What are the Best Natural Mood Boosters?

What are the Best Natural Mood Boosters?

Last Saturday my friends and I were watching a late night show and during the commercials we were struck dumb by an ad for a bi-polar disorder medication. The list of side effects from taking the drug went on so long and were so terrifying that we all sat in shock for what seemed like an eternity. It was surreal. Though I have never had need to take any drugs beyond antibiotics, it made me viscerally aware of society's growing trepidation at the prevalence and dangers of these types of interventions. And the need for better alternatives! It's actually what drives our own small research team as we look for the best natural, non-drug ways to boost mood and raise your spirits.

Here's the short list of effective nutritional approaches to dealing with mild mood issues according to latest research. Now obviously they may not always work for everyone, but then nor do some drugs, and at least these won't do any harm. Plus we do have real science to support the benefits from these natural solutions. Sure, mood is a complex process, but solving the problem should start with the safer steps, not the most dangerous. Right? 

Now, let me just say clearly that serious depression requires a doctor's guidance, but for many of us who just want some help finding a good mood balance in our lives without resorting to the serious choices, these herbal supplements may very well do the job.

Here are the best natural mood boosters.

Although there are some additions that could be made to this list, we are focusing on the key natural medicinals that have science to support their value as "better than placebo," which in clinical terms is as good as we can hope for. Also, importantly, all these supplements have shown synergy with each other, which means they work well in tandem.

St John's wort for a mood boost:

Without question, the most scientifically-backed natural approach to mood boosting is with St John's wort (SJW). For the last thirty years, this perennial has been studied consistently for its mood enhancing effects to the point where it is now one of the most researched medicinal plants of all. We have a lot of detail about SJW in this post, but to summarize, it has been found to be as effective as and sometimes more so than drug antidepressants.

I could cite study after study, but according to a meta-study of 29 studies involving 5,489 patients with mild to moderately severe depression, done at the Centre for Complementary Medicine in Munich'St John's wort extracts tested in the trials were superior to placebo, similarly effective as standard anti-depressants, and had fewer side effects than standard anti-depressants.' I would underscore that most benefits do seem to occur for people with mild depression rather than severe. 

This basically summarizes what many studies have found, which is that hypericin, the active compound in SJW, is not only as effective as depression medication, but it has none of the dangerous side effects. (St. John's wort: a new alternative for depression? Josey ES, Tackett R; Department of Clinical and Administrative Sciences. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther 1999 Mar.) In addition, likely due to its effects on 5-HT levels in the brain, it seems that SJW is synergistic with other mood enhancers including 5-HTP.

5-HTP has a positive effect on mood:

This is another well studied mood effector, and we have another detailed post on it. 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is a metabolic intermediate involved in the production of serotonin and melatonin. Again, like SJW, it has reached heights of popularity in Europe as a mood booster and natural antidepressant due to its consistent effectiveness. It appears to be as effective as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, or SSRI antidepressants, which work by increasing serotonin in the brain (so it makes sense that the precursor, 5-HTP, would also be helpful.) 

Clinical short-term studies have found that 5-HTP can increase serotonin by more than 500%, and may be equally as effective as standard antidepressant drugs (Byerley WF, Judd LL, Reimherr FW, et al. 5-hydroxytryptophan: a review of its antidepressant efficacy and adverse effects. J Clin Psychopharmacol)

Omega 3 fatty acids fight depression:

Omega-3's may be good for heart health but they are also an excellent and overlooked option for boosting your mood too (and really no surprise when you consider the amount of omega 3 fatty acids in the brain.) One study of 52 men with depression found a direct link between low levels of omega 3 fatty acids and increased incidence of mood disorders (Nieminen LR et al. Relationship between omega-3 fatty acids and plasma neuroactive steroids in alcoholism, depression and controls. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2006 Oct.) 

Another large study in Norway found that people taking cod liver oil had 30% lower rates of depression (Raeder MB, et al. Associations between cod liver oil use and symptoms of depression: The Hordaland Health Study. J Affect Disord. 2006 Dec)Researchers have determined that it is likely a direct consequence of deficiencies in DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which has significant hormonal effects. Lowered DHA increases neurosteroid production, leading to hyperactivity in the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, which controls mood, aggression and anxiety. 

