Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
St. Johns Wort
There are, indeed, starting with St. John’s wort. This herbal medicine received a bad rap when the press (incorrectly) reported that a Duke University Medical Center study found it to be “ineffective,” but it was only ineffective against severe clinical depression. St. John’s wort actually worked quite well for mild-to-moderate depression– the kind most people have. The recommended dose is 300 mg of the standardized extract three times daily.
A second option is a supplement called 5-HTP. Antidepressant drugs work by keeping more serotonin – a feel-good chemical – hanging around longer in the brain. The body produces serotonin naturally and the molecule responsible is 5-HTP. Many people have found that 300 mg of 5-HTP each day works quite well as a mood brightener. Just be sure to take it with a little vitamin B6, as the body needs this vitamin to mix up a batch of serotonin.
Finally, there’s the naturally occurring SAM-e, a very effective antidepressant. The dose used in studies is 400 mg twice a day. There’s only one problem – it’s pricey. But the good news is, you’ll know if it’s working within a week. Always be sure to consult with your doctor before taking any natural antidepressants.