Herbs for depression

Kathy_P(z7 LI, NY)June 4, 2004

What are some herbs to take for depression.


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Judy_B_ON(Ontario 5B)

St John's Wort has been shown to be effective for mild depression. You should ask your doctor about it and whether your depression is the type that may respond.

St John's Wort has side effects and can interact with other medications, so should only be used under medical supervision.

Below is a link to info.

Here is a link that might be useful: St John's Wort

    Bookmark   June 4, 2004 at 10:10PM
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Kathy_P(z7 LI, NY)

Thanks. My doctor prescribed Zoloft. Im not sure I want to start taking it.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2004 at 10:16PM
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Just a few herbal antidepressants include:

Borage, Catnip, Celery, Chamomile, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Lemon Bergamot, Mugwort, Rose, Rose Geranium, Rosemary, Scullcap, St John?s Wort, Thyme, Valerian

Of these, I would NOT suggest you try St John's Wort. Aside from the fact that it is contraindicated for use in chronic or long-term depression, it is a herb which interferes with almost every other herb or conventional drug and has far too many side-effects for me to consider it safe.

If you have been prescribed Zoloft by a doctor, then I would take it. It will not cure your depression any more than any other medication, including herbal ones, but it will help. If you have side-effects, there are similar alternatives which may better suit you as an individual. There are just as many side-effect with herbal medications as there are with conventional medications. Do not be lulled into a belief that herbal antidepressants are 'better' in some way than conventional ones. Some may be for some people, but 'what is one man's meat may be another man's poison'.

If you have concerns about what to take and whether or not to take what you've been prescribed, why not discuss these issues with your doctor further? It is very unlikely in this day and age that you would have been prescribed Zoloft if you didn't need it, or something like it. Any self-respecting doctor will know something about herbal alternatives. But remember that many of the conventional medications are simply derived from herbs, or synthesised copies of certain components of plants. Of course, you will have had a lengthy discussion with your doctor about what has caused your depression, and of course he will have taken all of that into account before prescribing. For all we know, your depression may be just one symptom of something else which is wrong in your life. Whatever, depression is a serious illness and you need to follow your doctor's advice and his suggested treatment. If you don't like what he's offered you, go back and talk it through, or seek another opinion. But don't delay, because obviously you need treatment now, not later.

Meantime, under no circumstances use any herbal medications while you are taking the Zoloft (or another prescribed alternative). And if you start taking a herbal medication, be similarly careful about what else you are taking as well. These matters are for the experts to advise you on - your doctor!

    Bookmark   June 5, 2004 at 3:50AM
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Kathy_P(z7 LI, NY)

ok, thank you. Very good advice. I will talk to my doctor more about it.


    Bookmark   June 5, 2004 at 3:54PM
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    Bookmark   June 5, 2004 at 7:17PM
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One of the great hidden causes of depresion is food and mold and chemical sensitivity. If you want to know more, email me. best, Jane

    Bookmark   June 6, 2004 at 7:42PM
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Zoloft is highly addictive and has may nasty side effects. I really don't agree with Daisy that doctors know about herbs, most know absolutely nothing. But I do agee that you shouldn' t take any herbs with antidepessants. It seems that Eric posted a website about st. john's wort, maybe it will be helpful. Thre have been many articles recently about waking and depression. Just plain walking and being out in the sunlight fights depression. Als lok at your diet. Are yougetting eough of the rigt kinds of food? Lack of Omega 3 essential fatty acids hasben linked to depression also. I would look around at all of the aternatives befoe I took Zoloft or any other drug. Then if you still feel you need it.take it.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2004 at 10:29PM
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St. John's wort takes some time to work, I am told. It takes a while for it to build up in your body. It is not a herb you want to take if you are fair-skinned, because it causes light-sensitivity. It grew wild where I come from, and I was taught not even to touch it.

Also be very careful about the relaxant herbs. They should be used only in emergency situations to help you sleep. Like relaxant pharmaceuticals, they lose their effectiveness with frequent use. I can send you some material on the subject if you request it.

