its abilities to both calm and energize nerves.
Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) has the double action of relaxing nervous tension while building the central nervous system. As a mild bitter it will also help stimulate digestion and help the liver.
Eleuthero root** (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is an “adaptogen” that helps to balance the entire system. It gives strength and fortitude, especially when dealing with stress; so often a factor in depression.
*Relora is a registered trademark of Next Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
** Formerly known as Siberian Ginseng in Herbs of Commerce
References for Educational Purposes:
Bradwejn J, Zhou Y, Koszycki D, et al. A Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Study on the Effects of Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) on Acoustic Startle Response in Healthy Subjects. J Clin Psychopharmacol. Dec2000;20(6):680-4.
Carney MW. Vitamin Deficiency and Mental Symptoms. Br J Psychiatry. Jun1990;156:878-82.
Fulder SJ. Ginseng and the Hypothalamic-pituitary Control of Stress. Am J Chin Med. 1981;9(2):112-18.
Linde K, et al. St. John's Wort for Depression--An Overview and Meta-analysis of Randomised Clinical Trials. BMJ. 1996;313m:253-58.