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Floral and Herbal Remedies – Gems from the Garden of Natural Mental Health

Last Updated on February 22, 2023 by Diane Ridaeus

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Michael Loes MD

Alternative to Meds Center is a mental health treatment facility that blends orthomolecular and environmental medicine with other holistic protocols including herbal and floral remedies.

Many of our clients have been “through the mill” with drug-based treatment and are looking for a gentle and effective pathway back to natural mental health without relying on pharmaceutical drugs which are associated with severe and lingering undesirable effects.

Can herbal remedies help in transitioning
from prescription medication?

floral herbal treatments for natural mental health

Modifying the diet according to orthomolecular guidelines, neurotoxin removal, and neurotransmitter rehabilitation are three areas of focus in treatment. Floral and herbal remedies can provide additional support during the transition to a bettered state of natural mental health. We are confident in this treatment approach as our documented success clearly demonstrates.
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Herbal and Floral Remedies — From Ancient Roots to Modern Research in Natural Mental Health Treatment

Alternative to Meds Center provides holistic detox, medication tapering, and neurotransmitter rehabilitation steps under medical oversight and management. Adjunct treatments, such as herbal and floral remedies, can provide additional support where desired. The context of our residential programs is improving mental health naturally.

The ancient roots of botanical remedies go as far back as 4500 BC. Herbal and floral remedies are no stranger to today’s “blossoming” world of alternative health and healing. The word “flower” itself derives from its root word meaning “to thrive, to bloom.” There are around 350,000 species of flowering plants known to exist globally, and researchers have provided clarity on which ones can play important medicinal roles, especially during the transition away from prescription medication.9

Many non-flowering herbs are also used medicinally and have earned high regard for their efficacy in natural mental health treatment, and for their lack of side effects. Gardening itself can be a valuable therapeutic activity, and expanding your garden or your kitchen herb shelf may be a pleasurable and affordable activity. Even visually, plants can have a profound effect on mood, as noted in hospital-based studies that reflect their positive benefits on health.1,5

10 Beneficial Floral and Herbal Remedies

Some examples of these highly prized benefits are discussed below, along with citations for the reader to learn more about them. Floral and herbal remedies can provide welcome support for various aspects of mental health, naturally. One could spend years, a lifetime really, researching this vast subject. But for now, we have selected a bouquet of 10 remarkable examples to explore.

10 Floral and Herbal Remedies for Natural Mental Health Include:
  • medicinal botanicals for natural mental healthPeony (Paeonia lactiflora)
  • Roses (200 species, 18,000 cultivated varieties)
  • St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
  • Lavender
  • Saffron (Crocus sativus)
  • Kava (Piper methysticum)
  • Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
  • Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
  • Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius, Panax ginseng)
  • Ginkgo Biloba

Peony:  Named after Paeon, the Greek god of healing and medicine, extracts of this showy, fragrant bloom have antidepressant effects. Researchers suggest its neuroprotective effects derive from the up-regulation (increased response) of neurotrophins, which are the proteins that manage and protect neurons throughout the body. Peony extracts also inhibit neuro-destructive enzymes as well as support the HPA axis (the monitoring system for the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal glands).6,12

beneficial natural remediesRoses:  Roses are often associated with joy, love, celebration, friendship, and comfort. Of the hundreds of types of roses, two, in particular, have been closely studied and tested in clinical research for their therapeutic properties, namely Rosa damascena and Rosa centifolia. For example, researchers have found their oils have a variety of attributes, such as psychological relaxation, antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects. A fascinating 2021 study showed that even being in the presence of roses can have a profound relaxation effect. Comparing white, red, and yellow roses, the yellow roses were found to induce the most pronounced relaxation effect of all. The fruit of roses, the hips, contain high amounts of vitamin C and healthy fatty acids.10,13-16

St. John’s Wort:  Extracts and teas from this flowering plant have demonstrated an abundance of health benefits. It is an over-the-counter antidepressant found equally effective as pharmaceutical antidepressants and is also used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, PMS, skin conditions such as psoriasis, and sleep disorders. Like the peony, it is thought that St. John’s Wort’s neuroprotective qualities derive from the inhibition of enzymes that degrade transmitters. Because it upregulates serotonin, it should not be taken with other serotonergic substances as the over-activation of serotonin can result in serotonin syndrome.16,17

