Natural, Eastern, and Other Alternatives to Psychotropic Medication

This article explores concerns regarding the current results of pharmaceutical interventions on symptoms of mental disorder.  Further, it lists some of the alternatives to psychotropic medications specifically related to diet, herbal, Eastern and African approaches and details some of the options.  Finally, the use of essential oils in aromatherapy is explored as well as the theory of vibrational medicine.

keywords: alternative, complementary, psychotropic, energy medicine, aromatherapy, essential oils, vibrational medicine  

Symptoms related to psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety and other conditions are commonly being treated with psychotropic medications in Western medicine.  This practice is currently based on trial and error as dosage recommendations vary from person to person.  There is also significant concern of issues related to side effects and drug interactions.  Because of this, many people today are looking at alternatives to the psychotropic medications that are currently being prescribed.  Many people are specifically looking at treatment interventions based on Eastern practices that have been used for upwards of 4000 years.  The fact that these treatments have shown significant results for treating ailments related to physical and mental dysfunctions has been regularly questioned and discredited in Western medicine, however new revelations of quantum mechanics and human genetics are providing more scientific support for these approaches.

Alternative treatments can be used to address symptoms related to depression.  With regard to diet, Khalsa (2003) says that “glucose is the brain’s main fuel.  If glucose levels decrease, you may feel tired, depressed, or incapable of thinking clearly (pg 3770).” A diet to treat depression involves raw fruits and vegetables and soy products.  The nutrients in these foods assist neurochemical regulation.  “Whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes should also be added.  Complex carbohydrates induce a feeling of relaxation, whereas high-protein meals stimulate alertness (Khalsa, 2003 pg 3770).”  A client suffering from depression symptoms should be warned against the consumption of diet soft drinks and other products containing aspartame as this has been reported to influence serotonin levels in the brain.  Red meat and fried food tend to cause fatigue and interfere with blood flow, wherefore they should be avoided as well. (Khalsa, 2003)

Western herbs and supplements recommended for the treatment of depression symptoms include Ginseng, Gotu Kola, St. John’s wart, 5-HTP, DHA, Myo-Inositol, NADH, Passion Flower, SAMe, St. John’s Wort, and licorice.  5-HTP, for example, is derived from griffonia simplicifolia seeds and it acts to increase serotonin in the tissues of the central nervous system.  It is for this reason 5-HTP has been used to treat depression, anxiety and in use as a sleep aid and appetite suppressant in over-the counter form. (Turner, 2005, Russo 2001)

SAMe is a supplement that has also been used in treating depression as well.  It is theorized that SAMe acts to increase serotonin and dopamine availability in the synapse.  SAMe is a synthetic version of an amino acid compound normally found in the body called methionine and adenosine triphosphate (ATP).  It is further theorized that SAMe acts as a “methyl group donor” for body cells, activating them to their full potential.  Once the methyl group is donated, the SAMe becomes a new compound called S-adenosyl-homocysteine. (Reider, 2010)

Chinese herbs and supplements recommended for the treatment of depression symptoms include xiao yao wan and kami shoyo san.  Xiao Tao Wan is an herbal supplement for depression, irritability and stress that has been commonly used for a in Traditional Chinese Medicine.  This herb is believed to influence the detoxification of the liver and subsequently dysfunction related to the toxicity.  Dysfunction related to the liver is believed to include moodiness and depression, aggression and anger, PMS, and headaches.  Xia Tao Wan is said to be most effective when combined with a new diet that eliminates toxins from the body and keeps them from being reintroduced.  These toxins include alcohol, caffeine and others. (Klemens, 2006)

Ayurvedic herbs and supplements recommended for the treatment of depression include bacopa monnieri, ashwagandha, and withania somnifera.  Bacopa monnieri is said to have many different uses including treatment of asthma and epilsepsy and it acts to oxidize the blood stream.  Studies in humans show that extract from the bacopa monnieri has effects on anxiety symptoms. (Rajani, 2004, Ghosal, 1980)

Certain alternatives to psychostimulants can be used in treating ADD, ADHD, and chronic fatigue.  According to Khalsa (2003), the recommended diet for treating Attention Deficit Disorder is one that is “based on complex carbohydrates, with approximately 30% high-quality protein and no more than 20% fat (pg 3144)”.  This diet is recommended for adults and children with this disorder.  Eating fish regularly is also said to be very beneficial for those with this condition because of the omega-3 fatty acids and the coenzyme Q10 that are helpful in brain functioning. (Khalsa, 2003)

