While mood lows affect all of us once in a while, women are more susceptible to experiencing them due to hormonal fluctuations. They can happen when the production, release, or activity of endorphins and serotonin, which can be triggered by variety of factors such as hormonal fluctuations, health issues, or stress. Luckily, herbal remedies are here to the rescue. The following mood-boosting herbs, combined with healthier lifestyle habits and ways to de-stress, can help you keep these low periods away.
Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, the feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain. Going for a run, dancing, or swimming could help blast a mood swing.
1. Cacao (Theobroma cacao)
Cacao contains a combination of polyphenols that stimulate the cognitive functions and enhance mood by stimulating the release of endorphins in the brain. This is great news for chocolate-lovers, as the cacao bean is a key ingredient. Keep a bar of dark chocolate (i.e., 70% or more cocoa solids) handy to nibble on for a quick boost when you're feeling low. It is lower in sugar and saturated fats than regular milk chocolate, and it is actually very healthy for your brain.
2. Coffee (Coffea arabica)
Coffee is the go-to herbal pick-me-up for many people due to its caffeine content. Caffeine is believed to block the adenosine receptors, triggering the release of two stimulants in the brain, dopamine and glutamate. This enhances cognitive functions, aids mental sharpness, and diminishes fatigue, thus helping boost mood and be more productive.
3. St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
St. John's wort is often used as a natural treatment for depression, because of its mood-boosting and anxiety-relieving effects. Hypericin and hyperforin, the herb's active compounds, act on chemical messengers in the nervous system and regulate mood. The herb is typically consumed in extract or capsule form to battle low and depressive moods.
4. Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
Although turmeric has been used in Asia for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, its effects on mood have been unknown until recently. Turmeric contains an active compound, called curcumin, which - thanks to its ability to increase serotonin and dopamine levels - has been shown more effective in relieving depression than some of the popular anti-depressants.1 Moreover, it has not been recognized for causing any side effects, unlike the prescription depression drugs.
5. Ginseng (Panax ginseng)
Ginseng is a medicinal herb with ancient use in boosting mood. The herb improves blood circulation in a way that is thought to stimulate the cognitive functions, enhance mood, and improve mental sharpness. It is also used as a solution for erectile dysfunction for its circulation-stimulating abilities and can thereby counter mood swings by boosting sexual desire.
6. Maca (Lepidium meyenii)
Maca is a root vegetable that has been reported to increase sexual desire and help combat mood swings in both sexes. Its most potent function is an endocrine one: consuming maca could balance estrogen and progesterone in the body and alleviate symptoms associated with hormonal imbalance. By that, it can also improve and stabilize mood and enhance overall wellness.
Keeping a steady supply of these mood-boosting herbs will give you a natural emotional "lift" to help combat moodiness. An occasional bad mood is normal and inevitable, but recurring moodiness can alienate those around you and diminish your sense of well-being. If your mood is low more often than not, and you're experiencing tiredness, loss of interest in things you were once engaged in, or lack of energy, it's worth discussing your feelings with a doctor or counselor, as you may be suffering from depression.
- Journal of Psychopharmacology, ocoa polyphenols enhance positive mood states but not cognitive performance: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial, 2013
- Maturitas, Maca (Lepidium meyenii) for treatment of menopausal symptoms: A systematic review, 2011
- National Institutes of Health, Ginseng | St. John's Wort | Menopause
- Psychopharmacology (Berl.), Efficacy and safety of curcumin in major depressive disorder: a randomized controlled trial, 2014
- Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, Caffeine, mental health, and psychiatric disorders, 2010
- New York University - Langone Medical Center, Maca
- Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology. (2020). Curcumin in antidepressant treatments: An overview of potential mechanisms, pre-clinical/clinical trials and ongoing challenges. Retrieved November 27, 2021 from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/bcpt.13455