The answer to this question can be sticky and complicated, but luckily, there are also several baseline rules to go by to discern herb quality. As far as deciding for yourself what to take, it is much safer to determine herbs for yourself than a pharmaceutical medicine; however, it is still ill-advised to do so without the guidance of a trained herbalist, so as to avoid common problematic interactions (such as licorice with high blood pressure, comfrey with cancer, or St. John's Wort with MAO-inhibitor anti-depressants). That said, if someone (that has experience with herbs, such as a trained herbalist) confirms the safety of an herb, you can follow the below guidelines to determine quality of herbs.
-Look and smell! Does it smell potent? If it is a leaf, does it look green? If it is a calendula flower, is it yellow? Basically, plants should look like plants, and smell good. This is a simple test that anyone can do. To refine your skills, try smelling herbs everywhere you go. Additionally, if it is in powder form, it will be less potent, with most herbs. Yet, with some herbs, that is the only way to use it. (Boswelia, for instance)
-Is the place where you are buying the herbs primarily selling medicine? I have seen some very low quality herbs in homemade soap stores, and the like. Can someone working there direct you to appropriate herbs for your condition? If not, the store probably doesn't know or value high quality medicinal herbs.
-Pills vs raw plant material: Largely, the pill form of plants mean that the herb has undergone more significant processing and handling, and is thus "farther" from its living state. Just as with food, the more whole and fresh the plant is, the more sustenance, nutrition and medicine can be found in it.
-Use the whole plant, when possible. Just like food, our body likes whole substances. For hundreds upon thousands of years, our ancestors' bodies have evolved eating whole foods and whole plants. Our body knows that. There are complexities involved in a plant that our scientific extraction methods cannot understand or duplicate. If we consider taking the hand of a person, diconnected from the body, will we be able to determine how good of an artist or musician they are? Do this with plants?
The answer to this question can be sticky and complicated, but luckily, there are also several baseline rules to go by to discern herb quality. As far as deciding for yourself what to take, it is...... (more)
To ask if acne is a symptom of teen depression, as Cascade has pointed out, is not looking at the whole situation. While acne can increase the likelihood of depression, depression can also increase the likelihood of acne. As Rita mentioned, depression can lead to poor life choices (diet, hygiene, and more), while levels of stress also have significant impacts on inflammation. James Green points out in his book Male Herbal a course of action for acne: "Diet, of course, is a contributing factor, but it is seldom the only one. This condition is treated internally as well as externally." He then goes on to explain how much it can help to use something to move the lymph (a lymphatic), liver support (a hepatic), a diuretic and an antimicrobial. Taken these suggestions, I would offer the use of Cleavers or Calendula (Easy to grow both) as lymphatics, dandelion leaves as a diuretic and hepatic as well as burdock root or yellow dock. Make all of these into a salad, put the roots in a nice tea (decoct, boil, for about 10 minutes), and top with some fresh garlic as an anti-microbial. Mix with some other good leafy greens, and a delicious salad dressing (Tahini, Lemon juice and Olive Oil?) and eat regularly. This combined with a nice hygeine regimen will clear things up nicely. One thing that made a huge difference for me growing up with acne was when I realized that allowing healthy moisture on my face was a good thing. The skin wants to be supple and healthy, and if we don't scrub it with harsh cleansers (sodium laureth sulfate was invented by the army as a tank degreaser!) and we let the natural oils accumulate while gently washing sweat and dirt off at least daily, with a good rinse and light ph-balanced soap, then things will develop nicely.
Another thing to note is that acutane, a commonly prescribed drug, has extreme effects on the mood states of many. So, be careful if depression is already an issue.
So yes, acne can help bring about depression and depression (stress, etc) can help bring out inflammation and pimples on the skin. To say that acne is a symptom of depression is misleading and only a tiny part of the whole true story.
Have a great day!
