Are Natural Remedies for Depression Effective?

Natural remedies for depression aren’t a replacement for medical diagnosis and treatment.  But, for some people certain herbs and supplements do seem to work well.  More studies are needed to determine which natural remedies for depression are most likely to help and what side effects they might cause. Here are four natural remedies that show promise:

  • St. John’s wort. Known scientifically as Hypericum perforatum, this is an herb that’s been used for centuries to treat a variety of ills, including depression.  It’s not approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat depression in the United States.  However, it’s a popular depression treatment in Europe.  It may be helpful if you have mild or moderate depression.  However, it should be used with caution — St. John’s wort can interfere with a number of medications, including antidepressants, HIV/AIDS medications and drugs to prevent organ rejection after an organ transplant.
  • SAMe.  This dietary supplement is a synthetic form of a chemical that occurs naturally in the body.   The name SAMe (pronounced sam-EE) is short for S-adenosylmethionine.   Like St. John’s wort, SAMe isn’t approved by the FDA to treat depression in the United States — but it’s used in Europe as a prescription drug to treat depression.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids. These oils are found in cold-water fish and in some nuts and plants.  They are being studied as a possible treatment for depression and as a mood stabilizer in people with bipolar disorder.  Omega-3 oils also appear to have a number of other health benefits.
  • Saffron. Saffron extract might improve symptoms of depression, but more study is still needed to see whether it helps.

In the past, the quality of many dietary supplements on the U.S. market was often questionable.  With the increased oversight by the Food and Drug Administration, this concern is gradually diminishing.  But it’s still best do some research before starting any dietary supplement.  Make sure you’re purchasing your supplements from a reputable company, and know exactly what they contain.

Also keep in mind that some herbal and dietary supplements can cause potentially dangerous interactions with other medications. To be safe, talk to your doctor before taking a supplement for your depression.

Source of information:

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