The Scientific Evidence Behind 5 Common Herbal Treatments for Depression and Anxiety

In the past few years, more and more studies have found supportive evidence for using herbs to treat psychological symptoms Researchers have  studied anxiety and depression symptoms and concluded that some natural remedies are just as effective as pharmaceutical treatments. If you’ve been looking for solid proof that you can manage your symptoms without prescription medication, here’s what scientists know today.

Lavender

As one of the most popular essential oils, lavender is seen by many as a natural way to improve sleep and decrease anxiety. A number of studies have supported these claims and found that drinking lavender oil, swallowing lavender pills and using lavender oil in aromatherapy can reduce anxiety and restlessness. Although only one or two studies have examined each of these preparations, the overall evidence suggests that lavender is highly effective for people with anxiety.

St. John’s Wort

If you suffer from clinical depression but aren’t interested in traditional medications St. John’s wort is a potential herbal treatment. Several studies have found that this herb can be just as effective as antidepressant pharmaceuticals at treating depression. A 2016 article in the Systematics Review journal analyzed 35 peer-reviewed studies. The authors found that St. John’s wort users reported fewer side effects and a roughly equal improvement
in depression symptoms compared to patients who used physician-prescribed medications This herb should not be used with other anti-depressant treatments because it can cause an overload in serotonin, a neurochemical, and lead to psychosis and long-term brain damage.

Saffron

Historically, this spice has been used by Persians to manage depression for thousands of years. A handful of studies have shown scientific evidence that saffron can treat depression symptoms just as well as traditional medications. One study randomly assigned participants to take saffron or a placebo and found that those taking 9ffron had much lower depression symptoms. A second study compared Prozac and 9ffron and found equal outcomes for
participants Unlike St. John’s wort, only a few peer-reviewed studies on saffron have been published. However, saffron has almost no side effects and can be Safely-and tastily-used in food preparation.

Kava

This herb from the Pacific Islands enjoyed a surge of popularity in the early 200os A 2010 meta-review of12 high-quality studies found that kava is slightly more helpful than placebos at treating anxiety. However, many different strains and concentrations of kava are used to treat anxiety  symptoms, and researchers have not been able to study all of the possible combinations. For several years, the European Union did not allow kava to be sold because of concerns over long-term liver damage. It’s no longer banned for file, but physicians recommend patients with liver disease not take kava.

Chamomile

Although chamomile has historically been used to treat insomnia and anxiety, only one modern study has tested the herb’s efficacy. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a randomized controlled trial with 57 participants; some received chamomile pills and others received lactose pills with a chamomile scent. The scientists found a clinically significant difference in anxiety symptoms at the end of the study. Further research with additional participants is necessary to confirm these results. While chamomile tea has never been scientifically tested, it has almost no negative side effects. Feel free to drink a mug whenever you’d like.

When you decide on the best plan for treating your anxiety or depression symptoms, you have to weigh the available evidence. Science has clearly shown that St. John’s wort is an effective treatment for depression symptoms. Lavender is another herb that’s well-supported by current studies. Other alternative medicines like saffron, kava and chamomile need additional research, but the initial results are promising. Plus, unlike pharmaceutical methods herbal remedies have very few negative side effects. You won’t hurt anything by trying one out, and you might improve your
quality of life in a big way.

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