By Laura (Lolly) Jones-Miller
Many of us suffer from depression and anxiety at one time or another…and in varying degrees. The methods and remedies discussed in this article are not for those of us who suffer from extreme psychosis. This is a more severe matter to be handled by a professional. The remedies I have suggested here do…however…work wonderfully for those times when one seems to suddenly find themselves with a heavy heart… with feelings of sadness that just won’t shake loose. Other difficulties occurring during times of stress, or hormonal shifts are also quite receptive to theses treatments. For me, it is helpful just knowing that I have some degree of control and can reduce or eliminate certain degrees of anxiety and depression without having to seek intervention. Having control over what goes into my body and working with these lovely, natural remedies is nearly a successful treatment in and of itself! Blessings , prayers, and a hopeful heart to all of you who seek to make this life path a beautiful one …which is…by the way…the most powerful medicine of all!
St. John’s Wort
One of the most commonly recommended herbs for depression, it has a reputation of reducing anxiety and calming moods. It has been reputed to assist the nervous system in the same way anica, for example, treats the musculature system. It is a mild sedative and reduces pain, anxiety and tension, as well as inflammation. For some, this alone isn’t enough, but taking it daily does help to lighten anxiety. You can use it in tablet form, as a tincture , or as a tea.
This herb has an amazing ability to improve circulation, including blood flow to the brain. It can increase ones ability to focus. Ginkgo should also assist in improving mental clarity. Ginkgo works best if it is taken in blocks of time. One should take it for 6-8 weeks and then stop for several weeks before continuing. Our systems tend to build a tolerance to herbal remedies so one needs to break from them to allow them to leave the system. Then when you resume taking the herb it will begin to work anew. It is important to note that when pausing an herbal remedy…it is perfectly fine to replace it with another herb until you can resume using the original herb. Ginko Biloba comes in capsules, tinctures and teas.
Calming Herbal Teas – For Sleep and General Relaxation
Many with depression and, or anxiety find it difficult to go to sleep, stay asleep, or get a solid, restful sleep. Lack of sleep only makes matters worse, so finding ways to improve quality and length of sleep is really important! One great way to relax and improve ones ability to sleep is by drinking soothing, calming herbal teas after dinner. Many of these contain lavender, chamomile and a few other herbs. Shop around and try some of the different formulas. I like chamomile with almond milk for relaxation. Just like Gram used to make!
Flax Seed Oil – Yep! Who Knew!!!
Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the most common suspects for physical causes of depression. In our society, there is a chronic issues with Omega-3 deficiency. Do you have cracked lips and dry skin? Aching joints? Have you recently been pregnant or breastfeeding (or still are)? Chances are you need more Omega-3. Best sources include: flax seed oil (this source is a non-animal product if you are vegetarian or vegan, cod liver oil (especially traditionally fermented oils like the ones from Green Pastures), wild fish (esp. fatty fish like salmon), other types of fish oil.
Aminos and Supplements
This supplement been very helpful for many patients of depression and anxiety. 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is an amino acid that is the intermediate step between tryptophan , and serotonin (the feel-good brain chemical that one boosts during exercise or sex! Yahoo…right! So you will know what to do if you run out!!!). Many people are beginning to use this as an alternative to other depression drugs. It is an extract from the seed of an African plant, and it helps to boost serotonin levels in the brain, regulate mood, improve sleep and calm anxiety. This is slightly stronger than some of the other alternative treatments listed.
There is much that can be said about boosting B vitamins for mood difficulties. The best sources of the B vitamin complex (B1, B2, B6, B12, etc.) are whole foods like dark leafy greens (fresh and raw is great, or lightly steamed), and traditionally prepared whole grains (soaked, sprouted, sourdough). This is another thumbs up for a diet heavy in plant based foods!
I personally use GABA fror reducing anxiety and to aid in sleep. I find it to be extremely effective. I take a 500 mg capsule at bedtime. Or, during the day, if I am having difficulty with anxiety. It is fast acting and very effective for me personally.
You can try taking a 3 mg tablet of melatonin about 30 minutes before bed time. You really should not take more than this because it can cause the body to stop producing natural melatonin. Also, in higher doses, some people have disturbing dreams.
Bach Flower -Rescue Remedy
Two quick things that I have used for difficult days are:
1. Bach’s Rescue Remedy
I personally like the little spray bottle of this concentrated flower essence, meant to calm the body and relieve anxiety in a similar way that a herbal tincture might. I also likes the pastilles (like a small chew-able lozenge). I keep a tin of them with me always. When using the spray… a couple sprays on the tongue works great when one is feeling on the edge. It helps to calm one down and regain some control.
Another Note on Calming Teas
I keep herbs like chamomile and catnip around for making teas that I find calming and soothing, Try drinking these on days when a little extra support is needed. Peppermint and lavender are also good (with the added benefit of keeping the tummy calm too…My tummy sometimes acts up with I am experiencing anxiety or stress). There are all sorts of calming, soothing and relaxing teas out on the market and most of them are useful. Sometimes I wonder if the best thing that they do for us is force us to slow down, stop what we’re doing, and make a lovely cuppa to sip on.
Rose is for anyone needs to calm down and experience life a bit more. Especially appropriate for those who have depression stemming from a sense of slow self-esteem…and also anxiety issues. Rose is great for balancing anger and insecurity. It is very useful in cases of lingering depression and severe anxiety. It is also good for those who are experiencing a feeling of burn-out (and a low libido). Rose is considered a heart opener and is good for centering the minds calming center.
Great for food based anxiety in those recovering from eating disorders as well as depression. One can also use Evening Primrose for hormonally related anxiety and depression. I t’s a very uplifting and calming and does not cause confusion or excess sleepiness. It can also be used to treat anxiety and depression accompanied by nervousness and stress. It is perhaps one of the most overlooked emotional modifiers out there.
The flower remedy is for use with depression accompanied with fear. It is great for those who have forgotten how to play and experience fun and freedom.
Other Useful Things to Keep in Mind
Spend some time outside to experience the fresh air, the sunshine (and subsequent boost of vitamin D) and the beauty of nature. Walking will also boost a droopy mood.
Yoga and Exercise
Yoga is a beautiful way to boost serotonin levels, calm a body and mind, and get circulation and oxygen moving throughout the body. Movement…even moderate movement, such as swimming, stretching , or taking short walks, helps to increase circulation and the feel-good brain chemicals. These activities will also improve the quality of nighttime sleep.
*** A Note About Caffeine and Processed Sugar
If you suffer from anxiety you need to stop using caffeine and processed sugar. You may think it makes you feel better…but anything winding you up tighter is not helping anyone with anxiety and depression. It will aggravate both of these ailments.
I do hope you will find something in this post that will help you when help is needed. From my heart, xo, L