The #1 depression helper, according to Dr. Weil as well as according to my own experience is regular sustained aerobic exercise. It releases endorphins and can produce a state of euphoria.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2004 at 5:52AM
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hi, although not technically an herb but more of a folk remedy, i like stabilium. it is time tested since roman times and it's side effects are better health and energy. keeping in mind the simple truth that no one remedy works for everyone in the same manner, stabilium is worth a try.
i get it from allergy research products/ nuticology.
see article here:


    Bookmark   June 10, 2004 at 12:17AM
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Judy_B_ON(Ontario 5B)

My, ehot.com makes a lot of claims for stabillium, also called garum. My search on PubMed found no published studies about it, however a quick google search lots of hits. The google hits (mostly food sites)did not paint such an exotic picture of it, nor did them claim medical benefits.

It is a salty fish sauce made from fermented fish guts. Yum!

Here is a link that might be useful: Garum

    Bookmark   June 10, 2004 at 10:42PM
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According to pbs.org, this is an ancient recipe for garum:

"Use fatty fish, for example, sardines, and a well-sealed (pitched) container with a 26-35 quart capacity. Add dried, aromatic herbs possessing a strong flavor, such as dill, coriander, fennel, celery, mint, oregano, and others, making a layer on the bottom of the container; then put down a layer of fish (if small, leave them whole, if large, use pieces) and over this, add a layer of salt two fingers high. Repeat these layers until the container is filled. Let it rest for seven days in the sun. Then mix the sauce daily for 20 days. After that, it becomes a liquid."

- Gargilius Martialis, De medicina et de virtute herbarum, reprinted from A Taste of Ancient Rome

On the other hand, one would have to question whether the garum fish itself is clinically depressed:

    Bookmark   June 11, 2004 at 12:09AM
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Rosa(4ish CO Rockie)

This is something I have not seen discussed here.

But many anti-depressants affect libido in a negative way for both sexes-from mild to profound. Realize that this will effect individuals differently. But, every person I have talked to who is taking/has taken St John's Wort claims it did in fact negatively affect their libido to some degree.
I was perscribed Celexa and noticed a profound difference in libido in very short order after being told this was one that has the least side effects in this area. Found other ways to deal with my seasonal depression like exercise, slight diet modifications and some short term therapy to help recognize where I could change things to cope for the winter months.
If this is an issue that is important to you/your lifestyle please discuss this with your doc or do some further research regardless of what you decide to take.

A side note, tho. I have a friend that has "seasonal" depression...in the summer when she is not teaching. I was shocked when she told me this and that it took quite a few years to figure out that she missed those darn kids and feels useless when school is out for the summer. So I have to agree with Daisy that underlying problems/issues are worth sorting out now-not later. Sometimes they can be quite simple in nature.

Also, I don't believe anyone should be made to feel bad (not saying anyone here has done this) for deciding to take something-perscription or herbal-to get over the rough spots we can all have at one time or another.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2004 at 9:21AM
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hi, i have used garum amoricum and stand by my info. it seems that some on this board just lurk to put natural medicine down. they might enjoy a prescription drug board better. of course maybe that's all they really want to do as a
parousal of the many topics discussed always finds the same ones warning of the "boogie man" that must exists in all natural remedies according to them.
remember allopathic medicine is the one that kills 450,000 people a year. according to the british journal lancet, 40% of presciption drugs are toxic and 90%+ of the authors that write for the presciption drugs in lancet are on the payroll of the phamaceutical companies.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2004 at 3:35PM
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Tubby -
Of course 90% of the authors who write about drugs are employed in the drug industry, or doing research on drugs. If you look at ANY industry publications (whether for computers, firefighting, churches, herbal medicine, knitting, electronics, waste water management or plumbing fixtures) you will see that MOST OF THE ARTICLES ARE WRITTEN BY PROFESSIONALS IN THAT INDUSTRY. They have the background and the expertise to write informative articles.

