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Depression is a serious thing and should be treated as such. A physician, preferably one educated in nutritional medicine, should be consulted in cases of prolonged sadness or anxiety. Once physical ailments are ruled out, the seriously depressed might turn to psychotherapy. But for the ordinary blues and blahs, there are proven herbal alternatives to pharmaceuticals and some of them actually work better.

The minerals potassium and magnesium have been shown to have antidepressant effects, so it makes sense for the afflicted to eat foods rich in these minerals. Adding purslane to salads is a smart idea, since 15% of it is composed of antidepressant compounds. In addition to calcium and magnesium, purslane contains folate, the natural form of folic acid. Add some thyme to the dressing and you’ve added some lithium.

The plant licorice contains eight different kinds of monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors that help to alleviate depression. Simply adding some licorice extract to any herbal tea will boost calming effects. Licorice has the dual ability to promote estrogen production and to interfere with the effects of too much estrogen. Depression caused by menstrual and menopause disorders, chronic fatigue, hormonal imbalance, and hypoglycemia may be eased by licorice. Check with your doctor if ou're taking other medicines. Licorice might interfer with them.

No more than three cups of licorice enhanced tea a day is considered safe. More than that produces too much sodium, water retention, headache, and high blood pressure.

St.-John’s-wort contains the active compound hypericin. Clinical studies show that hypericin use results in significant improvement in anxiety and depression. Sleep quality is also improved bringing a better sense of well being. Some studies show that the herb has stronger antidepressant qualities than the pharmaceuticals Elavil and Trofonil, with fewer side effects. St.-John’s-wort has a long folk history for treating anxiety and depression.

St.-John's-wort is available as tea, tincture, decoction, oil, and in capsule form. Teas should be made with 1-2 cups of flowers per 1 cup of boiling water. This tea can be drunk three times daily. The dosage of the tincture is 1/4 to 1 teaspoon up to three times daily.

Do not take St.-John's-wort if you are pregnant. The herb can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight, so intense sun exposure should be avoided. Alcoholic beverages, amino acid supplements, and medications such as tyrosine, narcotics, amphetamines, and over-the-counter cold and flu remedies, should be avoided while taking St.-John's-wort. The herb works best when taken in conjunction with gingko biloba.

Studies have shown that ginkgo biloba may help relieve depression, especially among the elderly or anyone who suffers reduced blood flow to the brain. Researchers have found that 80 milligrams of ginkgo extract three times a day can significantly relieve depression and improve mental faculties. It also improves generally poor circulation. In large amounts, ginkgo may cause diarrhea, irritability and restlessness. A standard gingko leaf 50:1 extract is considered safe.

Omega oil complex (Omega 3,6 & 9 oils) in the form of flaxseed oil, evening primrose oil, borage seed oil, and/or black currents, should also be taken, along with vitamins A, B complex (for nerve health), C, D, and E, and antioxidants in the form of Co-enzyme Q10, green tea, grape seed extract, or white pine bark.