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Nature against depression. Curr Med Chem 2012;19(14):2229-41



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-84860661296 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)   19 Citations


Depression is a major health problem currently recognized as a leading cause of morbidity worldwide. In the United States alone, depression affects approximately 20% of the population. With current medications suffering from major shortcomings that include slow onset of action, poor efficacy, and unwanted side effects, the search for new and improved antidepressants is ever increasing. In an effort to evade side effects, people have been resorting to popular traditional herbal medicines to relieve the symptoms of depression, and there is a need for more empirical knowledge about their use and effectiveness. This review provides an overview of the current knowledge state regarding a variety of natural plant products commonly used in depression. Herbal medicines discussed that have been used in clinical trials for the treatment of mild to moderate depression states include the popular St. John's wort, saffron, Rhodiola, lavender, Echium, and the Chinese formula banxia houpu. In addition, new emerging herbal products that have been studied in different animal models are discussed including Polygala tenuifolia, the traditional Chinese herbal SYJN formula, gan mai da zao, and Cannabis sativa constituents. A comprehensive review of the chemical, pharmacological, and clinical aspects of each of the reviewed products is provided. Finally, recent preclinical studies reporting the antidepressant action of marine-derived natural products are discussed at the end of the review.

Author List

El-Alfy AT, Abourashed EA, Matsumoto RR


Ehab A. Abourashed PhD Professor in the School of Pharmacy Administration department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Abir El-Alfy PhD Assistant Dean, Professor in the School of Pharmacy Administration department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Biological Products
Molecular Structure
Plant Extracts
Plants, Medicinal