5 Best Mood-Boosting Supplements
Are you in a good mood? Ready for an interesting, busy day? Or are you cranky, anxious, worried? Or just plain blah and blue? If your mood is less than bright, is it an everyday thing, or temporary? This can be a serious issue, because a chronically bad mood can signal that depression awaits down the road. Fortunately, we can block that road, naturally and safely, and even put an everyday smile on your face.
The US is deluged with “feel good” anti-depressant medications. So many that they’re all but household names, even among non-users—Prozac, Aricept, Zoloft, Paxil, Valium, and Lexipro, for example. These mainstream anti-depressants are the most widely prescribed drugs of any type.
You don’t have to look hard to learn why this is a prescription for disaster.
The common side effects of prescription antidepressants are well known:
- Skin rashes
- Joint and muscle pain
- Stomach upset/nausea
- Weight gain
- Diarrhea, constipation
- Dry mouth
- Blurred vision
- Altered appetite
- Sexual dysfunction
Let’s describe these as extremely unpleasant, but not dangerous. And thankfully, they’re usually temporary.
But these aren’t the only side effects.
Among the slightly less common, but rather serious potential problems, you could be looking at:
- Balance and falling problems
- Double the risk of self-destructive/suicidal feelings and thoughts
- Increased incidence of violence against others
- Reduced blood clotting capacity
- Increased risk for stomach or uterine bleeding
- Increased likelihood of requiring blood transfusion during or after surgery
Recent research adds an entirely new and worrisome dimension.
While the first commonly prescribed antidepressants were intended to provide episodic, short-term relief, over 6–9 months, millions of people are now long-time users.
Today, among people older than 60, nearly 25 percent are taking antidepressants—many of them with more than a decade of use behind them. And they’ve only recently been the subject of serious research.
“A” is for “addicted”
Nearly every slice of the long-term antidepressant demographic is finding it terribly difficult or impossible to quit. The withdrawal period is unbearable for many.
As usual, there are differing opinions among doctors. Some say “addiction” is too strong a word for what are normal, predictable withdrawal difficulties. Some say only stopping suddenly and completely are to blame—never advised by responsible physicians, who generally agree that slow withdrawal over a minimum two-week period is essential.
Some even prescribe a different antidepressant to relieve the symptoms of the original one winding down.
Granted, prescription antidepressants have helped millions, side effects are not inevitable, and withdrawing from any prescription drug will be difficult for many.
But let’s not argue over semantics. Whether addiction is or isn’t what’s happening, what’s happening for millions of people tells us something unwanted, and likely dangerous, is going on.
So what should we do?
The case for safe, natural mood-supporting supplements could not be clearer
Let’s go right to the closing argument, which is backed up by thousands of pages of conclusive research.
Many natural, safe, affordable antidepressants are as (or more) effective in reducing or eliminating depression as prescription meds, with no (or far fewer) side effects.
That’s a case closed moment.
But as with the prescription world, so too is the natural health world—there are many options with any number of potential benefits.
In my opinion, here are five of the best. Bonus—each and every one of these favorite natural antidepressants is a health multi-tasker. In addition to turning the blahs into “aahs,” some lower blood pressure, some help manage blood sugar levels, some help turn a sex stall back into a sex drive.
There’s so much to like here.
Saffron, the golden gold standard
This beautiful, fragrant herb, which is derived from the lovely crocus flower, has been in play for centuries. It’s said that Cleopatra herself bathed in saffron-scented waters to enhance her fabled beauty. A boatload of research tells us the Queen of the Nile had it right.
But saffron isn’t just about looking good. It’s about feeling good, too. Study after study confirms what you read above.
In tests pitting major antidepressants Tofranil and Prozac against saffron, the golden herb proved equally effective as the prescription drugs—without those terrible side effects or the megabucks cost.
Saffron has also shown that it makes some prescription drugs more effective than the drugs alone. Subjects who took saffron together with their prescriptions showed significantly improved scores for depression relief, anxiety relief, and general overall health status compared to the study’s placebo group.
