Mental Health

Herbal Remedies or Placebos for Mental Health? Maybe a Win-Win Situation

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Posted By Alex Perez - Mental Health Writer, B.A.

Placebo? There is no alternative medicine

In an article on the use of herbal supplements in the management of anxiety, Valerie Jones, MD concluded that: “There is no alternative medicine. There is only scientifically proven, evidence-based medicine supported by solid data or unproven medicine, for which scientific evidence is lacking”.

However, the stigma surrounding the use of plant-based remedies is gradually disappearing as more and more renowned universities begin to explore the benefits of these remedies for mental disorders.

With the abundance of medical plants, the Amazon rainforest alone is home to 80,000 medicinal plant species, and the fact that 25% of our medicines are derived from these plants, it is often difficult to make a decision.

Is it better to combat anxiety, stress, or depression with natural remedies or to ignore them due to lack of evidence? We also know that a significant part of our Western drugs are made with plants, but these medicines were manufactured in a laboratory by experts and have undergone a lot of tests. In that case, is it better to consult our doctor? Yes and no. Our GP is a professional in medicine and so obviously has more insight than the average person, but doctors are only human and sometimes they refuse to believe evidence.

What happens if the herbal remedies don’t work?

herbal remedies placebo

Now you will think that your choice has become even more difficult than when you started reading this article. Rest assured, your choice has become much easier and I’ll tell you why right away.

If you have decided to try a natural cure, you should first consider the side effects of using a certain herb and for which population groups the use of a certain natural medicine is not recommended. Once you have done that, nothing will stop you from trying a natural cure. Why? It’s quite simple, if the herbal remedy has any real benefits for your condition, you will get better. If not, you still benefit from it as shown by this quote from an NBC News article: People looking for natural cures will be happy to know there is one. Two words explain how it works: “I believe.”

That’s right, if you choose a natural remedy that ultimately shows no benefits with respect to your condition, you will still experience a temporary placebo effect. Even though the placebo effect will not cure you, you will certainly feel better. Feeling better is exactly what you are looking for when you suffer from a mental illness.

What are you waiting for? There is a very wide range of medicinal herbs for mental health available at your local herbalist and many of them have already undergone scientific research.


NBC News.com: Placebo effect behind many cures

AMA Journal of Ethics.org: Herbal Supplements as Placebos

The Conversation.com: Western herbal medicine – panacea or placebo?

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