The 10 Best Herbs & Supplements for Depression

November 23, 2014

Approximately seven percent of the adult American population suffers from a major depressive disorder, according to the National Institutes of Health. Many of these people don’t find relief through common, conventional medicines, even though pharmaceuticals tend to dominate the market.

Many people, whether it’s to save money from costly drug prices, or because they aren’t responding to drug treatments, or for other reasons, are searching alternative treatments for Depression.

So here is the list of the top ten best Herbs and Supplements compiled for Depression treatment:

  1. Fish Oil / Omega-3

These are a major building block in optimal brain chemistry. Although you can get adequate amounts of omega-6 fatty acids from foods like canola oil and nuts, we often don’t get enough omega-3s, which are mostly found in cold water fish. Without enough omega-3s, your brain may not properly transmit nerve signals.

  1. B-Complex Vitamins

One of the most common issues with depression is an imbalance of brain neurotransmitters. These are the natural chemicals that act as mood enhancers by helping transmit signals between brain cells. You can supplement with vitamins B6 and B3 (niacinamide). These vitamins help your body conserve the amino acid tryptophan and convert it into serotonin. Another B vitamin you can add is B12 plus folic acid, which help if B6 and B3 aren’t enough. They help if there is a deficiency of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain.

  1. 5-HTP

The amino acid, 5-hydroxytryptophan, or 5-HTP, can also be used to increase serotonin levels. As a side note, it might cause loose stools, if you’re taking the fat-soluble version. There is a spray form that gets absorbed much more quickly before reaching the digestive system.

  1. Theanine

This is an amino acid found in green tea that triggers the release of the acid, gamma-aminobutyric, GABA, in the brain. GABA activates your calming transmitters, which then promote relaxation and reduce anxiety. However, your body may have a difficult time absorbing supplements containing synthesized GABA, and finds it easier to absorb theanine. It’s very important to seek your doctor’s advice on whether or not you can take this supplement and how much your body can absorb.

  1. Vitamin D

This vitamin can help significantly reduce anxiety and depression symptoms. It’s recommended that you seek your naturopath’s advice however before starting on vitamin D. You might need a blood test to determine your vitamin D levels and subsequent follow-up tests to determine if you’re achieving optimum results.

  1. St John’s Wort

Even though this herb has not received the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approval in the United States, it is a popular depression treatment in Europe. Use with caution, it can interfere with other medications.

  1. SAMe

S-adenosylmethionine, again isn’t approved by the FDA in the United States, however has found popularity in Europe as a treatment for depression. Seek your doctor’s advice on dosage as in higher doses it can cause nausea and constipation.

  1. Magnesium

This supplement helps the brain neurons from becoming “too excited” which can cause tension and anxiety.

  1. Creatine

This supplement works approximately the same way as SAMe and is less expensive.

  1. Iodine

Your body contains thyroid molecules, and attached to each thyroid molecule is iodine. Without iodine, your body may likely have an under active thyroid which can cause you to feel tired and depressed.

There are other herbs and supplements available for the treatment of depression. This list compiled the most popular from a variety of sources. You may find other herbs or supplements not on this list that might work as well. As always, please take caution and see a naturopath to determine what is right for your body in terms of interaction with other medications and proper dosage.


Is there a herb or supplement that works well for you? Share your experiences and suggestions in the comment section Below!

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2 comments on “The 10 Best Herbs & Supplements for Depression

  1. Stephanie Dec 2, 2014

    Thank you for sharing this list of supplements! I knew of them, but found it difficult to find an exhaustive list, with concise descriptions. I have yet to try any of these, and am not sure whether to consult my GP, as they tend to nudge you towards man-made drugs. I would also recommend people try to include a variety of fish, meat and green vegetables – Although I realise some may be limited in availability, or they may not appeal to taste buds. Either way, these are all very important vitamins and minerals needed for healthy bodies and minds.

    What are your thoughts on multi-vitamins?