Depression is a mood disorder that has numerous symptoms and which, in mild cases, can be treated with herbal medicines. Let’s see how to improve mood with St. John’s wort and Rhodiola , two plants useful in the treatment of mild depression .
What is Depression
Depression is a mood, emotional and thinking disorder characterized by several symptoms including a sense of tiredness, irritability, guilt, lack of interest or pleasure in daily activities, sad mood, crying and, in the most cases severe, recurring thoughts of death and suicide.
Depression can occur at any age, affects women most, and can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe depression.
The causes of depression are different and also concern biological mechanisms, not only psychological : for this reason, psychotherapy is associated with a pharmacological type of therapy.
In case of mild depression it is possible to resort to herbal remedies to raise the mood . Resorting to medicinal plants in case of depression is certainly useful since antidepressant drugs have side effects that include insomnia, confusion, sedation, hypotension and arrhythmias: these side effects can lead to discontinuation of therapy.
There are several plants traditionally used for the treatment of depressive states ; among these, St. John’s wort has been shown to be effective in several studies in relieving the symptoms of mild depression.
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St. John’s Wort and Rhodiola to improve mood
Among the herbal remedies indicated for the treatment of mild depression and anxiety, St. John’s wort ( Hypericum perforatum ), a spontaneous herbaceous plant from Europe and North America, stands out.
The drug of hypericum, that is the part of the plant that has the highest content of active ingredients, is represented by the leaves and flowering tops , which contain hypericin, hyperforin, flavonoids , tannins and an essential oil.
According to studies, the antidepressant activity of hypericum is attributable to hyperforin, an active ingredient capable of inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline, probably by acting on non-specific transport mechanisms.
The increase in the concentration of these neurotransmitters at the level of the synapses resulting from the lack of reuptake, causes phenomena of neuronal plasticity that lead to the synthesis of receptors for these neurotransmitters .
This increase in receptor synthesis seems to be responsible for the antidepressant activity of hypericum and for this reason it is necessary to take hypericum for at least two weeks before it has the therapeutic effect .
Hypericum can be purchased in herbalist’s shops and pharmacies and is taken in the form of hydroalcoholic extract, capsules or tablets . Because St. John’s wort has interactions with many medications , it is important to tell your herbalist or pharmacist if you are taking any other medications or supplements .
In addition to St. John’s wort, rhodiola root ( Rhodiola rosea ) is used to improve mood ; this plant is mainly used as an adaptogen , to increase the body’s resistance to numerous physical, chemical and biological agents.
Rhodiola root contains organic acids, flavonoids, catechins, tannins and phenolic glycosides. In synergy with echinacea and other immunostimulating plants, rhodiola is used to prevent seasonal ailments while alone it is used to counter mental fatigue , to improve general well-being and mood .
Rhodiola can be purchased in herbal medicine and used in the form of an extract to be taken for no more than four months .