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Winter Mood Boosters

November 18, 2016


Herbal Self Help for Mild Depression and SAD


Clinical depression is a mood disorder characterised by recurring or persistent episodes of severe lowered mood, which can interfere with normal functioning. Symptoms can be psychological and somatic, and include loss of motivation, interest or enjoyment, reduced energy, pessimism, feelings of guilt, low self esteem, weight change, fatigue, loss of libido, impaired memory, tearfulness, early morning waking and suicidal thoughts and is often associated with anxiety. It is classed as mild, moderate or severe depression. Herbal treatment is suitable for mild and moderate depression and can support conventional treatment for severe depression. It responds particularly well to treatment by a practitioner, probably because feeling supported and cared for adds to the healing process. Talking therapies are very effective too, but it’s important to find the right one for you as there is a huge variety in approaches.


For mild depression or mild seasonal affective disorder (SAD), self help may bring some relief and is worth a try. There are some really easy things you can do to. You don’t want to increase your stress by preparing complicated recipes, because stress makes depression, and pretty much any condition really, worse. But just sitting down with a cup of herbal tea can be very therapeutic, relaxing and easy enough to prepare. Take any of the herbs listed either fresh or dried, on their own or as a mix. Infuse with freshly boiled water for 5-10 minutes and strain. Drink 2-4 cups a day. Here are a few of my favourite herbs for improving your mood.




Use for:

  • depression and anxiety

  • memory and concentration

  • poor circulation/low blood pressure/atherosclerosis

  • liver disorders and digestion

  • headaches

  • muscle ache

  • relaxing and invigorating at the same time (relaxing to muscles, stimulating to circulation)

I particularly like rosemary for SAD because it’s an evergreen, and may even flower in winter (mine’s flowering at the moment!) - so the sight alone can cheer you up! Rosemary is very high in antioxidants.

Safety: Decreases iron absorption, so take in between meals.


Rose Petals (damask rose)

  • lift the spirit, especially in menopause & in bereavement

  • calming

  • anti-inflammatory

  • antiviral (herpes simplex & varicella zoster/shingles)

  • menstrual regulator

  • anxiety with palpitations

Any rose petals can be used, but the more fragrant - the more medicinal! The variety traditionally used is the damask rose or apothecary rose, you can often buy the plants cheaply in winter – look out for bare rooted roses in supermarkets.


Oat Seeds

  • nervous system tonic

  • used in nervous exhaustion

  • depression, anxiety

  • stress

  • insomnia

Safety: Very safe.



  • mild antidepressant

  • bitter tonic

Safety: Decreases iron absorption, so take in between meals.


Essential Oils



Sweet orange



I don’t use essential oils much, and never internally or undiluted, but they are invaluable for instantly lifting mood and anxiety. Our olfactory nerves are directly connected to the limbic system, the most ancient and primitive part of the brain, which is thought to be the seat of emotion. Use in an oil burner, on cotton wool on the radiator, a few drops on your handkerchief, in message oil, as perfume spray, perfume oil, etc. Easy to carry with you for when you need it. But be careful if you have sensitive skin – best try out (diluted) in a small area first.  Here's some recipes to make your own:


Roll on Perfume

This is a very simple recipe.  

Ingredients for 10ml roller ball bottle:

0.2ml (4 drops) essential oils, a single oil or a mix of any of the above.

10 ml vegetable oil - grapeseed or almond oil works well

Pour ingredients into the roller ball bottle.  You may need a mini funnel for this, which you can get on ebay.  Shake and it's ready to use.  I told you it was simple  ;)  Apply to your pulse points whenever required.


Perfume Spray

Another very easy recipe.

Ingredients for 50ml spray bottle:

1ml (20 drops) essential oils, single or mixed

10 ml alcohol (rubbing alcohol if you can get it, otherwise 38% vodka)

40 ml water

Disperse the essential oil in the alcohol and fill up the bottle with water.  Shake and it's ready to use.






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    Safety:  The information on this blog does not constitute medical advice, and is intended as general information only.  If you are pregnant, breast feeding, taking any medicines or have any complex or serious health conditions, please consult a qualified healthcare practitioner before taking herbs.  See www.nimh.org.uk for information on medical herbalists.