Many people may find this surprising to read but I was actually a qualified psychiatric nurse. I was working in a local hospital handing out medicine that simply did not work. There seemed to be little time to just sit and talk to the patient. I don’t think much has changed since then; doctors have little time to counsel their mental health patients and fail to see them as a whole person, rather than simply a list of symptoms.
With any condition you must address the root cause of the problem, even though it is illegal for most women to poison their husbands – the root cause of most women’s problems and vice versa! I have found in my experience as both as a psychiatric nurse and as a herbalist, that modern day medication for mental health conditions treats the symptoms, but not the root cause of the condition. Many clients who came to see us after being on antidepressants would find that they were neither feeling better or worse; simply existing at a basic level which is not the way to go through life.
As mental health is a crucial part of life, I thought I would write this blog, addressing the various herbs we have used with great effect for mental health problems and why we don’t advocate others.
Golden root (Rhodiola Rosea) is an adaptogenic herb, which simply put helps a person adapt to the various stresses constantly coming at us in modern life. These can be anything from physical, mental or environmental stresses that can so easily get on top of us and play havoc with our mental health. Golden root balances the endocrine system, which is responsible for everything from energy and mood to weight and bowel habits. Another great benefit of Golden root is its antidepressant effects. This is due to an active compound found within Rhodiola that improves the passage of serotonin precursors, crucial in the protection against depression, as depression in its scientific form, is a result of insufficient serotonin levels in the body.
If chemistry is low for whatever reason you are certainly not eating the right carbs, now or in the past. It sounds too simple as a protective measure against mental health issues, but feeding your body the right foods allows it to run as it should. The wrong foods will result in imbalances, not just physically but mentally as well; it all connects together. If you are eating good seeds and nuts then you may not be absorbing them. This usually is because the autonomic nervous system is overriding digestion; normal heart rate, body clock etc.
I always remember my grandad who was also a herbalist had the same answer to a lot of my questions, like why is everyone so tired all the time, so stressed, or so many kids diagnosed with ADD, or mental health issues so prominent in today’s society? His answer was always the same – “The body is right to be irritable!” With bread keeping a week, UHT milk keeping 9 months out of the fridge, the way food is processed and manufactured today is so far from natural that the body will understandably be out of sync, and OF COURSE that will effect peoples mental health! Mental and physical health goes hand in hand after all.
It is therefore crucial to get the right carbs, essential fats, vitamins and minerals into your body to feel at your best. Just so you know, our EFA Complex is a great way to get the essential fats that you need into your system in the most natural way possible – as a food state! You can check it out on here.
Did you know that Anxiety is one of the most prevalent mental health problems in the UK? Well it is, and that is definitely true for the clients that we see. A great herb in the treatment of anxiety is skullcap. This bad boy is a relaxing nervine and excellent in calming nervous stress and treating mental exhaustion. We include it in our anxiety complex as it has been historically used when it comes to nerves, depression and disturbed sleep.
Chamomile is also a well-known herbal remedy for anxiety, and is very common in the form of teas, which you can buy at most supermarkets. While we know many people who do take this with positive effect, to us it doesn’t provide the required dosage or consistency to be truly effective as a form of treatment. We would suggest chamomile for children or adults who have a very sensitive system, but for most people, you need something stronger.
Many people take St Johns Wort for anxiety, but we actually don’t encourage it. This is because it acts as a brain stimulant which can therefore increase the onslaught of negative thoughts going on in your head. It can also have a negative reaction with other medication. So for us it’s a big no!
I don’t want to waffle on too much, as we all have lives to get back to, so I will leave you with that for now. But I will be posting more on mental health with herbs, along with a whole load of other issues, recipes and advice, so make sure you keep reading!