You would prefer that articles about drugs be written by computer programmers, and articles about how to set up your home network be written by firemen?

    Bookmark   June 13, 2004 at 12:03PM
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yes, the main point is that it's the fox watching the hen house, tubbs

    Bookmark   June 13, 2004 at 12:07PM
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andy_sa(South Australia)

St. John's wort is an SSRI (serotonin re-uptake inhibitor???), so should not be used with citalopram/Talohexal/Celapram, for example, as it would be like taking a double dose. As it's a fairly common preparation, you GP should be able to advise whether it shouldn't be taken with your prescribed medication.
If you're not happy to take what has been prescribed, talk to your GP about this, or find another doctor. Also, make sure you are aware of all possible side-effects. Some side-effects can add to the feeling of depression, but knowing to expect them can help.
By the way, I've only done amateur research and would not contradict a doctor's advice, rather would I advise the patient to ask questions.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2004 at 7:09AM
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nettle(z8 Vancouver BC)

i think it's very important to inform oneself and be able to ask questions of ALL health care providers be they western doctor or herbalist. i think that when people come on and post alternative information the discussion is furthered and made better. people with serious diseases and disorders like cancer and depression can be so desperate to find a cure, that they will try anything. herbs are wonderful things that can do much, as are some prescription drugs. there are, however, many remedies (on both sides) that either do absolutely no good, or worse, harm. all info must be carefully thought about and considered before (possibly life and health altering) decisions are made.

anyone suggesting an uncritical approach (to either herbs or prescriptions) is at best trying to put something shady by others or is, at worst, an irresponsible, unethical person looking to make a profit (monetary or otherwise) on the backs of scared, searching people. i welcome all info. i would encourage all searchers to consider incoming messages critically.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2004 at 4:35PM
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There's been a study that compared the effectiveness of St. John's Wort and Zoloft (sertraline).

According to the article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, neither SJW or Zoloft did any better than placebo (sugar pills) in helping patients with moderately severe major depression (the placebo actually did a little better than both antidepressants, though the differences weren't great enough to be considered statistically significant).

So the conflicting reports about just how useful SJW is have to be compared with doubts about the usefulness of pharmaceutical antidepressants. Clearly, a number of people have been helped by both, at least in certain situations. And well-founded concerns about side effects of SJW should be considered in the light of similar side effects with Zoloft and other prescription antidepressants.

Depression itself is a serious condition, and decisions about what (if any) drugs to take are best handled after discussion with a sympathetic and highly trained practitioner.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2004 at 8:49AM
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Sometimes depression is a symptom to a problem that can not be fixed with a drug or herb...sometimes mental health is rooted more in the stuck thinking zone area, whereas one obsesses over past accounts or fears which keep one stuck and depressed. There is no chemical that can change and reprogram thinking except the actual journey of desiring change and moving away from depression. For me, depression can come and I notice that once in it, I enjoy truely feeling/ experiencing depression as an anger/fear.
For me I just get sick and tired of being depressed and move on to getting happy again.
In this world all emotions are of value, sometimes depression is healthy and warranted to process through...just dont get stuck there.

WHen choosing a doctor, use a family friend type, or a recommended professional from sources you trust and value, taking any kind of drug with out knowing plants history or ones own known chemical tolerances is unwise with out proper research and understanding.

I challenge one to first stop taking all cosmetics applications, all chemicals used for bath and beauty (hairspray, gels, sprays, perfumes) Stop taking all non prescription drugs. DO this for one week and just note if any changes when you reintroduce one item at a time and see how you feel physically after using or eating.

My greatest relief came from taking a sabatical from caffiene in any form and later to avoid all de-caf processed drinks as well. My first note was more energy and waking up feeling more refreshed, and after 6 years the urge for habit to drink 5-20 cups of coffee stopped!

Today my depression comes from world events and trying to deal with rapid change in a fast pace world.

Exercise, eat right and understanding ones thinking goes a long way in prevention of depression.