Clinical trials have reinforced the fact that supplementation with omega-3's (long-chain varieties EPA and DHA) helps relieve symptoms of depression, as well as improving focus and reducing aggression levels. (Ross BM. Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency in major depressive disorder is caused by the interaction between diet and a genetically determined abnormality in phospholipid metabolism. Med Hypotheses. 2007.)

Chamomile to soothe the spirit:

This plant has been used for centuries to fight off depression. In the last few decades, studies have shown support for chamomile's benefits. It appears that compounds like apigenin, bind to benzodiazepine and GABA receptors in the brain, producing a soporific effect, although research is still uncovering the full picture. One study done at the University of Pennsylvania on people suffering with mild depression found that chamomile extract reduced the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Amino Acids help us feel good.

One thing we know for sure is that certain amino acids are essential to the production of "feel-good" neurochemicals in the brain. With insufficient levels of these amino's, mood issues are likely to occur. The three key amino acids to bolster mood are tyrosine, phenylalanine, theanine, and tryptophan.

Tryptophan is actually a stage in the process of serotonin production, as is 5-HTP, so getting it into your food or supplementing it is an effective way for some people to boost their mood. In 2004, an FDA review went so far as to state that it may be useful for people with mild depression who did not want drugs.

Tyrosine and phenylalanine, along with B vitamins (which are also often used for mood) are part of the dopamine production process and hence equally as beneficial for people with deficiencies or imbalances and looking to feel better. Theanine is another excellent option for mood boostingIt is structurally related to glutamate, easily crosses the blood-brain barrier, and works by increasing GABA and dopamine levels.

GABA affects mood:

By now you should be noticing a theme with these naturals. We may not have a clear idea of what they can do for a healthy body, we know very well what happens when they are deficient. In similar manner, low levels of another amino, GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), have been linked in studies with increased levels of anxiety and depression. (GABA and mood disorders: a brief review and hypothesis. Petty F. J Affect Disord. 1995 Aug 18.)

GABA is converted from glutamine and is considered an endogenous calming agent. It is commonly called nature's valium for its effects. GABA regulates excitement in the nervous system and brain, and it seems to primarily act by blocking signals between brain cells responsible for anxiety and excitation. It also helps relax muscles and lower physical stress. Scientists have found that a high percentage of people suffering from mood disorders have a GABA deficiency. (GABAergic dysfunction in mood disorders. P Brambilla et al. Molecular Psychiatry2003, 8.) Supplementation with GABA has positive benefits on mood for people struggling with the symptoms of a deficiency.

SAMe elevates mood:

S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), is another compound that is associated with depression when levels are low. There are studies that show SAMe is about as effective as tricyclic antidepressant medications. A review of SAMe was done in 2002 by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and it confirmed that SAMe is more effective than placebo and as effective as the antidepressant. 

As I mentioned above, we research mood enhancers at 4 Organics in the search for effective natural ways to boost mood, and while we found that all of the above supplements do work together, the evidence that SAMe is effective in supplement form is inconclusive, which is why we stopped using it in our MOOD IMPROVE mood supplement. So far, the positive benefits were all seen from injected SAMe, and more research is needed to conclude any effectiveness in capsule form.

So in conclusion, while it is important to recognize how complex an issue mood health really is, these natural approaches have worked for many people with mild mood problems. In addition, our own experience having produced our mood boosting supplement for over 10 years now, has reinforced just how valuable they can be. We have a large number of unsolicited testimonials from customers who have seen real rewards. If you are struggling with mild mood imbalances, consider these natural solutions, and check out our recent post on simple ways to boost your mood.

Related Posts: 
5 Creative Ways to Relieve Stress & Relax Quickly
Depression? Anxiety? Phenylalanine May be the Answer
5-HTP - One of the Best Natural Mood Enhancers
St Johns Wort is the Happiness Herb
Mindful Focus is a Key to Happiness

Mood supplement

The opinions expressed in this article are of the author. Content and other information presented on the site are not meant to be medical advice or any substitute for professional advice, counseling, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard professional medical or mental health advice from your physician or other qualified health provider.



    • Avatar
      Ted Alssop
      May 26, 2015

      I use your Mood Improve and it works very well for me. I think the key is the St Johns and the 5-htp. Good product.

Leave a Comment

* Name:
* E-mail: (Not Published)
   Website: (Site url with http://)
* Comment:
Type Code


No products

$0.00 Total

Cart / Checkout

   accepted credit cards
FREE Shipping, Samples and More - Click Here