Holistic and Functional Psychiatry in Depression and Mental Issues

Psychiatry is seen primarily as a tool to aid with mental maladies.  It looks to the brain and its functioning to resolve issues mental problems.  It looks to utilize therapies and medications that help balance the brain or correct issues that are brain related to the pathology itself.  Holistic or Functional Psychiatry looks not just at the mind but looks at a variety of other social, physical, and diet related issues that may also overlap and play issues in mental pathology

Functional Psychiatry and Holistic Care looks to treat depression or anxiety from a more comprehensive approach of the totality of the human person

 

Holistic and Integrative Healthcare Professionals look at a broader spectrum of the human person and how it relates to specific issues.  In addition to mental therapies or only medication, Functional or Holistic Psychiatrists will employ meditation, changed diets, different social interactions and even adjustment to sleeping issues that may also reflect upon the primary problem. This more broad range approach encompasses the idea of holistic medicine as being something that just does not analyzes one aspect of human health but  numerous aspects that target just not one specific area but multiple fronts. In this way, it can be less intrusive with side effects and also not merely mask the symptoms but find a long term cure that prevents future issues.

The article, “What Is Holistic Psychiatry?” by Susan Trachman emphasizes many of these points regarding Holistic Psychiatry and its many uses in helping individuals with mental maladies.  She endorses a more broad range approach that includes meditation, diet, exercise and better sleep patterns.  She believes that this more broad approach can produce better results for mental issues such as depression.   She states,

“Functional or holistic psychiatry is an emerging approach to mental healthcare that emphasizes the underlying biological, psychological, and social factors contributing to mental health issues. It considers the unique genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors influencing each individual’s mental health. Functional psychiatry is an approach to mental illness that considers the whole individual when treating psychiatric conditions like depression or anxiety.”

“What Is Holistic Psychiatry?”. Susan Trachman. April 22nd, 2023. Psychology Today.

To read the entire article, please click here

Commentary

Depression for many is an issue that has no direct correlation with loss itself.  While depression can grow from pro-longed grief and unresolved grief issues directly related to loss, many suffer from depression based solely on genetics or issues within the brain and its production of various chemicals.  Imbalances can cause a sense of lost and lack of meaning in life.  It can lead to all the symptoms associated with loss but without the specific reason.   Hence a person suffering from depression usually requires counseling and medication to rectify the imbalance.  For many this is a life long journey with reoccurring bouts of depression.

Holistic and Integrative Health looks to find the source of anxiety and depression not just treat the symptoms

 

The same holds true for anxiety.  Unlike stress which has a direct correlation with a stressor, anxiety is an extreme nervousness and uneasiness when nothing is wrong in one’s life.  One can feel extremely paranoid, nervous, and uneasy to the point one is crippled from even leaving one’s own bed.   This mental ailment also requires professional guidance and the imbalance created in the mind is usually treated with a variety of medications, including Xanax.

Many individuals unfortunately cope improperly when dealing with depression or anxiety.  They can turn to drugs and alcohol or turn to other unhealthy life choices when looking to escape the depression or anxiety.  This is why if dealing with anxiety and depression it is important to face it with the aid of a licensed counselor, or a healthcare professional with the appropriate training and legal abilities to help one learn better coping strategies and also provide, if necessary, the required medication.

Holistic and Integrative Mental Care

When dealing with these intense issues, one should finding a professional who is also well versed in holistic and integrative health care.  Some licensed mental care providers are also trained and certified in Holistic and Integrative healthcare.  Functional Psychiatry is an excellent source to help individuals receive the care they need when facing depression, anxiety or other health maladies.  As stated above, these healthcare providers can supply an individual with a more broad based plan that goes beyond just analyzing one’s mental state and brain but also look at other social and behavioral aspects in one’s life.  While medication is still pivotal, Holistic and Integrative Healthcare Professionals can also guide individuals with proper exercise, sleeping patterns, meditation and even diet.  Sometimes, issues within the mind are interconnected with one’s own social and behavioral patterns and diet, meditation, lack of sleep and exercise can be big issues in finding peace and calm from depression, anxiety and other mental maladies.

Many healthcare providers share in a mindset of total balance of health. Please also review AIHCP’s Holistic Nursing Program

 

Those who utilize this type of broader review of mental malady have an interest in a more whole view of health instead of merely analyzing one’s mind and the symptoms.  Instead, providers of this nature look to treat the entirety of the person and look to find any interconnections within the totality of the person.  Instead of masking symptoms with medication, one looks to find the source of the issue and attempt to fix it with better life style and healthier diet.

Numerous healthcare professionals approve of a holistic approach, one just merely has to research and find those who adhere to those principles.  Registered Nurses, Nurse Practitioners with Psychiatric training, Physicians, Social Workers and Licensed Counselors, as well as Psychologists and Psychiatrists can all play key roles in applying holistic principles.   Many of these healthcare professionals also have additional training in Functional Psychiatry or Holistic and Integrative Health and can apply it to treatment.

Conclusion

Treating the entirety of the human person is a core principle in holistic health.  It looks not just at the symptoms but looks to discover the source through a multifaceted investigation of the totality of the human person.  Functional Psychiatry looks at the entirety of the human person beyond merely the mental aspect, but also ones physical, emotional and behavioral self.  In this way it looks at exercise, meditation, sleep and diet as additional areas of concern when dealing with depression, anxiety or other mental ailments.

AIHCP offers for professionals who are seeking an additional certification in holistic health, a Holistic Nursing or Holistic and Integrative Healthcare Certification.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Holistic Nursing.  Please review the program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.

