Antidepressant Herbs as Antioxidants

A number of herbs are known for their antidepressant effects. Three popular herbal supplements that have this antidepressant effect are St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum), Ginkgo biloba and Apocynum venetum (Luobuma or sword-leaf dogbane). The antidepressant effects of these herbs has been well evidenced, but it is not clear how the herbs cause this effect. One suggestion is that they possess significant antioxidant capacity, and this capacity may then lead to antidepressant effects. Antioxidants are able to have mood elevating effects because they prevent lipid peroxidation in the brain, and this has a neuroprotective effect. This neuroprotection is able to allow the neurotransmission systems of the brain to function correctly and this stabilises low mood. Studies have investigated the antioxidant capacity of St. John’s Wort, Ginkgo biloba and Apocynum venetum and found that all three herbs have significant antioxidant potential. In this regard Apocynum venetum showed the highest antioxidant capacity.

st john's wort antidepressant anxiety

Oxidative stress is associated with the progression of depression. Are the antidepressant effects of St. John’s Wort and other herbs due to the high antioxidant capacity of these herbs?

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Shirai, M., Kawai, Y., Yamanishi, R. and Terao, J. 2005. Approach to novel functional foods for stress control 5. Antioxidant activity profiles of antidepressant herbs and their active components. The Journal of Medical Investigation. 52(Supplement): 249-251

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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