4 plants that support mental health

4 plants that improve your mood

It’s very common to feel unhappy or down these days. These feelings are not just caused by social or personal circumstances (unemployment, breakups, etc.) – there are also genetic, biological and psychological factors. Physical health even plays a role1, 2.

If you feel that life is getting you down lately, keep reading and discover how certain plants could help you.

What are the symptoms of depression?

Symptoms can vary depending on your age, but the most common ones are2,3:

  • Negative feelings and persistent sadness, anxiety and tearfulness.
  • Irritability and frustration, with outbursts of anger over little things.
  • Feelings of guilt and low self-esteem.
  • Loss of interest in and pleasure from most everyday activities.
  • Tiredness, fatigue and lack of energy. Difficulty in performing any task.
  • Difficulty concentrating, reasoning, making decisions, and remembering things.
  • Lack or excess of sleep.
  • Change in appetite: loss of appetite, or increased appetite, with a resultant weight loss or gain.
  • Discomfort with no obvious cause that is not relieved through treatment: headaches, muscle aches, cramps, digestive problems, etc.

Although these seem more common in women1, anyone can suffer from them, regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic status or race2.

Which plants support emotional balance?

Saffron

Saffron (Crocus sativus L.), .), known as ‘red gold’, is a very valuable herb grown throughout the Mediterranean4.

If you’re a keen cook, you’ve probably added it to rice as a spice to give it that characteristic yellowish hue and aroma4. It is a highly coveted culinary condiment.

In the past, it was also used as a textile dye, as the colour it produces was considered a symbol of light, spirituality and wisdom. Cleopatra even chose it to tint her lips, nails and hair5.

The flower’s stigma has also been used for its benefits for over 3,600 years4.

Jumping forward to the present, several studies have found that it promotes relaxation6 and helps maintain a positive mood6 y ayuda a mantener un estado de ánimo positivo6.

saffron antidepressant properties

A multitude of active compounds have been identified in saffron. These include crocin (a carotenoid that provides its colouring strength) and safranal (responsible for its aroma)5, compounds usually included in food supplements.

Hypericum

Hypericum (Hypericum perforatum L.) is a herbaceous plant normally found in Europe and Asia, and even as far as the Americas and Australia7.

You may know it by the name St. John’s Wort, a nickname it was given in the Middle Ages because 24 June (the feast of St John the Baptist) was the best day for harvesting it.

It has been used since ancient times, and much research has been done into its ability to contribute to emotional balance8. This effect was demonstrated in a clinical trial in which up to 0.99 mg of St. John’s wort extract was administered orally to postmenopausal women for eight weeks9.

hyperic, plant against depression

Hypericin and hyperforin, found in its flower, appear to be the two compounds that contribute most to its beneficial effects.7.

The main benefits of St. John’s Wort are:

  • Helping to maintain a positive mood10.
  • Helping to support mental and physical well-being11.
  • Promoting optimal relaxation and helping to maintain healthy sleep8.
  • Helping sleep disorders12.

Griffonia

Griffonia (Griffonia simplicifolia) is a woody shrub native to West and Central Africa13.

Different parts of the plant have been used throughout history on the African continent, but it’s the seeds from the black fruits that its flowers produce that are most intriguing13.

Why?

They are an important source of 5-hydroxytryptophan13.

5-hydroxy… What?

Let’s just call it 5-HTP, which is what it’s usually abbreviated to13.

This compound reaches the central nervous system easily, where it is converted directly into serotonin, an essential neurotransmitter known as the happiness hormone, involved in managing emotions and in sleep (it is a precursor of melatonin).13

That is why griffonia is considered so beneficial for improving brain activity14.

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha (Withania somnífera (L.) Dunal) is an evergreen shrub that grows in India, the Middle East and some parts of Africa15.

It is also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry15, although it should not be confused with Chinese lantern (Physalis alkekengi), American ginseng or Siberian ginseng16.

Its root has been used for over 3,000 years in traditional Hindu medicine (Ayurveda)15 due to its adaptogenic properties17.

Its composition contains over 50 constituents including withanolides, a group of steroidal alkaloids and lactones18.

