by Herb Joiner-Bey, ND
The Illness People Hide in Shame
It is estimated that over a quarter of Americans age 18 and older suffer from a mental disorder. Thus, 58 million adults suffer from some diagnosable mental illness. This includes common impairments such as depression, anxiety, attention deficit, substance addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and autism (e.g., Asperger’s syndrome). Due to the social stigma associated with mental illness, people tend to hide the fact that they or their loved ones are suffering from a mental disorder.
Although conventional pharmaceuticals may palliate symptoms, they may cause very undesirable side effects. Natural medicine offers some viable alternatives. Among these are botanical medicines which, when used in combination, can provide some relief without significant adverse effects. Such botanical blends are not magic panaceas for mental ills, yet they can serve as safe and helpful options under appropriate professional supervision.
The Power of Botanical Blends
For centuries, the herbalists of Traditional Chinese Medicine and other ancient healing disciplines have formulated combinations of plant medicines tailored to the needs of individual patients, as well as standard herbal blends widely applied to common ailments. The whole is better than the sum of the parts. Combining plant medicines that work well together synergistically amplifies their overall beneficial effect, while concurrently mollifying potential side effects. This constitutes the power and efficacy of complex herbal formulas. This time-honored tradition continues in modern botanical medicine today.
What herbal ingredients can be combined to improve mental and emotional well-being?
Mental Hygiene Botanicals
The following is a selection of renowned herbal medicines for brain support which, in combination, may offer significant mental and emotional health support.
• Bengal velvet bean (Mucuna pruriens) is a tropical legume that has the highest plant content of L-dopa, the precursor to the brain neurotransmitters of pleasure and joy in living—dopamine and noradrenaline. Mucuna enables an overall sense of wellbeing. It has been effective and an invaluable assistance in helping some drug addicts kick their habit.
• Cacao is considered a functional food source, rich in antioxidant flavonoids and minerals. It increases brain dopamine production and acts as a mild mood-elevating stimulant.
• Maca (Lepidium meyenii) enhances one’s sense of vital energy and increases stamina. It improves memory and mental focus, while supporting positive mood.
• Fo-Ti (Fallopia multiflora) is the legendary Chinese herb of longevity. It helps rejuvenate neurons in the brain and accelerates recovery from nervous exhaustion.
• Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) is highly respected in Chinese medicine for buttressing clarity of brain function. It is particularly known for improving memory.
• Rhodiola rosea is an “adaptogen,” a botanical that increases adaptability of the nervous system to stress. It also improves memory and concentration.
• Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) enhances nervous system resilience under stress. In addition, it calms anxiety.
How Should One Take Such An Herbal Blend?
For serious mental health issues, be sure to apply these botanical medicines under the supervision of a qualified mental health professional, especially if you are already taking pharmaceutical drugs for psychological or other issues. Organically sourced herbal blends for emotional wellness are available from fine natural products retailers. Powders are more economical because they require less processing by suppliers and can be blended into smoothies or juices. You can even make a tea with such a blend. Be sure to follow the dosage instructions on the product label.
Dr. Herb Joiner-Bey is a naturopathic physician, medical science consultant, and educator for Energize Organics. He regularly conducts seminars and presentations for health professionals, the public, and radio audiences nationwide. His published works include “The Healing Power of Flax”, “Water: The Foundation of Youth, Health, and Beauty”, and “The Omega-3 Miracle.”