To ask if acne is a symptom of teen depression, as Cascade has pointed out, is not looking at the whole situation. While acne can increase the likelihood of depression, depression can also increase...... (more)
Kava can also be counter-indicated in some cases of depression. Kava is a Central Nervous System depressant, meaning that it will not help with sluggish feelings, and may in that case, send a person into deeper depression. However, if the depression is related to being overwhelmed by life, feeling that there is too much to do, or just generally that anxiety is a problem, then Kava can be very helpful. There have additionally been reports that extended use of Kava can be problematic, not only for liver toxicity possibilities, but also that it can actually make a person difficult to be around (they get grumpy a lot). Traditionally, it is used on special occasions for ceremonial purposes, and thus I would not reccomend it as a long-term depression treatment. Nonetheless, every once in a while to help someone sleep, or just relax, it can be awesome.
Kava can also be counter-indicated in some cases of depression. Kava is a Central Nervous System depressant, meaning that it will not help with sluggish feelings, and may in that case, send a person...... (more)
I would like to share some knowledge on what you can do herbally with what you describe...
There are many options for you. It is important to look into what kind of cloudiness we are talking about here. I will give two scenarios and potential herbal responses for each:
1.'I am so stressed about what is hard and wrong that I can't accomplish anything.'
In this case, you may also be experiencing insomnia (trouble sleeping), lack of initiative and more.
In addition to stress relieving activities like exercise, meditation and community, I can recommend some herbal choices that may help:
I would think towards two directions with this, nervines and mood lifters...
As for nervines:
-For what my teacher, Gail Julian, refers to as gerbil mind, where you just keep running back and forth around the difficulties and confusion and can't let it go...skullcap ( scutellaria lateriflora) can be incredibly helpful.
-If it is a matter of frustration or tension around difficulty something like california poppy ( eschscholtzia californica) can be helpful.
-For general stress, and calming that down wild oats ( avena sativa) is amazing.
-Also more accesible things like chamomile ( matricaria recutita) or, for some, catnip (nepeta cataria) is great.
As for a mood lifter:
-I don't find much to outdo the benefits of St. John's Wort ( hypericum perforatum). Being that summer solstice passed, it is no longer time to go collect it, but there are other ways to find it.
I am guessing that since you accompany it with depression, this isn't as much the case, but there are amazing things that have been done with aromatherapy. (I don't mean getting anything expensive, here, I mean crushing fresh rosemary in your hand and smelling it, or if you are into it, getting some lemongrass essential oil and smelling it for a clearing, uplifting feeling.)
Rosemary ( rosmarinus officinalus) especially has been used through the ages as an herb to open pathways in the mind and used for centuries to promote memory. Physically, it actually stimulates increased blood flow in the brain and is a mood lifter.
Another great vasodilator that is great is Gotu Kola ( centella asiatica). This incredible plant grows in ditches and stream banks, and also increases blood to the brain like no other. I have found it to instantly clear the mind, and help with mental clarity. I would not call it a mind-altering herb by any means, but it definitely clears things.
Also, Gingko ( ginkgo biloba), one of the oldest plants around, is awesome. It has been used to increase mental function also for centuries and is strongly supported by modern scientific research. (As are many things I have mentioned)
Even things as simple and commonplace as peppermint ( mentha x piperita) are wonderful in these situations for boosting vitality, energy and clarity of mind. I use it when sitting in a lecture quite often. Plus it is soothing for digestion...a double bonus!
And for both cases:
Finally, I would also definitely look towards healthy digestion to aid in the cloudiness around depression! Feeling sluggish, depressed and cloudy can all be symptoms of sluggish or weak digestion! Simple things with bitter taste are super helpful before meals, and after as well. There are many simple ones that are easy to find like dandelion. You could also reach for bigger hitters like artichoke leaf. (Really anything with a bitter taste will do. Think ginger skin. Or mugwort.) What bitters do is complex, but one piece is that they stimulate the excretion of digestive juices from our liver and gall bladder to name a few. Additionally, there is nothing more important than healthy culture! Yogurt, Kraut, Real pickles (no vinegar!), Kim Chi, etc will all help build good flora in the gut which will also help with these symptoms!
So try these things, let us know what works for you, and if I knew you or had more info, I could help even more!
I would like to share some knowledge on what you can do herbally with what you describe...
There are many options for you. It is important to look into what kind of cloudiness...... (more)
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