Natural Supplements to Combat Stress, Anxiety and Depression

The Home Remedies column discusses five natural supplements to combat stress, anxiety and depression.

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Learn about five natural supplements to combat stress, anxiety and depression.

MOTHER raised the subject of natural supplements to combat stress, anxiety and depression recently with Dr. Richard Firshein, an expert in nutritional research and medicine. He agreed to give us the lowdown on five of the more talked about natural mood boosters: St. John's wort, ginkgo, kava, tyrosine and SAM-e.

St. John's wort was among the first herbal supplements to break into the mainstream market, and it remains the leading natural antidepressant. But do we know yet if and how it works?

We are still not sure of how St John's wort works. Several mechanisms have been proposed. The most likely is that it works as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor [SSRI], similar to Prozac. But originally it was thought to work as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor [MAOI]. [For more on SSRIs and MAOIs, see Natural Remedies: Antidepressants and How They Work in this issue.] It was also thought that the active ingredient in St. John's wort was hypericin, but some more recent research indicates that there may be a whole slew of compounds at work.

So how this herb works is still very much under investigation, but do we know that it works?

Well, I think there is some good research going on. There have been some excellent [foreign] studies done over the last several years showing that it does improve mild to moderate depression. And there is a study that is currently being done in the U.S., which should be out within the year.

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