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Healing with Herbs

By Dr. Aleksander Strande Subscribe to RSS | February 22nd 2012 | Views:

There’s a wide range of herbs available to support sufferers of anxiety and depression. All these herbs have variations in their actions, making them more or less useful depending on your personal experience. Some may experience sleep deprivation, some may sleep excessively and some may experience breathing difficulties, anticipatory diarrhea or IBS-type symptoms. All these symptoms need to be taken into account when choosing the correct herbs to support you individually.

St John’s Wort

This popular herb actually ranks in the top 10 of most commonly used herbs in the Western world. St John’s Wort is the common name for Hypericum perforatum. St John’s Wort has a long history of use as an anti-depressant and tonic for the nervous system. Its popularity and effectiveness have attracted much scientific attention in recent years and so our understanding of it has deepened. It’s thought that St John’s Wort increases the effectiveness of serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine. Serotonin is related to feelings of optimism, wellbeing, self-esteem, relaxation, security, increased ability to concentrate and ability to sleep well. Correct levels of noradrenaline and dopamine are associated with feelings of alertness, wakefulness, assertiveness, increased energy and sharpened thought processes.

Numerous scientific studies have confirmed the effectiveness of St John’s Wort, particularly in assisting with mild to moderate depression. An important point to note is that it can reduce the effectiveness of certain pharmaceutical medication. If you’re taking any medication it’s important to talk to a fully qualified naturopath or herbalist before starting on St John’s Wort. It’s also important to let your doctor know you’re taking it.


Oats (Avena sativa) has long been used to combat nervous exhaustion, debility and depression. This herb is known as a nervine tonic, meaning it’s gently nutritive to the nerves and helps to restore and “feed” an exhausted nervous system. Oats can be combined with either calming or stimulating nervine herbs, as it will always work to strengthen the depleted system. This quality makes oats helpful for both anxiety and depression.


Valerian is most widely known for its use as a herb to assist with sleeping. The beauty of valerian is that it doesn’t leave you feeling groggy in the morning. Clinical trials have shown valerian improves sleep quality, reduces the number of night awakenings and improves insomnia. Valerian also has anti-anxiety properties and can be taken during the day for this purpose.

Valerian should not be used in conjunction with benzodiazepines, barbiturates or other sedative-hypnotic medication. It should also be noted that it has been observed clinically that in a small proportion of the population, valerian can have the opposite effect to that intended. It’s not fully understood why this happens but it may be dose dependent.


Zizyphus spinoza originated from Traditional Chinese Medicine. Within TCM, zizyphus has a long history of use for anxiety, palpitations due to anxiety, excessive sweating and insomnia. Clinically, this is a lovely herb, as it eases anxiety but also acts to alleviate some of the associated effects of anxiety. Notably, this herb is thought to lower blood pressure, which may be elevated in ongoing anxiety. In Chinese medicine it’s thought to nourish the heart and calm the spirit.

Dr. Aleksander Strande - About Author:
The author of this article has expertise in Herbal Medicine. The articles on Herbal Medicine reveals the author’s knowledge on the same. The author has written many articles on Healing Herbs as well.

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