Herbal Health Information on Depression

Depression may be caused by stress, tiredness, hormone imbalance, emotional exhaustion and lack of sleep.

Symptoms vary for different people but may include, feeling low, poor self esteem, insomnia, headaches, lack of motivation and lack of confidence.

If stress is a factor then look at your lifestyle to see if there is anything you can change. It is worth sitting down and doing this with someone else as they may be more objective towards your lifestyle than you are.

Look at what you CAN change in your lifestyle rather than focus on what you can’t or what is going wrong. Try making small changes, such as joining a Yoga class, handing a job over to anyone else to do, get a cleaner for the housework, take a holiday. ANYTHING!

First thing to do is look at your diet. A body cannot keep going under any circumstances if it is poorly fed.

Eat three good meals a day:-

Consisting of nutritious foods such as fruit, veg, meat, fish, and a sensible intake of carbohydrates.

NOT CHOCOLATE which gives you a short term sugar boost and contains a feel good factor but does not last and may send you in to an emotional low when the blood sugar levels drop.

Drink WATER. At least two pints a day!

Caffeine in tea, coffee and coca cola, is the very worst thing for depression

as it increases heart rate and may cause palpitations and will definitely prevent you sleeping well.

However, Caffeine is addictive so if you need to come off it, do it slowly, otherwise you will get headaches and feel pretty rough for a couple of weeks. I recommend reducing one cup a day in three day steps, remembering to substitute with water or non caffeine hot drinks such as Rooibos and Chamomile tea.

I rarely advise people take nutritional supplements, as I am an advocate of complete nutrition through eating sensibly, but the research on vitamin B complex to support the nervous system is overwhelmingly positive.

Exercise will help, so go to the gym or preferably do something in the fresh air. I know this is easier said than done as many people suffering from depression have a lack of motivation. Take it in easy steps. Try and do one thing a week for yourself such as go for a walk in the countryside (short walk will do), join a dance class or SING! Or anything that takes your fancy. You will be really pleased at the result and the feeling of self achievement.


The main area which needs supporting is the nervous system.

St. John’s wort, which we saw on the shingle beach video, is a wonderful nervous system supporting and repairing herb as well as having anti depressant properties. Don’t take it if you are on any orthodox medicines.

Passiflora I have talked about in its own little article. It has mild sedative properties and is a relaxant as well as supporting the nervous system.

Skullcap is a tonic nervine as well as being anti spasmodic and relaxing. I use it because it is the only herb I know, which, due to its relaxing nervine properties, stops the brain going in to overdrive and thinking all those horrible “loop” thoughts when you are trying to get to sleep, such as, the shopping list or what activities the children have the next day or what shall I wear to my daughters wedding, or the amount of work piling up in the in tray, etc etc etc.

Orthodox medicine for depression raises the serotonin levels in the brain and I have found a tincture of St. John’s wort, Skullcap and Passiflora has a similar action whilst at the same time repairing the nervous system and restoring it to normal function.

You may find an over the counter preparation with these herbs in, but do make sure it is a licensed product which means it has been through rigorous trials.

One other herb I want to mention to repair and restore the nervous system and as an anti depressant is Oats. As an herb it is the oat straw that is used which can be taken as a tincture, or a bowl of Porridge every morning will help.

Growing in your garden you may have:-

Borage, an uplifting herb which also supports and restores the adrenals. This can be made into a tea.

Lavender which is great in an herb pillow to help with insomnia and the oil is wonderfully soothing in a bath.

Lemon balm, which makes a very nice soothing tea.

Vervain has nervous system and alterative (changing to normal) properties and can be drunk as an uplifting tea.

There are many ways of helping combat depression with herbs so do come and see me in my clinic if you would like help.

To find out more about the clinic, click here or on the “clinic” tab at the top of the page

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist


Pevensy castle walk….lime flowers

Beach walk…………..Chamomile

Herbs and health

Lime flowers


St john’s wort

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