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Herbal products and extracts help

Herbal products and extracts help

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Depression refers to a wide range of mental health problems. It is characterized by the absence of positive affect (loss of interest and pleasure from ordinary things and experiences), bad mood, and a number of related emotional, cognitive, physical, and behavioral symptoms.

The great differencesin the course and outcome of depressive illnesses are reflected in the breadth of theoretical explanations for its etiology, including genetic, biochemical, endocrine and neurophysiological, psychological and social processes and / or factors.

Some physical diseases increase the risk of depression: diabetes, heart disease, hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, Addison’s disease, and others [1]. The advances in neuroimaging have proven the idea of depression as a disorder of brain structure and function, and psychological findings emphasize the importance of cognitive and emotional processes [2,3].

Depression is the most common mental disorder in society and the leading cause of disability worldwide. In 1990, it was the fourth most common cause of disability-adjusted life loss in the world, and it is projected to become the second most common cause [4].

Due to the high cost of treatment, the role of this disease is to increase the risk of suicide. Due to the large impact of this disease on productivity, depression imposes a huge burden on both the health system and society as a whole.

It is believed that the occurrence of depression is associated with an imbalance in neurotransmitters — monoamines (serotonin, norepinephrine, etc.), which leads to the impaired conduction of nerve impulses and changes in the nervous system: a depressed psychological state, sleep disorders and neuromotor dysfunction.

Antidepressants have been the mainstay of pharmacological depression treatment for the past 40 years or more. The way of action of this class of medication, which is believed to be responsible for its mood-enhancing properties, is its ability to block synaptic uptake of monoamines. Although the administration of antidepressants was successful, the side effects resulting from its use reduced its acceptability. In addition, the overdose with antidepressants carries high mortality and morbidity, which is especially problematic when treating people with suicidal intentions.

In this regard, the treatment with natural natural antidepressants, which include plants, is relevant:

1. Hypericum

Hypericum is a popular herbal medicine recommended by practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine, licensed and often prescribed for depression in many European countries.

The analysis of 27 clinical studies with 3808 patients comparing the use of hypericum and synthetic antidepressants (serotonin reuptake inhibitors) showed that hypericum in depressed patients had comparable results with standard antidepressants, which confirms its significant clinical efficacy in relieving symptoms of depression [5].

2. Rhodiola rosea

The clinical evaluation of Rodiola rosea extracts in people with various depressive syndromes is based on the results of two randomized double-blind placebo-controlled studies of 146 patients with major depressive disorder and seven open-label studies involving 714 people with stress. In general, the results of these studies indicate a possible antidepressant effect of R. rosea extracts on adults.

Unlike most traditional antidepressants, R. rosea extract is well tolerated in short-term studies with a favorable safety profile.

R. rosea demonstrates multi-purpose effects at various levels of regulation of the cellular response to stress, affecting various components of neuroendocrine, neurotransmitter receptors and molecular networks associated with a possible beneficial effect on mood [6].

3. Saffron

Nowadays, saffron, a spice prepared from the Crocus sativus flower, has passed several trials to study its antidepressant effects. In a recent meta-analysis, it was confirmed to be effective in treating major depression.

The systematic review identified six studies. Compared to placebo, saffron had a large therapeutic effect and, compared to antidepressants, had similar antidepressant effectiveness. The antidepressant effect of saffron is due to its serotonergic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuroendocrine and neuroprotective effects [7].

Thus, it can be concluded that not only synthetic medicines can be used in the treatment of diseases accompanied by depressive states and mood decline, but also medicinal plant products and extracts based on it. It can not only be useful, but also it shows an activity comparable to that of synthetic medication, has fewer side effects and toxicity, and reduces the possibility of overdose.


  1. Cassano P, Fava M. Depression and public health: an overview. Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 2002; 53: 849–857
  2. Drevets WC, Price JL, Furey ML. Brain structural and functional abnormalities in mood disorders: implications for neurocircuitry models of depression. Brain Structure and Function. 2008; 213: 93–118
  3. Beck AT. The evolution of the cognitive model of depression and its neurobiological correlates. American Journal of Psychiatry. 2008; 165: 969–977
  4. Malhi GS, Parker GB, Greenwood J. Structural and functional models of depression: from sub-types to substrates. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. 2005; 111: 94–105
  5. Ng Q. X., Venkatanarayanan N., Ho C. Y. Clinical use of Hypericum perforatum (St John’s wort) in depression: A meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders 210 (2017) 211–221
  6. Amsterdam J. D., Panossian A. G. (2016). Rhodiola rosea L. as a putative botanical antidepressant. Phytomedicine 23 (2016) 770–783.
  7. Lopresti A. L., Drummond P. D. (2014). Saffron (Crocus sativus) for depression: a systematic review of clinical studies and examination of underlying antidepressant mechanisms of action. Hum. Psychopharmacol Clin Exp 2014; 29: 517–527.