Updated: Sep 9
Natural and herbal remedies, also known as “alternative” or “complementary” medicines.
This industry has grown tremendously in popularity over the past two decades, becoming a major component of health care and general wellness in the United States and worldwide. The ready availability of these remedies over the counter and their generally good tolerability and safety contribute to this popularity, and many people have benefited from them, often in cases when conventional treatments have failed or caused intolerable side effects.
Despite many Food and Drug Administration (FDA) –approved psychotropic medications on the market, efficacy has been inconsistent for some, and many treatment responders will eventually relapse. Continued research on the efficacy and safety of these alternative therapies is, therefore, important. This article reviews six of the most commonly used natural remedies for psychiatric conditions, including the antidepressants St. John’s wort, omega-3 fatty acids, and S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe); the sedative-hypnotics valerian and melatonin; and the nootropic ginkgo biloba.
Natural and herbal remedies, also known as “complementary” or “alternative” medicines (CAMs), have grown tremendously in popularity over the past two decades, becoming a major component of health care and general wellness in the United States and worldwide. Many people certainly benefit from them, often in cases when conventional treatments have failed or caused side effects. A 2007 National Health Interview Survey found that 38% of adults and 12% of children had used CAM practices and products in the past year, representing about $33.9 billion in out-of-pocket costs (1).
Although there is growing evidence of efficacy and safety to support the use of these remedies, it is important for clinicians to be aware of the limitations of the evidence base and to take that into account with all the other factors that contribute to clinical decision making (2). In psychiatry, we have about 40 FDA-approved antidepressants on the market, yet their efficacy has been inconsistent (3), and many treatment responders will eventually relapse (4). Continued research on natural therapies is called for, partly because they are readily available over the counter and widely used, and also because of their generally good tolerability and safety.
Source: Popular Herbal and Natural Remedies Used in Psychiatry; David Mischoulon, M.D., Ph.D.