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Herbs for our mental health

Written by Sarah Paterson | Thursday, 13 August 2020

natural health naturopathy

Mental health plays a huge part in how one can feel on a day to day basis, and it's something I've been interested in for quite a while now.

Before I started studying Naturopathy with Endeavour, I was about a year into a Bachelor of Psychology. Understanding how we think, make decisions and how we are as people will always be an interest of mine, as well as how we can change our patterns and behaviours.

The reason I switched to naturopathy from psychology was that I wanted to be able to help people more holistically. I believe I have most definitely learnt how to be a holistic practitioner through Endeavour, and look forward to the day I can start my own practice.

As usual, this is not medical advice, please consult your health care practitioner before trying any new supplements or herbs. These are herbs that may support your mental wellbeing, not to replace medication/treatment etc. On another note, please also know that while these herbs may be beneficial for your mental health; they are not by any means a ‘cure-all’. These are mainly for support, and though some help us to build resilience and tonify the nervous system, you shouldn't rely solely on herbs. All aspects of health determine how well you are able to cope with stress, whether you feel anxious, are predisposed to depression etc. Lifestyle factors and nutrition are huge here, so please don't think I'm saying you can ignore these other areas and just use herbal medicine.

Now, onto the herbs! These are just five of my favourite herbs that I myself have used and found benefit from. There are more to add to this list but in keeping this post short and sweet, here's the first five herbs to support your mental health, and the reasons why they work.

Ocimum tenuiflorum | Tulsi

I'm including tulsi first because it's probably my favourite herb for supporting my mental wellbeing. This herb is not all that common amongst western herbalists, as it's actually an Ayurvedic herb. In India, Tulsi is known as 'holy basil' and is thought of as the Queen of the herbs due to its large array of benefits and properties. Tulsi can help your mental health due to its adaptogenic abilities. 'Adaptogen' means that this plant has the ability to help you adapt better to stress, therefore reducing your stress response (ie. elevated cortisol levels, adrenaline, fight or flight etc). They also help to restore balance and support normal functions of the nervous system. One of the reasons I love tulsi is because it can be taken during the day as there are no sedative effects like many of the other nervous system herbs. You can find tulsi in my Cleanse tea blend.

Hypericum perforatum | St John's Wort

Hypericum works with the nervous system both in terms of mental health but also things like neuralgia, sciatica and even fantom limb pain. When used for mental health purposes, Hypericum is indicated for mild to moderate depression (not severe) and is useful for this because it is an antidepressant (it inhibits synaptosomal reuptake of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine), and a nervine tonic. In parts of Europe, Hypericum is actually prescribed as an antidepressant.

Passiflora incarnata | Passionflower

Passionflower is one of my favourite calming herbs (that's why I've included it in my Calm tea blend ). Passionflower works by really helping you to slow down, it is a sedative so promotes sleep, as well as being an anxiolytic (helps reduce anxiety) and even hypotensive (may help to lower blood pressure).

Withania somnifera | Ashwagandha

Withania is similar to our first herb tulsi in that's an adaptogen. Along with helping your body to cope with the stressors of everyday life, it's also a general whole body tonic. Withania will aid sleep as it's again a sedative, it's a nervous system tonic which will help to rejuvenate you, plus it's anti-inflammatory.

Scutellaria lateriflora | Skullcap

Similar to passiflora, this herb will have you slowing way down, easing you into sleep and relaxation with its sedative properties. It's also a tonic for the nervous system and is useful for nervous tension, and or exhaustion. While helping you to feel at ease and relax, Scutellaria also works on a deeper level to nourish the nervous system and may help you feel renewed and revived.

I hope this blog post finds you well, but if you're in need of some nervous system support you may find benefit from booking in at the Endeavour student clinic.

Sarah Paterson

Sarah is a Naturopathy student currently finishing her third year of studies.

Her passion is to help people look and feel their best with special interests in mental, gut and skin health. Sarah is also a wellness content creator, helping others in the industry to achieve their personal branding dreams through her images.

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