Beat the blues with a comprehensive range of natural Herbal alternatives to anti-depressants.
Nature's medicine cupboard has plenty of herbs that can help mood disorders, anxiety and depression without any unwanted side effects. There are herbs that will help create balance for hormone related disorders, provide energy when needed or produce calming, sedative effects. Good nutrition has also been shown to have a huge effect on depression.
There are no quick fix pills. Its about finding the right combination of herbs and superfoods and taking them as part of your lifestyle, to achieve positive results. And it's important to remember that herbs play an important role in dealing with depression as part of an all round health care plan, including fun, relaxation, exercise and other therapies.
Listed below are the herbs and superfoods that we sell which can be used when dealing with depression. Click to find out more or scroll right down and browse through all of them. Alternatively use the buttons on the right to view anti-depressant herbs by category.
We have included herbs known as anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, hormone related herbs, nutritional products, sleep aids, energy giving and anti candida herbs and superfoods. Each herb or superfood has a table denoting which category or categories it falls into.
"...there are a wide variety of strategies that can be effective in delivering long term change. The trick is to find what works in your situation."
Herbal and Natural Antidepressants
Beat the blues with a comprehensive range of natural Herbal alternatives to anti-depressants.
Indicated as good nutrition for depression because it's high in essential Omegas 3,6 & 9, which support healthy brain function. It also has a complex of 19 amino-acids, supporting growth and repair of cells, is packed with vitamins, is minerally rich and is made up of 45% dietary fibre.
Known as a powerful adaptogen, Ashwagandha has several different phytochemicals which work on the body simultaneously to combat anxiety and stress. Active components of this healing plant include "withanolides" - plant flavonoids that help to counter the negative effects of stress by lowering blood levels of the stress hormone "cortisol". Lowering cortisol in turn lowers stress, improves mood and decreases anxiety and depression.
Bala is diaphoretic, diuretic, stimulating to the central nervous system and anti-asthmatic. So it would seem to have a stimulating, strengthening, energising effect.
The fresh young shoots of Barleygrass are extremely rich in many compounds that help to ensure optimum function of the brain and central nervous system. Regular consumption of this nutrient dense superfood ensures a plentiful supply of B complex vitamins alongside many important minerals. Just one serving provides 52% of the RDA for folate, also known as vitamin B9, folate is works to keep mood steady and is needed for the synthesis of serotonin. This is an important neurotransmitter that directly contributes to mood in a positive way.
High in Vitamin B6, Bareygrass is one of the best sources of this important nutrient that helps with the production of the neurotransmitter GABA. Neurons in the brain need GABA to induce calmness when over-excitement occurs. GABA also works to produce endorphins which fight depression and anxiety. Of the many other minerals contained in Barleygrass, magnesium is perhaps the most important if you are feeling tense and anxious. Also known as "nature's chill pill", magnesium is crucial in the production of energy and neurotransmitters and many studies have shown an association between depression, anxiety and tension as a result of deficiency in magnesium.
Rich in protein, B vitamins, enzymes and free amino acids, Bee Pollen is an excellent food for the brain and body - often referred to as one of nature's most nutritionally complete foods. The B vitamins contained in this delicious superfood are particularly good at helping the brain deal with stress, also known as "moral vitamins", they are essential for a healthy nervous system. When the central nervous system is working optimally, anxiety and stress can be greatly lessened.
Bee Pollen also contains the flavonoid "chrysin", a compound that has been studied for its anti-anxiety effects. Studies have been conducted with favourable results, findings indicate that chrysin has the ability to lift the mood.
Black Cohosh works to balance female reproductive hormones and for this reason can be useful in giving relief from PMS, menstrual cramps
It is also effective in bringing relief to menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, vaginal dryness, irritability and tiredness.
It can be used as a natural alternative to HRT as it boosts oestrogen levels naturally.
Brahmi is well known for reducing the stress hormone cortisol and for counteracting the effects of stress by regulating the hormones involved with the stress response. It can also decrease anxiety by improving the production of serotonin - the hormone that calms the mind.
Native to India, Brahmi is an important ayurvedic herb that has been used for centuries as a "nervine" - a herb that calms the nervous system.
