Taking care of our mental health is becoming a bigger topic of discussion, which is amazing! More research is being done to find solutions to depression, stress, anxiety, and other mental ailments. With that, we are finding more supplements and herbs that are useful in treating mental health.
However, with the growth in dialogue can also present other challenges – misinformation and confusion.
Drug companies, seeking to make profits, have us seeking help from doctors who are quick to put us on various medications. The spiritual and self help industry is also responsible for misguided information around things like, “just think positively.”
With all the confusion, I’ve been working harder to make sure that the information I give out around mental health is backed up by solid research.
Recently, I’ve been using this great site, called Examine.com, to find real science-backed information on the supplements and herbs that I take regularly. The information I’m sharing is from what I’ve found on that site and my own personal experiences.
With all things related to your health, I always encourage you to do some extra research yourself, look at the studies, and don’t just take anyone’s word for it (even mine).
In my research, I found six supplements that can be used to aid in mental health:
St John’s Wort
Also called Hypericum perforatum, St John’s Wort is a plant that’s commonly been proven to aid in depression. It can also help with sleep issues, nervousness, and lack of appetite. Some studies also show it helps with the symptoms of menopause, like hot flashed.
The problem with St John’s Wort is that it’s also been shown to have negative side effects with paired with some supplements and pharmaceuticals. You can get a complete list of negative interactions, which includes birth control, on Mayo Clinic’s site.
If you’re into Ayurvedic medicine, you’ve probably heard of this herb. While this hasn’t been researched very thoroughly, very studies indicate that it aids in reducing anxiety and stress. It does this through reducing cortisol levels in the body (a stress hormone).
There haven’t been any long-term studies to indicate the proper dosage or side effects, which seems to be the case with most eastern medicine.
Side note: I’ve been taking it regularly for about a month and I am seeing an improvement in my stress.
Kava is a herb that’s usually taken in a beverage or as an extract. It stems from the Pacific Islands and has been popularly used in Polynesia. Notable studies show the herb to be effective at reducing anxiety and improving well being.
There are some concerns about side effects and dosage amounts should be taken with care.
Maca is a root vegetable that looks a bit like a turnip and has been making waves in the health world. Research shows a high correlation in the increase of libido and sexual stimulation (which I think increases mental health all on its own). It’s also been shown to potentially reduce anxiety and depression in post-menopausal women.
This supplement usually comes in a powdered form that I throw into my smoothies.
Creatine is one of the most heavily research supplements and is associated with muscle gain, weight gain, and increased energy. In further studies, we are beginning to see a correlation with creatine and reduced depression. Plus, it may reduce headaches.
I take creatine in a pill form, but it also comes in some protein powders.
If you haven’t played with aromatherapy yet, you’re missing out! What’s to lose with your home smelling delicious?
While not all essential oils help with the same things, there are a few proven to be power houses for mental health. Lavendar is proven to be calming and reduces anxiety. Rose oil can be used as a sedative, stress reliever, and anti-depressant. And one of my favorite, Clary Sage, has a relaxing agent and also aid in reducing depression.
With any new supplement you try out, I encourage you to add one new thing at a time. Make note of how you’re feeling beforehand and any changes that come up in your mood after taking the supplements. Try it for at least six weeks, but ideally a few months, to see if it’s making any difference for you.
I’d love to know, have you tried any supplements that helped with your mental health? Let me know how it went down in the comments below.
Cheers to taking control!