The overall health benefits are nothing short of stunning, by the way. Of course your mood will improve when you have all of these health benefits:
- A powerhouse of immune-system boosting antioxidants that protect against everything from infections to cancers
- An excellent source of essential minerals copper, potassium, calcium, manganese (nearly 400% of the daily recommended value), iron, selenium, zinc, and magnesium
- A super source of vital vitamins A and C, and of folic acid, riboflavin, and niacin, all essential for optimum health
Last, but certainly not least, saffron helps reduce erectile dysfunction, one of the most troublesome side effects of many prescription meds.
Try 30 mg of saffron extract daily to start.
Venetron®—a “vast improvement”
When we can track the progress of a new treatment from a hypothesis to promising lab results to proven effective new supplement, it’s win-win for everyone.
Introducing Venetron® and the rave reviews it gets from researchers.
[Venetron® has] many potent physiological effects, including antihypertensive, cardiotonic, antidepressant, and anti-anxiety effects.
[Venetron®] for sleep and mood support has great potential to vastly improve health outcomes when compared with what’s on the supplement market now and has been used over the last 10 to 20 years.
Wow—“vastly improve health outcomes?” “used over the last 10 or 20 years?”
We don’t often see such full-throated affirmations. But they’re well deserved.
Chinese healers knew the shrub A. venetum back in the early 15th century. As is so often the case, they knew its powers even then.
Here are some of Venetron’s many success stories.
- For a 36-year-old man, Venetron® improved concentration and increased optimism
- For a 55-year-old woman, Venetron® reduced fatigue and grief, which often go hand-in-hand
- For a 66- and a 75-year-old man, Venetron® reduced frequency of waking up throughout the night and provided deeper sleep—without doubt, a mood enhancer
- For a 29-year-old woman with PMS, Venetron® reduced melancholy feelings—and the overeating that often accompanies them
- For a 39-year-old woman with PMS, taking Venetron® for 2 weeks before menses, over a 3-month period, found emotional symptoms such as irritability and depression improved
Physicians look at the overarching category called “anxiety” and break it down by symptom. Included among the many symptoms are:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Pessimistic outlook
- Interrupted sleep
Thankfully, the research is in, and the word is out.
Venetron relieves any and all of these symptoms. Like saffron—and most of our most effective, natural mood supportive supplements, it’s a brilliant multitasker.
Look for a supplement with 50mg to start.
GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is another safe, proven, anti-depressant/antianxiety remedy.
It’s an amino acid we make in our brain—and it’s a good thing we do.
Stress triggers what’s called “excitatory” neurotransmitters in our brains. Among the best known is adrenaline, and it’s associated with extreme responses, both external, as in That bleeping car nearly hit me! and internal What’s this new lump in my neck??
When an external threat has passed, GABA kicks in to calm the stress response so we can get to that relieved, relaxed, “Whew, that was close” moment. When the stress is internal, GABA smooths its rough edges by producing serotonin, and other “happy” hormones.
As we age, many of our most important natural response mechanisms lose their effectiveness. Adding supplemental GABA to our natural, internal GABA is a recipe many find truly hits the anti-anxiety spot. I typically start with about 100mg a day, but check with your doctor regarding the dosage best for you.
Did you know that after water, green tea is the second most consumed beverage on the planet? Probably has to do with its popularity in heavily populated Asian and Indian cultures.
But do you know green tea’s proven anti-anxiety powers?
They’re there for all to see, and it’s all about a unique amino acid called l-theanine (gamma-ethylamine-L-glutamic acid), found in great abundance in green tea leaves.
But green tea has caffeine, which isn’t exactly known for calming us down—quite the opposite. How can green tea also offer such calming effects?
L-theanine directly stimulates the production of our alpha brain waves. These are the waves we see in the brains of practiced meditators—associated with both total calm and comfortable alertness.
L-theanine is also involved in the production of our friend GABA. They team up to gently put you in a state where you’re both alert and calm at the same time. What could be better?
This doesn’t mean you’re the Dalai Lama after one cup of tea. Nor does it mean you can drink green tea instead of meditating. I highly recommend you do both.
But what if you’re just not thrilled by green tea? No problem, there are l-theanine supplements that do the same job without tea.
The recommended dose is 50-200 mg per day for all of us, with the option of increasing the dosage by 100 mg at a time for high-stress individuals—but no more than 600 mg in a 6-hour period.
