Herbalism for mental health

There’s a pictographic floating around Instagram, originally done by @animamundiherbals, which a lot of people have been re-uploading. I wanted to share this too, and explain in more depth what these medicines mean.

*Herbalism is not limited to herbs, but includes flowers, mushrooms, spices, and plant matter.*

Anxiety disorders (OCD, PTSD, social anxiety)

Let’s start with my favorite, blue lotus! Indeed, this flower does have a sedative effect, which makes it best for sleep or meditation. It can definitely help you process old wounds and sort through negative baggage when used alone. In some cases, this may induce anxiety (especially when paired with other psychoactive plants) so use with caution. For social anxiety, I suggest pairing it with wine, and it will really help you open up and connect with the people around you. I would not suggest taking this at work, and in higher doses do not operate heavy machinery. Lotus can provide a soothing high, and in higher doses, hallucinations. Suggested use: tea, tincture, smoked, or steeped in wine.

Passionflower makes great tea. The name is a bit deceiving, because it doesn’t necessarily make you passionate — rather, chills you out. It’s great for overall calmness. Effects are subtle. You can consume this (in normal quantities of course) at work and still perform well! Paired with black or green tea, you can stay alert without the jitters! Suggested use: tea, tincture, capsule, or smoked.

Kava kava is outstanding! An interesting side effect is slight numbness of the mouth, which makes it ideal for teeth-grinders. The effects are strong and noticeable, but it does not get you “high.” It really takes off the edge and helps you relax. Best for short-term use, like a Xanax replacement. Composition is powdery. Suggested use: capsule, smoothie supplement, infused honey.

Lemon balm is super similar to passionflower. It chills you out without becoming overpowering or inducing sleepiness. Like passionflower, it makes a great tea and has a lovely taste. Suggested use: tea, tincture, capsule, or smoked.

Dementia (Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s)

I’m actually not very familiar with gotu kola or ginko! So there’s not too much I can personally say about it! I would like to look into it though!

Lion’s mane is amazing, one of my favorites! It’s a mushroom, also known as a “smart mushroom.” It can be compared to adderal. It improves cognition, memory, and focus. Unlike adderal, it is not simply a short-term fix, but provides positive long-term effects. Therefore, can certainly prevent dementia. Also unlike adderal, it is non-addictive and does not cause a severe comedown or crash. Suggested use: capsule, tincture, smoothie supplement

Eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, body dismorphia)

Not personally familiar with Rhondiola! From what I’ve gathered, it helps with physical stamina and fights depression and anxiety.

Ashwaghanda is another one of my favorites. I would also classify this under mood disorders and anxiety disorders. I used to take it every day, I still try to take it often. It stabilizes your mood and fights off depression. It also gives you lasting energy without overstimulation. It’s subtle but noticeable. It doesn’t increase appetite, if anything it might curb appetite by fighting off emotional eating — so may not be ideal for eating disorders, but certainly will help with body dismorphia! It has a bitter taste, so do not drink it as a tea. Suggested use: capsule

Psychosis (schizophrenia, psychotic disorders)

Devil’s pepper is more commonly used in culinary use, rather than a daily supplement. It helps with anxiety but also is very useful for those who suffer from arthritis. Suggested use: culinary

Saffron flower has numerous benefits and not only can treat psychosis but also depression, PMS, dementia, anxiety, and stress-eating. It probably belongs in all of these categories! Alongside, it can be classified as an aphrodisiac, and also offers several physical health benefits. This is especially helpful for schizophrenia/psychosis because it takes you away from your mind and brings you back into your body. Suggested use: as a spice for culinary use, capsule, tincture

Mood disorders (depression, bipolar disorder)

St. John’s wort is super effective at treating depression. Scientific research shows proof of relief for those with mild to moderate symptoms. For those with bipolar disorder, it would be best to use sparingly — during depressive episodes — but not during manic episodes. However, it’s super important to know that it should be avoided if you also take prescription drugs — most especially SSRIs. It can make them less effective or cause dangerous interactions. Personally, I find it truly helps me during depressive episodes. Suggested use: tea, capsule, tincture

Albizia and Mucuna — I am not super familiar with! It seems to be quite similar to St. John’s wort.

Unfortunately, psilocybin is illegal in most areas. But if you live in an area where it is legal, there are numerous mental health benefits. For depression, it is best taken in tiny amounts (micro dose) no often than every 3 days. It will boost motivation, creativity, and bring a sense of oneness. If psilocybin is illegal where you live, I suggest looking into “Soul Drops” as an effective alternative. In higher doses, psilocybin can treat PTSD — if used consciously, in a safe space, with a therapist or trusted friend. Suggested use: capsule, chewed raw (be very mindful about dosage — amount of psilocybin is highly variable per mushroom.)

I want to mention again that Ashwaghanda should also be in this category, as it is extremely beneficial in treating both depression and bipolar disorder.

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