Unique herbal combination for stress and mood support
Written by Chantelle van der Weyden BPsych (Hons), AdvDip(Nat), AdvDip(NutMed)
Australian’s are reporting worsened mental health since the outbreak of COVID19, with significant increases in anxiety, depression and stress. Complementary medicine use is widespread amongst sufferers of anxiety and depression, and is well placed as an adjunct or standalone therapy for mood and stress related presentations.
Several nutrients and herbal medicines have shown therapeutic benefit for mood and stress related disorders. Phosphatidylserine (PS), Gingko biloba and Bacopa monnieri are evidence based complimentary medicines targeting several different pathways related to anxiety, depression and stress.
Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a well-studied nutrient shown to improve mood and modulate stress hormone levels in stressed adults. PS is essential for a healthy brain and nervous system, and supplementing with PS has been shown to support communication between neurotransmitters.
Clinical studies using PS demonstrate its positive effect on mood, whereby it has been shown to enhance mood and memory, reduce cortisol levels and alleviate symptoms in those with depression.
PS may also modulate cortisol release in stressful situations. Studies have demonstrated that PS had a cortisol lowering effect in both healthy men following exercise induced stress and healthy patients exposed to mental and social stress.
The subject of over 400 scientific studies, Gingko biloba leaf is one of the most well researched herbal medicines. Gingko is most well-known for its memory and cognition enhancing effects, however it also supports stress adaption and acts as an anxiolytic.
There are a number of studies supporting the use of Gingko in various mental health presentations. It has been shown to stabilise mood in cognitively impaired elderly patients and reduce symptoms of anxiety in patients with mental decline. Gingko has also been studied as an adjunct to anti-depressant therapy in elderly adults, where it was found that the combination of Gingko and citalopram (a commonly prescribed anti-depressant) significantly reduced depression and anxiety scores compared to citalopram alone.
Bacopa Monnieri is considered the leading nervine tonic in Ayurveda where is has been traditionally used as a brain and memory tonic. Preclinical research has highlighted its antidepressant and anxiolytic effects via its ability to modulate neurotransmitters, including serotonin, dopamine, noradrenaline and acetylcholine.
A number of studies have found additional anxiolytic effects in addition to Bacopa’s cognitive enhancing effects. Studies have found that it reduces anxiety scores in elderly patients with mild cognitive decline, as well as healthy adults. Further research found some improvements in mood, as well as a reduction in stress hormone levels.
Despite the multifactorial and often circumstantial nature of mood and stress disorders, there are a number of supportive herbal and nutritional medicines that may provide relief. If you would like to discuss these natural medicines further, reach out to your natural health practitioner.