Turmeric, saffron or cinnamon are much more than just tasteful spices. By activating the happiness hormones, they can be a natural alternative in the treatment of depression and mood disorders. Numerous studies show that there are also plants that are very rich in L-dopa, a precursor of dopamine, which acts on the main disorders of the central nervous system by calming our anxieties. These plants and spices can supplement, and in some cases substitute, synthetic drugs. Focus on five of them.
Saffron, which comes from the purple stigmas of the Crocus sativus flower, is considered in traditional oriental medicine as the spice of happiness. In ancient times, this spice was already recommended to relieve the torments of the soul. Beyond its effects on certain degenerative diseases (Alzheimer's) or metabolic diseases (diabetes), studies have highlighted the effectiveness of its various active ingredients and its potential in depression. Indeed, saffron would have analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, cardioprotective and digestive properties but also neurological.
It is only more recently that the researchers were interested in its neurological properties. The studies show that the consumption of saffron would have an effectiveness equivalent to the conventional antidepressants. This spice would reduce the symptoms of light to moderate depression, but also of severe depression.
The mood regulating effect of saffron is due to crocin and safranal, two active molecules present in saffron. By acting directly on the adrenal glands, they would increase the quantity of happiness hormones in the brain, namely serotonin, dopamine and melatonin.
Infusion, mother tincture, powder, capsules.
As a support in case of depression and fatigue.
Infuse 15 grams of saffron stigmas in 1 liter of water for 15 minutes. Drink 3 cups a day.
The color of the Buddhist clothes is a direct reference to saffron, because in the oriental culture, saffron brings cheerfulness and wisdom.
In stick or ground form, cinnamon warms and stimulates the neurons. Rich in vitamins B1 and C, phosphorus, calcium and potassium, it is a powerful calming agent for states of nervousness, stress, irritability, anxiety, depression or even depression.
Scientific studies have highlighted the virtues of cinnamon essential oil as an adjunct treatment to improve the symptoms of depressive and anxiety disorders. Its aromatic compounds act on the hypothalamus and produce a general stimulating, neurotonic and slightly aphrodisiac effect. Naturally rich in antioxidants, cinnamon essential oil is said to tone up the central nervous system thanks to trans-cinnamaldehyde, one of its active ingredients. This molecule would have a positive influence on depression. The fragrant virtues of cinnamon would also help to soothe and comfort.
Infusion of bark or leaves, powder, capsules, essential oil, in diffusion.
Infusion of Cinnamon, Ginger, Honey
The synergy of these 3 ingredients improves energy levels and prevents stress and exhaustion.
Boil ½ litre of water with a cinnamon stick and a piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into pieces. Cook for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes. Sweeten with honey.
Just smelling the cinnamon would be enough for it to have an appetite suppressant effect on sweet cravings.
In a spice jar, put a vanilla bean, some citrus zest (orange, grapefruit, etc.), and crushed cinnamon. In case of craving, inhale the mixture for a good minute.
Turmeric has an active ingredient, curcumin, known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that this active ingredient would also have positive effects on the psyche and behaviour. Curcumin is considered the most promising therapeutic target for preventing and treating depressive behaviour.
According to a study published in 2015 in the journal Phytotherapy ResearchAccording to a study published in 2015 in the journal, it seems that curcumin has antidepressant effects comparable or even superior to fluoxetine (the generic of Prozac). " It appears to increase the level of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, while lowering stress hormones such as cortisol, in addition to being a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent," said Dr. Lopresti, author of the study.
More recently, a 2019 meta-analysis on curcumin and depression in the journal Food Science and Nutrition concludes that curcumin may improve symptoms of depression and anxiety in people with depression. Curcumin is believed to work on neuropsychiatric disorders through its ability to tame inflammation. Curcumin would be both a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and a powerful stimulator of neurogenesis, the mechanism of production of new neurons.
Fresh roots, powder, food supplements (prefer organic Curcumin capsules), essential oil, infusion.
Turmeric & Ginger Infusion
This antioxidant tea helps eliminate inflammation and increases cognitive function.
Bring 250 ml of water to the boil. Add 1 CC of grated fresh turmeric and 1 CC of grated fresh ginger. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Let the mixture steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain and add 1 CC of black pepper, 1 CC of lemon juice and 1 CC of honey.
Turmeric is one of the most powerful healing foods, with over 600 health benefits.
A staple of Mediterranean cuisine, rosemary has both gustatory and medicinal properties. Used since ancient times to treat the body and mind, rosemary is excellent for fighting mental fatigue, giving the body a boost in case of overwork or depression, preventing insomnia and calming nervousness.
The great strength of rosemary is its high content of essential oils (bomeol, camphene, camphor, cineol), flavonoids (apigenin, diosmin), tannins, diterpenes and rosmarinic acid. Its active ingredients stimulate the adrenal glands, which helps treat asthenia, i.e. a weakening of the body and great physical fatigue. As a psychological stimulant, rosemary is therefore recommended as a remedy against overwork. Indeed, when our body is under great tension due to stress, the hormone cortisol is secreted on a large scale. Rosemary is the plant most likely to reduce the level of cortisol in our body, thus fighting anxiety, fatigue, stimulating memory and concentration.
Infusion, essential oil, mother tincture, capsules, in diffusion.
The essential oil to be preferred in case of fatigue and overwork is the essential oil of Rosemary Cineole. Soak a handkerchief with a few drops and breathe deeply. You can also put it directly into an essential oil diffuser or 2 drops in a spoonful of honey every morning.
A drink to prevent the harmful effects of stress.
Infuse a sprig of rosemary in 150 ml of water, covered, for 15 minutes. Drink 3 or 4 cups a day. Sweeten your tea with honey, preferably rosemary honey.
The Greeks used rosemary in the form of a crown which they placed on the heads of intellectuals when they had to work on an important project.
Beyond its aromatic use in Provençal cuisine, thyme is an important plant in the pharmacopoeia to relieve a wide variety of ailments, including respiratory, infectious, immune and intestinal. But it is also interesting as an intellectual stimulant and nervous system calmer. Thyme acts as a tonic agent that can stimulate the nervous system and relieve disorders such as depression, anxiety, nightmares, exhaustion, stress, insomnia and melancholy.
Fresh thyme contains one of the highest levels of antioxidants among aromatic herbs, many minerals and vitamins. It is particularly rich in essential oils: thymol, geraniol, linalool as well as carvacrol, a powerful natural tranquilizer that acts on anxiety. It contains significant amounts of pyridoxine (vitamin B6), a molecule that maintains optimal levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, thus playing an anti-stress role. Thyme also contains lithium, a mineral with antidepressant properties, and tryptophan, a precursor of serotonin.
Infusion, essential oil, capsules, mother tincture, in diffusion.
Thyme Infusion with Turmeric & Ginger
In case of general fatigue, here is a drink that will bring you comfort.
In a cup, place a sprig of thyme, the juice of a lemon, 1 CC of turmeric powder. Peel 2 cm of ginger, cut it into thin strips and add it. Cover with boiling water. Sweeten with thyme or rosemary honey as desired.
In the Middle Ages in Europe, thyme was placed under pillows to facilitate sleep and prevent nightmares.
Reyhaneh Sohrabi, Nasim Pazgoohan, Hasan Rezaei Seresht, Repeated systemic administration of the cinnamon essential oil possesses anti-anxiety and anti-depressant activities in mice. Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences, 2017.
Adrian Lopresti et al, Curcumin and major depression: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial investigating the potential of peripheral biomarkers to predict treatment response and antidepressant mechanisms of change, European Neuropsychopharmacology : the Journal of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 05 Dec 2014, 25(1):38-50.