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Many people experience some form of depression at some point in their lives. The term Depression is used to describe a range of negative feelings from mild, temporary "down" feelings, to Clinical or major Depression.

The causes of Depression are complex and can include: worries related to finances, work and health, relationship problems and bereavement. Depression can be triggered by the hormonal changes which occur at different life stages such as in puberty, menstruation and after giving birth (post-natal depression). Depression can sometimes arise from the physiological changes that result from organic disease. Re-living distressing or traumatic events, as in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, can also trigger Depression. In addition, some personalities, especially pessimists, seem more vulnerable.

The symptoms of Depression can be both physical and mental and include: disturbed sleep patterns and appetite disturbance, anxiety, mood swings, restlessness, tearfulness, inability to concentrate, impatience, aggression, loss of interest in everyday activities, and in more severe cases: feelings of hopelessness, excessive guilt, despair and suicide.

Depression can be very treatable. In mild cases it may just mean taking up some form of physical exercise, changing lifestyle habits or talking to a counsellor.

In more severe cases always consult a qualified health practitioner - treatment may include: taking medication, psychotherapy, and nutritional and herbal intervention. If in doubt always seek professional advice.

Tip: The herb - St John's Wort - works by increasing levels of the mood-enhancing brain chemical Serotonin, and has been shown to be effective in the treatment of mild to moderate Depression. However, do not take this with prescription anti-depressants (see below).

Complementary Medicine

Diet and Supplements

  • Choose foods which contain the amino acid Tryptophan - a precursor of the mood lifting neuro-chemical Serotonin - found in turkey, cottage cheese, bananas, eggs. Also foods containing the amino acids Phenylalanine and Tyrosine which will have an uplifting effect.
  • Make sure you are getting the full complement of vitamins and minerals by taking a daily vitamin and mineral supplement. In addition make sure you are getting enough B Vitamins, and the minerals Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, and Chromium which are all responsible for keeping the central nervous system healthy and blood sugar level.
  • The supplement Serotone (5HTP) - made by Higher Nature - which contains a precursor of Serotonin can also be very helpful. However, do not take Serotone if you taking prescription anti-depressants, major tranquilisers, or the herb St John's Wort.
  • Also eat a varied wholefood diet with adequate amounts of protein, both animal and vegetable, 3 portions of oily fish per week, a tablespoon of mixed seeds and nuts every day, and five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Consider taking a supplement containing Omega 3 Fatty Acids such as cod liver oil - research shows that low levels are related to low mood.

Herbal Therapy

  • St. John's Wort is a good alternative to Serotone if you want a herbal alternative and has been shown to be effective in mild to moderate cases of depression. Always consult a qualified herbal practitioner.

    To find a qualified herbal practitioner in your area look in the Practitioner Directory

  • Other suggested herbs are: lavender, lemon balm, linden blossom, ginseng, oats, rosemary, vervain and valerian. Try the following botanic preparations:

    - Infusion (tea): use equal parts honeysuckle and lemon balm. Add 20 drops of St John's Wort. tincture per teacup.
    - Infusion (tea): use equal parts rosemary and vervain. Add 15 drops tincture of oats per teacup.
    - Infusion of lemon leaves or decotion of lemon peel (organic). Add 15 drops tincture of linden blossom per teacup.


  • Yoga and relaxation exercises are excellent for toning and calming the nervous system and giving you space to get some perspective on your problems
  • Make sure you get enough aerobic exercise. Take a 15-20 minute walk daily in the fresh air, as this will help to trigger mood-boosting endorphins.

The measures outlined above are fine if you want to boost a moderately low mood. However if you are suffering from depression you should consult qualified practitioners: a counsellor and medical herbalist or nutritional therapist. This two-handed approach is normally best.

Also See:

To buy any of the recommended supplements go to the CHC Shop

The following complementary therapies are used in the treatment of Depression: Acupuncture, Aromatherapy, Ayurveda, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Breathing Techniques, Counselling, Cranial Osteopathy, Herbal Medicine, Homeopathy, Hypnotherapy, Massage, Meditation, Naturopathy, Nutritional Therapy, Psychotherapy, Relaxation Techniques, Traditional T'ai Chi, Yoga.

You are recommended to seek advice of a qualified health practitioner. To find a qualified practitioner in your area look in the Practitioner Directory.

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