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Herbs for Mental Health: 7 Herbs That May Improve Your Well-Being

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

Your Mental Well-Being Matters: 7 Herbs for Mental Health

If you struggle with some aspect(s) of mental health, you have probably done a lot of research into what remedies might be available to you. Perhaps you are like many people who are looking for more natural ways to support their mental health.

Herbal supplements are one source of mental health support that can change the whole picture. But there are thousands of herbs on the market. Which ones will help you?

Do you struggle with knowing where to look and whom to trust for information that could critically affect your health?

Learn about the best herbs for mental health and other ways to help alleviate mental disturbances from a valuable resource.

Table of Contents

What Are Herbal Remedies?

Herbal remedies are plants used as medicines. The oldest written record of plant medicines was found on a Sumerian clay slab and dates to around 3000 B.C. Other physical evidence, however, indicates that plants have been used as medicines for much longer.

The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Chinese each have contributed significantly to our understanding of herbal medicines. Traditional Chinese Medicine is still practiced today.

Our world has changed drastically from ancient times, but ancient medicinal uses may still be relevant to us. Herbal remedies are something to look into, especially if we wish to minimize the amount of synthetic materials we ingest and the number of adverse side effects caused by synthetic compounds.

Good Bitters silk tassel herb may provide healing properties for mental health and may be a valuable resource if you want to make an informed decision about herbal supplementation.

Are Herbs Good for Mental Health?

Herbs can be good for mental health, but it’s important to remember that they should be combined with other factors to have a more comprehensive effect.

The 7 Best Herbs for Mental Health and How They Might Help

Herbs are not a cure-all for mental health issues. Health is holistic and there are many factors to consider before deciding whether a given herb is a good option for you.

Even so, many people have found herbal supplements to be an important component of their approach to improving their mental health. The use of herbal supplements should accompany a serious commitment to other lifestyle habits that also contribute to a healthier mind.

Every person’s mental health struggle is unique, so what works for one person might not work or might even be harmful to another person struggling with similar issues.

Concurrent medications also affect the outcome of the use of a given herbal supplement, so consultation with the prescribing physician is important before starting to use any new substance.

#1: Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea is a plant that grows in the mountainous areas of Europe and Asia. It is considered an adaptogen, which helps the body manage stress.

Known as the “golden root,” rhodiola has been used to promote:

  • Good health

  • Strength

  • Endurance

  • Physical and mental performance

A cup of tea with fresh Rhodiola Rosea next to it.

How Might Rhodiola Rosea Help With Mental Health?

Rhodiola is thought to benefit people with depression by reducing overactivity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis, thus lowering cortisol levels, and affecting neurotransmitter receptors and molecular networks.

Rhodiola can increase the activity of certain medications, so a physician should guide your supplementation regimen if you decide to use it. It is also contraindicated for people with autoimmune conditions.

#2: St. John’s Wort

Derived from a flowering plant in Europe and Asia, St. John’s wort has been used for its anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects as well as its effectiveness against depression.

It is commonly used in the form of a tablet, capsule, tea, or liquid extract to help treat several conditions, including:

  • Depression

  • Emotional/behavioral complications in children

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

  • Premenstrual syndrome

  • Psoriasis

How Might St. John’s Wort Help With Mental Health?

Evidence from a 2016 systematic review indicates that St. John’s wort can be nearly as effective as antidepressant medication to treat mild to moderate depression.

Its effectiveness comes, in part, from its action as a serotonin reuptake inhibitor.

Taking St. John’s wort with other antidepressants can be dangerous, so be sure to consult with your physician before taking it.

It may also weaken other prescription medications, such as birth control pills, warfarin, and some cancer medications.

#3: Turmeric

Turmeric has been used not only as a spice in South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking but also to treat respiratory and digestive conditions in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine.

It is also commonly used as a medicine for the following conditions:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Wound healing

  • Chickenpox

  • Urinary tract infections

  • Liver ailments

Recent studies have identified anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties in turmeric as well.

How Might Turmeric Help With Mental Health?

Turmeric’s health benefits come primarily from its active ingredient, curcumin, a chemical in the rootstalk of the plant.

Curcumin has been shown to act as an antidepressant by modulating the release of serotonin and dopamine and reducing inflammation, higher levels of which are found in patients with depression.

Curcumin is not easily absorbed by the body, so it’s best to find a supplement made with phytosome technology or the black pepper extract piperine, each of which aids absorption.

If you are already taking medications for mental health, it is crucial to speak to your doctor about possible interactions of those medications with curcumin and about proper dosage.

#4: Ginseng

The genus name for ginseng is Panax, derived from “panacea,” which means a cure for all diseases and a source of longevity and physical strength. It is not truly a panacea, but it has been used for centuries to address a wide variety of health issues, including:

Ginseng refers to either Asian or American ginseng, Panax ginseng, and Panax quinquefolius, respectively. The active component in these plants is ginsenosides, a group of saponins, which are compounds found in the cells of legume plants.

How Might Ginseng Help With Mental Health?

