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What treatment will help me think more clearly?

Depression makes my mind so cloudy; I can't focus. Is there a treatment that will help me focus?

Asked 13 years ago by joan.harris
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2 Answers

Posted 13 years ago

Dear Joan,

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.

  1. The other scenario - 'My mind just wanders all the time'

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!

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Posted 13 years ago

As I have answered elsewhere, I think it's important to first try to figure out the cause of your depression before just treating its symptoms. This may not be easy, but I would encourage you to not give up on it, since anything else is really just mitigating the problem instead of actually solving it.

bschwad's answer touched upon this a little, but the first potential cause I would explore would actually be the diet. You may want to try an elimination diet to see if you have some sort of minor intolerances to certain foods. Gluten and lack of vitamin D have been in popular media lately, and both have been implicated with depression, and those might be something worth looking into.

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