Medical Herbalism: Clinical Articles and Case Studies

Search entire site by keyword(s)
Free electronic MH newsletter
Information on Distance Learning in Herbalism
Back to articles index page
Back to

Nervous - Depression and homeopathic indications of herbs

by Paul Bergner

Medical Herbalism 07-31-95 9(2/3): 12

A hundred years ago, practitioners of specific medication looked at a patient’s symptoms, including mental symptoms, rather than the name of their disease, when prescribing remedies. Homeopaths of that era, who often used regular herbal tinctures in the lower normal dose ranges, helped add to the body of knowledge of specific medication. The following herbal indications were culled from Wm. Beoricke’s classic homeopathic Materia Medica and from James Kent’s Lectures on Materia Medica. In each case, the homeopaths used the herb in tincture doses, sometimes exclusively, so the information should be as relevant to practitioners today as it was then. Most of these herbs will be used for a combination of physical symptoms and the mental symptoms that accompany them. Note a predominance of liver remedies, suggesting the possible importance of treating the liver in depressed patients. Note also that most of these herbs would never be listed as antidepressants in today’s herbals.

Aesculus hippocastanum — Horse chestnut

Usual herbal use: Varicose veins, leg ulcers, hemorrhoids

Mental indications: Depressed, irritable, head dull, confused

Kent: great sadness, irritability

Baptisia tinctoria — Wild indigo

Usual herbal use: septic infections, ulcers Mental indications: melancholia with stupor; inability to think, mental confusion; illusion of divided personality; indifference

Kent: stupor, “arouse him and you get the impression he has been on a drunk. This is the first thought you will have in a baptisia case.”

Berberis vulgaris — Barberry

Usual herbal use. hepatic, laxative

Mental indications: Listless apathetic, indifferent

Kent: mind weak, forgetful, unable to sustain mental effort, melancholy, apathy
Copyright 2001 Paul Bergner    288


    Medical Herbalism: Clinical Articles and Case Studies    

Capsicum annum — cayenne

Usual herbal use: stimulant tonic, digestive

Mental indications: excessive peevishness, homesickness, sleeplessness, disposition to suicide

Kent: Suspicious, looking for an insult, persistent thought of suicide. Resists the thought, does not want to do it, but the thought persists

Chelidonium majus — Celandine

Usual herbal use: Alterative, hepatic, diuretic

Mental indications (Kent): Sadness and anxiety. Anxiety allowing no rest. Weeping despondency. Distaste for mental exertion and conversation

Echinacea angustifolia — Echinacea

Usual herbal use: Immune stimulant

Mental indications: confused, depressed, profound weakness

Hydrastis canedensis — Goldenseal

Usual herbal use: Colds and flu, digestive tonic

Mental indications: Depressed, sure of death, desires it

“Cerebral effects prominent, feels his wits sharpened [after taking hydrastis], head cleared

Hypericum perforatum — St Johnswort

Usual herbal use: Depression, nerve damage, ulcers

Mental indications: Constant drowsiness. Feels as if lifted in the air. Effects of shock. Melancholy

Medicago sativum — Alfalfa

Usual herbal use: Tonic, diuretic

Mental indications: Dull drowsy, stupid, gloomy, irritable, worse during evening. “It [alfalfa] induces mental exhilaration of buoyancy; a general feeling of well being, so that all blues are dissipated”
Copyright 2001 Paul Bergner    289


    Medical Herbalism: Clinical Articles and Case Studies

Silybum marianum — Milk thistle seed

Usual herbal use: hepatoprotectant

Mental indications: despondency, apathetic, forgetful

Stillingia sylvatica — Queen’s root

Usual herbal use: alterative

Mental indications: gloomy forebodings; depressed
Copyright 2001 Paul Bergner    290