Free Essay Example: Exploring Natural Medicine for Anxiety and Depression

Published: 2023-12-30
Free Essay Example: Exploring Natural Medicine for Anxiety and Depression
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Medicine Depression Anxiety disorder
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1699 words
15 min read


Mental well-being is among the significant concerns in the current years, especially with the different economic and social well-being among humans. Kessler et al. (2015) estimated that about 25% of women and 12% of men suffer from depression at least once in their lifetime. Though the figures given by Kessler et al. (2015) could be underestimating the whole scenario, as the authors rely on reported cases, the fact is that there are a lot of unreported cases situation could way beyond the reported statistics. Due to the magnitude of the problem, there is a need to seek alternative interventions to mitigate the problem. Some of the commonly used interventions include psychological engagements such as therapy, pharmaceutical drugs (anti-depressants), and natural medicine. The most common interventions used to manage and treat anxiety and depression include anti-depressants psychological therapy, or a combination of both. As much as these interventions have been useful, studies have also revealed high dropout rates from these programs and remission rates (Matthew & Charney, 2009: Pigott et al., 2010). The pharmaceutical intervention also exposes patients to additional risks such as addiction, drug side effects, and dependency on the drug. The current situation might lead to patients searching for substitutes, which increases natural medicine, referred to as complementary and alternative medicine by the National Health Institute. Additionally, the field of natural medicine has been relatively underexplored as compared to the other two areas. In this regard, this comparative analysis will seek to explore natural medicine usage as an intervention for depression and anxiety.

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Neuroanatomy of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety and acute depression lead to catecholamine production, which is released over the sympathetic-adreno-medullary structure and enhances the anxiety hormone cortisol via the primary hypo-thalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) coordination. The hypothalamus inspires the brain to produce catecholamine into the bloodstream, which leads to physical variations like an amplified heartbeat, high blood pressure, and increased breathing rate (Fitzgerald et al., 2018). These developments lead to the flight-or-flight reaction that supports and leads to increased stimulation to the perceived danger while obstructing tasks that are non-adaptive in the existing situation like ingestion and sensual behavior. Subsequently, the sympathetic-adreno-medullary instigation of the HPA axis starts the emission of corticotrophin-discharging hormone in the hypothalamus. Corticotrophin- discharging hormone triggers the discharge of the adrenocorticotropic hormone produced in the pituitary into the plasma gateway, which activates the adrenal cortex to release glucocorticoids (Maggioni et al., 2019). Glucocorticoid production supports the cascade of physiological alteration, which involves increased metabolism, cardiovascular output, and glycogenesis, leading to the flight or fight response (Abramova et al., 2017). Glucocorticoids also play an essential role in managing various stress responses by giving inhibitory responses at different stages of the HPA axis; this eliminates anxiety reactions when the stressor is removed. The cited proceedings are arranged to permit the subject to acclimate to the changing environment stressors, allowing a homeostatic equilibrium of physiological factors within a vibrant environment, a progression referred to as allostasis. Increased stress leads to the production of the cat-ethylamine dopamine, which is controlled by the amygdala. Acute levels of stress increase norepinephrine levels in the PFC via amygdala activation.

Natural medicines

According to the National Health Institute, natural medicines fall under Complementary and Alternative Medicine, including other body and mind-enhancing exercises such as yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and tai chi, among other practices. Similar to pharmaceutical drugs, herbal medicines regulate brain transmitters by subduing the reuptake of the neurotransmitters. Simultaneously, various treatments play an anti-depressant role through sensitizing serotonin receptors, which impedes monoamine oxidase. Ginseng is among the most commonly used natural medicines used by the Chinese for centuries to help enhance moods, and thus it has been explored by various researchers. Zheng & Xing (2009) reported that when element 20(s)- protopanaxadiol was sequestered from Ginseng, it showed viable anti-depressant activities in rodents by enhancing the percentage of NE and 5-HT in the brain. It worked by preventing the reuptake of monoamine to some degree. According to Mao et al. (2008), the processed portion of Ranunculaceae (an extract of Paeonia lactiflora) is among the essential components of different Chinese formulas for treating anxiety and depression pharmaceuticals medicines. Further analyses have also identified the positive activity of Ranunculaceae in improving the psychological conditions of rodents.

Additional studies have also demonstrated that Ranunculaceae reduces chronic stress symptoms by inhibiting the production and monoamine oxidases and reducing oxidative stress in the brain. Kim et al. (2007) also researched silk trees' essence in treating anxiety, insomnia, and depression. The researcher revealed that a dose of 200mg of this natural medicine remarkably reduced the immobility time in an experimental test that involved forced swimming tests, which is an indicator of anti-depression. The impact could be reduced by giving the subject WAY-100635, which is among the adversaries of 5-HT1A receptor or pindolol, which plays the same role. Even so, these results state that natural anti-depressants work by blocking 5-HT1A brain receptors.