Chinese herbs and supplements recommended as alternatives to psychostimulants include Don sen and schizandra.  According to (Klemens, 2006), don sen has been used for thousands of years and it is one of the herbs thought to influence blood circulation.  The active substances in don sen include plant acids, diterpenoids, vitamin E, and tanshinones.  Don sen is typically administered in the form of teas and wines and also in soups and other dishes.  Research has shown that don shen has many medicinal properties for use as a sedative, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anticoagulant. (Klemens, 2006)

Additionally, South American herbs and supplements recommended as alternatives to psychostimulants include Guarana, mate and muria puama.  Guarana is composed of a high quantity of caffeine and has been explored for its cognitive effects.  When guarana was studied on rats in 2007, behavioral effects were recorded after different dosages of guarana extract and with a placebo.  It was found that mood, memory and alertness were increased at the doses 37.5 mg and 75 mg. (Klemens, 2006)

Alternative diet, herbs, and supplements may be used in place of anxiolytics and other depressants.  According to Khalsa (2003) the most effective diet change to treat anxiety is to consume“50-79% raw foods.  Fresh fruits and vegetables supply valuable compounds, such as vitamin C, ellagic acid, and quercetin,that scavenge and neutralize dangerous free radicals.  Fruits and vegetables send soft signals to your genes, which then send positive healing signals throughout your body.” (Khalsa, 2003 pg 4704)  The author recommends avoidance of processed foods including those with artificial sweeteners, preservatives and heavy spices, fried foods, soda, white flour products, red meat and pork. (Khalsa, 2003)

Western and European herbs and supplements recommended for the treatment of anxiety symptoms include evening primrose oil, hops, kava, lavender, lemon balm, skullcap, valerian, passion flower, chamomile, linden, and melatonin.  Kava or kava-kava is a western pacific plant whose roots are used to prepare a drink that has anxiolytic and anesthetic effects. The active ingredient is kavalactones and Kava is commonly used in polynesian cultures for its relaxation effect with added benefit that it does not impair mental abilities. (Russo, 2001)

Chinese herbs and supplements recommended for the treatment of anxiety symptoms include An mien pian, bai zi ang xin wan, buplerum, da t’sau and ding xin wan.  An Mien Pian is also known as “Peaceful Sleep”, and is made up of herbs that calm the nervous system and mind and provide nourishment to the blood.  As a result, An Mien Pian is said to promote restorative sleep promoting overall calmness and immunity.  Ayurvedic herbs and supplements recommended for the treatment of anxiety symptoms include Ahiphenam papaver somniferum, garijara, jatamansi, kumkuma, karpoor, madana and vacha. (Klemens, 2006)

Another complementary and alternative treatment intervention that is based on Eastern and ancient approaches is the use of aromatherapy for psychiatric symptom relief.  This practice is based on vibrational medicine theory.  According to this theory, there is an energy force that flows through all life and it is manifest as an electromagnetic frequency.  The vibrational frequency of the individual may be in a healthy or unhealthy state and is influenced by many factors.  Many electrical devices in the environment, for example microwaves, phones, televisions and radios in fact emit vibrational frequencies that have a fracturing effect on the human electromagnetic system.  Pathogens, radiation and particulate pollutants all have low vibrational frequency and have the ability to lower human vibrational frequency.  Further, foods that are processed and canned do not have any vibrational frequency and can influence human vibrational frequency to decrease.   (Gerber, 2001 Oschman, 2000, Young, 1995)  Emotions and thoughts also have their own vibrations that can decrease the vibrational frequencies of the body by up to 12 Mhz.   Nikola Tesla, a world recognized electrical engineer, hypothesized that if individuals are able to keep certain frequencies from influencing their bodies, they will reduce their susceptibility to disease.