Why do we reach for the chocolate when we're feeling down? Well it turns out that Cacao is more than capable of producing feelings of well-being, contentment and bliss! Organic, untreated or Raw Cacao is an unbeatable mood enhancer due to the abundance of feel good phytonutrients it contains. Theobromine exerts a positive influence on mood and the presence of the neurochemical "phenylethylamine" enhances feelings of contentment. Cacao also contains the recently discovered messenger molecule, "anandamide" - also known as the "bliss molecule" and named for the Sanskrit word for bliss and joy.
The combination of mood boosting vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients in Cacao is able to trigger the production of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Not only that, Cacao is one of the highest known sources of the miracle mineral magnesium - the original "chill pill". Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include depression, irritability and anxiety - all reversible with magnesium repletion.
Camu Camu has a reputation for alleviating depression and helping the process of weaning people off pharmaceutical antidepressants.
Used by herbalists for centuries to treat anxiety and other nervous disorders, Catnip is so safe it is a long standing remedy for irritability and restless sleep in toddlers and babies. The sedative nature of this wonderfully calming herb helps to induce a fitful and restful sleep, making Catnip the go to remedy for insomnia or other sleep related problems.
The active components of Catnip are "iridoid glycosides", which are thought to contribute to this herb's anxiolytic and sedative effects.
As a relaxant, Chamomile depresses the central nervous system, reducing anxiety whilst not disrupting normal performance or function. This is due to the active principles of Chamomile including flavonoids, glycosides and essential oils.
In a 2011 study published in the journal, “European Neuropsychopharmacology”, it was found that the phytochemicals in Chamomile have 3 effects on the central nervous system that contribute to the herb’s anxiolytic and sedative properties. It binds to the GABA receptors which in turn reduces the activity of the cells in the sleep centre of the brain.
Chamomile was considered one of the nine sacred herbs of the Anglo-Saxons and was used ritually to ward off diseases and to promote health.
For the brain and body to produce the hormones and neurotransmitters required to keep you feeling calm and motivated, it must be provided with the necessary nutrients such as protein, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and antioxidants to accomplish this task. Chlorella is abundant in all of these compounds and has shown great value in the ability to keep the brain functioning smoothly, helping this important organ to literally keep "firing on all cylinders".
A diet rich in nutrient dense wholefoods will go a long way to protect mental health, with processed foods containing many toxic chemicals that are known to cause brain fog, anxiety and irritability. Many of the toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis are potent neurotoxins and endocrine system disruptors - Chlorella is a potent superfood that can help to reverse many of the damaging effects of everyday living. It is extremely rich in chlorophyll, a powerful detoxifier, and contains omega 3 fatty acids which increases the funtionality of the neurotransmitter, serotonin. Depression and anxiety are both characterised (in part) by low brain levels of serotonin.
Chlorella is phenomenally rich in many of the nutrients and powerful antioxidants required for optimal brain health.
There is incontrovertible evidence that the brain needs healthy fats to function properly, with this important organ itself consisting of at least 60 percent fat. Organic Raw Virgin Coconut Oil is the miracle food for the brain, rich in antioxidants with incredible anti-stress properties. This effect is due to Coconut Oil naturally lowering cortisol levels (the stress hormone), by relaxing the adrenal glands which are responsible for producing cortisol.
Coconut Oil uniquely feeds the brain with medium-chain triglycerides, these are necessary to the development of babie's brains and are also found abundantly in breast milk. MCT's are rapidly metabolised into ketones by the liver, these are an alternative source of fuel that easily cross the blood/brain barrier, recharging malfunctioning cells and improving cognitive function. Coconut oil is also powerfully antioxidant, especially to the brain.
Symptoms of Candida overgrowth can include anxiety, mood swings, irritability and depression. Raw Virgin Coconut Oil is also powerfully anti-fungal. It contains "caprylic acid" that works by penetrating the cell walls of the Candida yeast and causing it to rupture. This inhibits the growth of the yeast cell, eventually causing it to die. Other anti-fungal compounds present in this oil are "capric acid" and "lauric acid", with the 3 fatty acids working together to mount a multi-faceted, highly effective attack against Candida albicans.
