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Mood Supplements with Potential continued...

Though the data is less solid, other potential mood enhancers include:

  • Valerian: an herbal remedy created from dried roots, often taken as a sleep aid and sometimes used for anxiety.
  • Lavender: aromatherapy, essential oils, and teas use lavender to enhance relaxation and possibly help relieve anxiety and depression.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: found in cold-water fish and certain vegetable oils, and available as a supplement, omega-3 fatty acids are sometimes used to help depression and other psychological problems. Emmons recommends a dose of 2,000 to 4,000 milligrams or more when taken for mood problems.
  • B vitamins: essential for cell metabolism and central nervous system maintenance. Emmons recommends a good B-complex or multivitamin to ensure plenty of B vitamins, which can help stabilize nerve cell membranes.
  • Vitamin D: although not enough evidence exists to make any claims about the effectiveness of vitamin D as a mood enhancer, at least one study reported benefits from vitamin D in treating seasonal affective disorder, a form of depression that occurs during the winter months.

St. John’s Wort

Around for centuries, St. John’s wort is commonly used today for sleep disorders, anxiety, and mild to moderate depression. However, an analysis of 37 clinical trials found that St. John’s wort may have minimal to no benefit for those with more severe forms of depression.

Although more research is needed, St. John’s wort may also have the potential to reduce symptoms of anxiety, premenstrual syndrome ( PMS), or perimenopausal mood changes.

Available as capsules, tablets, liquid extracts, and teas, a typical dose of St. John’s wort ranges from 900 to 1,200 milligrams a day, and it should be taken for at least one to three months, just as with pharmaceutical anti-depressants, to see the best effect.

St. John’s wort does have the potential for serious interactions with a wide variety of prescription drugs, including birth control pills, antidepressants, HIV medications, and blood thinners. It can also interact with other herbs or supplements. Mainly, it may lower the effectiveness of certain medications, Fugh-Berman tells WebMD. St. John’s wort may also lead to an increase in side effects when taken with pharmaceutical antidepressants.

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