Lavender:  Lavender therapy has seen a revival in recent times, due to its beneficial effects on many health problems, for example, treating burns, parasites, and insect bites. Mental health benefits have also been clinically tested, including sedation, anti-anxiety, memory enhancement, pain reduction, and calming effects which were found similar to that of benzodiazepines, but without the addictive properties of benzo drugs.18

Saffron:  Saffron comes from the painstakingly collected stigmas of crocus flowers and has been revered as a tantalizing spice for thousands of years. Clinical research reports that Saffron extract in a standardized form also has antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties.19,21

Kava:  Kava is an herbal remedy that comes from the South Pacific where it is used in social and ceremonial settings. Kava has been found effective in clinical trials as an anti-anxiety herb with sedative, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties.20,26

Chamomile:  A standardized dosage of Chamomile extract was tested against a placebo and was shown to be significantly effective in its antidepressant effects on trial participants. Additional studies found long-term, as well as short-term use of chamomile, was safe with similar efficacy to prescription anti-anxiety medication and with half the relapse rates of placebo.22,33,34

Passionflower:  A randomized, controlled double-blind trial was done comparing passionflower and oxazepam for the treatment of anxiety. Passionflower was shown to have equal efficacy associated with oxazepam but without the troubling side effects associated with the drug, such as job performance impairment. In other studies, passionflower extract was found to relieve stress making it an excellent choice in the treatment of stress-related disorders such as GAD, depression, and insomnia.23,35

herbal tonics for natural mental healthGinseng:  Panax ginseng comes from the Greek root “panakeia,” meaning “all healing.” It is aptly named and has acquired a very long track record of proven efficacy. Ginseng is commonly referred to as a tonic or rejuvenator, taken in teas, and supplements. Ginseng is native to many Asian regions as well as commonly found in the woods of the American east coast. Ginseng regulates the HPA axis (hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal gland inter-relationship) which is thought to explain its protective properties against stress, anxiety, and related neurologic disorders and physiological diseases. Ginseng is good for improving memory, supports neuronal growth, and has many other benefits.24,25

Ginkgo Biloba:  The ginkgo tree has been found in fossils in every corner of the earth, dating back about 150 million years, or what is called the Jurassic period. The edible, fan-shaped leaves of the ginkgo tree have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for many centuries. Recent research has shown promise in the treatment of memory loss related to Alzheimer’s disease, and in the treatment of tardive dyskinesia and other symptoms in schizophrenia patients.27-29

Mental Health Symptoms and Herbal Remedies Research

Around the beginning years of the 1900s, certain financial heavy-hitters funded an aggressive shift around the globe from the use of natural (unpatentable) herbal remedies to lab-synthesized (patentable) pharmaceuticals, in effect reshaping the whole mental health treatment industry. The use of poisonous chemicals such as DDT failed to safely combat malaria but did lead to the production of the first antipsychotic drug, chlorpromazine. At the same time, the licenses of natural practitioners began to be held, for the first time, in disrepute, and such physicians were shunned by the medical industry. This was a sea-change from the prior widespread use of natural treatments such as those listed in the 1899 edition of Merck’s Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy.30-32

The bright light that has led us out of those dark days is research. And in assessing research, we have to carefully consider the source of such funding when determining its purity.2,3,4,7,8,11

Alternative to Meds Center did not invent natural or herbal remedies but does acknowledge the wealth of scientifically proven benefits associated with this field of study. The center provides an educational component as well as treatment to share this wealth of knowledge with our clients and other professionals who come to us for training. We hope that the centers of accreditation will accelerate their own knowledge and proliferation of such information in universities as time goes forward.

Natural Mental Health Strategies at Alternative to Meds Center

For the better part of 20 years, Alternative to Meds Center has centered its treatment protocols around natural medicine and treatments that do not rely on prescription medications for the relief of symptoms. A wide range of protocols used at the center includes lab testing, psychotherapy, Equine therapy, neurotransmitter rehabilitation, nutritional therapy, medically supervised tapering programs, holistic detox, neurotoxin removal, and adjunct comfort therapies including acupuncture, holistic pain management, and IV therapy. Our treatment programs provide the safest and most comfortable transition process possible where a person desires to reduce or eliminate prescription drugs, and be freed of persisting symptoms that drugs did not satisfactorily resolve. Herbal remedies such as the ones listed at the top of this piece are some of the hundreds that the center has in its arsenal of adjunct therapeutics, all scientifically backed up by credible research and years of successful implementation. They are not the core of the programs we offer, but they certainly hold a place of honor and are extremely popular with our clientele for the many benefits they provide.