Emotions, thoughts, and all other internal and external environmental influences have the potential to increase the human vibrational frequencies as well.  Research has shown that positive outlook, meditation and prayer have the ability to raise vibrational frequencies upwards of 10-15 Mhz.  This happens through entrainment, where a lower frequency is raised by vibrating in resonance with a higher frequency and it is the basis for the use of alternative and complementary approaches such as aromatherapy.  With regard to this, essential oils of plants are believed to contain the same vibrational frequencies as the plant themselves and many have very high frequencies.  For example, roses vibrate at 320 Mhz, lavender vibrates at 118 Mhz, myrrh vibrates at 105 Mhz, chamomile vibrates at 105 Mhz, juniper vibrates at 98 Mhz, sandalwood vibrates at 96 Mhz, angelica vibrates at 85 Mhz, peppermint vibrates at 78 Mhz, and basil vibrates at 52 Mhz.  The human body is considered to be at a healthy vibration when between 62 and 68 Mhz and it is believed that when the human vibrational frequency goes below 62 Mhz, dysfunctions begin to occur.  From this perspective, it is the underlying imbalance in the electromagnetic vibration of the molecules and cells in the body that ultimately result in the chemical imbalances that are being treated with psychotropic medications.  As an alternative, returning the body to its healthy vibrational frequencies is said to result in decreased symptoms. (Young 1995)  Friedman (1998), said  that to restore the body, mind and spirit to wellness and balance the vibrational frequency needs to be raised and according to Gerber (2001), an effective way to change dysfunctions in the body is to use “frequency-specific subtle energy in the form of vibrational medicines.” Oschman (2000) agrees and described what he has termed “energetic pharmacology” that utilizes active substances from plants rather than chemicals in treatment. (Young, 1995, Friedman, Gerber, Oschman)

In aromatherapy, plant essential oils are considered to manifest certain frequencies that are naturally healthy for the human body.  The idea is that by applying the essential oil to the individual’s body, the body’s frequencies will return to a balanced state through entrainment, resulting in less dysfunction within the body systems. This is said to occur because each of the body’s cells, organs, and systems vibrate at different natural frequencies, wherefore when plant essential oils are applied there is an electrical attraction.  This results in the health of specific body functions being promoted by specific essential oils.  It is said that emotions are influenced by essential oils that have the higher vibration frequencies, while physical matter such as cells, bones, hormones, etc are influenced by the lower frequency essential oils.  Additionally, bacteria, fungus, viruses and other toxins cannot entrain with essential oil vibrations, wherefore this form of treatment can assist with eliminating these from the body.  According to Young (1995),

“Clinical research shows that essential oils have the highest frequency of any natural substance known to man, creating an environment in which disease, bacteria, virus, fungus, etc., cannot live. I believe that the chemistry and frequencies of essential oils have the ability to help man maintain the optimal frequency to the extent that disease cannot exist.”

Clients with chronic symptoms of mental disorder are treated today with many different types of psychotropic medication in attempt to manipulate the actions of neurotransmitters in the brain.  The disadvantage to using these powerful chemicals, however, is that many times they are doing more harm then benefit.  Psychiatrists today are unable to assure clients that the active substances in the medications are only acting on neurotransmitter functioning, because little is known about how these substances cause the responses.  It is also quite positive that other body systems are affected.  Human genome studies have revealed a great deal of information regarding genes and their control of neurotransmitter functioning.  Additionally, genetic expression is said to be controlled by ‘methyl’ markings which further have been shown to be influenced by many complementary and alternative approaches.  Could energy medicine and Eastern approaches really be the medicine of the future?  Only time and research will tell.


Friedmann, T. (1998). Freedom through health. Harvest Publishing. Phoenix, AZ

Gerber, R. (2001). Vibrational medicine: the #1 handbook of subtle-energy therapies. Bear & Company, Rochester, VT

Ghosal. S, Bhattacharya SK (1980). “Anxiolytic activity of a standardized extract of Bacopa monniera in an experimental study”. Phytomedicine 5: 133–148.

Khalsa, D. (2003). Food as medicine. Atria Books, New York, NY

Klemens, J. (2006). Herbs used for psychotropic or behavior modifying activity. Journal for the American Association of Integrative Medicine. Online.  Retrieved. August 2, 2011 from

Oschman, J. & Pert, C. (2000). Energy medicine: the scientific basis. Churchill Livingstone. Philadelphia, PA.

Rajani, M. (2006). Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri (L.) Pennell) – A Medhya Rasaayana Drug of Ayurveda. Biotechnology of Medicinal Plants: Vitalizer and Therapeutic Science Publishers, Inc. Enfield, NH

Reider, C. (2010). What is SAMe? Retrieved August 1, 2011 from

Russo, E. (2001). Handbook of psychotropic herbs: a scientific analysis of herbal remedies for psychiatric conditions. Psychology Press. Taylor and Frances Group, London

Turner EH, Blackwell AD (2005). “5-Hydroxytryptophan plus SSRIs for interferon-induced depression: synergistic mechanisms for normalizing synaptic serotonin”. Medical Hypotheses 65 (1): 138–44. doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2005.01.026. PMID 15893130.

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