Additional Resources

“What Is Holistic Psychiatry? (And Why You Should Consider It!)”. A Radiantly Healthy Life. Access here

“Holistic Therapy: Treating Body, Mind, and Spirit for Whole Person Healing”. Ann Mayer.  February 9th, 2022. Healthline. Access here

“Is Holistic Therapy Right for You?”. Kendra Cherry. April 13th, 2023. VeryWellMind.  Access here

“A Holistic Approach to Treating Depression”. Ellen Greenlaw. July 6th, 2010. Access here

“Holistic Approach to Anxiety and Depression Treatment”. Dr. Joseph N. Ranieris D.O. November 5th, 2020. Discovery Institute.  Access here

Chinese Medicine and Holistic Health

Chinese medicine is a venue many turn to in search of herbs and managing long term health.  Chinese medicine practitioners usually own local shops and expertise in these areas.  They consider balance to be the key in life itself and utilize Chi and concepts of Yin and Yang in managing health.  When something in the body is imbalanced, they look for herbs or practices to restore that balance in the body.

It is imperative though that individuals who look to these resources inform primary caregivers and have proper guidance to know what can mix with current medications.  Holistic and Integrative Healthcare Specialists understand both Eastern and Western concepts and how they interact.  Holistic Nurses can play key roles in helping individuals identify the best resources and Chinese herbs to utilize as well as individuals to potentially purchase from and work with.

Chinese medicine is about balance. It looks at Chi or breath as well as balance of Yin and Yang.

 

The article, “A Beginner’s Guide to Traditional Chinese Medicine” by Michelle Pugle discusses these many issues.  The article examines the philosophy behind Chinese medicine but also reviews the various herbs and practices that can be utilized.  The key concepts of Chi and Yin and Yang are emphasized throughout as well as a brief history and frequently asked questions.  While the article praises Chinese medicine, the author warns that one should never create a replacement plan to traditional medicine and should never take herbs without proper consultation.  She states,

“Traditional Chinese medicine should not be used in replacement of Western medicine or to delay the possibility of treatment for serious disorders, infections, or the like. If you’re curious about what traditional Chinese medicine may offer, consider talking to your healthcare provider and a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner before trying any options at home.”

“A Beginner’s Guide to Traditional Chinese Medicine”. Micelle Pugle. November 30th, 2022.  VeryWellHealth

To review the article, please click here

Commentary

‍Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM) is a traditional form of healing that has been used for centuries in Asia and has recently gained popularity in the West. It is based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which is a holistic approach to health and wellness that emphasizes the balance between mind, body, and spirit. CHM involves the use of natural herbs and plants to treat a variety of ailments, from digestive issues to mental health. In this article, we’ll explore the history of CHM, its many benefits, the common herbs used in it, its relationship to Western medicine, how to get started with CHM, and its safety considerations.

What is Chinese Herbal Medicine?

Chinese Herbal Medicine is a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that uses natural herbs and plants to treat a variety of ailments. It is a holistic approach to health that focuses on treating the whole person, rather than just a single symptom or condition. The herbs used in CHM are believed to be able to balance the qi, which is the energy that flows through the body and is responsible for its overall health. The herbs used in CHM are usually combined into formulas that are tailored to the individual’s needs.

CHM is one of the oldest forms of medicine, with a history that dates back thousands of years. It is still widely used in Asia and is gaining popularity in the West. CHM is often seen as a complementary form of medicine, meaning it can be used together with conventional Western medicine to treat a variety of ailments.

Traditional Chinese Medicine History

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a long and storied history that dates back more than 2000 years. It is based on the ancient Chinese philosophy of Daoism, which emphasizes the balance between yin and yang and the importance of keeping the body’s qi (energy) in balance. The earliest forms of TCM used herbal medicines, acupuncture, and moxibustion (a form of heat therapy) to treat various ailments.

Over the centuries, TCM has been refined and developed and is now used to treat a wide range of ailments. It is still widely used in Asia and is gaining popularity in the West. In recent years, more and more Western doctors have begun to incorporate TCM into their practice, and it is now widely accepted as a valid form of medicine.

Benefits of Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM) has many benefits. It is a holistic approach to health that focuses on treating the whole person, rather than just a single symptom or condition. The herbs used in CHM are believed to be able to balance the qi, which is the energy that flows through the body and is responsible for its overall health.

The herbs used in CHM have a wide range of therapeutic effects, from soothing digestive problems to boosting the immune system. In addition, the herbs used in CHM can be tailored to the individual’s needs, meaning the treatment is personalized and effective.

CHM is also seen as a complementary form of medicine, meaning it can be used together with conventional Western medicine to treat a variety of ailments. This makes it a great option for those who are looking for an alternative form of treatment.

Common Chinese Herbal Medicines

Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM) uses a variety of herbs and plants to treat a variety of ailments. Some of the most common herbs used in CHM include ginseng, ginger, astragalus, licorice, and dong quai.

Ginseng is believed to have a tonic effect on the body and is often used to boost energy and vitality. Ginger is used to treat digestive issues, while astragalus is thought to boost the immune system. Licorice is used to treat respiratory issues, such as asthma, and dong quai is used to treat menstrual cramps.

These are just a few of the herbs used in CHM, and many more can be used to treat a variety of ailments. The herbs used in CHM are often combined into formulas that are tailored to the individual’s needs.

