Herbal Remedies for a Bad Mood

St. John’s Wort: Also called hypericum, this herb curbs symptoms of depression in about one in every two people battling mild depression, SAD and possibly even PMS. No optimal dose has been identified, but a suggested dose is 300 to 1,800 milligrams a day, taken in divided doses. Always discuss this herb with your physician before taking, since it can interfere with some medications, including oral contraceptives, warfarin (Coumadin) and Cyclosporin, and should not be taken with antidepressant drugs.

Kava Kava: Fans swear this herb calms them down, is a painkiller and helps them think clearly. Kava lactones in kava kava tickle the processing centers for emotiosn and moods in the brain. But studies have produced mixed results. When kava kava does work, the effective dose appears to be somewhere around 100 milligrams of kava extract taken three times a day. Look for products standardized to contain at least 70% kava lactones (60 to 75 milligrams/capsule). Don’t’ take this anti-anxiety herb with prescription medications, when driving or operating heavy equipment, with alcohol or if you are younger than 21 years old, pregnant or nursing.

Gingko: this root possibly boosts memory and attention, improves circulation, and aids in the treatment of dementia, tinnitus and Alzheimer’s disease. You need at least 120 milligrams a day, preferably in divided doses. Look for products standardized to 24% flavone glycosides and 6% terpene lactones. Gingko might upset your stomach, cause headaches or skin reactions, and it should not be taken by pregnant women, before surgery or in conjunction with blood-thinning medications, including aspirin. Always consult your physician if you are taking any prescription medications.

Ginseng: Studies on animal’s show ginseng might aid the nerves and heart and help balance hormones, promote immunity and boost metabolism, improve thinking and memory and even slow aging. Benefits for people are unknown, but possibly include helping control blood sugar in diabetics. You need 0.5 to 2 grams of the dried root, or up to ½ teaspoon ginseng extract or tea taken up to twice daily. Many ginseng supplements contain less active ingredients than listed on the label or are contaminated with lead or pesticides, so stick with reputable brands that are standardized to 4% to 7% ginsenosides. Take for no longer than three months. Pregnant and breast-feeding women or anyone with high blood pressure should avoid ginseng. Diabetics should be monitored by physician.

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