With the rate of depression and anxiety increasing each year, individuals are seeking prescription medications as a quick fix more often than ever. But why jump to Prozac when you can take St. John's Wort, a flower used for centuries to treat nervous anxiety and depression? This post will showcase natural herbs and remedies with high regard for treating everything from the common cold to mild depression, plus my tips, tricks and experience using them.
Mother Nature is honestly so d@mn remarkable. For any problem or issue that might effect a species' ability to function, she provides a remedy. But I'll stop myself from going all tree hugger on you. So at what point did society stop using natural remedies and turn to big pharma and prescription drugs? Possibly when we realized that one man can't find a pure, natural remedy like St. John's Wort and say "Alast! A plant that is only mine and I will make all the money from everyone that uses it!" because although it is a plant with remarkable healing powers, it is merely a plant that anyone can grow and use. Therefore we need to poke and prod it, refine it, add some fillers, throw it in a capsule and call it Prozac so that the man can make business out of it. But it doesn't necessarily mean that Nature's remedies are any less effective than Big Business'.
Near identical to ginger (and from the same family), turmeric is one of nature's most potent natural remedies. It used to be called "The Poor Man's Saffron" but has since changed due to the great health of turmeric-based societies. The remedy in turmeric is a compound called curcumin, which is so rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that is known to improve virtually every organ in the body.
How To Use It: Turmeric is an easy find in the spice aisle at your local supermarket. You can throw it in your next egg scramble, lentil soup, or make the infamous "Golden Latte" by warming up some non-dairy milk, raw honey or maple syrup and turmeric powder. It's very potent so a little goes a long way!
Also known as "The King of Herbs", Asian Ginseng has proven to aid those struggling with injury or disease, prolonged emotional stress, physical exertion and fatigue. People that regularly take concentrated Ginseng report improved mental ability such as thinking, learning, memory and concentration. Both American Ginseng and Korean Ginseng have been studied to control diabetes, reduce cholesterol and improve mental clarity. However, be careful when taking Ginseng because it can affect blood pressure and sometimes mimic a stimulant when taken in abundance, leading to insomnia or anxiety.
How To Use It: Ginseng is extremely rare and typically only gown in Northeast China and South Korea, therefore it's easier to find as a standardized extract or as a tea. For a fun little detox, replace it with your coffee or matcha in the morning.
Yes yes yes. If you're thinking beer, you're right. Hops is a flower famous for being the main ingredient in beer; but minus the beer, it is actually a great sleep inducer. It's an ancient Native American medicinal remedy for pain and insomnia. Warmed hops leaves wrapped in thin bags (think pre-evolution of the modern day tea bag) were applied to aching teeth or ears. Brewed hops tea was also used to cure fevers, hysteria and induce a good nights sleep.
How To Use It: You can easily find hops in tea form or as capsules and extracts. If you're tea inclined, make sure it says "hops strobiles" which is the effective female flower and drink it roughly 30 minutes before bed. Be careful to take hops unless you're ready to go to sleep, because it can have sedative effects. It's also not the best option for those with hormone imbalance as it can stimulate increased hormonal activity in women.
St. John's Wort
A younger Isa was very terrified of this name. "But does it give you warts?!" Well no, because the younger Isa didn't know the difference between wart and wort. Lols. Now we know.
St. John's wort is a bright yellow flower turned medicinal herb. Although it's been around for centuries, St. John's wort didn't get real traction until recent years. In 2009, researchers evaluated 29 clinical trials that concluded St. John's wort is more effective at treating mild to moderate depression than a placebo and is as effective as standard prescription antidepressants, with fewer side effects.
How To Use It: To reap the full benefits, you can drink St. John's wort tea 1-3 times a day or find a supplement that is standardized to 0.3% hypericin or 3-5% hyperforin. While St. John's wort is safe, it tends to interact with many prescription medications so make sure you check with your doctor or do some research.
This brightly colored wildflower should be a pantry staple. It is one of the most well-studied herbs, and rightly earned its name as one of Nature's best remedies for minimizing the severity and length of the common cold. Like turmeric, it's a powerhouse for the immune system and is a total bad a$s at fighting excess inflammation in the body. Studies have proven echinacea's ability to increase antibody responses to fight viruses and stimulate white blood cells to fight infection.
How To Use It: A few echinacea droplets in 4oz of water 2-3 times a day is typically my regimen, but it depends on the strength of your tincture. You can also find it as a tea or in capsule form, but I've personally only tried the tincture drops. Also keep in mind that echinacea is a little funny. Taking it daily won't actually prevent you from getting a cold, but taking it at the first sign of a cold is where it will be most effective and help to shorten the stay by 1-2 days or decrease the severity.
A short concluding note:
With all this being said, I must also add that there is SO much that modern medicine can provide that Nature simply can't, including highly concentrated forms of remedies, abundance and rapid turn over. So for that, we are thankful. And to what Mother Nature can provide is in pure and honest form sans a 2 minute read of life threatening side effects, we are also thankful.
Before experimenting with new remedies on your own, be sure to do some research or consult with your medical doctor to make sure there are no possible interactions with your current prescribed regimen. Also, when buying capsuled or tableted herbs, make sure the label reads "standardized extract" so that you're assured consistent doses. Aaaand most importantly, be open to the healing potential of Nature's remedies.