Chinese Herbal Medicine and Western Medicine

Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM) and Western medicine have different approaches to health and wellness. Western medicine is based on the scientific method and is focused on treating the symptoms of a disease or condition. CHM, on the other hand, is focused on treating the whole person and restoring balance and harmony to the body.

Despite their differences, CHM and Western medicine can be used together to treat a variety of ailments. In fact, many Western doctors now incorporate CHM into their practice, and it is widely accepted as a valid form of medicine.

How to Get Started with Chinese Herbal Medicine

If you’re interested in trying Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM), the first step is to find a qualified practitioner. It’s important to find someone who is experienced and knowledgeable in CHM and can tailor the treatments to your individual needs.

Once you’ve found a practitioner, you’ll discuss your health concerns and the practitioner will create an individualized treatment plan for you. This may include dietary and lifestyle recommendations, as well as herbal formulas tailored to your needs.

Finding a Qualified Practitioner of Chinese Herbal Medicine

When looking for a qualified practitioner of Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM), it’s important to find someone who is experienced and knowledgeable in CHM and can tailor the treatments to your individual needs.

A qualified healthcare professional should work with anyone considering supplementing Chinese medicine with traditional medicine

 

It’s a good idea to do your research and ask for recommendations from friends or family who have used CHM. You can also ask your doctor for a referral or check online for practitioners in your area who specialize in CHM.

Once you’ve found a qualified practitioner, it’s important to discuss your health concerns and ensure that your practitioner is familiar with the herbs and formulas they are recommending.

Chinese Herbal Medicine for Holistic Health

Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM) is a great option for those looking for a holistic approach to health and wellness. It is based on the ancient principles of TCM and focuses on treating the whole person, rather than just a single symptom or condition. The herbs used in CHM are believed to be able to balance the qi, which is the energy that flows through the body and is responsible for its overall health.

CHM is also seen as a complementary form of medicine, meaning it can be used together with conventional Western medicine to treat a variety of ailments. This makes it a great option for those looking for an alternative form of treatment.

Chinese Herbal Medicine Safety Considerations

As with any form of medicine, there are safety considerations when it comes to Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM). It’s important to make sure that the herbs and formulas used in CHM are safe and appropriate for your individual needs.

It’s also important to make sure that the herbs and formulas used in CHM are of good quality and have been tested for safety. It’s a good idea to ask your practitioner for a list of ingredients and to make sure that the herbs and formulas they are recommending are safe for you.

Finally, it’s important to make sure that the practitioner you are working with is qualified and experienced in CHM. As with any form of medicine, it’s important to find a qualified practitioner who can tailor the treatments to your individual needs.

Conclusion

Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM) is an ancient form of healing that has been used for centuries in Asia and is gaining popularity in the West. It is a holistic approach to health and wellness that focuses on treating the whole person, rather than just a single symptom or condition. The herbs used in CHM are believed to be able to balance the qi, which is the energy that flows through the body and is responsible for its overall health.

AIHCP offers a comprehensive program for Healthcare Professionals to earn a certification in Holistic Health

CHM is often seen as a complementary form of medicine, meaning it can be used together with conventional Western medicine to treat a variety of ailments. It is important to find a qualified practitioner who is experienced and knowledgeable in CHM and can tailor the treatments to your individual needs.

Chinese Herbal Medicine can be a great option for those looking for a holistic approach to health and wellness. It is important to be aware of the safety considerations and make sure that the herbs and formulas used in CHM are safe for your individual needs. With the right practitioner, CHM can be a great way to achieve holistic health and wellness.

Please also review AIHCP’s Holistic and Integrative Healthcare Practitioner Program. Also known as Holistic Nursing, nurses and other qualified healthcare professionals can take the online and independent study program to earn the four year certification.  Please review the Holistic Nursing Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.

Additional Resources

“Chinese Medicine and The Causes of Disease”. Emma Suttie.  March 24th, 2022. MindBodySoul.  Access here

“The Role of Chinese Medicine in Health Maintenance and Disease Prevention: Application of Constitution Theory”. Lingru Li, ect, al.  Am J Chin Med
. 2019;47(3):495-506. doi: 10.1142/S0192415X19500253. Epub 2019 Apr 25. National Library of Medicine.  Access here

“Yin and Yang Overview”. Bill Schoenbart & Ellen Shefi. HowStuffWorks.  Access here

“Holistic Health”. Suzan Walter, MBA. American Holistic Health Association. Access here

Benefits of Vitamin D: The “Sunshine Vitamin”

By – James M. Katz, BA

Vitamin D is often thought of as a nutrient that helps our bones and teeth stay strong, but its benefits go far beyond this. Often overlooked, vitamin D is a key part of a healthy diet, as it has been shown to play a role in controlling inflammation, cell growth, and even our mood. This essential holistic nutrient is critical to keeping us healthy, and a deficiency can lead to a number of health issues. In this article, we’ll explore the surprising benefits of vitamin D and how it can impact your health and well-being. From its role in immunity to its ability to lower your risk of chronic disease, the importance of vitamin D cannot be underestimated. So read on to learn more about this important nutrient and how it can help you stay healthy and happy.

Vitamin D is often referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, Vitamin D is a micronutrient that is produced by our skin in response to sunlight exposure. It plays an important role in our bodies, and recent research has highlighted a range of surprising health benefits associated with Vitamin D. These include improved immunity, better bone health, and a lower risk of certain diseases.

Vitamin D helps to reduce the risks of later in life cognitive decay as seen in the article below. By taking vitamin D you can stop and prevent many mental issues such as dementia as stated by a third. Please read below and press the link for the full article.

