Mental Health Treatments Using Natural Medicines

natural medicine and supplements with a stethoscope

Welcome to our final Mental Health Awareness blog series, where we expose mental health myths for healthcare professionals. In our last post, “Burnout Prevention Among Healthcare Professionals,” we uncovered the importance of recognizing and addressing burnout, providing steps toward a healthier, more balanced life. 

Now, we will debunk common myths surrounding the efficacy and safety of natural medicines for conditions like anxiety, depression, and stress. By exploring the evidence behind popular remedies, such as kava, saffron, and ashwagandha, we aim to empower healthcare professionals with accurate information to make informed decisions about their mental well-being as well as support their patients. 

Myth: Natural medicines are always safe and effective for treating mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and stress. 

Fact: While natural medicines can offer benefits for mental health, it’s crucial to understand that not all of them are equally effective or safe for everyone. 

Now, let’s explore some commonly discussed natural remedies for mental health:  

  • Kava for Anxiety: Kava extract has shown promise in relieving symptoms of anxiety. However, it’s important to note that it can pose risks, particularly for individuals with liver conditions or those taking hepatotoxic drugs. You can use our NatMed Interaction Checker, one of the most popular tools, to check for interactions between drugs and foods, herbs, or supplements. Furthermore, not all kava products are created equal. Look for those standardized to 70% kavalatones as they’ve been the most well-studied.  
  • Saffron for Depression: Some studies suggest that saffron extract might help alleviate symptoms of depression. It seems to be comparable to some medications. But long-term use and high doses aren’t recommended. If you or your patients are considering saffron, ensure appropriate dosage and duration.  
  • Ashwagandha for Stress: Ashwagandha has gained popularity as a stress-relieving remedy, supported by clinical research. However, consumers should be aware of potential quality concerns due to the high demand for ashwagandha products. Ensuring product quality through reputable manufacturers and certifications is paramount to its effectiveness and safety. You can refer to NatMed’s Quality Certifications resource for guidance on evaluating product quality. 

Ultimately, it’s important to exercise caution, as natural remedies may offer supplementary benefits for mental health; however, they should not replace evidence-based treatments such as therapy or medication prescribed by a qualified healthcare provider. Additionally, individual responses to these remedies can vary, and they may interact with existing medications or conditions. Before integrating natural medicines into a mental health regimen, it’s essential to take the necessary steps to understand safety and effectiveness, using tools such as NatMed’s Interaction Checker, Effectiveness Checker, Effectiveness Charts, and Quality Certifications resource.  

By dispelling these myths and providing evidence-based information, you can empower yourself and your patients to make informed decisions about mental health treatment options. For more in-depth information, read this article, Supplements for Mental Health, developed from NatMed, the largest evidence-based natural medicines database trusted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 


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