Depression Herbal Remedies



  • Balm, also known as lemon balm, is good for anxious indigestion and is helpful for calming nervous tension.
  • Siberian ginseng is a good remedy for stress, depression, fatigue, or complete nervous breakdown. Caution: Do not use Siberian ginseng if you have hypoglycemia, high blood pressure, or heart problems.
  • Kava kava is an effective remedy for anxiety, restlessness and depression. Caution: This herb can cause drowsiness. If this occurs, discontinue use or reduce the dosage. Long term use can cause liver damage.
  • St. John’s wort acts in the same way as monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors do, but does not possess the major drawbacks. It has been shown to produce improvements in depression, anxiety, and feelings of worthlessness.
  • Ginkgo biloba exerts good antidepressant effects, especially in people over the age of fifty
  • Skullcap is known for its calming effect on the body and helps reduce nervous tension.
  • Gotu kola has a beneficial effect on circulation and may help improve brain function. It also has a calming effect on the body.
  • Rosemary tea is reputed to be good for nervous tension and especially good for tension headaches.
  • Suma increases oxygen supply to the brain cells
  • Parsley, thyme, basil, rosemary, mint, sage, horseradish, ginger, and cinnamon are all good stimulants. Use them in cooking or as an herbal tea.
  • Cayenne has mild stimulating effect. Try a cup of cayenne tea when you are feeling tired run-down.
  • Schizandra has antidepressant and anti-fatigue properties. Caution: this herb should be avoided by epileptics, those with high intracranial pressure or severe hypertension, and those with “high acidity”.
  • Betony has been used for nightmares and severe depression.


  • The dietary guidelines are identical to the dietary guidelines for healthy eating, which includes plenty of raw fruits and vegetables, soybeans and soy products, brown rice, millet, and legumes.
  • If you are nervous and wish to become more relaxed, consume more complex carbohydrates. A diet too low in complex carbohydrates can cause serotonin depletion and depression.
  • For increased alertness, eat protein meals containing essential fatty acids. Salmon and white fish are good choices. If you need your spirits lifted, you will benefit from eating foods like turkey and salmon, which are high in tryptophan and protein. Other foods high in tryptophan include dried skimmed milk, beef, lamb, pork, vegetarian burger mixes, cheese, pumpkin seeds, poultry, cashew and peanuts, beans, herring, and eggs.
  • Foods to lift your mood include folic acid- rich foods, such as spinach, selenium rich foods such as seafood, zinc–rich foods such as shellfish, pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, soybeans, and organ meats, carbohydrates (including sugar), chili peppers, and garlic
  • Increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids (mackerel, salmon, tuna, whitefish, bluefish, anchovies, and herring)
  • Small doses of caffeine can improve your mood and performance; heavy doses can be detrimental to your psyche and well being.
  • Limit your intake of supplements that contain the amino acid phenylalanine. It contains the chemical phenol, which is highly allergenic. Most depressed people are allergic to certain substances. If you take a combination free-form amino acid supplement, look for a product that does not contain phenylalanine, such as that made by Ecological Formulas. For the same reason, avoid the artificial sweetener aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet); phenylalanine is one of the major components in this substance.
  • Avoid foods high in saturated fats; the consumption of meat or fried foods, such as hamburgers and French fries, leads to sluggishness, slow thinking, and fatigue.
  • Decrease your intake of concentrated sugars. The body reacts more quickly to the presence of simple sugar than it does to the presence of complex carbohydrates. Fatigue and depression result from the increase in energy supplied by the concentrated sugars.
  • Avoid alcohol and processed foods.
  • Important to get adequate amounts of B vitamins and zinc (shellfish, pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, soybeans, and organ meats) in the diet.
  • Investigate the possibility that food allergies are causing or contributing to depression.


A well balanced diet is a more natural source of nutrients and it is best to get as much as possible from food. If you are not eating a varied mixture of the main food groups or foods high in a certain nutrient needed for your health situation then make up the remaining through vitamin and mineral supplementation.

  • Deficiencies of a number of nutrients are very common in depressed individuals. The most common deficiencies are folic acid, vitamin B12, and B6. Other nutrients recommended include vitamin C, vitamin B1, niacin, biotin, and pantothenic acid.
  • Amino acid tyrosine: 500 milligrams. One or two capsules three times daily.
  • Amino acid d-phenylalanine: 500 milligrams. One or two capsules three times daily
  • Flaxseed oil: 1 tablespoon daily
  • Melatonin: 2 milligrams at bedtime during the dark months, if you notice your symptoms are seasonal.


  • Avoid sleeping too much; sleeping exacerbates depression
  • Keep your mind active, and get plenty of rest and regular exercise. Studies have shown that exercise—walking, swimming, or any activity that you enjoy—is most important for all types of depression. Avoid stressful situations.


You cannot treat serious depression by yourself.  Seek professional help if you have experienced four or more of the following symptoms for more than two weeks:

  • Persistent sorrow, anxiousness or empty feeling
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feeling of worthlessness, helplessness or guilt
  • Lost interest or pleasure in ordinary activities, including sex
  • Sleep disturbances such as insomnia, oversleeping, or waking up too early
  • Changes in eating patterns-either overeating or loss of appetite with a weight gain or loss
  • Fatigue, malaise
  • Thoughts of suicide or death or suicide attempt
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Difficulty making decisions concentrating or remembering facts

NOTE: If you feel suicidal and need support look under “suicide prevention service” or “mental health services in the phone book for a 24-hour hotline and use it.

In some cases, herbal products can interact negatively with other medications.  Such interactions can be dangerous.  Herbal remedies are not regulated and their quality is not controlled.  Moreover, while there is an abundant supply of information circulating about herbs, not much of it has been scientifically proven.  Consult your physician.  Informing your doctor and pharmacist of what herbal products you are using is just as important as letting them know what drugs you are taking.  Your physician and the pharmacist on duty at your pharmacy can assist you in deciding which herbs
are safe.