Ashwagandha plant against depression

In a study of adults under stress, 240 mg capsules of ashwagandha extract (with standardised withanolide content) were administered daily for 60 days, with favourable results on emotional balance and stress18.

The proven benefits of this plant’s root are fascinating:

  • Aids relaxation and physical and mental well-being19.
  • Supports you in times of mental stress, nervousness and anxiety19.
  • Improves the body’s resistance to stress and helps you recover from stressful situations20.
  • Supports learning, memory and recall20, as well as mental function in older people20.
  • Aids sleep onset20.

Are these plants for you?

If you lead a busy life, you’re probably wondering if these plants could help you maintain a positive mood or support you during periods of increased anxiety or stress.

The answer is yes.

You can take them as food supplements that contain the most concentrated dry extracts or parts of the compounds responsible for their benefits. They are very safe and few side effects have been reported at the usual recommended doses.

Anastore offers them all: saffron, hypericum, griffonia y ashwagandha.

All four products contain optimal amounts of their respective active compounds (crocin, hypericin, 5-HTP and withanolides). We manufacture them according to very strict pharmaceutical standards to ensure the highest quality and safety.

Naturally, they contain no genetically modified organisms.

3 final considerations

The first and most important one: if you are taking any medication, speak to your doctor or pharmacist before taking these supplements, particularly if you’re taking antidepressant drugs, as there could be some interaction.

Secondly, they are not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, or for children and adolescents.

Finally, these plants can be especially useful in mild and moderate cases. Always combine them with a healthy lifestyle that includes a healthy diet and regular physical exercise.

We also recommend consulting your doctor to avoid aggravating any condition. Don’t suffer in silence!

Bibliography

  1. Organización Mundial de la Salud [Internet]. Depresión. 30 ene 2020 [citado 12 ago 2021].
  2. National Institute of Mental Health [Internet]. Depresión. Revisado en 2021 [citado 12 ago 2021].
  3. Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Depresión (trastorno depresivo mayor). 29 jul 2021 [citado 12 ago 2021].
  4. Siddiqui MJ et al. Saffron (Crocus sativus L.): As an Antidepressant. J Pharm Bioallied Sci. 2018; 10(4): 173-180. doi: 10.4103/JPBS.JPBS_83_18.
  5. Aramburu AZ, Diaz-Marta GLA, Delgado MC. The chemical composition of saffron: color, taste and aroma. Editorial Bomarzo. 2006
  6. Extracted from the European Commission compilation list, under EFSA evaluation (ID 2038).
  7. Xiang Ng Q, Venkatanarayanan N, Yih Xian Ho C. Clinical use of Hypericum perforatum (St John's wort) in depression: A meta-analysis. J Affect Disord. 2017; 210: 211-221. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2016.12.048.
  8. Extracted from the European Commission compilation list, under EFSA evaluation (ID 3860).
  9. Extracted from the European Commission compilation list, under EFSA evaluation (ID 2560).
  10. Extracted from the European Commission compilation list, under EFSA evaluation (ID 3596).
  11. Extracted from the European Commission compilation list, under EFSA evaluation (ID 4065).
  12. Extracted from the European Commission compilation list, under EFSA evaluation (ID 4421).
  13. Muszyńska B, Łojewski M, Rojowski J, Opoka W, Sułkowska-Ziaja K. Natural products of relevance in the prevention and supportive treatment of depression. Psychiatr Pol. 2015; 49(3): 435-53. doi: 10.12740/PP/29367.
  14. Extracted from the European Commission compilation list, under EFSA evaluation (ID 2446).
  15. Zahiruddin S et al. Ashwagandha in brain disorders: A review of recent developments. J Ethnopharmacol. 2020; 257: 112876. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2020.112876.
  16. MedlinePlus [Internet]. Ashwagandha. 16 dic 2020 [citado 16 ago 2021].
  17. Extracted from the European Commission compilation list, under EFSA evaluation (ID 3251).
  18. Lopresti A, Smith S, Malvi H, Kodgule R. An investigation into the stress-relieving and pharmacological actions of an ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) extract: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Medicine (Baltimore). 2019; 98(37):e17186. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000017186.
  19. Extracted from the European Commission compilation list, under EFSA evaluation (ID 2183).
  20. Extracted from the European Commission compilation list, under EFSA evaluation (ID 4194).
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