The cordyceps mushroom has an unusual array of constituents making it an excellent choice of superfood for anyone looking to enhance their nutrition. It is well known to help combat the effects of fatigue and ageing and recent studies suggest it may have anti-depressant effect by affecting the adrenergic and dopaminergic systems, but not by affecting the serotonergic system.
One of the active constituents of this herb is thymol, and it is this compound that is responsible for Damiana’s life enhancing and stimulating effect on the mind and body. Many herbalists prescribe Damiana for mild to moderate depression, anxiety and nervous exhaustion. Its stimulating and restorative properties make it a valuable herb for anxiety and depression occurring together – as can often happen as a result of long term stress.
Damiana has an ancient reputation, particularly amongst Mexican Indians, where Damiana leaves were prescribed as a tonic for overall health.
Chinese Angelica has been used in China, Korea and Japan as an all purpose women's tonic for many years. It appears it really is one of the ultimate herbs for women, restoring health and balancing hormones in all cycles of a women's life.
Echinacea is widely respected as "THE remedy for colds and flu." It is a major immune booster that helps the body combat all types of infection including candida.
Fo-ti is a traditional Chinese medicine, and is known as one of the herbs for nourishing the heart and calming the spirit. It is seen as a remedy for unblocking the channels of the heart and spirit, allowing a pathway for the release of generalized weakness, soreness, pain and fatigue. It is also indicated traditionally for nightmares. As it is mildly oestrogenic it is indicated for use in menopausal symptoms.
Ginkgo Biloba is an excellent herb when taken for both the physical and emotional effects of depression and anxiety. It's primary effects are improved blood flow to the brain, increased oxygen and glucose metabolism. Poor blood flow to the brain is linked with depression, anxiety, poor focus and low energy levels, and a condition known as "cerebrovascular insufficiency". Research indicates that Ginkgo Biloba can improve symptoms linked to cerebrovascular insufficiency, supporting healthy circulation to the brain thus reducing feelings of depression and anxiety.
The active compounds in Ginkgo have been identified as; Kaempferol, Quercetin and Sorhamnetin. Kaempferol has been shown to be a "monoamine oxidase" inhibitor (MOA). This enzyme regulates the exact amount of dopamine we need in the brain. As we age MOA levels increase causing dopamine levels to fall. Research has shown that inhibition of this enzyme preserves brain function by protecting dopamine.
Traditionally, Goji berries have been taken as the quintessential tonic for longevity. They are thought to nourish YIN in the body, having a cooling and nourishing effect. They are the perfect daily tonic for modern living, which is said to create too much heat, fire and YANG in the body.
They are a super nutritionally dense food packed with a unique blend of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, protein and range of interesting phyto-chemicals which is why they are indicated for treating such a wide range of conditions.
There is lots of anecdotal evidence of Goji as a treatment for depression, probably because of their wide nutritional range. They are however mild enough to eat up to 30 grams every day.
Gotu Kola is a well known super-antioxidant for the brain, helping to protect brain cells from free radical induced cell death. Used for centuries in TCM to treat anxiety and depression, science has now isolated the active compounds responsible for the remarkable antidepressant effects of this herb. Two of these compounds - brahmoside and brahminoside - have sedative effects, whilst Gotu Kola reduces anxiety by around 50% in human studies.
Another study has found that Gotu Kola reduces the "startle response" caused by sudden noises within 30 - 60 minutes after ingestion. The acoustic startle response is a reliable way to measure anxiety, a greater general startle reflex being associated with higher anxiety levels.
Probably one of the most popular herbal stimulants,
It has a nervine action and is known as a calming yet uplifting tonic, boosting energy levels, enhancing memory and increasing physical endurance.
Hemp seeds contain many of the essential fatty acids that are also found in the brain. They also have the perfect balance of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids, fats which play a critical role in the healthy of the brain and central nervous system. There is growing evidence to suggest that deficiency of these important fatty acids can contribute to various mood disorders. Research shows that when the brain is deprived of omega 3, levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin are reduced - both essential to the regulation of mood.