 “Vitamin D may reduce the risk of dementia by up to a third, a study has suggested.

Researchers at Tufts University in America looked at levels of vitamin D in 290 adults in the Rush Memory and Ageing Project, a long-term study of Alzheimer’s that began in 1997.

The team looked at vitamin D levels in four regions of the brain. Two were linked to Alzheimer’s – one known to be involved in dementia, and another believed to not be linked to cognitive decline with age.

They found that vitamin D was present in all four regions and people with more of it had better cognitive function.”

Vitamin D could reduce the risk of dementia by a third,  Joe Pinkstone. The Telegraph. Wed, December 7, 2022
Access link here

Sources of Vitamin D. Includes Mushrooms, Fish, Cheese, etcCommentary:

Sources of Vitamin D

Most people acquire their vitamin D through the sun. UVB light from the sun is absorbed by the skin and converts into Vitamin D. Hence, people who live in regions where there is a lot of sunlight throughout the year, such as the tropics, have a lower risk of developing a Vitamin D deficiency. In the United States, most people get their Vitamin D from fortified foods, such as milk, yogurt, and cereal, and supplements. Although Vitamin D is naturally created by the sun, the majority of us do not spend enough time in the sun to get the recommended amount of Vitamin D. This is especially true for those who live in Northern climates where the days are shorter and there is less sunlight. Certain groups, such as pregnant women, infants, the elderly, and people with darker skin, are at an even higher risk of developing a deficiency. People with conditions like osteoporosis and autoimmune diseases, such as psoriasis, may also need to pay special attention to their Vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D and Immunity

Most people are aware of the role Vitamin D plays in bone health. However, you may not be aware that it also plays a significant role in immunity. Studies have shown that a Vitamin D deficiency can reduce your body’s ability to fight off infections. This is particularly problematic during the colder months, as you are more likely to come into contact with germs like cold and flu viruses, which can be very contagious. Vitamin D is known to enhance the effects of certain white blood cells, known as T cells, which are the guardians of your immune system and prevent infections from forming. Vitamin D deficiency can also negatively impact your B cells, which are responsible for making antibodies in response to an infection, as well as natural killer cells, which fight off cancer cells. A Vitamin D deficiency can increase your risk of contracting and spreading infections, such as the common cold and influenza, and may be particularly common in groups who are at an increased risk of deficiency, such as pregnant women.

Vitamin D and Bone Health

Vitamin D is not only critical for helping your bones stay strong and preventing osteoporosis, but it also helps to build and maintain bone density. When you are young and your bones are still developing, Vitamin D is essential for building strong and healthy bones, as it helps your body to absorb calcium and phosphorus, two essential minerals needed for bone growth. As you age, Vitamin D is also needed to maintain existing bone density as you are more likely to experience age-related bone loss, which is known as osteoporosis. If you have a family history of osteoporosis or have experienced a fracture in the past due to weak bones, you may be at an increased risk of developing a deficiency. This is because Vitamin D is known to affect the rate of bone turnover, which can increase your risk of fractures if your bones are not as strong as they should be. In fact, research suggests that Vitamin D deficiency may be linked to an increased risk of fractures, especially in older people.

Vitamin D and Mood

Several studies suggest that a Vitamin D deficiency may be linked to an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. While it is unclear how Vitamin D may impact the production of neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate mood and emotions, it is believed that a deficiency may disrupt the serotonin and dopamine pathways, which can increase risk of depression. Individuals who are more likely to be at risk of developing a deficiency include pregnant women, people living with certain chronic diseases, such as autoimmune diseases, and those who do not get enough exposure to sunlight. While more research is needed to determine the exact link between Vitamin D and mood and anxiety disorders, it may be advantageous to pay attention to your Vitamin D levels and speak with your doctor if you are experiencing mood changes that you believe may be related to a deficiency.

Vitamin D and Cancer Prevention

Studies have shown that higher levels of Vitamin D are associated with a lower risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer and colorectal cancer. Vitamin D can influence cell growth and plays an important role in controlling abnormal cell proliferation. This may explain how Vitamin D can help to reduce the risk of contracting certain cancers. Further research is needed to understand how exactly Vitamin D impacts cancer prevention, but it is believed that Vitamin D may also play a role in regulating genes that can increase the risk of these types of cancers. People who are more likely to be at an increased risk of developing a deficiency include pregnant women, people living with certain chronic diseases, such as autoimmune diseases, and those who do not get enough exposure to sunlight.

Vitamin D and Heart Health

It is often thought that cardiovascular disease is caused by high cholesterol, hypertension, and other major risk factors. However, Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Research suggests that Vitamin D may also play a role in regulating blood pressure and preventing blood clots. A Vitamin D deficiency can reduce the amount of calcium in your blood, which can lead to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. People who are more likely to be at an increased risk of developing a deficiency include pregnant women, people living with certain chronic diseases, such as autoimmune diseases, and those who do not get enough exposure to sunlight. Given the link between Vitamin D and heart health, it is important to pay attention to your Vitamin D levels and ensure that you are getting enough. While Vitamin D deficiency can be overcome with proper supplementation, heart disease cannot and may be more difficult to prevent.

