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Herbs for Depression

Because pharmaceutical antidepressants are widely available, many people coping with depression don't give medicinal herbs for depression a second look. However, herbal antidepressants can actually rival conventional treatments in their safety and efficacy. When used appropriately and under the guidance of a qualified expert, these botanical medicines can be an ideal option for some people with depression. Talk to your doctor about the following medicinal herbs and consider using them as part of your treatment plan.

St. John's Wort

Certainly the best-known and most well-researched of antidepressant herbs, St. John's wort remains a favorite among herbalists and depression patients alike. Multiple well-designed clinical trials have found that St. John's wort is an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression, and may have fewer side effects than conventional antidepressants. For this reason, major organizations including the National Institutes of Health and American College of Physicians endorse the herb's appropriate use.

Unfortunately, St. John's wort isn't entirely risk free. It interacts dangerously with many common prescription drugs, including:

  • antidepressants
  • birth control pills
  • HIV treatments
  • narcotics
  • Mesantoin
  • Elavil
  • Xanax
  • Neoral
  • Pondimin
  • Lanoxin
  • Valium
  • Coumadin
  • Celexa
  • Prilosec
  • Dilantin

Never use St. John's wort with any prescription drug without your health care provider's explicit approval.

Manic Depression Symptoms


Used for hundreds of years by the Khoisan tribesmen of Africa, kanna is a fascinating plant that has not been well researched. Traditionally, the Khoisan have used kanna to elevate emotional perspective and spiritual enlightenment. Several cultures use it as a treatment for both anxiety and depression, which often occur alongside one another. For this reason, it can be an excellent treatment option if you suffer from a combination of mild to moderate mental illnesses.

Western scientists have only recently begun investigating kanna's pharmacology, safety and efficacy. Current evidence suggests that it works as a both a PDE-4 inhibitor and as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), meaning that it functions in a manner similar to pharmaceutical antidepressants. However, its side effects, drug interactions and success rate remain unknown. For now, kanna is considered traditional and experimental as an herb for depression. 

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