Hemp seeds are also rich in many other brain boosting nutrients such as the stress busting vitamin E and "nature's chill pill", magnesium.
Additionally, Hemp Leaf Tea is packed with healthy phytonutrients and induces a relaxed and calm state of mind - similar to the effects of Chamomile.
The uplifting scent of Jasmine essential oil has been proven to improve mood, de-stress and bring anxiety down to a more manageable level. A study published in the “Journal of Health Research” looked at the effect of Jasmine oil inhalation on the central nervous system and the mood. They found that the oil did indeed affect the mood and brain activity, with participants reporting that they felt more positive, energetic and even romantic.
Jasmine Tea is fantastic for lifting the mood; it's flowery scent and taste has the power to elevate and brighten any moment. Used in a blend with other herbs it can bring calm and relaxation to the nerves.
Lavender has been used for centuries as a natural sedative and remedy for anxiety and depression. It has a complex mix of active components including "terpenes" - small molecules that are absorbed into the bloodstream via the nose or lungs. They are so small that they easily cross the blood/brain barrier and have an impact on neurological processes.
Lavender has been proven as effective at treating anxiety as its pharmaceutical counterparts. In a study published in the journal "Phytomedicine", it was shown that lavender helps with restless, nervousness, anxiety and insomnia.
Lemon Balm is an anti-anxiety nootropic (a herb used to enhance cognitive function). Used since the Middle Ages to reduce stress and anxiety, science has caught up with recent studies verifying these effects.
One of the active compounds of this soothing herb is "rosmarinic acid" - an enzyme which effectively increases GABA (gamma amino-butyric acid) in the brain. GABA is one of the inhibitory neurotransmitters, used by the brain to prevent over-excitement and attain balance. It is responsible for ensuring that we are not overly stressed and plays a role in sleep cycles. Increasing stimulation of GABA receptors will produce a sedative or calming effect and explains why Lemon Balm works well as an anti-anxiety herb.
Lemongrass is a “nervine” – a herb that specifically supports the nervous system to combat symptoms of stress and anxiety. It lowers levels of stress hormones and acts as a tonic for frazzled nerves, making it beneficial in the treatment of various nervous disorders such as vertigo and uncontrollable shaking.
The calming properties of Lemongrass make it very helpful in promoting a good night’s sleep, especially where stress and anxiety are the cause of sleepless nights. It helps to soothe the mind and body by inducing the release of serotonin, the pre-cursor to the sleep hormone melatonin.
A cup of Lemongrass tea or diffusing the essential oil in your bedroom can help you to relax and wind down in readiness for sleep.
Liquorice is known to have 8 different anti-depressant compounds, known as MOA (monoamine oxidase) inhibitors. These inhibitors are capable of potent anti-depressant activity and show significant improvement for all types of depression. Another compound, "glycyrrhizin", breaks down cortisol, the stress hormone, enabling the body to deal with stress. It also contains "Isoflavan" and "Isoflavene" that have been shown to have anti-depressant properties.
Liquorice Root is also very nourishing for burned out adrenals and is best used during times of chronic fatigue and tiredness that usually results in frequent illness
Marigold is ideal for use in a detox program; it is also nature's skin healer. Its anti-inflammatory qualities make it a heal all and a definite contender for the first aid box. It is a prime candidate for any anti Candida regime.
Marjoram has an extremely calming effect on the body and can actually promote feelings of happiness – this is why it is a great herb to use for grief, shock and PTSD.
With strong sedative qualities, Marjoram essential oil can be diffused in the bedroom to create a warming, nurturing atmosphere that is conducive to a good night’s sleep. If muscular soreness and tension is preventing you from sleeping, a night time massage or bath using the essential oil can soothe away aches and pains whilst promoting a relaxed state of mind.
Milk Thistle herb has a traditional and modern use as a liver tonic. It encourages the secretion and flow of bile and is therefore an excellent remedy for liver inflammation, the kidneys and the gall bladder. It is an excellent detox aid.
Milk Thistle has been shown to work at preventing liver damage associated with anti-biotics, anti-depressants, and anti-psychotic medication.