The solution I have seen most for depression is to reach out and do something for someone else, even if you dont want to. Stay active and do something new!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2004 at 1:31AM
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What the last poster is describing sounds more like normal variations in mood than clinical depression. The latter, especially major depression is a serious illness that needs a professional approach from a trained caregiver.

Staying active and trying new things would be more useful in preventing than in treating significant depression.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2004 at 10:06AM
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sarkeshhou(z8 TX)

Oats are a natural antidepressant. Even just in oatmeal. It's helped me. Although, I imagine (and don't know) it's only marginally helpful in cases of more severe clinical depression, but I don't think anybody can come up with serious side effects from eating oatmeal!
- Sarah

    Bookmark   June 24, 2004 at 1:38PM
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Do you exercise? Exercise even has a "Mood Index" for
the amount of exercise you do. And there are so many
kinds of exercise you shouldn't have to do one that
doesn't appeal to you.Unlike many anti-depressants, it
enhances your libido. Unlike St. John's wort, it won't
sensitize your skin to the sun. It may seem very simple,
but a lot of people in this country don't get enough
exercise. Exercise directly affects serotonin levels,
and also raises endorphins for a natural "high". It
takes a couple of weeks before you notice much, and
sometimes the effects sneak up on you. If you are mildly
depressed, give it a try.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2004 at 6:04PM
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Kathy_P(z7 LI, NY)


Im am definitely going to add more exercise to my life. I just started walking. I remember years ago when i exercised on a regular basis, I felt great. Next weekend maybe I'll pick up some 5 lb dumbells. Thank you everybody for your help.


    Bookmark   June 27, 2004 at 10:10PM
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dahlia_lama(z10/sunset z19)

nothing lifts depression and keeps it away like cognitive behavioral therapy - CBT. clinical studies have shown this. at best, drugs and herbs do as good a job of lifting a particular episode as CBT. but without developing new coping skills, new patterns of thinking and behaving, it is most likely one will end up in the same low spot again before much time passes.

that being said, i like borage flowers on the top of my homegrown salads for my low times. or any times. they're just so pretty they can't help but make you a little happier whether borage really has antidepressant qualities or not. just be very careful with borage. it is toxic when used regularly over an extended period of time. but then, if you understood all the potential side effects of psychotropic drugs, including hany herbs they are derived from, you'd know that they all carry a risk.

if anyone needs borage plants, you're welcome to come over and do my weeding. :-D

    Bookmark   June 28, 2004 at 3:16AM
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borage never make it to my salad...I eat as fast as I can pick them, sorta like wild strawberries!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2004 at 1:39PM
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dahlia_lama(z10/sunset z19)

well, borage flowers do need to be fresh to be worth eating. i make the rest of the salad and then take the bowl out to my plants and add the borage flowers - typically 7-10. then i take it back inside and stare at it for a moment with pleasant satisfaction. then i toss the salad and eat it. yummmmm

    Bookmark   June 28, 2004 at 1:50PM
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motherduck(Z2b MB)

St John' Wort capsules were working for my husband but one of the side effects is light sensitivity. He's been taking it daily for almost 2 months and we notice he's getting sunburnt lately. This isn't normal for him. I did some more reading about side effects and found out it can also cause cataracts and nerve damage when you're exposed to the sun. I guess he won't be taking it anymore since he works outdoors. He has a very stressful job. He gets lots of exercise because his job is very physical. Does anyone have any other suggestions? Would St.John's Wort tea made from the fresh plant have the same effects?

    Bookmark   July 8, 2004 at 12:59AM
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Not exactly hwat i would call an herb but chocolate. Chocolate contains chemicals that our body is missing when we are depressed which makes us then feel better.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2004 at 8:52PM
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jkirk3279(Z5 SW MI)


Or Chamomile Tea.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2004 at 12:10AM
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I had severe depression for many years then tried this herb.
you have to grow it yourself and eat the leaves.
i dont know where i would be if i didnt have this herb.

