Physical health is always a top priority for us, and we do everything in our power to maintain it. When it comes to mental health, however, we tend to ignore the reality of it. Emotional distress, mood swings, general irritability, and restlessness; all are reflections of turmoil that your mind might be experiencing. Stress can contribute to hormonal imbalances. These, in turn, can translate into mental diseases and disorders.
Mental health is a rising concern. Between 1988 and 2008, there has been a 400% reported an increase in the use of antidepressants in the US alone. Given the side effects associated with drug consumption such as weight gain, insomnia, and sexual dysfunction, we have to consider alternatives. Natural remedies have been in use for centuries. Despite being a tried and tested alternative to western medicine, people still have not been able to embrace herbal medicine fully. However, it seems like now is the time to employ natural remedies to combat the phenomenon that is now the leading cause of disability in the US.
- Natural Remedies: Diet and Herbal Medicine
Herbal medicines reveal supportive evidence for efficacy in some mental health disorders. Studies are under works to observe a variety of neural nutrients that are found in herbal medicine. Phenylalanine is an amino acid that helps awareness and alertness. Lecithin is a compound derived from soya beans that comprise of inositol and choline; both of which assist us with focusing and planning. Lecithin has been studied to be found in abundance in highly intelligent individuals and deficient in those with mental disabilities and deficiencies.
Our diet plays a critical role in our mental health. A healthy diet is always advised to help maintain good health, but it is especially recommended for those battling mental illness or cognitive disability. Nutrient deficiencies are often associated with psychiatric disorders such as vitamin B, and zinc deficiencies are associated with depression. A highly recommended diet is the Mediterranean diet. A diet based on mainly fruit and vegetable intake along with unsaturated fats and dairy, the Mediterranean diet is loaded with goodness. From antioxidants to vitamins to minerals, this diet has it all. This is why it is often stated that a diet is a form of therapy as it helps improve your condition. According to braintest reviews, people with a history of a healthy diet reported with significantly reduced symptoms of cognitive degeneration.
- 6 Natural Herbs that Benefit Mental Health
- St John’s Wort:
The best-known herb for the treatment of anxiety and depression, St John’s Wort has been studied to possess the same level of efficacy as prescription antidepressants. Similar to SSRIs, St John’s Wort also harbors anti-anxiety effects. The daily recommended dose for it is approximately 500 milligrams twice every day. A concern associated with St John’s Wort’s use is its potential interaction with other supplements and drugs; therefore, it is essential to consult a doctor first. St John’ Wort has been revealed to reduce the potency of hormone-replacement therapy as well as birth control pills.
Kava is a perennial plant that hails from the South Pacific. Usually prepared as a water-based beverage, Kava has been studied to possess psychotropic and accompanying medicinal properties. Kava helps reduce the symptoms of anxiety according to research and thus can be employed to help combat its symptoms. Known to harbor an effect similar to that of alcohol minus the possibility of developing an addiction. While concerns about its potential hepatotoxic components have raised various concerns, it was later revealed that only certain parts of the plant with traces of contaminants were responsible for these results. Kava possesses an anti-anxiety effect similar to valium minus the degenerative side effects of valium on cognitive ability. Therefore, it helps lower one’s anxiety and helps improve cognitive function. Kava is currently being used to treat migraines, ADHD, depression, psychosis, and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Ginkgo helps improves peripheral blood flow which in turn helps the brain’s ability to use oxygen and glucose. It helps improve nerve impulse transmission as well as the activation of ATP. A commonly used herb for treating senility, Ginkgo is excellent for brain health. It has been studied to help with memory loss, concentration deficit problems, confusion, depression, tinnitus, and dizziness. Ginkgo helps boost neurotransmitters and reduces free radical-induced damage in the brain. Ginkgo is used to treat depression as it promotes both serotonin and dopamine uptake. It reduces the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body thereby reducing symptoms of anxiety. A possible concern associated with Ginkgo is its allergenic nature.
A popular herb in the east especially, Ginseng is known to provide nourishment to the pituitary as well as adrenal glands. Being an adaptogen, Ginseng reduces cortisol levels in the blood. Adaptogens are responsible for calming us down and giving our body with an energy boost without much stimulation. This mechanism thus enables the body to better deal with stressful situations. Additionally, Ginseng helps memory retention, increases alertness and helps induce better sleep, improves focus and protects the brain from free radical damage owing to its abundant supply of antioxidants.
- Mucuna Pruriens:
An ancient herb used in Ayurvedic medicine since centuries, Mucuna pruriens is a potent source of L. dopa. L. dopa is the biochemical precursor to various neurotransmitters including dopamine, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. It also helps elevate one’s mood, improves cognition
and overall brain function. One of its best attributes is its ability to combat redness in the brain; one of the main symptoms that lead to brain degeneration.
- Lavender Oil:
Generally employed as an inhalant, lavender oil is excellent for inducing calm and sound sleep. It helps reduce the symptoms of anxiety without being dangerous or addictive.
These are only a select few amongst many of natural herbs that help in improving mental health. Patients are advised to take a range of natural supplements for various mental health problems. The number of affected individuals battling mental and neurodegenerative problems is increasing by the day. Medicines, although useful, can be quite heavy on the pocket and harbor many side effects. It is best to employ the use of natural remedies including herbs and a diet comprising of essential nutrients to ensure a healthy, active and mentally fit brain.
About the author :
Audrey Throne is a mother of a 3-year old and a professional blogger by choice. Throne is passionate about lifestyle, business, automotive, technology and management and blogs frequently on these topics.
Find her on Twitter: @audrey_throne