Natural Cures for Depression

Ginkgo biloba and St. John's wort are advertised as natural cures for depression. Herbal remedies are often controversial when used for treating any disease. Keep reading to learn more about treating depression with natural cures, or herbal remedies.

This article provides an overview of two substances that are promoted by some as natural cures for depression, along with some information about each. The substances are St. John’s wort and Ginkgo biloba.

Introduction to Natural Cures

The first thing to understand about natural cures for depression is that natural does not mean safe. Grizzly bears, tsunamis, and poison ivy are natural. It is just as important to ask questions about the reliability and safety of natural products as it is to ask questions about pharmaceuticals, perhaps especially when they are being used in connection with one’s brain chemistry. It should also be noted that because the United States Food and Drug Administration does not regulate herbs and other natural products, the supply that you obtain is subject only to the manufacturer’s scrutiny, and may vary in strength, purity, and/or safety, as well as effectiveness and the other ingredients that are combined with the active ingredient you seek.

It is recommended that you consult your primary medical caregiver before beginning any new medication, and particularly if you are already taking any mediations for any reason, as various substances like grapefruit, even if not labeled as medications, can interact and change the effects of your medications, making them ineffective or perform in unexpected ways.

St. John’s Wort as a Cure for Depression

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum L.) is the name of a flowering plant that is also referred to as goat weed, Tipton’s weed, and Klamath weed. It has been used for thousands of years to treat medical issues. It has been used widely for depression, and recently, people have tried using it for ADHD and other conditions.

The use of St. John’s Wort for depression is looked at differently in different countries. In some places, its use is common, and is prescribed readily in place of other antidepressants. A number of studies show it to be effective in certain cases, but some of the studies that have examined its value have been considered flawed. What seems to be clear is that it is as effective as tricyclic antidepressants in treating milder forms of major depression.

Some studies suggest that St. John’s wort is well tolerated for short periods of time at recommended doses, causing fewer side effects than standard antidepressant drugs, but some experts are reluctant to say that St. John’s wort is a proven depression treatment. One side effect particularly worth noting is psychiatric symptoms, including thoughts of suicide and homicide. The report on this does not give more detail. Ingestion of leaves and stems of St. John’s wort can cause poisoning.

The possibility of drug interactions, however, should not be taken lightly. St. John’s wort interacts with and changes the speed of breakdown of a range of drugs including anticoagulants, antidepressants, birth control pills, and drugs that prevent organ rejection, strengthen heart contractions, control HIV infection, and treat cancer.

Ginkgo Biloba as a Cure for Depression

Ginkgo biloba - also known as gingko, fossil tree, kew tree, or maidenhair tree - is a tree that currently grows in the wild in northwest China, but may not be native there. Ginkgo nuts and seeds are used in cuisine in China and Japan. It has been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of medical conditions. Recently, it has been touted for memory improvement for people with or without Alzheimer’s or other dementia and for ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and premenstrual syndrome (PMS), among other uses.

Studies of gingko biloba to prevent the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) have found it to be ineffective. It may, however, have minor benefits in treating elderly patients with depression as well as providing improvements to people suffering with claudication.

It is important to note that people with clotting issues may have problems with ginkgo, since it has been found to decrease the ability of the blood to clot. This feature also means that it is crucial to let medical providers know if one is taking ginkgo prior to having dental work or surgery performed. It also means that it should not be taken with blood thinners (warfarin, marketed as Coumadin®) or with other medications that function as blood thinners (such as aspirin or NSAIDs like ibuprofen), even though they may be taken for an altogether different purpose.

In addition, people will a strong sensitivity to poison ivy and poison sumac, may also experience skin blistering when handling ginkgo. The seeds may be deadly if consumed, and there are reports of ginkgo affecting blood sugar and insulin levels, making it critical for diabetes and hypoglycemia patients to use caution. According to the National Institute of Health, using ginkgo may also have effects on electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).


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