The healing atmosphere of the center is a welcome feature, especially since peer-support programs are in place in a very supportive and friendly social setting. The facility is located in a beautiful, natural setting, affording daily opportunities for biking, hiking, walking or just resting in the outdoor seating areas that overlook the majestic red rock mountains of Sedona.

natural mental health sedona drug rehabMany of our clients have tried many different ways to extricate themselves from medication but have found the return of symptoms has been a huge barrier. We have found that simply reducing or eliminating medication is not a complete approach. We want our clients to be able to reduce or eliminate medication and ALSO see their symptoms resolve. For this reason, our program protocols span a wide application of therapies, including removing neurotoxic accumulations that often are quite strongly associated with symptoms such as depression, insomnia, anxiety, and others. While it is true that drugs can successfully mask some of these symptoms, they do not remove the root cause and so the problems remain, or can even worsen over time. Our therapeutic approach is designed to get at the heart of the matter and is quite pragmatic in this regard.

Lifestyle “makeovers” are also beneficial, including improving sleep hygiene, and resolving substance misuse issues, as well as learning new strategies for relaxation and stress relief and improving the overall quality of one’s life.

We do not seek to find the correct label or the correct drugs — we seek to resolve the actual issues that may have led a person to begin taking medications in the first place and provide a path back to natural mental health. That is the overall aim and is reflected in our history of client success.

Please contact us at any time to find out more about our programs, the beautiful facility, costs, insurance quotes, and any other questions of interest. In the meantime, please take advantage of the suggested reading in the research notes provided below in the citations section to increase your understanding of the benefits of floral and herbal remedies that may be of great assistance to you or your loved one.

1. Thompson R. Gardening for health: a regular dose of gardening. Clin Med (Lond). 2018 Jun;18(3):201-205. doi: 10.7861/clinmedicine.18-3-201. PMID: 29858428; PMCID: PMC6334070.[cited 2023 Feb 6}

2. Salmerón-Manzano E, Garrido-Cardenas JA, Manzano-Agugliaro F. Worldwide Research Trends on Medicinal Plants. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 May 12;17(10):3376. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17103376. PMID: 32408690; PMCID: PMC7277765. [cited 2023 Feb 6}

3. Tandon N, Yadav SS. Contributions of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in the area of Medicinal plants/Traditional medicine. J Ethnopharmacol. 2017 Feb 2;197:39-45. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2016.07.064. Epub 2016 Jul 22. PMID: 27452657. [cited 2023 Feb 6}

4. Howard J. Do Bach flower remedies have a role to play in pain control? A critical analysis investigating therapeutic value beyond the placebo effect, and the potential of Bach flower remedies as a psychological method of pain relief. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2007 Aug;13(3):174-83. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2007.03.001. Epub 2007 Apr 23. PMID: 17631260.[cited 2023 Feb 6}

5. Park SH, Mattson RH. Ornamental indoor plants in hospital rooms enhanced health outcomes of patients recovering from surgery. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Sep;15(9):975-80. doi: 10.1089/acm.2009.0075. PMID: 19715461.[cited 2023 Feb 6}

6. Zhao D, Wang R, Liu D, Wu Y, Sun J, Tao J. Melatonin and Expression of Tryptophan Decarboxylase Gene (TDC) in Herbaceous Peony (Paeonia lactiflora Pall.) Flowers. Molecules. 2018 May 12;23(5):1164. doi: 10.3390/molecules23051164. PMID: 29757219; PMCID: PMC6100325.[cited 2023 Feb 6}

7. Chiappedi M, de Vincenzi S, Bejor M. Nutraceuticals in psychiatric practice. Recent Pat CNS Drug Discov. 2012 Aug;7(2):163-72. doi: 10.2174/157488912800673119. PMID: 22472025.[cited 2023 Feb 6}

8. Sarris J, Ravindran A, Yatham LN, Marx W, Rucklidge JJ, McIntyre RS, Akhondzadeh S, Benedetti F, Caneo C, Cramer H, Cribb L, de Manincor M, Dean O, Deslandes AC, Freeman MP, Gangadhar B, Harvey BH, Kasper S, Lake J, Lopresti A, Lu L, Metri NJ, Mischoulon D, Ng CH, Nishi D, Rahimi R, Seedat S, Sinclair J, Su KP, Zhang ZJ, Berk M. Clinician guidelines for the treatment of psychiatric disorders with nutraceuticals and phytoceuticals: The World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry (WFSBP) and Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) Taskforce. World J Biol Psychiatry. 2022 Jul;23(6):424-455. doi: 10.1080/15622975.2021.2013041. Epub 2022 Mar 21. PMID: 35311615.[cited 2023 Feb 6}