It can be an appropriate supplement to support any sort of anger work as these emotions often involve toxins in the liver.
Mistletoe is a powerful nervine - a herb that strengthens and feeds the nervous system. For anxiety, Mistletoe acts to lower the stress hormone cortisol, bringing the nerves down to a more manageable level.
Containing chemical compounds that directly impact the release of calming neurotransmitters, Mistletoe is an excellent tea to drink before bedtime if suffering from insomnia or restless sleep.
When depression, anxiety and panic attacks are the result of grief and/or heartbreak, Motherwort is the herb to heal your heart. Used as far back as the Ancient Greeks to reduce anxiety and calm the heart, Motherwort soothes the nervous system and acts as a powerful vasodilator, regulating heart rhythm and minimising palpitations.
It has a profound effect on the nervous system, with active compounds such as "leonine" relaxing the nervous system, resulting in elevated mood and relief from nervous debility. In higher doses, Motherwort can also act as a sedative, greatly aiding restfulness and sleep quality.
MSM is a mineral supplement. It is an ideal source of sulphur which the body uses in a huge range of places from hair to joints. Potential therapeutic uses include pain relief from disease.
Muira Puama has been consumed by the indigenous peoples of the Amazon for centuries for its effect on the central nervous system, especially when nervous system disorders are a result of stress. Studies have shown that this herb possesses several nervous system activiites - including anxiogenic (decreases anxiety), and adaptogen like properties.
A recent study, published in "Psychotherapy Research" indicated that Muira Puama may impact levels of dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin in the brain, producing antidepressant effects. These combined effects make Muira Puama an excellent alternative remedy for stress induced depression.
Neurons in the brain need GABA to induce calmness when over-excitement occurs. GABA also works to produce endorphins which fight depression and anxiety. Research shows that Noni acts as a natural sedative and anti-anxiety superfruit that supports GABA production and activity in the brain. A recent study found that Noni supports GABA mechanisms in the nervous system, naturally allowing it to calm down and thereby reducing anxiety.
If depression is related to the menopause then Passion Flower could be the most effective herb. As well as alleviating symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats (which are in themselves depressing enough), the alkaloids "chrysin" and "benzoflavone" present in this herb have been found to increase GABA (gamma amino-butyric acid) in the brain. GABA is one of the inhibitory neurotransmitters, used by the brain to prevent over-excitement and attain balance. It also helps to decrease the activity of depression inducing brain cells.
If depression, anxiety and menopause symptoms are causing sleep disruption and insomnia, Passion Flower's tranquilising effect can induce a restful sleep.
Of the many active constituents in Patchouli, A-Patchoulene specifically acts as a sedative and can greatly help to improve sleep quality. Inhalation, massage or a warm night time bath using Patchouli essential oil can calm down a hyperactive nervous system, gently relaxing the mind and body in preparation for a restful night’s sleep. It is an especially beneficial oil for insomnia and an inability to drop off to sleep due to an overactive mind.
Inhaling Patchouli essential oil stimulates the production of serotonin and dopamine, the feel good hormones which help to eliminate feelings of anxiety and anger. The release of these hormones reduces stress and tension which leads to a sense of overall well-being and can bring about a more positive outlook on life.
Did you know that 90 - 95% of the important neurotransmitter serotonin is made in the gut? This is why optimum gut health is so closely linked with the smooth functioning of the brain (called the gut/brain axis). A deficiency of serotonin can lead to mood swings, anxiety and depression - if you are suffering from Candida overgrowth this can suppress the production of serotonin.
One of nature's most powerful anti-fungals is the Pau D'arco herb, well known for its ability to combat Candida. This works in conjuction with a healthy diet, if you suspect you have Candida overgrowth you will need to cut out sugar in all of its simple forms and reduce complex carbohydrates whilst treating with this potent herb.
Although best known as a digestive aid, peppermint is a nervine and is known for easing anxiety and tension. It it also a delicious tea in it's own right.
Red Clover is good for hot flushes and night sweats during the menopause, and helps the body to balance oestrogen. Red Clover has been shown to improve cardiovascular function in menopausal women and is also taken to relieve the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome PMS.
