I’ve been working with my doctor to explore natural ways to help with my depression.
Q. Dear Terry, “I’ve been working with my doctor to explore natural ways to help with my depression. I also started modifying my diet, exercise, sleep, and stress. Are there some herbs that could provide additional help?” – J.P., Rock Hill, SC
A. Dear J.P., I highly encourage you to keep your healthcare practitioner in the loop with any supplementation you may be considering, as they may have additional insight.
Saffron comes from the plant Crocus sativus and has been used for thousands of years as a spice and also medicine. Saffron has been shown to boost serotonin levels, lower cortisol, and help preserve levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is the body’s primary inhibitory enzyme and is often deficient in people with depression. Clinical studies have found that saffron reduces symptoms of milder forms of depression, serious depression with anxiety, and postpartum depression.
Saffron also works synergistically with another well-known botanical, curcumin. Curcumin is a compound from turmeric that helps with numerous diseases, including depression. One study showed that curcumin was as effective as a prescription drug for people with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). In other clinical trials, people suffering from depression felt much better and some individuals improved significantly at just four weeks. After eight weeks, their relief was even more pronounced. I prefer curcumin enhanced with turmeric essential oil for greater absorption.
These two botanicals have also been studied together and shown to significantly relieve the symptoms of MDD. What was interesting about this study was that even at lower doses, people responded very well to curcumin or a combination of saffron and curcumin.
I would take curcumin and saffron stigma extract once or twice per day.
Another option to consider is St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), which has a long history of use for mood issues and modern research has validated its use for depression. I prefer St. John’s wort that is standardized to 0.3% hypericin and stays in your bloodstream for up to 24 hours. I would take St. John’s wort daily.
Terry . . . Naturally