Herbs for Depression

Last winter I had a touch of depression. I didn't realise at the time though because it came out in the form of social anxiety attacks. The thought of going out and socialising, or even going busy places with lots of strangers (e.g.  London) was all a bit much for me. Life circumstances have changed and that has all passed now but not without a fair bit of fight. 

It's natural at this time of year to take time to reflect on the year gone by. It's the time of harvest when we should be bringing in the results of our hard work. Are you happy with your work over Summer? Lots of us are feeling quite burnt out after the firey Summer season. This leaves a lot of us open to melancholy.  

It seems to me like in recent years western ideas of spirituality has come to shun depression and sadness. We're taught that thinking positively will bring good things into our lives. If you are having bad things turning up it's because you're not thinking right. I have to say, thinking like this just adds more stress to my life! I feel much better thinking of everything in terms of seasons. Ups and downs. Ebb and flow. So lets embrace the depression, the sadness, learn our lessons and get ready for Spring next year. Everything changes in the end. 

Many of us also find the growing darkness at this time of year makes us feel low. Being active helps me stay light. But I also like to use candles to make the darkness warm and cosy along with anti-depressing herbal teas.

The most common, dare I say famous even, herb for depression has got to be St. John's Wort. As with most herbs, it got a bit of scientific evidence behind it and the world went mad for it. But sadly it interacts with around about 50% of all prescribed drugs. Frankly, it's not worth the risk of taking it alongside any medication just in case. (Unless you're seeing a herbalist or doctor who can advise you on this.)

Don't forget ladies, the contraceptive pill is included in the list of things you can't have st. John's wort (SJW) with. 

So lets have a look at some of the anti-depressing herbs which are often overlooked thanks to ol' SJW. 

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Lemon balm

The anti-depressing qualities of this plant come from its wonderful uplifting essential oils. Not that that's the only part of it but it's something worth noting because the way you prepare and preserve those oils can really change the effects of this herb. I prefer to drink tea of the fresh herb when it's Summer. But, it's not. So, second favourite way to have it is to make a tincture while it's Summer using fresh herb. What's crucial for this tincture is to macerate it for only 24hours. Perhaps 48 hours at most. This should be a wonderful bright green colour. If it goes brown you've missed the key stage you wanted to capture. When Lemon balm tincture is macerated for the average month-long time it begins to taste more nourishing like Nettle. This isn't a bad thing it's just not what I personally want for my anti-depressing Lemon balm tincture. I also like that it calms the stomach and anxiety. My anxiety usually goes to my tummy so it's two in one! (Taiwo et.al. 2012)

Orange Blossom

This is another herb which has a strong scent. But while Lemon balm is, well, lemony. Orange blossom is very sweet. It's not native to the UK and you might struggle to find it. Aren't you glad I went and found you a supplier then? https://www.baldwins.co.uk/baldwins-orange-flowers-citrus-sinensis 

I would add a half teaspoon of this to other tea blends you have of relaxants. I recently read in old notes from my uni days that this herb is considered aphrodisiac and adaptogenic too. So it ought to help with long-term stress too. 


Rose is for grief. It comforts the lonely or broken heart. The definition of hygge in a cup in my opinion. You can have a teaspoon of this straight in your tea. But I'd really recommend buying some Rose water (distilled) and adding this to your Chai, hot chocolate or Ashwagandha milk. 


Taiwo, A., Leite, F., Lucena, G., Barros, M., Silveira, D., Silva, M. and Ferreira, V. (2012) Anxiolytic and antidepressant-like effects of Melissa officinalis (lemon balm) extract in rats: Influence of administration and gender. Indian Journal of Pharmacology. Mar-Apr; 44(2): 189–192. [Online] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3326910/ [Accessed: 3rd October 2017]

The herbs and their actions here are merely the opinion of the writer. Only one reference has been provided as these actions are not often mentioned in traditional or modern texts. You must seek medical advice before taking any medicinal herbs.