Depression and Inflammation
Several studies on the treatment of depression now convincingly point to what medical herbalists have known for years - that SSRIs often just don't work. Many patients come through the door of our clinic because they are getting nowhere with the conventional treatment route of anti depressants and want to see how herbal medicine and nutrition can help.
As so much research now shows, inflammation may well be the culprit in many cases of depression and the wider issue of a breakdown and imbalance in the gut microbiome, which can underpin inflammation, can often be managed with herbs and diet. It is also important to note that the herbal practitioner, rather than going for a one drug fits all approach, will build a specific medicine for a patient, thus recognising them as an individual.
When it comes to a herbal approach, combining the powerful anti inflammatory properties of turmeric (curcumin) with the anti anxiety properties of herbs such as skullcap and passionflower, at the same time as using St John's Wort (which increases serotonin production and also has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties) often leads to a better outcome for the patient.
From a nutritional angle, people with low mood all too often reach for the sweet food option which leads to more gut imbalance and so the cycle is perpetuated. As with all health problems, the approach needed is a holistic one: the mind and the body function as one and our lifestyle impacts on both areas.
The herbalist will look at the whole patient and help build a lifestyle action plan as well as giving a herbal prescription and supplement advice. I often refer patients with depression to one of our talking therapists for counselling as, sadly, this is one area that can be difficult to access when needed, simply due to waiting list lengths in the NHS.
Within our clinic team we have the therapeutic tools to help many patients with depression and as many of us experience low mood at some point in our lives, it is important to manage this and develop strategies.