The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Kerry Hudson Headshot

Alternative Medicines for Mental Health

Posted: Updated:

Many of us are choosing a greener lifestyle, and that goes for medication too. Holistic therapist Sorrell Robbins explains "The idea of alternative medicine - namely herbs - is to help moderate and balance the individual alongside medical and/or psychiatric care and not to cure conditions that mainstream doctors were unable to".

Holistic therapists are often a plan b to conventional practitioners - like GPs - however the role of the GP is not stripped of authority and is often required to approve certain treatments offered by the holistic therapist.

A holistic therapist should always check what medication you are already taking. Although natural herbs are just that - natural - they still hold potency and should be monitored when used with other medication.

Sorrell takes me through some of the common mental health symptoms she has worked with and what herbs and other alternative medicines she recommends.

Anxiety

Herbs such as valerian and hops help calm the mind. Hops also helps calmly release stored anger. Chamomile as we know also naturally calms the mind, but what we don't know is that we need at least two tea bags for it to have an effect.

Roman chamomile is good for anxiety in kids, and frankincense with a drop of heart shakia if they are prone to panic attacks. Lavender is also useful is the child is too over-stimulated as it's great for all round relaxation, and that goes for adults too.

Hypnosis - although many people are both excited and nervous about apparent mind control, it is actually a myth. No-one can give you suggestions or commands that your mind won't allow because you are in control at all times. Clinical hypnosis - in oppose to what we see Derren Brown do on TV - is really deep relaxation and meditation. I put Sorrells' hypnotherapy to the test, and was pleasantly surprised at the level of relaxation she took me to through guided visualisation whilst balancing my mind and body. I am one of these un centered people that can usually only wind down whilst I'm asleep.

Depression
Many of us have already heard of St Johns wart and it's one of the best selling over the counter and alternative medicines for the blues. It's non toxic and has proven effective results but it should not be taken alongside prescribed antidepressant or antipsychotic drugs as it can have the reverse effect.

Withania herbs help to restore motivation and passion, often lost during depressive episodes. It's good for libido too which is often lost during these episodes. Withania is also a tender energizer.

Rosemary naturally stimulates the circulation system and gives the adrenalin glands a gentle kick. Orange flower is good for children with depression as well as anger problems.

A massage helps boost circulation too, the cupping and hacking (don't be put off by the names given to the techniques) are great for energisers. A good oil to use bergamot as it helps with many types of depressive states, and rose water (rose otto) which has an uplifting effect whilst restoring balance.

Paranoia
Skullcap is known to calm down negative thinking which in turn can ease feelings of paranoia. Also try the valerian, hops and chamomile for their properties.

Orange flower mixed in water, like the hops, can help control feelings of anger and can be used for kids too.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - (OCD)
As well as the Skullcap, wild lettuce for it's mild sedative effect is a good natural medicine for OCD. As episodes of OCD are often triggered by stress and anxiety, also try the valerian, hops and chamomile. Valerian blended with otto rose is suitable for children with OCD.

Insomnia
The hops and valerian, often prepared together, are a common and effective natural sleep aid. They come in both tablet and tea form and it's best to make a pot and drink throughout the evening, not just before you go to bed. As with the tablets, try taking them a good hour or so before you go to bed. Lavender drops on the pillow also help us to relax. Be care with burning oils or incense at night time, the drops are much safer.

Mood Stabiliser
Lemon balm aids in the leveling out of moods, and it's properties are known to promote balance and harmony.

Addiction
The skullcap can also help with cravings, and is often used in detox blends that eliminate excess drugs from the body. Milk thistle helps cleanse the liver, although it must be used with caution if the liver has been subject to a disorder such as psoriasis. The wild lettuce is sometimes used as an opiate detox because of it's similar sedative effect.

Massage also helps people trying to detox, and lymphatic drainage strokes aid circulation and the elimination of toxins.

Aromatherapy (the use of oils) is also a great alternative remedy. It's soothing, relaxing, great for the skin and muscle tissue and has an immediate effect. However, it only works on a superficial level. Herbs work on a deeper level on your organs and work much better long term.

To find out more about herbs or the work Sorrel does, click here. http://www.chamomileclinic.co.uk/