Ginseng is considered an adaptogen, which helps the body manage stress by regulating the function of the HPA axis. A study of ginseng’s effects on anxiety and depression determined that ginseng effectively suppresses stress as powerfully as the medication fluoxetine.

Its neuroprotective effects can also help ameliorate the effects of long-term depression and anxiety, such as memory loss and progressive damage to nerve cells.

Ginseng is contraindicated for people with certain conditions, like:

  • Schizophrenia or bipolar disorder

  • Pregnancy or lactation

  • Women with a history of hormone-sensitive conditions

#5: Saffron

Saffron is an expensive herbal remedy because the part of the plant used for medicinal purposes is its stigma, and each flower contains only three.

Saffron was used in ancient times by the Persians, Greeks, Egyptians, and in Ayurvedic medicine to treat:

  • Cramps

  • Asthma

  • Liver disease

  • Menstrual conditions

  • Pain

  • Depression

How Might Saffron Help With Mental Health?

Iran is the world’s largest producer of saffron, and research done there indicates that saffron is very effective against depression.

Saffron’s anti-inflammatory capabilities contribute to its ability to enhance mental health.

Consult with your physician before taking saffron to understand proper dosage, since high doses can cause toxicity.

#6: Lavender

Lavender is a fragrant flower native to mountainous areas around the Mediterranean. Its name comes from the Latin root lavare, meaning “to wash,” perhaps because of its cleansing properties.

Lavender has also been used for various ailments, such as:

  • Insomnia

  • Alopecia

  • Headaches

  • Fatigue

  • Eczema

  • Post-operative pain

A bowl and scoop of lavender with fresh lavender behind it.

How Might Lavender Help With Mental Health?

A 2019 study of lavender found that it can significantly reduce anxiety, especially when inhaled. Other routes are helpful as well, the most effective being oral supplementation.

A 2003 study identified lavender’s effectiveness against depression in conjunction with imipramine. This indicates that lavender might not be sufficient by itself to treat depression, but is more helpful than antidepressants alone.

Doctors recommend cessation of the use of lavender two weeks before surgery because the central nervous system might be slowed too much if anesthesia is given in conjunction with lavender.

#7: Valerian

Valerian is a member of the honeysuckle family and is native to Europe and Asia. It has been used throughout Europe and in China, Greece, and Egypt as a remedy for sleep disorders. It was used at various times as anticonvulsant therapy for epilepsy, a salve for wounds, and a remedy for dim vision and eye pain.

The main uses of valerian throughout history, however, have been to treat anxiety and insomnia, menstrual cramp pain, and minor skin infections.

The roots and underground stems contain the compounds used in the various forms of medicines prepared with valerian:

  • Dried root

  • Tinctures

  • Extracts

  • Teas

  • Syrups

How Might Valerian Help With Mental Health?

According to a 2021 study, valerian can be used to assist people with:

  • Disturbed sleep patterns

  • Anxiety

  • Nervous tension

  • Stress

Valerian supplementation is not recommended for people taking certain drugs that affect the central nervous system, so it is important to consult with your physician before taking it.

A woman sitting on a dock on a lake.

Try These Strategies in Addition to Herbs for Mental Wellness

Being proactive about cultivating good lifestyle habits can help counteract the stressors in many aspects of our lives. Prioritizing the following components of a healthy life so may help to decrease your stress level and support your mental health:

  • Sleep – Aim for at least seven hours of sleep and have a consistent routine.

  • Exercise – Aerobic exercise has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression. It helps decrease stress, improve sleep, and enhance memory.

  • Relaxation – Relaxation techniques (such as autogenic relaxation, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization) help decrease the effects of stress on your body.

  • Diet – Eat a balanced diet rich in omega-3s (found in nuts, avocados, dark leafy greens, and fruit) and avoid processed food, fast food, and sweets, which undermine mental health.

  • Social connection – Talking with trusted friends and being in group activities support mental health by giving you a sense of belonging and of being cared for and valued.

  • Leisure – Engaging in hobbies and other activities that allow your mind to reflect leisurely brings about positive emotions that improve mood and help cope with stress.

  • Purpose – Finding your purpose is something that makes you feel that your existence is useful and valuable. It is often in a community that you can get a better sense of your purpose.

  • Stimulate the senses – Doing things that appeal to your senses – like listening to music, squeezing a stress ball, or walking in nature – can stimulate different parts of your brain and result in stress relief.

While any one of these strategies may not be a complete game-changer, a combination of them in conjunction with supplements and/or professional guidance can be very effective in combating mental illness.

Relax Your Mind With Kalm Drops by Good Bitters

Good Bitters is here to help you reach your goal of achieving better mental health. Our products are specially designed to stimulate your brain without overwhelming your senses.

Kalm Drops contain an herb — silk tassel herb — native to the deserts of the southwestern United States and Mexico, that promotes relaxation and can help reduce anxiousness and pain.

Contact Good Bitters today to learn more about how we can help you improve your mental health.

The content in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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