Vitamin D and Diabetes

Research suggests that a Vitamin D deficiency may be linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. While it is unclear why Vitamin D may play a role in preventing diabetes, it may be related to its ability to reduce inflammation and regulate insulin production. Individuals who are at an increased risk of developing a deficiency include pregnant women, people living with certain chronic diseases, such as autoimmune diseases, and those who do not get enough exposure to sunlight. Given the link between Vitamin D and diabetes, it is important to pay attention to your Vitamin D levels and ensure that you are getting enough. If you are at a higher risk of developing a deficiency, you may want to pay special attention to your Vitamin D levels and talk to your doctor about supplementation.

Vitamin D and Osteoarthritis

While many people suffer from joint pain and inflammation due to rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, there are many ways to prevent or slow down the progression of these diseases. One of these is getting enough Vitamin D. Research suggests that Vitamin D may be able to help ease joint pain and reduce the risk of developing osteoarthritis. Individuals who are at an increased risk of developing a deficiency include pregnant women, people living with certain chronic diseases, such as autoimmune diseases, and those who do not get enough exposure to sunlight. Given the link between Vitamin D and joint health, it is important to pay attention to your Vitamin D levels and ensure that you are getting enough. If you are at a higher risk of developing a deficiency, it may be beneficial to pay special attention to your Vitamin D levels and speak with your doctor about supplementation.

Conclusion

While Vitamin D is naturally created by the sun, most of us do not spend enough time in the sun to get the recommended amount of Vitamin D. This is especially true for those who live in Northern climates where the days are shorter and there is less sunlight. There are several foods that are rich in Vitamin D, including fish and fatty fish, but many of us get too little of this vital nutrient. For example, we only need to spend about 10 minutes in the sun to get our Vitamin D needs met. If you’re spending more time indoors, you may want to supplement with vitamin D. That’s it! Keep this article handy as a reference when you’re looking for the best sources of vitamin D – and remember, you can always ask your pharmacist or doctor for advice.

Proactive health care is sometimes the best solution to our healthcare needs. Action is always faster than reaction! If you are interested in learning more about Holistic and Integrative Health Care approaches and have more questions about it then perhaps you should visit our Holistic Health Care Certification program FAQ page

References:

Mayo Clinic – Vitamin D and MS 

Wikipedia Vitamin D

Additional Resources:

Non-musculoskeletal benefits of vitamin D, Sunil J. Wimalawansa, The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Volume 175, 2018, Pages 60-81, ISSN 0960-0760,

Access Here 

Vitamin D for Health: A Global Perspective, Arash Hossein-nezhad, et al, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, Volume 88, Issue 7, 2013, Pages 720-755, ISSN 0025-6196,

Access Here 

Vitamin D deficiency in Europe: pandemic?, Kevin D Cashman, et al, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 103, Issue 4, April 2016, Pages 1033–1044,

Access Here 

Vitamin D deficiency 2.0: an update on the current status worldwide. Amrein, K., Scherkl, M., Hoffmann, M. et al.  Eur J Clin Nutr 74, 1498–1513 (2020).

Access Here 

St. John’s Wort: Its Many Uses

By: Dominick L. Flarey, Ph.D, RN-BC, ANP-BC
Certified Adult Nurse Practitioner
St. John's Wort Plants and flowers laying around three brown medicine bottles

Many people have heard of St John’s Wort (1) (Hypericum perforatum) because of its popularity as a depression remedy, but not everyone is aware of its other use as a burn remedy. First, a little history about this yellow flower. The herb is named after John the Baptist because it normally blooms around his birthday, June 24. The word ‘wort’ is the middle English word for ‘herb’. St. John’s wort is a plant that has been used medicinally for centuries. The most common use of St. John’s wort is for the treatment of depression. The active ingredients in St. John’s wort are thought to be hypericin (2) and hyperforin (3). Hypericin is thought to work by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine in the brain.

St. John’s Wort as a Burn Remedy

Long before it was used as a mood stabilizer, St. John’s Wort was traditionally used as a burn remedy. Herbalists in ancient times would make a paste from an infusion of St. John’s Wort and corn starch. This mixture was spread on the burn and dressed with clean bandages made of linen or cotton. Sometimes, an oil made from the flower petals was applied to an inflamed or burned area.

Although herbalists from centuries ago managed to figure out the various uses of this herb, they did not know why it worked. Today science can give us some insight as to why this herb works so well as a natural burn remedy, but its pharmacology is still not completely understood.

Here’s what we do know. The herb contains the chemical compound ‘hypericin’ which has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antibiotic properties. When applied topically to the skin, burns heal faster and with less scarring. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it a great sunburn remedy as well.

Many people report that they’ve had success using St. John’s Wort as a remedy for other skin ailments like psoriasis and warts. Medical studies are under way that may prove St. John’s Wort as a remedy for these skin ailments  and some types of skin cancer.

St. John’s oil or cream is readily available from health food stores or may be ordered online. Store it in a cool dark place, and it should keep for up to two years. If you’re adventurous and prefer to make your own, follow this recipe:

St johns wort herbs flowers laying in a jar with tea mix

* In blender grind one cup of fresh St. John’s Wort flowers to a pulp

* Place the pulp in a clean jar

* Cover with extra virgin olive oil

* Let the jar stand in a warm place, out of direct sunlight

* Shake/stir it daily for two weeks

* Use a cheesecloth to strain and bottle for use

The color should be a deep red. If it’s pink, use fresher flowers next time.

Burns are serious injuries, and if you ever experience even a minor burn, you should immediately apply first aid by immersing the burned area in cold water. Also, be sure to follow your doctor’s recommendations; however, you can consider using complementary therapies in addition to your doctor’s treatment. It’s quite likely that you will heal faster, and that there will be less scarring.