On the other hand, St John's wort reduces depression symptoms by increasing serotine, which induces a relaxed feeling in the brain and decreases depression and anxiety symptoms. Serotine reduces anxiety by coordinating with the hormonal HPA –Axis and neuronal sympathetic nerve system. The interaction leads to the limitation enzyme in 5-HT biosynthesis. A study by Barnes et al. (2019) also revealed that St John's wort could also reduce chronic stress's adverse effects despite reducing the effects of stress and anxiety. The study concluded that H.perforatum could protect against chronic stress at various levels of neuronal functions in different structures that help in the memory process and reverse such changes. Besides, the study also revealed that apart from relieving stress and anxiety, H. perforatum also had other positive effects on various cognitive and non-cognitive facets of behavior and could therefore be used as a foolproof and affordable solution to prevent not only stress-related memory disorders but also in the loss of memory that is associated with advancing age.

Challenges with Conventional Medicine

The use of conventional medicine to treat depression has been controversial over the years, which has prompted researchers to search for alternatives to fill this void. Some of the challenges identified with synthetic pharmaceutical medicine include;

Questionable Efficacy Rates

Serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) are among the most common types of drugs used to treat depression and have gained a reputation for doing so for an extended period. Their popularity stems from their characteristic side effects, the convenience of administering these drugs (once a day), and the fact that the first dose is similar to the therapeutic dose, which renders careful, slow dosage redundant. Apart from the fact that they have shown to be efficient in managing anxiety and depression, these drugs have side effects that can range from nausea and dizziness, in some cases. Patients tend to remain sedated and lose their sexual drive (Puri & Treasaden, 2010). SSRIs' uncertain side effects like mood swings that sometimes render patients sedated or sometimes turn them to hyper-activeness, lead to doubts about these drugs' actual side effects. Such thought can be further fueled by these drugs' ability to change the metabolism of other medications via the P450 structures (Stahl & Stahl, 2013), a cluster of hepatic enzymes that metabolize food, medications, and any other toxic element in the body.

The Balance between Risks and Benefits Associated

As much as the pharmacology industry is rapidly developing, the industry has not been able to discover an anti-depressant that is tailored to solve most patients who need these drugs. For some patients, the advantages gained from these medications are worth the risks, which exposes these patients to drug abuse and addiction, with other consequences like tolerance. However, for some patients, these drugs expose them to more significant risks through the side effects that they turn out to become non-compliant even when the drug only exposes them to moderate risks. An example of such a drug is Bupropion, which affects norepinephrine and dopamine and has no serotoninergic impacts (Kharasch et al., 2019). It functions by stimulating the patient, and its commonly known side effects include insomnia, headache, and anxiety, among others. According to a study by, Kharasch et al. (2019), Bupropion has some advantages, especially for younger patients who do not experience any loss of sexual drive and weight gain. At the same time, for the same age group, the drug has the potential to cause seizures, and it is contraindicated in subjects with eating abnormalities like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

Venlafaxine has also revealed greater efficiency as compared to SSRIs, particularly in cases of chronic depression. In cases of severe depression, there is a need to increase the dosage of the drug, which exposes the patient to dose-related hypertension, which affects about 10% of all patients treated using a high dosage of this drug. Another example of a drug with better outcomes is Mirtazapine. The drug works by constraining presynaptic noradrenergic systems, which enhances the noradrenergic functionality and enhances serotoninergic functions. With such benefits, its typical side effects include sedation and weight gain (Douros & Renoux, 2018). Such side effects could lead to increased depression.

The benefits and risks of some synthetic drugs can also be unveiled through their usage history. For instance, previously, tricyclics were perceived to be effective, low cost, and allowed the patient the convenience of using them (Kreider, 2017). Besides, it was suitable for reducing chronic and was easily manageable. However, recent studies have revealed that the drugs also present significant risks to the users, including the risk of toxicity and making the user intolerant, which means one has to continuously increase the dosage after some time to feel its effects.

Somatic Comorbidity

In cases where a subject has a co-current somatic condition, they might develop depression. Therefore, managing depression and failing to manage the somatic condition is likely not to be efficient in the long run without treating the somatic condition. Contrary, the underlying condition can also hinder the administration of some anti-depressive drugs, especially in cases where sensitive organs like the kidney or liver are involved (which is the case in most diabetic patients, yet they have a higher risk of suffering from depression). Additionally, some synthetic drugs can have dire effects on patients with other underlying conditions and even expose them to life-threatening conditions. For example, administering venlafaxine to a hypertensive patient would lead to dire consequences.

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