Cognitive , Wellness ,

Alternative Mental Health Therapies Improve Mood and Mental Health

Oct 9 , 2019 - Josh Beaty
Alternative Mental Health Therapies Improve Mood and Mental Health

We may not see our mental health status on the outside, but our mental health affects multiple facets of life and even our physical health.

If you suffer from anxiety, depression, severe lack of sleep or another problem that plagues the mind, you are not alone. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that over 450 million people suffer from mental health conditions worldwide, making it the leading cause of illness around the globe.

Unfortunately, many people do not seek treatment. Those who do often get prescribed medications without seeking alternative solutions.

Fortunately, alternative mental health therapies do exist! If you or a loved one are currently suffering, you can try to help yourself with natural remedies.

Alternative Mental Health Therapies to Try

Don’t let your mental health fall by the wayside. Keep reading to learn about some natural therapies that may potentially help you reach a healthier mindset.

Herbs

For thousands of years, people have turned to natural sources for their medicinal properties. This includes herbs.

Turning to herbs means using plants to try and naturally treat your symptoms. However, most are not FDA regulated, so when choosing this route, do not go in blindly. Herbs can serve as potent medications with potential side effects, while some will not cure the ailments you suffer from.

Researching ingredients will help you make safe choices when using herbal remedies. Choosing trusted brands is also a good idea.

There are many herbs for mental health that may potentially benefit you. Let’s look at a few herbs that may help with depression and boost your mood.

Lavender

Lavender tends to slow down the heart rate and relax the muscles. This helps people deal better with emotional stress and calm restless nerves. It may even help with depression in some situations.

This soothing effect may also help you sleep better. Lack of sleep significantly affects mental conditions. So, sleeping more could improve your mental health.

Even the soothing smell of this purple flower tends to induce relaxation. Many people use it in baths and lotions, to soak it all in. Others prefer it as a flavoring in teas or other herbal drinks.

Ginseng

5,000 years ago, ginseng became a prized herb in China. This herb took on the symbolism for divine harmony on Earth, because, people revered it for giving them strength and sustenance.

They used the root as food, flavoring, and medicine. Today, people still recognize the many benefits of ginseng all over the world. Some even believe it might be one of the best natural herbs for depression.

Depression research shows that ginseng inhibits the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis mechanism. In everyday terms, this could potentially produce anti-depressant type effects.

St. John’s Wort

These flowers date back hundreds of years for recorded human use. Roman military doctors used St. John’s Wort for its medicinal properties, and in the middle ages, it was often used in healing potions. 

Is this a good herb for depression?

Some claim that it does, but unfortunately the lack of long term studies makes it difficult to say for sure. However, one study on depression found it to work almost as effectively as antidepressant medications for mild to moderate depression. It would be interesting to see if future research finds the same. 

Fungi

Mushroom extracts may help with a number of ailments, including depression. Fungi and human cells actually look and function similarly to one another.

This incredible Kingdom does amazing things from turning decay into nutrients and healing humans in the form of antibiotics, like penicillin. But, what if fungi can help our minds as well?

Wu Ling Shen (Xylaria nigripes)

This ascomycetous fungus grows on wood hidden within the nest of the Odontotermesformosanus termite. This fungus has been used in Chinese medicine for its protective and sedative properties. 

Xylaria nigripes triggers the brain to release the neurotransmitter GABA. GABA helps to facilitate communication between brain cells and decreases activity in the nervous system.

Through this mechanism, Xylaria nigripes seems to affect mood. Depression research suggests that the fungus may help to alleviate depression when taken regularly.

Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)

You may want to consider using extracts that contain Chaga mushrooms for mental health. Known as an adaptogen, this fungus offers nutrients that work to regulate the body’s metabolism so it adapts to its environment. When the body adapts more easily, it reduced the amount of stress and strain perceived by changes.

Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)

Another fungus that shows great potential for human health is Lion’s Mane. Animal research suggests that this mushroom may spark new cell growth in the hippocampus of the brain.

This portion of the brain may play a role in mental health and increasing neurogenesis could potentially relieve depression and anxiety. Recently, this mushroom has gained popularity for it nutritional value.

Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum)

You may also want to try a product containing Lingshi mushroom. For many years, Asian countries, like China and Japan, have used this mushroom for health benefits. They see it as one of the better alternative mental health therapies, believing that it relieves stress.

Maitake Mushroom (Grifola frondosa)

In Japanese, Maitake translates to “the dancing mushroom”. They say that people danced with joy from this incredible fungus.

Animal depression studies suggest that the Maitake mushroom acts on AMPA receptors to produce what they call “significant antidepressant effects”. If you want an alternative to medicine, try this mushroom to see if it makes you dance!

Yoga

Yoga exercises the mind, body, and spirit using a series of poses, meditation, and breathing techniques. Over time, it builds strength, balance, and mindfulness.

This helps people to connect with their bodily sensations, feelings, and thoughts more readily. In doing so, it could improve mental health.

Anxiety comes from fears of the future. Depression often stems from ghosts of the past. Learning to fully experience the present moment means protecting yourself from those “what ifs” and “should have beens”.

Practicing yoga also helps you look and feel better physically, which may impact how you feel mentally in return.

Some of the poses of the practice require practiced skill and strength. As you accomplish them, you build self-efficacy. Building belief in yourself also works wonders for healing the mind.

Another aspect of yoga that can improve how you feel mentally is the community atmosphere in a class setting and being surrounded by other people that have a positive outlook. 

Furthermore, the instructors cultivate this positivity with words of yogi wisdom. Immersing yourself in this type of environment will naturally help you think happier thoughts, which could actually make you happier and possibly improve your mental health.

Acupuncture

This ancient Eastern medicine refers to the practice of inserting needles into specific points on the body to create a healthy flow of Chi. Chi refers to the energy within the body. In Eastern medicine, they believe that stagnated chi can create the disease of the mind, body, and spirit.

In Western terms, the needles help the body release important chemicals, like endorphins and neurotransmitters. Specific points create a different chemical cocktail that can potentially heal different regions of the body. Certain acupuncture points help relieve stress, anxiety, and depression.  

Hiking

Our society tends to drown us in constant work, chatter, and animation. This keeps our brains on constant go and tends to put a lot of pressure on us to keep up with everything.

Stepping away from it all and immersing yourself in nature could help! 

Hiking takes you away from all of the noise and helps you center yourself. Plus, the exercise will produce endorphins that help boost your mood!

Human Connection

We crave touch. In fact, we need touch for living and growing properly.

When you touch another person, your body will flood with the cuddle hormone, oxytocin. This social bonding chemical better equips you to deal with stress and lowers levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, in the body.

If you struggle with mood, try to hug and cuddle more often. It may naturally help boost your mood, which is why humans instinctually do it, especially in times of trouble.

Understandably, you probably do not want to run around hugging everybody. Fortunately, simply talking to people can truly help.

Therapists offer amazing services. Many people talk through their problems in conjunction with or as an alternative to taking medications.

If you feel more comfortable talking with people close to you, form a healthy social network for yourself, with people you can reach out to when you need them. Humans can sometimes provide the best alternative to medicine when dealing with mental health. 

Heal Your Mental Health Naturally  

So many people struggle with mental health issues silently. Instead, try to help yourself through alternative mental health therapies!

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