St. John’s Wort for Depression

The active ingredient in the herb is hypericin, which is thought to work by inhibiting the reuptake of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin (4). Studies have shown that St John’s wort is effective in treating mild to moderate depression, and it may also be effective against anxiety and other mood disorders. It is a popular herbal remedy for depression that is thought to work by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain. It usually takes about 2-4 weeks for St. John’s wort to start working for depression, though some people may notice a difference sooner.

There is some evidence to suggest that St. John’s wort may act as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are a class of drugs used to treat depression. They work by preventing the breakdown of monoamines, which are chemicals that play a role in mood and emotion. MAOIs can cause a variety of side effects, including fatigue, insomnia, and gastrointestinal problems.

There is a significant body of research indicating that St. John’s Wort is an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression. The mechanism of action is believed to be similar to that of other antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), by increasing levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. Given the lack of serious side effects and the low cost of this herbal remedy, it should be considered as a first-line treatment option for depression.

The dosage of St. John’s wort for depression can vary depending on the severity of the depression and the individual’s response to the herb. A common starting dose is 300 mg per day, divided into three doses. If the depression is mild, this dose may be sufficient. If the depression is more severe, the dose may be increased to 600 mg per day. Typically, patients will take St. John’s wort for at least six weeks to see if it is effective for their depression. If the patient does not see any improvement after six weeks, they may discontinue use of the herb.

table with the words Depression written on it and different supplements tablets laying on the table

Can St. John’s Wort be taken along with Benzodiazepines? Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that are commonly used to treat anxiety and other mental health conditions. There is some evidence to suggest that this herb may interact with benzodiazepines, and it is therefore important to speak with a healthcare professional before taking these two substances together.

Side Effects and Precautions

The most common side effects of taking St. John’s Wort for depression are gastrointestinal upset, fatigue, and dizziness. Less common side effects include headache, dry mouth, and constipation. Some people may also experience photosensitivity, meaning their skin becomes more sensitive to sunlight. While most side effects are mild and go away on their own, more serious side effects have been reported in rare cases. These include liver damage, mania, and serotonin syndrome.

There are some medications that St. John’s Wort can interact with. These include:

– Antidepressants

– Birth control pills

– Blood thinners

– Cancer medication

– Cyclosporine

– Cancer medications

– Heart medications

– HIV/AIDS medications

If you are taking any of these medications, it is important to talk to your doctor or health care provider before taking St. John’s Wort.

There are a few foods that St. John’s Wort cannot be taken with. These include anything high in tyramine, such as aged cheese, red wine, and cured meats. These foods can cause an increase in blood pressure when taken with the herb. There are other food interactions that are known with St. John’s wort. The herb can decrease the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K. It can also reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills, and it may increase the metabolism of certain drugs, such as antidepressants, leading to reduced efficacy. Therefore, it is best to avoid taking St. John’s wort with birth control pills or other medications.

Is drinking alcohol permissible when taking St. John’s Wort? There are no definitive studies that indicate whether it is safe to drink alcohol while taking St. John’s Wort. However, it is generally recommended that people avoid drinking alcohol while taking any medication, as alcohol can interfere with the body’s ability to process and absorb the medication. Additionally, alcohol can increase the risk of side effects from medications, including St. John’s Wort. Therefore, it is advisable to err on the side of caution and avoid drinking alcohol while taking this supplement.

The side effects of this herb can be divided into two main categories: those that are caused by the plant itself, and those that are caused by the interaction between the plant and other medications. The most common side effect of St. John’s Wort is gastrointestinal upset, which can include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Other side effects that have been reported include headaches, dizziness, insomnia, and anxiety.

Other Uses for St. John’s Wort

The modern use for St. John’s Wort besides treating mild to moderate depression and burns is that it has also been traditionally used for nerve pain, such as sciatica and neuralgia and used for insomnia and menopausal symptoms.

Neuropathic Pain

St John’s Wort has been used traditionally in the treatment of neuropathic pain (5), due to its purported antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory properties. It is thought that these effects are derived from its constituent hypericin, which is a flavonoid found in the plant. Hypericin is a potent inhibitor of voltage-gated sodium channels, which may reduce neuronal hyperexcitability and therefore alleviate nerve pain.

a 3D illustration of the spine, the neck showing a lite up area in red and yellow signifying pain

St John’s Wort has been the subject of research in terms of its efficacy in providing relief for nerve pain. Studies have suggested that this herbal remedy can provide significant levels of analgesia when taken regularly and in doses that are consistent with the recommended guidelines. Additionally, the active ingredient Hypericum perforatum has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties which may be beneficial in reducing inflammation caused by nerve damage and thus provide alleviation of associated symptoms such as pain.

Insomnia

St. John’s Wort, is an herbal remedy that has been used for centuries to treat insomnia. It works by modulating serotonin pathways and interacting with neurotransmitter receptors in the brain, resulting in improved sleep quality. Studies have shown its efficacy in reducing symptoms of primary insomnia, particularly when combined with other therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy.

St John’s Wort has been documented to have positive effects on the treatment of insomnia, with some studies suggesting that it could be as effective as traditional pharmacological treatments. The active constituents in this herb, including hyperforin, flavonoids and terpenoids, are believed to be responsible for its sedative effect.  It is thought to modulate the serotonergic system, which plays a role in sleep-wake regulation, particularly through its effect on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.