A fantastic herb with a wide range of benefits, the traditional use of Reishi has been as an adaptogen, helping the body adapt to the stressors of life.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is indicated for treatment of general fatigue and weakness, asthma, insomnia, and coughs.
Naturally uplifting, Roses have been found to contain certain plant flavonoids that are exhibit antidepressant properties. The delicate, calming aroma of Rose essential oil is perfect to lift the spirits, helping to overcome stress, anxiety and depression. Promoting emotional balance, it can help to stabilise mood swings, ease nervous tension and relax the body and mind for a restful night’s sleep.
A 2009 study on Rose essential oil took 40 volunteers and administered either Rose essential oil or a placebo through the skin. The ones who received the Rose experienced a greater increase in feelings of calm and relaxation, as well as a greater decrease in breathing rate and blood pressure, compared to those who received the placebo.
Rosemary is a tonic for the liver, and stimulates bile, gall bladder and digestive function. It is useful for general debility and depression. It has been said that 'it comforteth the harte and maketh it merie'.
For woman Sage can reduce night sweats during the menopause, and can help reduce the flow of breast milk, and is therefore helpful during weaning. It is also a fantastic antibiotic and therefore indicated for candida problems
Research surrounding Schizandra is fairly conclusive in the fact that it is a powerful anti-anxiety herb, in addition to its ability to boost ones mood through lowering stress levels and enhancing mental performance. Its adaptogenic qualities mean that it specifically reduces both mental and physical stress, exerting a normalising effect on the whole body.
It has been found that Schizandra reduces cortisol levels in the body (the stress hormone) and is effective in controlling changes in serotonin and adrenaline caused by stress. This adaptogenic berry also fights the adrenal fatigue that is linked to stress.
Shatavari contains natural phyto-oestrogen hormone precursors that help women to maintain a healthy reproductive system and optimum energy.
Siberian Ginseng is an adaptogen, and it encourages the adrenal glands to secrete stress fighting hormones.
It is indicated as a preventative for a wide range of problems including nervous breakdown and depression.
Before the advent of pharmaceutical tranquilisers, Skullcap was the go to herb for the relief of anxiety and nervous tension. Studies have since shown it exhibits “anxiolytic activity” in animals and humans – meaning it inhibits anxiety. Herbalist Richard Whelan has noticed in his own clinical use of Skullcap that in strong doses (especially with the tea), it has quite a strikingly calming effect on agitated individuals.
If anxiety is leaving you unable to sleep, Skullcap is and extremely beneficial herb for insomnia and sleep disorders. While many remedies, both traditional and herbal, can lull you to sleep like Skullcap, most leave you groggy in the morning. Skullcap promotes sound sleep without the unwanted side effects, leaving you feeling refreshed and revitalised in the morning.
Studies show that extracts from the Soursop fruit and leaves may reduce depression. Containing three types of alkaloids; asimadoline, annonaine, and nornuciferine, these phytochemicals stimulate serotonin receptors. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter that directly contributes to mood in a positive way.
Soursop can also help to reduce stress and anxiety by counteracting the effects of cortisol – the body’s main stress hormone - enabling the body to deal with stress and bringing the nerves down to a more manageable level.
St John's Wort contains the active phytonutrient hypericin, which together with hyperforin, is one of the principal active constituents found in this herb. Many studies have found the herb to be equally as effective as traditional antidepressants, but with fewer side effects in mild to moderately depressed patients. Whilst researchers aren’t exactly sure how St John’s Wort actually works its magic, some have postulated that it acts in a similar way to SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), because it makes serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine available to the brain.
Preliminary research suggests that St. John's Wort also lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol and enhances the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a naturally occurring tranquilizer in the brain. It is a very mild, clinically insignificant monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor. MAO is responsible for the breakdown of two brain chemicals - serotonin and norepinephrine. By inhibiting MAO and increasing norepinephrine, St. John's Wort may exert a mild antidepressive action. The antidepressant or mood elevating effects of St. John's Wort were originally thought to be due solely to hypericin, but hypericin does not act alone. St. John's Wort relies on the complex interplay of many constituents such as xanthones and flavonoids for its antidepressant actions. St. John's Wort may also block the receptors that bind serotonin.