Withania somnifera F. Solanaceae
A hardy, easy to grow, perennial bush 40-150cm; ellipticshaped,
bitter-flavoured leaves 3-6cm long;

    Bookmark   October 3, 2004 at 7:02PM
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bellevie(z6 MD)

While I'm very much in favor of treating depression with diet, exercise, etc., one must realize that there are varying degrees of depression, and some depressions are best treated with prescription drugs. SJW is often fine for mild depression, but does little for serious major depression.

Just for the record, the SSRIs are not considered to be addictive. One will have nasty side effects if he stops cold turkey, but they are very successfully tapered over a few weeks.

What I'm trying to say is that people often subject themselves to needless suffering due to a stigma against antidepressant medications. My doctor is very willing to help me use a mixture of prescription and herbal remedies for my chronic, serious mental illness. I use prescription drugs for my depression and mood swings, and I've found Kavakava to be very effective for my anxiety disorder. It's not habit forming like the benzodiazepines (Xanax, etc.) The sexual side effects of some SSRIs sometimes respond to Ginko Biloba. Some of the newer SSRIs have a much lower side effect profile. Any competent psychiatrist will be able to advise on this.

This whole question is one that should be worked out with one's physician. In my experience, a psychiatrist is the best person to consult. If he/she isn't willing to work with you on your terms, keep looking.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2004 at 9:19AM
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I don't really consider this an herb, but it is, in my personal experience a solution that I discovered for releif of joint pain. Yes, in my personal experience it really works for me. Bee sting therapy (apitherapy) You may laugh and say, doesn't that hurt? Why yes it does. That's the point. Think about it. No, that isn't really the point, but after a while of getting used to some discomfort besides being quite effective for releaving joint pain I realized a very real improvement in my overall peace of mind. To lessen the actual sting pai, I numb the area to be stung with ice pack for about 10 minutes before stinging. If and only if you don't have an allergic reaction to bee venom, this might work for you. Be sure to check with a doctor before trying this. Epipens(Epinefrin) are good to have for a back -up just in case type of thing.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2006 at 7:23PM
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aunt_lou(Z5 OH)

5 HTP derived from the griffonia[sp?] plant. You can find these in pill or capsule form at most reliable sources for vitamins and herbs ---even online. In studies so far it has shown to increase the seratonin levels which aids in giving a person a more "up" feeling---feeling of well being. In my daughters case----whenever she feels the melancholy coming on she takes a 50ml capsule of 5 HTP and hops right out of bed and starts doing all kinds of things! It has been incredible for her! One day when I was talking to her on the phone she had taken 1 that morning and had all of the dishes done and FELT like cleaning her whole house and was getting all sorts of things done. As for clinical depression, I don't know how effective it would be for that but it definitely aids in stabilizing mood swings.

Other benefits are aiding in sleep and it also curbs the appetite. It has helped to curb my son-in-law's appetite and he has had a weight problem most of his adult life. He never could tell if he was full or not but now he can and it has really been miraculous! He eats a helping of healthy food and doesn't care if he has dessert or not and feels much less "snacky" in between meals. This is really incredible for him.

I know this is a late reply to your post and don't know if you are even still at this e address but hope this may help you. I have best wishes for your improved health.

Aunt Lou

    Bookmark   February 27, 2006 at 3:05PM
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    Bookmark   February 28, 2006 at 1:40PM
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buy a bike. be out in the sun. u gonna feel brand new. I was dying years ago, I been suffering from depression for 15 years. Today IM 36, I feel much better. I've tried everything u can think of. get away from your PC, spend time out door this summer. I always tried walking, running, going to the GYM, but I always stoped. the only thing that will make you feel like a kid again, and get you in shape,and get rid of all your problems is ridding a bike. If you are taking Medication please DO NOT STOP. talk to your DR first. IM NOT A DR. Im only a regular guy who waisted 18 years wondering what I should do. good luck all.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 11:01PM
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Can we go back to the lavender, chamomile, catnip, lemon balm? I like the idea of making teas from fairly safe herbs. Does spearmint work, too?

