It has been a strange few months – COVID, riots, looting and social upheaval throughout the country. Isolation and fear can really take a toll on your health. I’ve seen an increase in depression as the months of social distancing and business closures drag on. This has become an obvious problem, particularly in young people and children.
Fortunately, there are many studies out there showing that children are not getting very sick even if they get COVID, and additionally, they aren’t spreading it to each other. So consider letting your kids get together with other kids in a park or on a hike. Meeting outside further decreases their susceptibility to exposure. Letting them play and connect with other kids can go a long way toward helping their emotional and psychological health, which, in turn, makes a big difference in their immune health.
I cannot overstate just how important healthy eating habits are for people of all ages right now. I know it’s tempting, but sugar (including fruit juice and other sugary drinks) depresses your immune response for several hours every time you consume it. Adequate sleep is another major component of immune, emotional and psychological health.
So let’s talk about a few herbs that can help assist you and your kids during this bumpy time, boosting moods and reducing anxiety.
Hypericum perforatum St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort is one of the most researched herbs in regards to mood disorders. It’s been found to be highly effective for mild depression as well as anxiety.
It’s also a natural MAO inhibitor (like many prescription anti-depressants)
Used in an equal combination with other herbs such as passionflower and lemon balm, St. John’s wort is highly effective in cases of depression with anxiety.
If your condition is more of a sluggish depression where you just don’t have much energy or motivation, try combining St John’s wort with ginseng and rhodiola. Those two adaptogens are known for increasing energy and helping you handle emotional and physical environmental stressors better.
Now is the perfect time to get out and gather these flowers. Make sure to take the newly opened flowers and buds. I just grab the top portion and pull, it’s okay to have a few of the leaves. You don’t want expired flowers so keep your eye out for that. To tincture fresh St John’s wort, you’ll want to use 100% alcohol (95% is fine) at a 2:1 ratio. Dried will also work. You’ll do a 1:5 at 75%.
Directions: 1 tsp of the above combinations 2-3 times a day for a couple of weeks
To make an infused oil, you will need to use “fresh” flowers. I usually let the flowers/buds sit overnight, then I bruise them and put them in oil. Sitting them on a sunny windowsill covered in muslin or coffee filters allows any moisture to evaporate. Let it steep a minimum of 2 weeks, and it will become a beautiful red color. Use this oil directly or use it to make a salve/balm for injuries such as puncture wounds or nerve injuries/pain.
Warning: St John’s wort can interact with certain prescription drugs decreasing the efficacy, so make sure to work with an experienced herbalist and your doctor if you decide to use it. If you are not taking prescriptions, this can be a wonderful herb for mild depression.
For Kids: Catnip Nepeta cataria
This herb is primarily used for anxiety – especially in children since it is so mild – and most kids don’t mind the flavor.
A wonderful way to introduce this herb is by making it into popsicles with fresh berries, or adding it to a smoothie.
Catnip is not only helpful in cases of anxiety but it’s great for cranky infants/toddlers who are teething (make a weak tea, dip a cloth into the tea, freeze the cloth, and let your baby chew/suck on the frozen cloth). It is a great herb to give to kids before bed if they’re experiencing fear or nightmares. It’s also known to decrease colic and stomach pains.
Final thoughts: Get outside, spend time in the forest, lakes, rivers, garden. Breathe fresh air, get sunshine.
Don’t live in fear, that destroys your overall health.
Much love from North Idaho,
This is NOT medical advice, it is for educational purposes only!