Among the powerful compounds in Thyme, carvacrol has been found to exert a positive effect on mood. It increases levels of dopamine and serotonin – the neurotransmitters that regulate motivation, drive and overall mood. Consuming this herb regularly or diffusing the essential oil in an aromatherapy burner can promote feelings of relaxation and well-being.
A common complaint when suffering from stress, depression and anxiety is insomnia. One of the most common uses of Valerian is as a sleep aid - Valerian root has been shown to increase GABA levels in the brain which can in turn not only reduce the amount of time taken to fall asleep, it can also improve the quality of sleep too. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a neurotransmitter that sends chemical messages through the brain and nervous system. Its role is to inhibit or reduce the activity of neurons or nerve cells. In large enough quantities GABA can cause a sedative effect.
A double blind study conducted by the Foellinge Health Centre in Sweden found that the effects of Valerian on poor sleep were significant. 44 percent of the participants reported perfect sleep, whilst 89 percent reported improved sleep – none of this group reported any side effects either, including morning drowsiness.
The active constituents of Valerian include "valerenic acid" and "valerenol", act as anti-anxiety agents, stabilising the central nervous system. The improved GABA levels make it easier for the mind and body to relax, meaning Valerian root can also help to keep your stress levels down – significantly helping with daily stress management.
Probably the world's favourite flavour. Not specifically documented as an anti-depressant but it's association with indulging the senses makes it excellent for the self esteem.
Used by herbalists for millennia to combat depression and mood swings, Vervain is a deeply penetrating nervine that soothes and sedates the nervous system. It is a relaxing and uplifting herb that can stimulate the release of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, enhancing mood and well being.
Vervain is also effective in promoting a good night's sleep without rendering the user groggy in the morning.
Vetivert essential oil is also known as the “Oil of Tranquility”, with sedative properties that help to diminish feelings of restlessness, anxiety, panic and anger.
A recent study published in the "Journal of Medicinal Plants Studies", found that Vetivert essential oil is particularly good for treating anxiety and stress because it relieves inflammation of the nervous system, which plays a major role in our mental and emotional state. Another 2015 study found that Vetivert has anti-anxiety abilities similar to that of the drug diazepam.
The warm, earthy and woody scent make this oil perfect for diffusion in an aromatherapy burner in the bedroom to help soothe away the tensions of the day and promote a restful night’s sleep.
Bearing a striking resemblance to tiny brains, Walnuts are packed with brain boosting nutrients and are recognised as one of the ultimate brain foods. They contain a number of neuroprotective compounds, with the highest amounts of omega 3 in any nut – this fatty acid is critical to the health and smooth functioning of this most important organ.
The omega 3 fatty acids found in Walnuts help to form the soft fluid outer lining of brain cells that give them the ability to communicate. This is crucial for allowing the movement of feel good neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. A deficiency in the right fats impairs the function of important neurotransmitters and can lead to feelings of stress, anxiety, mood swings and fatigue.
Walnuts are literally loaded with brain enhancing nutrients such as the “morale vitamin” B1 and the “mood vitamin” B6. Other neuroprotective nutrients are; gallic acid, vitamin E isomers, melatonin, folate and polyphenols.
Wheatgrass is quite possibly the closest thing to the fountain of youth and healing man has ever benefited from". As rich a source of vitamins, amino acids available anywhere plus an almost complete spectrum of minerals. The bedrock of super nutrition.
A powerful nervine and sedative, Wild Lettuce is a wonderfully soothing herb. It secretes a milky white fluid, "lactucarium" which contains the active compounds lactupicrin, lactucin and lactucopicrin. These compounds have been found to possess analgesic activity, along with sedative activity. This makes it very useful in the treatment of insomnia and anxiety - it is also called a feeble opium because it does not upset the digestive system. However, it is said to produce a euphoric, dreamy state making it much easier to drop off to sleep.
This sedative effect make it especially beneficial to an overactive nervous system and it’s particularly good for hyperactive children.