9. Joppa LN, Roberts DL, Pimm SL How many specides of flowering plants are there? Royal Society Publishing/Research Gate 7 July 2010 [cited 2023 Feb 6}

10. Boskabady MH, Shafei MN, Saberi Z, Amini S. Pharmacological effects of rosa damascena. Iran J Basic Med Sci. 2011 Jul;14(4):295-307. PMID: 23493250; PMCID: PMC3586833. [cited 2023 Feb 6}

11. Yeung KS, Hernandez M, Mao JJ, Haviland I, Gubili J. Herbal medicine for depression and anxiety: A systematic review with assessment of potential psycho-oncologic relevance. Phytother Res. 2018 May;32(5):865-891. doi: 10.1002/ptr.6033. Epub 2018 Feb 21. PMID: 29464801; PMCID: PMC5938102. [cited 2023 Feb 6}

12. Mao QQ, Ip SP, Xian YF, Hu Z, Che CT. Anti-depressant-like effect of peony: a mini-review. Pharm Biol. 2012 Jan;50(1):72-7. doi: 10.3109/13880209.2011.602696. PMID: 22196583. [cited 2023 Feb 6}

13. Mohebitabar S, Shirazi M, Bioos S, Rahimi R, Malekshahi F, Nejatbakhsh F. Therapeutic efficacy of rose oil: A comprehensive review of clinical evidence. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2017 May-Jun;7(3):206-213. PMID: 28748167; PMCID: PMC5511972. [cited 2023 Feb 6}

14. Xie J, Liu B, Elsadek M. How Can Flowers and Their Colors Promote Individuals’ Physiological and Psychological States during the COVID-19 Lockdown? Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Sep 29;18(19):10258. doi: 10.3390/ijerph181910258. PMID: 34639557; PMCID: PMC8507779. [cited 2023 Feb 6}

15. Mármol I, Sánchez-de-Diego C, Jiménez-Moreno N, Ancín-Azpilicueta C, Rodríguez-Yoldi MJ. Therapeutic Applications of Rose Hips from Different Rosa Species. Int J Mol Sci. 2017 May 25;18(6):1137. doi: 10.3390/ijms18061137. PMID: 28587101; PMCID: PMC5485961. [cited 2023 Feb 6}

16. Peterson B, Nguyen H. St. John’s Wort. [Updated 2022 May 19]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: [cited 2023 Feb 6]

17. Linde K, Berner MM, Kriston L. St John’s wort for major depression. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Oct 8;2008(4):CD000448. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD000448.pub3. PMID: 18843608; PMCID: PMC7032678. [cited 2023 Feb 6}

18. Koulivand PH, Khaleghi Ghadiri M, Gorji A. Lavender and the nervous system. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:681304. doi: 10.1155/2013/681304. Epub 2013 Mar 14. PMID: 23573142; PMCID: PMC3612440. [cited 2023 Feb 6}

19. Orio L, Alen F, Ballesta A, Martin R, Gomez de Heras R. Antianhedonic and Antidepressant Effects of Affron®, a Standardized Saffron (Crocus Sativus L.) Extract. Molecules. 2020 Jul 15;25(14):3207. doi: 10.3390/molecules25143207. PMID: 32679643; PMCID: PMC7397008. [cited 2023 Feb 6}

20. Singh YN, Singh NN. Therapeutic potential of kava in the treatment of anxiety disorders. CNS Drugs. 2002;16(11):731-43. doi: 10.2165/00023210-200216110-00002. PMID: 12383029. [cited 2023 Feb 6}

21. Szafrański T. Leki ziolowe w leczeniu depresji–aktualny stan wiedzy [Herbal remedies in depression–state of the art]. Psychiatr Pol. 2014 Jan-Feb;48(1):59-73. Polish. PMID: 24946435. [cited 2023 Feb 6}

22. Amsterdam JD, Shults J, Soeller I, Mao JJ, Rockwell K, Newberg AB. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) may provide antidepressant activity in anxious, depressed humans: an exploratory study. Altern Ther Health Med. 2012 Sep-Oct;18(5):44-9. PMID: 22894890; PMCID: PMC3600408. [cited 2023 Feb 6}

