Nature's Cure: Herbal Remedies in the Treatment of Depression
McCoy, Courtney E.
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Since the birth of antidepressant medication in the 1950s, many people have found symptom· relief from major depression (Lieberman Ill, 2003). Selective serotonin · reuptake inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors lessen depressive symptoms by effecting neurotransmitters in the brain. However, many people avoid taking these common antidepressants due to the numerous adverse effects they produce, leaving their depression to go untreated (Astin, 1998). Alternative and complementary medication is being researched to produce similar effective results as common antidepressants, but without the negative side effects. Among the most common alternative therapies being studied is herbal medication, such as St. John's wort, saffron, roseroot, and lavender (Sarris, Panossian, Schweitzer, Stough, & Scholey, 2011). These herbs were compared to placebo and several antidepressants to determine their efficacy and side effects. The most studies conducted were on St. John's wort, and it was found that St. John's wort was more effective than placebo, and just as effective as several common antidepressants, such as imipramine, paroxetine, sertraline, and citalopram, with significantly lower side effects; however, more studies are needed to determine long-term effects of this herb (Linde, Berner, Egger, & Mulrow, 2005). Saffron, despite being as effective as imipramine and fluoxetine with no significant difference in side effects produced, needs more studies conducted, with larger trial groups and longer trial length. Roseroot and lavender need substantially more studies conducted before being determined a safe alternative for depression (Sarris et al., 2011 ).