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Improve Your Mood Naturally: 10 Herbal Remedies for Depression

29 May 2023

Key Points

  • Depression is a widespread mental health disorder and the leading cause of disability globally. While there is no one “cure” that works for everyone, depression is treatable with the right interventions.
  • Natural remedies for depression, like herbal supplements, may help manage symptoms with a low risk of side effects, while alternative therapies can help patients learn new coping skills and challenge negative thought patterns.
  • Emerging research on the antidepressant effects of medical cannabis presents exciting and promising results. As leaders in the medical cannabis space, we at Lyphe can provide trusted information on cannabis for depression. Arrange a consultation today with one of our trusted physicians.
  • Patients must consult a doctor before changing their medication or incorporating new supplements or therapies. Supplements may have the potential to interact with other medicines, like antidepressants, which can pose a risk to the patient’s health.

Holistic and natural remedies are an attractive option for treating depression, especially since around 40% of people taking antidepressants will experience side effects, according to a report in the Journal of Psychiatry.

Commonly prescribed SSRIs like Zoloft and Prozac and SNRIs like Effexor and Cymbalta may worsen depression among the many patients who find the side effects unpleasant and even intolerable. Antidepressants can be a life-saving treatment for many. Yet, the statistics show that pharmaceuticals alone aren’t curing this widespread disorder. 

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that those with mild depression consider alternative options ahead of antidepressants, with many turning to natural remedies for depression. An extensive 2012 review reported that just 60% to 70% of patients with depression found antidepressant therapy to be beneficial. Fortunately, depression is highly treatable with the right approach.

Research suggests genetic, environmental, biological and psychological factors can contribute to depression. Therefore, a multi-pronged approach involving a combination of medication, therapy and lifestyle changes is likely necessary for recovery. 

In this blog, we’ll look at ten of the best natural remedies for depression. There is growing evidence that these supplements and therapies act as natural antidepressants, are easy to implement and may ease depressive feelings and improve quality of life. 

As with any disorder, it’s essential to consult with your doctor before trying natural remedies for depression to determine if it is an appropriate treatment for you. Many herbal remedies for depression interact with antidepressant medication and may have side effects, so patients should always work with a doctor before trying new treatments.

10 Natural Alternatives to Fight Depression

There are a variety of alternative options available that may help alleviate depressive symptoms, such as over-the-counter natural antidepressants and medical cannabis, plus alternative therapies. When used in conjunction, they may provide the mind-body approach that a complex disorder like depression requires. 

Supplements for Depression

1. Medical Cannabis

Recent studies citing that levels of depression were lower in cannabis users led to research into medical cannabis as a remedy for depression. The potential antidepressant effects of medical cannabis include the ability to regulate mood, reduce anxiety and improve sleep. Medical cannabis interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which plays a wide range of roles, including regulating mood, appetite and sleep.

THC and CBD are compounds known as cannabinoids that interact with receptors in the endocannabinoid system. Some research suggests that THC has potential antidepressant effects by increasing certain neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine, which regulate mood. CBD, on the other hand, may have anxiolytic effects and help reduce symptoms of anxiety that often coexist with depression.

Research on the efficacy of medical cannabis for treating depression is promising, yet it is still in the early stages. It’s important to note that the exact effects of cannabis on depression may vary depending on the individual, the type of cannabis used and the dose, among other factors. 

Obtaining legal medical cannabis from a trusted source is crucial but difficult to find since the concept of medical cannabis is still relatively new. Professionals that can provide clinical care are also essential. 

Here at Lyphe, we are pioneers in the field of medical cannabis. We believe in providing an accurate understanding of the benefits and risks of medical cannabis use and making it accessible to assist patients in finding an appropriate and effective treatment for their condition. To learn more about our services, call today to schedule an appointment.

2. St. John’s Wort

St. John’s wort is often the first over-the-counter natural antidepressant people try to help alleviate depressive symptoms. This herb is native to Europe and has been used for centuries to treat various health conditions, including depression. St. John’s wort is often touted as a natural remedy for depression; however, its effectiveness is inconclusive.