23. Akhondzadeh S, Naghavi HR, Vazirian M, Shayeganpour A, Rashidi H, Khani M. Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2001 Oct;26(5):363-7. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2710.2001.00367.x. PMID: 11679026. [cited 2023 Feb 6}

24. Lee S, Rhee DK. Effects of ginseng on stress-related depression, anxiety, and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. J Ginseng Res. 2017 Oct;41(4):589-594. doi: 10.1016/j.jgr.2017.01.010. Epub 2017 Jan 24. PMID: 29021708; PMCID: PMC5628357. [cited 2023 Feb 6}

25. Petrovska BB. Historical review of medicinal plants’ usage. Pharmacogn Rev. 2012 Jan;6(11):1-5. doi: 10.4103/0973-7847.95849. PMID: 22654398; PMCID: PMC3358962. [cited 2023 Feb 6}

26. Cauffield JS, Forbes HJ. Dietary supplements used in the treatment of depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Lippincotts Prim Care Pract. 1999 May-Jun;3(3):290-304. PMID: 10711131. [cited 2023 Feb 6}

27. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “ginkgo”Encyclopedia Britannica, 23 Dec. 2022, [cited 2023 Feb 6] [cited 2023 Feb 6}

28. Zhang WF, Tan YL, Zhang XY, Chan RC, Wu HR, Zhou DF. Extract of Ginkgo biloba treatment for tardive dyskinesia in schizophrenia: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Clin Psychiatry. 2011 May;72(5):615-21. doi: 10.4088/JCP.09m05125yel. Epub 2010 Sep 21. PMID: 20868638. [cited 2023 Feb 6}

29. Sarris J. Herbal medicines in the treatment of psychiatric disorders: 10-year updated review. Phytother Res. 2018 Jul;32(7):1147-1162. doi: 10.1002/ptr.6055. Epub 2018 Mar 25. PMID: 29575228. [cited 2023 Feb 6}

30. Frankenburg FR, Baldessarini RJ. Neurosyphilis, malaria, and the discovery of antipsychotic agents. Harv Rev Psychiatry. 2008;16(5):299-307. doi: 10.1080/10673220802432350. PMID: 18803105. [cited 2023 Feb 6}

31. Schmidt B, Ribnicky DM, Poulev A, Logendra S, Cefalu WT, Raskin I. A natural history of botanical therapeutics. Metabolism. 2008 Jul;57(7 Suppl 1):S3-9. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2008.03.001. PMID: 18555851; PMCID: PMC2981029. [cited 2023 Feb 6}

32. Merck’s Manual 1899 in PDF format, published by Project Gutenberg [cited 2023 Feb 6]

33. Mao JJ, Xie SX, Keefe JR, Soeller I, Li QS, Amsterdam JD. Long-term chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.) treatment for generalized anxiety disorder: A randomized clinical trial. Phytomedicine. 2016 Dec 15;23(14):1735-1742. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2016.10.012. Epub 2016 Oct 24. PMID: 27912875; PMCID: PMC5646235. [cited 2023 Feb 6]

34. Keefe JR, Mao JJ, Soeller I, Li QS, Amsterdam JD. Short-term open-label chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.) therapy of moderate to severe generalized anxiety disorder. Phytomedicine. 2016 Dec 15;23(14):1699-1705. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2016.10.013. Epub 2016 Oct 24. PMID: 27912871; PMCID: PMC5589135. [cited 2023 Feb 6]

35. Janda K, Wojtkowska K, Jakubczyk K, Antoniewicz J, Skonieczna-Żydecka K. Passiflora incarnata in Neuropsychiatric Disorders-A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2020 Dec 19;12(12):3894. doi: 10.3390/nu12123894. PMID: 33352740; PMCID: PMC7766837. [cited 2023 Feb 6]

Originally Published February 8, 2023 by Diane Ridaeus

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Michael Loes, M.D.


Dr. Michael Loes is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Pain Management and Addiction Medicine. He holds a dual license in Homeopathic and Integrative Medicine. He obtained his medical doctorate at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 1978. Dr. Loes performed an externship at the National Institute of Health for Psychopharmacology. Additionally, he is a well-published author including Arthritis: The Doctor’s Cure, The Aspirin Alternative, The Healing Response, and Spirit Driven Health: The Psalmist’s Guide for Recovery. He has been awarded the Minnesota Medical Foundation’s “Excellence in Research” Award.

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Floral and Herbal Remedies – Gems from the Garden of Natural Mental Health
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Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.

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