If you're having a hard time finding something to be happy about this winter, consider these gentle mood lifters. Talk to your health care practitioner before using new remedies.
St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
How it works: Shown in studies to ease depression, St. John's wort may also be helpful for seasonal affective disorder.
What to do: Try St. John's wort in tincture or capsule form; for depression, be sure you're working with a health-care professional. St. John's wort may interact with certain drugs; discuss with your doctor.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
How it works: This member of the mint family is both calming and uplifting, making it useful for easing day-to-day stress, insomnia, and the winter blues.
What to do: Lemon balm is delicious in tea form; pour boiling water over fresh or dried leaves, let steep for 20 minutes. Drink a few cups daily. Or combine lemon balm with oat tops.
Oat Tops (Avena sativa)
How it works: The milky tops of the oat plant, which contain B vitamins and minerals, can soothe stress and boost moods.
What to do: Makes a wonderful tea; follow instructions for lemon balm, above. Also works as a mood- and skin-soothing bath; brew a strong tea and add to water.
Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha)
How it works: Though mainly studied as a heart-health herb, hawthorn can help to ease broken hearts, too, along with mild depression and anxiety.
What to do: Hawthorn is available in tincture and capsule form, but it also makes a delicious tea. Simmer the berries for 20 minutes; strain and drink.