Menopausal Symptoms

The herb has been evaluated for its efficacy in alleviating menopausal symptoms, with research demonstrating that it can be an effective treatment for reducing the severity of hot flashes. The active components found in St. John’s Wort are believed to be Hypericins and hyperforin, which have been suggested to possess a range of pharmacological activities, including modulating serotonin and opioid receptor activity and increasing GABA neurotransmitter levels.  It is also theorized that the active constituents of St John’s Wort, particularly hypericin and hyperforin, possess potent phytoestrogenic properties which may account for its efficacy in alleviating menopausal symptomatology.

Conclusion

In conclusion, St. John’s wort is a beneficial herb with many potential uses. It has been used since ancient times to treat mental health disorders, may have antifungal properties, and can be used to treat skin wounds and burns, as well as neuropathic pain and menopausal symptoms. Additionally, research suggests that St. John’s wort may be useful for treating symptoms of menopause and improving moods and cognitive function in the elderly. With its many potential benefits, it is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative remedy for a variety of ailments. Certified Holistic Nurses will find the information in this article to be particularly useful in their professional practices especially related to education of their clients.

Are you a Registered Professional Nurse who has an interest in learning more about Holistic and Integrative Nursing Practice? The American Institute of Health Care Professionals, Inc. offers a full curriculum of continuing education courses leading to a Certification in Holistic and Integrative Nursing Practice. You may preview the program by accessing here.

References

  1. St. John’s Wort. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. US Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. access here
  2. Hypericin. Wikipedia. access here
  3. Hyperforin. National Library of Medicine. access here
  4. Serotonin. The Cleveland Clinic. March 18, 2022. access here
  5. Neuropathic Pain. The Cleveland Clinic. December 7, 2020. access here

Suggested Readings

1. Clinical relevance of St. John’s Wort interactions revisited. Simon Nicolussi, et. al. British Journal of Pharmacology. November 19, 2019. Vol 177 (6):1212-1226. access here

2. Hypericum perforatum (St John’s wort) beyond depression: A therapeutic perspective for pain conditions. Nicoletta Galeotti. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. March 2017. Vol 200 (22):136-146. access here

3. St. John’s Wort. The Mayo Clinic. By: Mayo Clinic Staff. February 13, 2021. access here

Integrative and Holistic Healthcare Practitioner Blog on Ayurveda

Aruyveda medicine is trending in health and wellness conversations across the nation.  Individuals look hard to find ways to compliment their conventional treatments.  Ayurveda provides individuals with a variety of holistic remedies for prevention and cure of numerous illnesses.  Integrative and Holistic Healthcare Professionals can help individuals properly utilize Ayurveda and its many supplements with conventional treatment.  Please also review AIHCP’s Integrative and Holistic Healthcare Practitioner Program

Ayurveda can have many positive benefits for health. Please also review AIHCP’s Integrative and Holistic Healthcare Practitioner Program

 

The article, “What Is Ayurveda, and Why Is It Trending So Big Right Now?” by Brittany Burhop Fallon looks at Aruyveda and why it is so helpful to so many.  She states,

“Ayurveda is wonderful and comprehensive system of holistic medicine developed 10,000 years ago by the Tamil Siddha yogis in the South of India,” says Martha Soffer, internationally acclaimed Ayurvedic Panchakarma expert and founder of Surya Spa. “Their goal was to extend and revitalize their lives and to give them the greatest chance for enlightenment. ”

To review the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Integrative and Holistic Healthcare Practitioner Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Holistic Nursing.

Holistic and Integrative Healthcare Specialist Program Article on Blackseed Oil

There are many dietary herbs and oils that are beneficial for health.  Blackseed oil is a very good one to look into especially if you have high blood sugar or high cholesterol.   It is a very common herb used in Ayurveda medicine in India and can be useful to many individuals in Western society as well.

Please also review AIHCP’s Holistic and Integrative Healthcare Specialist Program for nurses. The program is independent study and online

 

The article, “8 Benefits of Black Seed Oil That Make It a Super Supplement” by Mary Grace Garis looks at the benefits of blackseed oil and how it can help individuals with certain health issues.  She states,

“Formally speaking, black seed oil is extracted from the fruit of the Nigella sativa plant, a small flowering plant that grows in Southwest Asia, the Middle East, and Southern Europe. And it’s been around for a while: It’s commonly used in Ayurveda, a holistic medicine practice that originated in India”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Holistic and Integrative Healthcare Specialist Program and see if it matches your professional and academic goals and needs.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals and nurses seeking a four year certification in Holistic Nursing and Integrative Health Specialist areas.

Integrative Holistic Specialist Certification Article on Light Therapy

Integrative Holistic Specialists utilize multiple alternative and complimentary treatments for ailments.  Light Therapy is another type of treatment that is utilized for a variety of ailments.

Light therapy uses a lamp, often in a light box that emits light in high doses to help treat various types of depression, insomnia and sometimes even jet lag.  This type of light therapy should not be confused with UV Light therapy, a more concentrated UV ray used to help treat various skin conditions such as Psoriasis and acne.  UV Light, if used in high doses, and on the wrong type of condition, can cause serious skin inflammation and in some cases internal problems. You should always talk to your doctor before undergoing any type of light therapy.

Learn more about becoming a Holistic and Integrative Healthcare Specialist by reviewing AIHCP’s program and see if it meets your professional goals

 

Light Therapy can be used for many ailments listed below:

  • Unseasonal Depression
  • Insomnia
  • New night shift work Schedule
  • Dementia
  • Severe jet lag
  • Depression during Pregnancy or Breast Feeding
  • Any other condition – as recommended by your doctor

 

Light therapy boxes are almost never covered by insurance. However, your doctor can usually give you some recommendations of where to buy them online or in retail stores that won’t create too much of a burden on your wallet. Be sure you purchase a box that has the options and features you are looking for. There are many varieties. It is recommended that you do thorough research before purchasing your light therapy box, bulb or lamp.