This herbal supplement works similarly to pharmaceutical antidepressant medication by increasing serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain. Since certain medical antidepressants work on the same neurotransmitters, combining them with St. John’s wort can lead to dangerous and potentially life-threatening side effects.

St. John’s wort can interact with other medications like contraceptive pills and blood thinners, so it’s crucial to talk to a doctor beforehand if you take any other medicines. Experiences vary from person to person, but they can also include side effects such as dry mouth, dizziness, increased anxiety and gastrointestinal symptoms. This herb may have therapeutic benefits for mild to moderate depression in the short term but not for more severe cases. 

3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for the brain, reducing inflammation and promoting the growth of new brain cells. Several studies have suggested that omega-3 may be effective in treating depression, particularly in individuals with low levels.

Increasing foods naturally high in omega-3, like oily fish, nuts and seeds, can be a natural way to boost brain and heart health.

Omega-3 supplements are generally safe and well-tolerated. However, they can interact with certain medications and cause side effects such as gastrointestinal upset, so always consult a doctor beforehand if you take other medications.

4. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for brain, bone and immune health and is thought to help regulate mood and reduce inflammation. While the exact mechanisms behind the relationship between vitamin D and depression aren’t yet fully understood, a 2020 critical appraisal found a correlation between low levels of vitamin D and an increased risk of depression. Although the relationship between the two needs to be fully understood, the NHS recommends that all adults and children over four take a daily vitamin D supplement of 10 micrograms during the darker months.

Increasing vitamin D intake through supplementation or exposure to sunlight may be a simple and effective way to support mental health and wellbeing. However, it’s important to note that vitamin D supplementation should only be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional and high doses of vitamin D supplements can have negative health consequences.

5. Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola rosea is a herb known as an adaptogen for its ability to help the body adapt to stressors. It has been used in traditional medicine for multiple conditions, including easing symptoms of depression and enhancing mental performance. 

There has been growing interest in Rhodiola rosea’s potential antidepressant effects, with studies showing that it can modulate levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine and help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.

While more research is needed to understand the potential benefits for depression fully, early studies have shown promising results. Pure Rhodiola rosea has very few side effects and is well tolerated. It may also interact with certain medications, so as with all supplements, consult a doctor before adding it to your wellness routine.

6. Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential mineral found in legumes, leafy greens, chocolate, nuts and seeds. The effect of food on mental health is a relatively new concept in the West, and growing evidence suggests that magnesium may play a role in treating and preventing depression. 

Processed modern foods and soil degradation, amongst other factors, have led to a steady decline in dietary magnesium intake. Studies show that individuals with depression are more likely to have low magnesium levels in their blood compared to those without depression. 

Although the mechanisms by which magnesium exerts its effects on depression aren’t fully understood, magnesium plays a role in the production and regulation of serotonin and dopamine. One 2017 randomised clinical trial published in the National Library of Medicine found that magnesium supplementation was significantly more effective than a placebo in reducing symptoms of depression in adults by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. 

Magnesium supplements are considered safe for most people when taken within the recommended dosage. Patients should consult a doctor first to determine the appropriate dosage and ensure it does not interact with medications.

Alternative Therapies for Depression

For the best chances of recovery, medication should be combined with therapy for a holistic mind-body approach. Therapies can change a patient’s relationship to stress-producing thoughts and improve quality of life.

7. Ecotherapy 

Ecotherapy involves spending time in nature to improve mental health and wellbeing. Green spaces can calm the mind and body and increase positive emotions like joy and peace, and being in nature can increase feelings of humility and connection to something bigger than ourselves. When combined with physical activity, such as walking or gardening, it can further improve mood, increase energy levels and reduce symptoms of depression.

Ecotherapy can provide a sense of purpose and achievement when combined with activities such as planting trees, cleaning up parks or participating in conservation efforts. This can help to improve self-esteem and confidence and give individuals a sense of control over their lives and the world around them.

Overall, ecotherapy provides a holistic approach to improving mental health and wellbeing by combining the physical, emotional and social benefits of spending time in nature with the therapeutic benefits of engaging in meaningful activities.

8. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an alternative therapy from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) where thin needles are inserted into pressure points in the body to increase the flow of energy, or “Qi”. According to TCM, depression is caused by a blockage or imbalance of Qi. 

Research shows that acupuncture can increase neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which are essential in regulating mood and emotions. It may also help regulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, responsible for the body’s stress response.

A 2013 study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that acupuncture was as effective as pharmaceutical antidepressants in reducing symptoms of depression in some cases. Acupuncture was also found to be effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety in women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in a 2018 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

Acupuncture has few minor side effects and is considered safe when performed by a licensed practitioner. It can be used as an additional therapy to help alleviate symptoms and improve overall wellbeing.

9. Exercise

Exercise is a well-known way to boost feel-good chemicals like serotonin and endorphins naturally. It may also have long-term effects on people with depression by promoting better sleep and increasing self-esteem. 

Exercise may feel challenging for those with depression, so starting light is essential. Low-impact exercises such as swimming or walking can significantly impact mood, especially when practised regularly. 

10. Light Therapy

Light therapy has typically been used as a treatment for a specific type of depression known as SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and has also shown promise for major depression and perinatal depression.

SAD occurs during the winter months when there is less natural sunlight. Light therapy involves exposure to bright artificial light typically provided by a light box or lamp. Increasing light exposure at darker times of the year, especially in the morning, can help regulate circadian rhythm, which is essential in regulating hormones, sleep and appetite. Light therapy can be replaced with an early morning walk on sunny days. Just 15 minutes of sitting or walking in the sun is enough to gain therapeutic benefits.

Light therapy is safe for teenagers and pregnant women who may not be able to take other medications. Side effects like headache and eyestrain are rare and usually mild. However, individuals should always contact a healthcare professional before starting any new therapy to ensure it is a safe and appropriate treatment option.

Final Takeaway

While antidepressants are an effective treatment option for many, they may not be the best choice for those experiencing side effects and may be more effective when combined with holistic depression remedies.

Supplements like St. John’s wort, vitamin D, Rhodiola rosea and magnesium can be a simple yet effective way to boost overall health and brain function. Those considering a medical approach may find that medical cannabis offers a potential natural remedy. 

When herbal supplements are used with complementary therapies such as ecotherapy, light therapy, acupuncture and lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise, they may produce more enduring and potent outcomes. 

It’s important to remember that while natural alternatives to SSRIs can be effective, they should only replace medical treatment if under the supervision of a healthcare professional. Always consult your doctor before trying any new therapies or supplements.

At Lyphe, we have been trailblazers in UK cannabis prescription and dispensing, making alternative treatment and education in this emerging field of health more accessible to all. If you’re interested in learning more about medical cannabis and depression, our team of medical professionals are here to help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and discover more about how our services can help you.


What herbal remedies are good for teenage depression?

Teenagers should always work with a medical professional when treating depression. Natural ways for teenagers to holistically tackle depression are via diet, exercise and bolstering social connections. Herbal supplements like Rhodiola rosea can help manage physical stress but should be taken under the supervision of a medical expert.

What are the most effective vitamins and minerals for depression?

Vitamin D, B vitamins, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial for depression. Increasing these vitamins and minerals can be done via diet or supplements, or in the case of vitamin D, through sunlight exposure.

How can I cure depression naturally?

Depression can be cured holistically through herbal supplements, therapies, lifestyle changes and medical interventions (e.g., medical cannabis and antidepressant medications). It is likely that a holistic approach that is unique and appropriate to the individual is the best way to treat depression.


Author: Bojan
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Bojan Ambrus, Head of Marketing & Digital Product at Lyphe Group, is a data-driven growth marketing professional with over 15 years of rich experience. His background includes roles such as Head of Marketing at and growth marketing roles in various enterprises, startups, and scale-ups. His expertise in building and positioning businesses is particularly valuable in the cannabis sector, where he navigates its complexities and regulatory challenges. His strategic marketing insights make Bojan a key player in shaping Lyphe Group's marketing and digital product strategies.

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