Rhodiola for Mild to Moderate Depression Equal to Sertraline.

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The Journal Phytomedicine published the study  Rhodiola rosea versus sertraline for major depressive disorder: A randomized placebo-controlled trial earlier this year. In the trial it was found that for mild to moderate depression Rhodiola was slightly less effective  than sertraline and both were not that different from placebo. In addition, there was a much lower rate of adverse effects with sertraline (63.2%) over Rhodiola (30.0%).  Read a full analysis of the study at Natural Medicine JournalRhodiola Rosea vs Sertraline for Major Depression.

Rhodiola is known to affect several body systems including the cardiovascular, central nervous and reproductive and has adaptogenic, anti-stress, neuroendocrine and antioxidant effects. Read Rhodiola rosea: A Phytomedicinal Overview  by The American Botanical  Council for an in depth look at it. It is an excellent article.

David Winston mentions it is useful in cardiovascular-based depression in his article Differential Treatment of Depression and Anxiety with Botanical and Nutritional Medicines and for deficiency insomnia in his article Botanical/Nutritional Protocols For Insomnia and Other Sleep Disorders.

The Medicine Hunter has an article on harvesting Rhodiola and a cool video.


Galen’s Watch is a Journal Watch for alternative and complementary health practitioners. 

Decrease Inflammation with Turmeric


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I think the next trending herb will be turmeric (Curcuma longa) or curcumin the principal curcuminoid derived from the spice turmeric. In fact, I rarely hear about turmeric and more often hear about curcumin. Just look at #curcumin and see how many tweets there are! It seems to be popping up everywhere these days from golden milk recipes to studies looking at a diverse group of diseases. Below there are three studies highlighting curcumin and PMS, cardiovascular disease and depression. The main action of turmeric is anti-inflammatory, and as many diseases have inflammation at their core, it has many possible applications. As seen in this review inflammation is part of all these diseases.

These diseases include Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, cerebral injury, CVDs, cancer, allergy, asthma, bronchitis, colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, renal ischemia, psoriasis, diabetes, obesity, depression, fatigue, and AIDS.

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Lavender: A Perfect Herb for the Modern World?

Being an inhabitant almost in every garden, it is so well known, that it needs no description. –The Complete Herbal 1653 Lavender (Lavendula augustifolia) is a gentle medicinal herb that has been used to treat nervousness, anxiety, depression and tension. In The Earthwise Herbal  it is also listed as being for the persons who are perfectionist, over conscious, depressed and anxious associated with irritable bowel, having insomnia and active in the mind. It seems to me this might be the perfect herb for out times! It is often employed as a essential oil but it can be used as a tincture and in teas. I love the smell but abhor the taste even in the finest fancy desserts so I use the essential oil. Studies regarding lavender regularly come up and I have gathered the ones I have used in Galen’s Watch over the last few years below.
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Inflammation and Depression

Depression has been linked recently in article and studies to inflammation. A recent study Curcumin for the treatment of major depression: a randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled study. looked at the effects of curcumin (500 mg twice daily) or placebo for 8 weeks on individuals with major depressive disorder. There was some positive results in favour of curcumin, enough to warrant further investigation. Another study Curcumin and major depression: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial investigating the potential of peripheral biomarkers to predict treatment response and antidepressant mechanisms of change looked at the same dosage of curcumin and found ‘ that curcumin supplementation influences several biomarkers that may be associated with its antidepressant mechanisms of action.’ Could curcumin in conjunction with an anti-inflammatory diet produce a better effect? Dr Weil thinks that is a convincing idea.  It is also intersting to me that St. John’s Wort which has shown some effect on mild depression but is vastly over marketed for it, has always been thought of as a nerve anti-inflammatory, healing to heal nerve injury and reduce pain. Jim McDonald talks about it in treatment of back pain and nerves…

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Nasal Irrigation for Seasonal Allergies

Spring seems to have arrived after a shaky start! The last 2 posts on seasonal allergies covered supplements, herbs, probiotics, and nutraceuticals.

Seasonal Allergies: Astragalus, Pycnogenol and Silymarin

Seasonal Allergies and Probiotics

In addition to trying supplements either herbal or nutraceutical you could also try nasal irrigation for your allergies. Several studies have shown that nasal irrigation can reduce the symptoms of seasonal rhinitis.

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Have a Cold? Try Echinacea, but use it Correctly

Echinacea is an amazing herb and after being touted as THE herb for the common cold was found on every health food store and pharmacy shelf. The problem is the quality of these products is widely variable and the recommended dosages are broad, some of them being ineffectual. The Cochrane Review Echinacea for preventing and treating the common cold says,

Most consumers and physicians are not aware that products available under the term Echinacea differ appreciably in their composition, mainly due to the use of variable plant material, extraction methods and the addition of other components.

 The end result is the miracle cold-herb was tried by many people and failed, too often.
Here are some guidelines for using echinacea properly from Echinacea spp.: A Monograph & What’s New 
  • Use Echinacea purpurea alone or in combination with Echiniacea augustifolia
  • Liquid may be preferable as there is come evidence that actual contact with the oral mucosa is more effective
  • Francis Brinker noted that Echinacea trials that used liquid extracts showed positive outcomes in upper respiratory infections
  • Start the dosing regime at the very -first- signs of sickness
  • Use a loading dose of 5 mL (capsule 1500 mg), followed by 2.5 mL (500-750 mg) every 1-2 hours  for the first day
  • The liquid dose is based on a 1:2 fresh root extract
  • For the next 2 days use 5 mL (1500mg) three times a day
  • For children use Clark’s rule to calculate the dose
Other interesting articles concerning Echinacea, it’s other uses and how to take care of yourself when you have a cold or flu:

Echinacea: From Native American Panacea to Modern Phytopharmaceutical

Echinacea: Reclaiming this powerful plant

An Herbalist’s View: Approaches to Colds and Flus By7Song


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