Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive disorder) is a mental disorder characterized by alternating periods of manic and depressive episodes, the exact cause of which is unknown. Mood swings are more severe than the normal fluctuations in mood that everyone suffers from. During depressive phase, your mood dips into sadness and tiredness. But when mania sets in, you feel euphoric with very high energy levels, often indulging in feverish activity and sleeping very little.
Bipolar disorder can lead to high-risk behaviours, such as impulsive business investments, impulsive sex and spending sprees, and sometimes also attempt of suicide. You could end up having relationship, financial and legal troubles. So, take it seriously, and give these herbal remedies a try, in consultation with your psychiatrist.
Herbal Remedies for Bipolar Disorder
In addition to mood stabilizers and counseling that your psychiatrist might prescribe, you can also take the help of these herbal remedies to tide over your mental problems. Since these herbs can have harmful interactions with any medications you may be taking, you should inform your psychiatrist before trying them.
Black cohosh helps you to tide over the manic phase. It has sedative properties and depresses the nervous system, whichreduces the symptoms of mania, such as hyperactivity and anxiety. Its extract is derived from the root and underground stems (rhizomes) of Cimicifuga racemosa.
The active chemical compound is 26-deoxyactein. The dose is 1 tablet twice daily, 1 cup of its decoction twice daily, or 10-50 drops of its tincture twice daily. It can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, liver damage, vertigo and visual disturbances.
St. John’s Wort
This herb has been in use for thousands of years. It contains the chemical hypericin, which inhibits the production of the chemical monoamine oxidase, an enzyme that contributes to the symptoms of depression. It can also increase the production of the mood-enhancing chemical called serotonin.
The extract is derived from the flowers and leaves of Hypericum perforatum. Consult product label for dosage. Side effects include headache, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to sunlight, and elevated blood pressure. Exercise caution because it can trigger mania.
This herb also has been in use for thousands of years. Ginkgo extract is made from the leaves of Ginkgo biloba. The active ingredients are terpenoids, such as ginkgolides, which increase the blood flow to the brain and facilitate the production of serotonin, a mood-enhancing chemical.
The dosage is 120-240 mg/day in 2-3 divided doses. Side effects include irritability, restlessness, muscle weakness, nausea and diarrhea. People with epilepsy or bleeding disorders should not use it.
The extract is prepared from the root of Panax ginseng. The active chemicals are ginsenosides, which help to combat the feelings of lethargy and fatigue.
The dose is 100 mg of the extract containing 4-8% of ginsenosides, once or twice daily. Its side effects include increased blood pressure and insomnia.
Gotu kola has been in use in Ayurvedic medicine for a very long time. It is extracted from the leaves of Centella asiatica. The active chemicals in the extract are triterpenoids, which help decrease anxiety and depression. The dosage is 250-750 mg once daily. The side effects include headache, drowsiness, rash and upset stomach. It may lead to liver damage.
Passionflower helps relieve insomnia, anxiety and excitability of the manic phase because of its tranquilizing and sedative properties. Its extract is made from the leaves and flowers of Passiflora incarnata.
It works by increasing the levels of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid. Dosage is 2.5 g 3-4 times daily or 10-60 drops of its tincture thrice daily. Side effects include drowsiness, mental slowing, rapid heartbeat and stomach upset. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take it.
Kava kava has tranquilizing properties, which helps relieve the anxiety, restlessness and insomnia of the manic phase of bipolar disorder. It is extracted from the root of Piper methysticum.
The chemicals responsible for the properties of kava kava are kavalactones. Consult product label for dosage. Some of its side effects are decreased appetite, numbness and drowsiness.