Herbal remedies to boost your mood
Herbal medicines can be amazing mood-lifters! Numerous scientific studies have shown the positive effects of using herbs for treating depression, lifting mood and supporting your nervous system.
St Johns Wort is perhaps the most well-known herbal mood-lifter that can be used for low mood, depression and anxiety. Studies have shown St. John’s Wort can be just as effective as orthodox antidepressant medications for mild to moderate depression.
Withania is another fabulous mood-lifter. Withania is an nervous system tonic and adaptogenic herb which can help to lift mood and support the body during times of stress or recovery from illness.
Rhodiola is traditional Siberian herb which helps to support your overworked adrenal glands, increases mental clarity and reduces the physical and mental fatigue often associated with low mood.
Saffron is a well known spice with a great taste that can help to support optimal digestive health and reduce symptoms of PMS. Recent studies have also shown the effectiveness of saffron for enhancing mood and increasing neurotransmitter production. All herbal medicines however, are best prescribed by a qualified Naturopath to ensure you are taking the correct therapeutic dose and to assess any potential contraindications.
Herbal teas can be wonderfully therapeutic (especially if someone else is nurturing you by making them for you!). To get the best results and therapeutic doses of herbal teas, it is usually best to drink 2-3 cups per day. They can be enjoyed hot or cold and also assist in optimising hydration which is essential for health and wellbeing.
My personal favourite (and great tasting!) herbal teas for enhancing mood include lavender, licorice and chamomile.
Lavender is well-known for its relaxation promoting effects but also tastes great in herbal teas, smoothies and baked goods.
The humble cup of chamomile tea also has a range of wellbeing effects. Chamomile not only relieves mild depression and anxiety, but also promotes healthy sleep and can relieve stress-induced headaches.
Licorice tea is perhaps my very favourite and is a fantastic adrenal gland tonic. With our busy lifestyles, our adrenal glands are often pumping out stressful levels of adrenaline and cortisol and need a little nurturing to help us to relax and de-stress. Licorice tea tastes great warm and cold and also helps to reduce those nasty sugar carvings and increase energy levels!
Foods for Mood
Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, asparagus and kale contain high levels of folate which is involved in the production of feel-good neurotransmitters such as serotonin. Many people have problems absorbing the folate found in most over-the-counter supplements, making leafy greens a daily must have!
Oily fish containing high levels of omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon, trout, tuna and sardines have been shown to lift mood, improve concentration, reduce inflammation and skin conditions. Aim to include these fish in your diet a couple of times per week.
Protein containing foods must be eaten regularly during the day to support mood, energy and reduce stress. Try snacking on nuts and seeds, miso soup, chia puddings, hummus with carrot sticks or almond butter on sliced apple for a protein pick-me-up between meals.
Fresh, unprocessed whole foods are essential for mood support. Studies have shown that people consuming fresh vegetables, fruits, eggs, meats, nuts and seeds have better health and mood than those consuming more processed foods. Get in touch with your food and your health by heading down to your local farmers market on the weekend to pick up your fresh foods.
Lifestyle tips for boosting your mood
Meditation is a great way to boost mood, promote clarity and reduce stress. The good news is that you can learn quick and simple meditation techniques that can be practiced between meetings or before work to calm your mind and enhance your mind.
I love the mood –boosting benefits of yoga which has been used for centuries for health and mental wellbeing. Starting your day with a few simple ‘salute to the suns’ can be enough to just centre your mind and promote positivity if you don’t have time for a longer practice. Realistically though, any form of exercise that you enjoy will help produce those feel-good endorphins. You just need to make time and begin!
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Belinda Kirkpatrick is an expert Nutritionist and Naturopath in Sydney. She specialises in natural fertility, family and women's health care.