HolisticWisdom.org web site
Linda Diane Feldt
NCTMB, Holistic Health Practitioner and Herbalist
The Ann Arbor Center for Holistic Health and Traditional Wisdom
|Herbs and Moods February 2006|
Outline of the class:
St. John's Wort - Hypericum Perforatum - other uses including oil used topically for herpes,nerve regeneration, muscle soreness. Tincture used internally to prevent or lessen herpes - including shingles. Potent anti-viral, other uses. As an anti-depressant, seems to work especially well for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I've seen better effect (and more rapid) with the Tincture, people using 20 drops in water 2 times a day. Probably not effective for major depression. Work with a health care practitioner if you are switching from an anti depressant drug. People with additional mental health issues - specifically manic depression - have reported odd experiences with St. John's Wort so I no longer suggest it when the picture is complex. Hypericum is receptor cell hungry and can interfere with the metabolism of other drugs utilizing the P450 cytochrome system of the liver. That especially includes birth control pills, and many pain relievers. For an article on nerve regeneration using St. John's Wort click here.
Valerian Root is often used esp. for sleep disorders, it is a central nervous system depressant and is contraindicated with most anti-depressants. People should not drive or try and do complex tasks while using it. I advise against long term or regular use. Consider the milder Scullcap -Scutellaria - in its place, but again long term or continuous use is not advised.
Oatsraw - Avina Sativa - is a tonic for the nervous system and can have a gentle calming effect. Make it as an infusion -- about 1 oz. of the plant , pour a quart of water over it just off the boil, put a lid on it and steep for at least 20 minutes and for the full nutritional benefit 3 hours or overnight. Strain and enjoy. It can keep chilled for a few days.
Aromatherapy can be used. Sniff an essential oil while enjoying a favorite activity, with practice and repetition that scent will begin to help remind you of that good mood. While certain scents are associated with particular moods, it can vary with each individual - especially given your previous associations with that scent.
Other calming herbs include mint, hops, catnip, and Kava Kava. There are warnings about Kava Kava's affect on the liver, also consider that where it is traditionally used there is a context of ceremony as well as s more special preparation that includes chewing the root before sharing the tea communally. Catnip may make a person suggestible to whatever energy is in the room they are in, so again context makes a difference in how many of these herbs are used.