In the past decade or so, the herbal/supplement industry has experienced exponential growth. The supplement industry would have you believe that there is a remedy for just about anything that ails you. Unlike the proverbial “snake oils” sold in the past, there is actually a lot of scientific evidence that supports the benefits of many herbal supplements. For instance, a number of herbal supplements have been found to be beneficial for depression and anxiety. Such supplements include St. John’s Wort, SAMe, and fish oil with omega-3.
The down side to the supplement industry is that it is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration or any other governing body. Not that I’m saying that this should necessarily happen , it’s just that supplements don’t undergo the levels of testing for safety and efficacy that pharmaceutical drugs must undergo. The result is that the quality and potency of supplements vary greatly.
I’m not endorsing herbal supplements as a panacea. They can prove to be helpful, but great care must be taken in their use. Just because they are natural, doesn’t mean that they cannot be harmful. I know this sounds simple, but I have met numerous people who would not touch a pharmaceutical drug unless they absolutely had to but would not hesitate in taking 10 different supplements. Hemlock and toadstool are natural and they are deadly poisons. Your brain doesn’t know the difference between an herbal supplement and a pharmaceutical drug. In that sense, herbal supplements can be considered drugs. After all, marijuana and peyote are naturally occurring, and they are widely called “drugs.”
People who are considering the use of herbal supplements to improve or regulate their mood should consult with their physician or a well-informed, qualified professional. A person who is taking an herbal supplement should INFORM HIS/HER DOCTOR what they are taking, how much they are taking, and how frequently. Certain herbal supplements react negatively with prescription medication or have other properties (e.g., blood thinning) that can have catastrophic effects during surgery.
In summary, herbal supplements can help to improve mood…and they can be a waste of money and even dangerous in some cases. With a careful, informed approach, one can maximize the potential benefits and reduce the risks. And ALWAYS check with your physician about your use of herbal supplements and inform him/her of any that you are taking.