This article is meant for practitioners of herbal medicine. If you are not a practitioner it is important that you know herbal medicine is most effectively and safely utilized under the care of a licensed professional. Even though many people have similar symptoms, each person’s root imbalance and herbal prescription is unique.
The following raw herb formula can cost as little as $15 per two weeks of herbs. It treats mainly depression, but also benefits fatigue. It is a balanced formula that is safe to use for most TCM DDx of depression, especially those due to deficiency and stagnation of the liver. Its function pharmacologically gently mimics an SSRI. More importantly, it contains constituents that: can calm the nervous system and treat sympathetic overload, increase the integrity of the blood with nutrients like iron, b vitamins, and many trace minerals, and improves breathing and digestive capabilities necessary to help keep a patients emotions balanced. See Chinese Medical Herbology & Pharmacology by John Chen for detailed lists of the constituents and functions of individual herbs. This version of the formula has a small modification for complaints of heartburn sx at Ren12.
bai shao 10g
chai hu 10g
he shou wu jiao 10g
shu di huang 10g
huang qi 10g
hong jing tian 10g (rhodiola rosea)
mei gui hua 10g
mu dan pi 10g
chen pi 10g
zhi gan cao 3g
gotu kola 10g
bo he 6g (add @ last 5 min of boil)
shi gao powder 5g (add after decocted for heartburn sx)
Have the patient boil these herbs in the traditional raw herb water extract fashion and drink over 3 days (1/6 portion 2 times each day, morning and afternoon). This is a low dose that is very affordable so if results are mixed or minimal, a higher dosage (up to double) is still within a normal and safe range. This formula should have noticable results after 2-4 weeks and should be taken for at least 4-6 months.
Note: If a patient decides they want to come off an SSRI, they must work with a physician, who can guide them through the weaning off process. It is dangerous to suddenly stop an SSRI and it is not within the scope of an acupuncturist to advise a patient on prescription medications. That said, I have many patients who start taking a version of this formula and notice feeling better to such an extent that they soon are in their doctors office wanting to take less meds (SSRIs, anti-anxiety meds, benzos etc…).
The closest patent (pill) equivalent of this formula is xiao yao san but the mei gui hua, gotu kola, and hong jing tian are not in classic xiao yao san. These herbs, in my clinical experience, are necessary to notice quick and lasting results.
Please comment about your results or modifications if you try this formula.
Michael Niss L.Ac.
Silverlake, Los Angeles Acupuncture