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  • Virginie, Naturopath

Lessen anxiety and depression with herbs and Nature

I talked about meditation last week as a way to lower anxiety and many other health issues but there are other natural ways of feeling mentally better and this is so important to be aware of them, above all at the moment: 1- As a Naturopath I work with multiple herbs which will help mitigate mental health issues. In a 2018 study, scientists found that lavender, passionflower, and saffron demonstrated benefits comparable to standard anxiolytic and antidepressant medication. Yes you read correctly. 2- When anxiety or depression disrupts sleep, California poppy and valerian are very useful and I am not the only one stating this. In a 2019 study, adults experiencing insomnia took a mix of valerian and California poppy for 4 weeks. Results showed: - Improved sleep quality and duration. Insomnia score decreased by 30% and sleep efficiency increased from 78% to 84%! - Participants woke 25% less frequently and when they did wake, were able to fall asleep faster, with the total duration of wakeful episodes dropping considerably by 25 minutes. - Last but not least anxiety scores significantly decreased by 50%! 3- And finally, please, please, spend time in nature! Yes you can still walk outside in natural surroundings even if sometimes beaches or National Parks are closed. There are still plenty of natural venues that would bring these benefits. In a very recent study (2019) scientists have found that if you spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that provides you with a sense of nature, you will lover your cortisol level (cortisol being the stress hormone). HOWEVER the benefits were only derived when participants avoided the use of social media, internet and phone calls, and did not read or converse while enjoying the great outdoors. So get rid of your devices when relaxing outside and be more mindful of Nature around you! I will also add something that I am completely convinced of: when you sit in nature, take your shoes off!! Bare feet on the earth (earthing or grounding) has shown in multiple studies that it decreases cortisol levels (and improves many many other health conditions). I have written a blog on earthing so you can refer to it and look at the studies I have referenced. 1 Yeung KS, Hernandez M, Mao JJ, Haviland I, Gubili J. Herbal medicine for depression and anxiety: A systematic review with assessment of potential psycho‐oncologic relevance. Phytother Res. 2018 May;32(5):865-91. 2 Abdellah SA, Berlin A, Blondeau C, Guinobert I, Guilbot A, Beck M, et al. A combination of Eschscholtzia californica Cham. and Valeriana officinalis L. extracts for adjustment insomnia: A prospective observational study. J Tradit Complement Med [Internet]. 2019 Feb [cited 2020 Mar 2]. 3 Hunter MR, Gillespie BW, Chen SY. Urban nature experiences reduce stress in the context of daily life based on salivary biomarkers. Front Psychol. 2019 Apr 4;10:722.



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