Even though a complete cure for depression, SAD, or even insomnia is almost never reported with this treatment, there are many health benefits that can come from consistent use of light therapy. Number one being the reduction of prescription medications.  When using a light therapy box, it is important to not just rest the light on your skin, but to have it indirectly facing into your eyes. Those who aim it on their skin alone may receive some benefits, but, the benefits are greatly heightened when aimed indirectly into the eyes. Be careful not to look directly into the light – doing so may cause retinal damage.

Despite potential risks and precautions – talked about in greater detail in the next section – the light therapy box is a great way to reduce your mental stress, improve your mood, and elevate your energy levels naturally – especially during fall and winter months – when the sun shines the least. Those who practice safe and healthy light therapy techniques – which include safe duration of time (15 min – 2 hrs. a day), timing of light therapy practices (early morning) and proper intensity (see doctor for guidelines), usually see a reduction in medication usage.

Unfortunately, as with nearly every health care therapy there are some risks and precautions you should be aware of before starting or participating in ongoing light therapy treatment. Patients with SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus) or other conditions where the skin may be sensitive to light or anyone who takes antibiotics or natural supplements that increase sensitivity to light, are counselled not to take part in this type of therapy.  Additionally, anyone with a history of skin cancer or eye sensitivity should not use light therapy.  If you have any questions about whether or not you should use this type of therapy for your condition, please visit your doctor before starting on treatment, as stated above.

 

Be aware that many of the side-effects that can be experienced are short lived and mild in severity, but, they should never be ignored.  The following is a short list of some of the side-effects that may be experienced during light therapy:

Eyestrain

  • Headaches
  • Vomiting (Nausea)
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Mania, euphoria, hyperactivity or agitation associated with bipolar disorder

 

It is important to understand the benefits and possible risks with any treatment.  This is why it is important work with doctors and other healthcare professionals whenever utilizing a certain therapy.  Integrative Holistic Specialists are trained in both conventional and complimentary medicines and can best guide one through the best options regarding Light Therapy

If you are interested in learning more about becoming certified in Holistic Nursing or becoming a Integrative Holistic Specialist, then please review the program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.

 

Holistic Integrative Specialist Program Article on Eastern Medication

Sometimes Western medications are limited.  Other medications from other cultures may have less side effects, or be better long term for one’s recovery.  Eastern medications are sometimes wise to explore with the proper professional guidance regarding your diagnosis.

Eastern medication when utilized properly can help individuals through illness. One must be guided by a healthcare professional to avoid dangers

Healthcare professionals who are certified in holistic integrative medication can be a great source in guiding one through the various different types of medicine.

The article, “How Eastern Medicine Can Improve Your Life” through businessmirror states

Eastern medicine has been going mainstream in the last few years. It’s moved beyond simply being a fringe medical practice in the western world, and has become widely accepted as a relevant and effective alternative medicine. This comes as no surprise to practitioners in India and China; Eastern medicine, including Ayurvedic medicine and Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), is steeped in thousands of years of history, study and practice.

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review our Holistic Integrative Specialist Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals

Holistic Nurse Certification Article on Managing Pain

Chronic pain is an issue for millions of Americans.  How to overcome that pain is the question.   Some medications have side effects or are too powerful and deemed illegal for use.  With such questions, many seek various safe, alternative forms of treatment for chronic pain.

Please review our Holistic Nurse Certification and see if it meets your academic or professional goals
Please review our Holistic Nurse Certification and see if it meets your academic or professional goals

The article, “Health Talk: Alternative therapies for chronic pain” by Michael Kenosh, M.D, et all takes a closer look into ways to manage pain The article states,

“The New York Times recently reported that opioid overdose was the leading cause of death for people under the age of 50 in the United States (2018). The incidence of prescription medication overdose that occurs outside of health-care facilities has increased exponentially in the last 20 years. In the United States, people often perceive medication as the sole source of relief from pain. However, alternative methods of treatment exist that may have lower risks and lead to improvements in long-term outcomes.”

To read the entire article please click here

Please also review our Holistic Nurse Certification and see if it matches your needs.  As a Holistic Nurse one can help others manage pain through safe and alternative methods

Holistic Nurse Certification Article on Alternative Pain Control Methods

Good article about alternative therapies to help with pain management.  Pain management has many conventional methods but new alternative methods are helping patients find relief.  Aromatherapy and others are but an example of new ways to fight pain.  These new ways give healthcare professionals other options to help their patients.

Aromatherapy is a new alternative for some pain management. Please also review our Holistic Nurse Certification
Aromatherapy is a new alternative for some pain management. Please also review our Holistic Nurse Certification

The article, “How Aromatherapy and Reflexology Are Changing Approaches to Pain Management” by Lisa Blackburn discusses this topic and how it can be utilized.  The article states,

“FOR SOME CANCER patients, those who are treated with brachytherapy, the pain and anxiety that accompanies treatment can be significant. Brachytherapy is used to treat cancers that occur deep within the body, such as cervical or prostate cancer. For this treatment, the radiation source is positioned very close to the tumor itself in order to maximize the radiation dose to the cancer while decreasing exposure to normal body tissues.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review our Holistic Nurse Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional needs.