The herb St Johns Wort is a tried and tested staple in the natural health Practitioner’s armoury for low mood St Johns Wort, whose flowers are bright yellow stars, is native to Britain and Europe but has now been naturalised throughout the world.
This herbaceous perennial grows from one to three feet high in sunny situations, on preferably uncultivated chalky soils, on roadsides and in meadows. It blooms between June and August.
As with so many of our herbal medicines, St Johns Wort usage can be dated back to the 1st century where the early Christians named it after John the Baptist. Apparently, the ancient Greeks and Romans also used it for depression and melancholy, superficial wound healing and sciatica.
We often use or hear the expression ‘feeling blue’. In actual fact ‘feeling blue’ is an idiom for feeling down in the dumps or sad. We might feel sad or tearful if we have an ‘off day’ which can be triggered when we’ve had a bad day at work or had an argument with our partner. Frequently, women suffer from low moods due to their hormonal changes. However, of greater concern is that low mood can often go on for many weeks.
Suffering with low mood should not be confused with clinical depression, which is diagnosed by a doctor and, for which, medication is generally prescribed. However, suffering from persistent low mood can stop you from living life to the full and may affect your work and relationships. ‘Life is not a rehearsal’ is a common saying – the point being that if you are suffering with low mood, your life will not be enjoyable or fulfilling. So now’s the time to take stock!
St Johns Wort is a wonderful herb for the nervous system, easing tension and anxiety and elevating mood. At least 30 studies on more than 1,700 patients show that St Johns Wort can be effective in relieving symptoms of low mood without the side effects of conventional anti-depressants. It is not fully understood how it works, but it is believed to help prolong the action of the brain neurotransmitter, serotonin, a deficiency of which can lead to depression.
In addition, dietary changes can also really help; try eating regular meals with protein at each meal to balance blood sugar levels; increasing omega 3 fats from oily fish and avoiding excess stimulants like coffee, tea and alcohol as these can affect your hormones, especially the stress hormones, and deplete the body of other nutrients.
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