Unlike conventional anti-anxiety offerings, l-theanine has no side effects, so no drowsiness, and certainly no risk of the suicidal thoughts that come along with mainstream prescription meds.
A lot to love in lavender
Nature’s genius and health-guiding generosity have no finer example than lavender. It’s not enough that this gorgeous herbal plant has one of the most pleasing scents on the planet.
Its oil has been proven effective for treating anxiety—every bit as effective as the widely over-prescribed Ativan. And happy days—no sedative side effects, common among Ativan users, and no potential for abuse or dependence.
Several studies have confirmed lavender’s anti-anxiety properties:
- Helps reduce restlessness, nervousness, and insomnia
- Helps reduce depression symptoms
- Helps with agitation related to dementia
And lavender’s lovely scent isn’t just a nice addition. It has powers of its own. Just think aromatherapy. Research has shown that just 3 minutes spent breathing in lavender essential oil reduces anxiety, improves mood, and increases alpha brain wave activity, an indicator of calm alertness.
You’ll find lavender essential oil and lavender extract supplements (not for kids) in health food stores. Check with your doctor or health care professional to determine the best dosage for your needs.
Lavender essential oil can be added to bath water—6 drops of lavender oil extract or 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of dried lavender flowers may be added to bath water. What could be more relaxing?
You can prepare lavender tea using 2 tablespoons of whole, dried flowers for each cup of boiling water. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes,
Give 5-HTP a high 5
5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) comes from the seeds of an African plant that’s been used forever to treat depression.
It’s called Griffonia simplicifolia, and if the name suggests there’s something simple about it, that’s true.
Compared to many other natural substances that are amazing health multi-taskers, it’s simple to explain the one vital contribution 5-HTP makes to improving mood.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that works in the brain and central nervous system to regulate our mood. So what happens when 5-HTP bumps up our serotonin level a bit?
Well, that’s been shown to reduce anxiety, and to ease the dark, debilitating symptoms of depression.
Not that 5-HTP is a one-trick-pony—it comes with a nice bonus.
It’s an appetite suppressant. So if you’re anxious about being overweight, 5-HTP serves up two ways to improve your mood:
- It produces those feel-good serotonin
- It adds a mood-lifting ray of hope if battling your weight is getting you down.
See? Simple. Relatively.
For daytime relief, take one or two 50 mg doses. To help you sleep, take 100-200 mg.
Happiness is knowing you always have choices
Please never forget that there’s a world of hope and healing awaiting your decision. These natural remedies can truly work wonders. Talk with your doctor about them.
Take good care.
- Cooley, Jami “Lavender Reduces Signs of Anxiety in Women” University Health News. Published April 3, 2018. Last accessed September 17, 2018.
- “What are the real risks of antidepressants?” Harvard Health. Published March 9, 2014. Last accessed September 17, 2018.
- Wlassoff, Viatcheslav “The Dangers of Antidepressants” Brain Blogger. Published December 22, 2017. Last accessed September 17, 2018.
- Carey, Benedict and Gebeloff, Robert. “Many People Taking Antidepressants Discover They Cannot Quit” New York Times. Published April 7, 2018. Last accessed September 17, 2018.
- Hall-Flavin, Daniel K. ”Antidepressant withdrawal: Is there such a thing?’‘ Mayo Clinic. Published Jauaryn 16, 2016. Last accessed September 17, 2018.
- Pemberton, Max “Should I be worried about antidepressant addiction?” Published April 4, 2015. Last accessed September 17, 2018.
- Downey, Michael “A Safer Alternative for Managing Depression” Life Extension. Published July 2013. Last accessed September 17, 2018.
- “Saffron for Emotional Health” Psychology Today. Published January 10, 2016. Last accessed September 17, 2018.
- Nall, Rachel. “6 Herbs and Supplements for Depression” Published August 17, 2017. Last accessed September 17, 2018.
- Appleton, Jeremy “Lavender: An Effective Non-Drug Alternative for Anxiety & Depression” Holistic Primary Care. Published February 22, 2012. Last accessed September 17, 2018.
Last Updated: August 10, 2019
Originally Published: October 2, 2018