Sea bilberry found to be an effective natural antidepressant

A recent study published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine revealed that sea bilberry (Vaccinium bracteatum) exhibited antioxidant and antidepressant properties. The research, led by the Jeonnam Institute of Natural Resources Research in South Korea, investigated not only the ability of sea bilberry to prevent oxidative damage, but also the mechanism behind its antidepressant properties.

The team used a two-pronged approach in their experiments. First, they used a chronic restraint stress mouse model to determine the plant’s antidepressant and antioxidant effects. To determine the efficacy of sea bilberry treatment, they measured biomarkers for stress and depression after restraining the rodents. Second, they used a hydrogen peroxide-induced neuronal damage model to understand the bioactive components behind the plant’s antioxidant properties.

The researchers observed that mice treated with sea bilberry exhibited reduced stress and depression-related biomarkers in their brain after being subjected to chronic restraint stress. In addition, sea bilberry protected neuronal cells from damage after being exposed to hydrogen peroxide.

The researchers concluded that sea bilberry possesses potent antioxidant and antidepressant properties.

Beating depression with these natural antidepressants

It is estimated that over 19 million Americans suffer from depression every year. This makes it one of the most common disorders both in the U.S. and around the world. Conventional treatments for depression include drug therapies, which don’t work for everyone and can even cause severe side effects, such as insomnia, agitation, weight gain, memory loss, and loss of libido.

Worse still, using antidepressants can also increase the risk of suicidal thoughts, especially in children, teens, and young adults. These are also known to be highly addictive and don’t play well with other drug treatments.

For those looking for drug-free alternatives for treating depression, here are some natural antidepressant supplements that offer relief without the nasty side effects. (h/t to

  • Curcumin: The active ingredient in turmeric isn’t just responsible for the distinct yellow color of curry dishes, it’s also known for providing a slew of health benefits, including depression relief. Researchers found that curcumin supplements are just as effective for symptoms of depression as Prozac, one of the most popular commercial antidepressants. (Related: Happier and healthier: Curcumin-rich turmeric can help ease depression and anxiety, researchers find.)
  • Saffron: For people who are suffering from both depression and obesity, saffron is their best bet since it has antidepressive and anti-obesity properties. When buying saffron, however, make sure you get from a reputable company: A lot of saffron supplements available say “saffron extract” – a far cry from real saffron.
  • Kava: In the Pacific islands, people have used kava for its relaxant properties. It’s mainly used for anxiety relief, but researchers also found that it has antidepressant properties. Older women who are depressed and/or anxious because of menopause could benefit from kava, since it offers relief without disrupting estrogen levels.
  • Arctic root: Like the name suggests, the plant is found in colder regions of the world, like northern China. In traditional Chinese medicine, arctic root is used as an adaptogen, thanks to its ability to combat the negative effects of stress. It’s known to be most effective when used to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression linked to seasonal changes.

A popular yet controversial herb for treating depression is St. John’s wort. While it’s known to be a potent alternative to most antidepressants, it can also increase the risk of side effects similar to commercial drugs. People looking to try the herb must first consult with a healthcare professional, since it’s known to react negatively to a lot of pharmacological substances, both synthetic and natural. has the latest on natural treatments for managing depression.

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