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Dealing with Depression: A Holistic Approach

Natural Alternatives

These herbs might act as natural alternatives to antidepressants:

St. John’s Wart

Passion Flower


Oat straw

Skull cap



There is a very strong supporting role that nutritional and lifestyle approaches can make towards healing depression. These suggestions will depend on the cause and the symptoms someone is experiencing.

The diet should focus on eliminating any food sensitivities, diagnosed by lab tests, elimination diets or pulse tests.

Optimally organic foods are the best. Eating organic reduces the toxic load on the liver and will support the body by providing vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, and their co-factors.

Also to assure proper digestion, absorption, and assimilation of nutrients and proper immune function; stomach hydrochloric acid levels should be assessed.

Taking digestive enzymes may be beneficial as well. Digestive enzymes will allow the body to take full advantage of the nutrients.

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Keeping an eye on intake of sugar and introducing whole grains is important in keeping the blood sugar level under control. There should also be adequate amounts of protein in the diet to ensure there are sufficient amounts of amino acids, which are the building units of the body. Fats should also be consumed in an appropriate ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 (3:1) to maintain healthy cell membranes.

In case of heavy metal toxicity, fiber-rich foods help the body eliminate the toxins. Adding cilantro and chlorophyll to food is useful as well in such cases.

Dealing with Depression: A Holistic Approach - About Islam

Depression Fighting Nutrients

Foods that provide many of the mentioned nutrients in abundant amounts and should be part of the healing diet include:

Omega 3 containing fish




Grass feed beef

Fresh juice

Leafy greens

Nuts and seeds

Whole grains-high in B vitamins

Brown rice-high in B vitamins

5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day

Flaxseed oil


Coconut oil

  • Serotonin: this neurotransmitter is derived from the amino acid L-tryptophan. Insufficient dietary intake of L-tryptophan promotes depression.
  • Folic Acid: the most common nutrient deficiency.
  • Riboflavin: commonly found to be deficient in people with depression.
  • Niacin: is a B complex vitamin, and since B vitamins work best as a team it should be taken along with a B complex supplement due to the synergistic effect of B vitamins.
  • Thiamine: similar to other deficiencies in B complex vitamins, depression is also a common symptom of thiamine deficiency. A double-blind study amongst healthy university students concluded that mega doses (50 mg/day) improved mood.
  • Vitamin B6: besides being a member of the B complex vitamins, Vitamin B6 is also a co-factor in converting tryptophan into serotonin.
  • Vitamin D: typically deficient levels of vitamin D are found in SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
  • Magnesium: magnesium levels in cerebrospinal fluid in people hospitalized for depression were found to be low. The levels were even lower in those who were suicidal.

Depending on each person, the amounts you ultimately need to take will vary and you may want to consult with a nutritionist.

📚 Read Also: Depression: A Social Illness?

Smell Your Way Out of Depression

(Please do not attempt to use these herbs without the supervision of a well-trained health care practitioner.)

The sense of smell has a profound effect on the nervous system so including various essential oils and blends may prove to be a useful. Use essential oils with caution with the elderly, small children and pregnant women.

Use only on your skin and with a carrier oil. Always smell the oils before using them. If you do not like the way they smell, do not use them. Add 5-7 drops of essential oil to one ounce of carrier oil.

Essential Oils:

  • Melissa (lemon balm): It is calming, uplifting, and useful with anxiety.
  • Lavender: Is calming and useful with anxiety.
  • Clary Sage: Especially when there is a female hormonal imbalance.
  • Sandalwood: Topically, it has a slight detoxification action, and is grounding and uplifting.
  • Jasmine: Balances female hormones, and is grounding.
  • Petite grain: Is light, uplifting, and useful with anxiety
  • Grapefruit: Known for its joyful qualities, most people enjoy this scent and it is a good way to introduce aromatherapy to someone.
  • Black Cumin Seed: Known as “the ray of sunshine”, it is rare to find, but both the carrier oil and the essential oil help balance hormones.

Carrier Oils:

  • Sweet Almond Oil: This carrier oil is not strong smelling and pleasant. It will not cause a rapid intake of the essential oil into the body like grape seed oil or a slow intake like olive oil.
  • Un-toasted Sesame Seed Oil: It has qualities that ground and center, especially when used to massage the feet. For a deeper sense of calm, find an Ayurvedic doctor who can recommend other ways for you to use it.

Make Some Changes

Many people may find these lifestyle changes helpful:

  • Counseling
  • Chiropractic work
  • Acupressure, acupuncture, body work
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Yoga, Tai chi
  • Exercise releases endorphins and helps reduce stress. The movement also assists and supports liver function and lymph flow.
  • Surround yourself with beauty and find the beauty that is already around you
  • Increase your social network and foster healthy interpersonal relationships
  • Find healthy outlets for stress reduction
  • Engage in spiritual life

Search around for what will best fit you and your situation and may Allah (SWT) heal you.

This article is from our archive, originally published on an earlier date, and highlighted now for its importance

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About Anisa Abeytia
Anisa Abeytia, B.A. USC , M.A., Stanford is an integrative health specialist currently pursuing a M.S. in Holistic Nutrition. Over the past ten years Anisa has pursued various fields of holistic and traditional medicine. She has studied at the oldest herbal school in the United States and pursued a two year certificate program in Islamic Healing. She writes regularly on the topics of health and nutrition. She maintains the website Women's Healing Circle, a site dedicated to the natural health of women and their families.