How about rose hips? This time of year, I can buy herbal teas, so any suggestions are welcome.

This is not severe depression, just normal stress and the winter doldrums. Everyone's mood always improve in late March...probably because we can get back outside and excercise! :)

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 3:43PM
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Thanks for coming back to address this, sort of.

What I asked relates to what you've said in numerous posts - that Chinese "herbology" is superior to other forms of healing, presumably including herbalism employed in Western societies and brought over to America by colonists, and the use of herbs practiced by Native Americans (which got incorporated into what settlers used).

So why is the Chinese way supposedly superior? Have the Chinese enjoyed better health and longer life spans in past centuries (from what I've seen, it's been the opposite in most cases).

Saying we can't understand unless we do a detailed study of the Chinese way would be like a physician telling patients he doesn't have to explain why his treatment plan is best. and patients should go to medical school if they want to understand. I don't think any of us would buy that.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2011 at 8:56AM
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zzackey(8b GA)

Kathy, please don't take Zoloft. It caused me major problemes. It took so long for it too work and alot of weird side effects. I listened to my doctor and really believed him. It was cool for a few years and then it really messed me up. Please don't take it!!!!!!!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 3:12AM
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just thought i would mention that setting and achieving a goal is helpful for mood.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2011 at 11:10PM
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re chinese herbalism

well its not the only way to understand health/dis-ease but its pretty freaking amazing!

its an ancient system with boatloads of empirical evidence to back it up...their ideas and herbal formulations have been tested on huge populations for millenia. their system of diagnostics reveals disharmonies in the body long before western doctors and medical testing can detect them. and the concepts behind chinese herbal formulations are the most sophisticated on the planet, no question...ask any major herb teacher/herbalist in the u.s. today for confirmation of this if you need it.

there is a good reason why more and more american medical doctors visit china to study... tcm (traditional chinese medicine) can heal many diseases that western medicine can't touch.

so while one is not necessarily better than the other, they sure are different. why? one reason is because the world views coming out of the east and west are about as different as you can get....the chinese look at every through the lens of energetics, in the west we are reductionists, materialists.

there is no need to put one down when we have both available to us. integrated they form the most amazing system of medicine ever to appear on the planet.

in general, for prevention and treatment of most disease, chinese medicine is far superior. in general, for trauma and emergency medicine, modern western medicine is far superior. there are exceptions obviously. for example the chinese have an herb capable of stopping bleeding from a gunshot/sword/arrow wound...chinese soldiers all carried it into battle millenia ago. even modern western medicine (forget western herbalism) has nothing that approaches this. i don't want to do without either system.

herbalists michael and lesley tierra teach 'planetary herbalism' a synthesis of many systems as their philosophy is 'we don't care much where it comes from...let's cherry pick and use the best healing information and techniques available to us'. which seems so very sensible if your goal is to get the best results you can for your clients. this way of thinking is why i chose their program as my first formal training in herbalism.

so while this client may not need to evaluated per tcm for us to 'understand'.... to say it would increase understanding enormously to anyone open to a new way of understanding, is no exaggeration. just my two cents: )

cheers, k

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 6:06PM
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what's the cause of the depression? is it situational or organic in nature? what is your home life like? how old are you and what is your cycle status? do you have any gynecological issues? are you aware of any hormonal imbalances you may have? what is your nutrient status? we need more information to answer this question correctly imo.

this could be something very simple depending on other factors, we don't have enough information to make a good informed recommendation for you.

do not count on your doctor knowing anything about herbs...they are in fact discouraged from recommending them by pharmaceutical reps because those reps make big $ from pushing their pills but nothing from herbs. and they make it very easy, sometimes even providing kickbacks, for doctors to prescribe medication. better first to maximize nutrition and examine other possible contributors.

st. john's wort does promote liver clearance so should be taken several hours away from any other medications, done this way it much less likely interferes. again, depression should be treated within the context of the whole person and all other factors that may contribute should be addressed first before going onto meds or herbs.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 5:25PM
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