A new study states that a herb, which is used by Europeans, could be a potential treatment option for depression.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have found that Rhodiola rosea, which is also referred to as roseroot, could treat depression, better than the conventional drugs.
Roseroot has been used in traditional European folk medicine for over 3,000 years. Famously it has been used to survive the Siberian winter for centuries. People who have been using this herb state that the herb promotes work endurance, increases longevity and promotes resistance to several health conditions including fatigue, altitude sickness and depression.
For their study, the researcher recruited 57 adults. Each participant exhibited two or more major depressive episodes, depressed mood or loss of interest in activities for at least 2 weeks, and depressive symptoms such as significant unintentional weight change, fatigue and recurrent thoughts of death.
The researchers then divided them in three groups and gave them either a placebo, sertraline or roseroot extract over a period of 12 weeks. The researchers then measured changes in the depression levels of the participants over the course of the study.
They found that participants receiving roseroot were 1.4 times more likely to improve their condition and those receiving sertraline were 1.9 times more likely to improve their condition, as compared to placebo users.
However, the researchers added that 63% of the participants taking sertraline reportedly experienced effects like nausea and sexual dysfunction, whereas only 30% taking roseroot suffered the same side effects.
The cost of anti-depression drugs, along with their many side effects, often causes patients to quit treatment early on. The researchers, therefore, believe that roseroot’s minimal side effects could make the herb a great alternative to traditional treatment.
Jun Mao, MD, MSCE Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Community HealthContact Information, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and the lead author of the study, said, “These results are a bit preliminary but suggest herbal therapy may have the potential to help patients with depression who cannot tolerate conventional antidepressants due to side effects.”
The findings were published in the Phytomedicine journal.