Depression and IBS: A natural antidepressant


natural anitdepressant for IBS

Did you know that there is a natural alternative to help with depression and IBS? A natural antidepressant that also helps fight chronic disease in general?

I have come across a very interesting book that confirms that we can heal from various conditions that most doctors tell us we will just have to live with.

It is an inspiring read and covers angles of stress, anxiety and depression that your doctor has probably never mentioned to you. Although it does not specifically mention IBS, it has taught me a great deal of wisdom concerning depression, anxiety and stress.

If you like science-backed thinking and research, this book is for you!

The Instinct to Heal: Curing Depression, Anxiety and Stress Without Drugs and Without Talk Therapy was written by Dr David Servan Schreiber , a clinical doctor and researcher in cognitive neuroscience.

He recounts how he had seen experiments with people that came to him, and colleagues, with depression. Anti-depressants helped them somewhat, but they progressively needed more and more of them to feel right. And these substances caused them behavioural side-effects.

He relates how Dr Andrew Stoll from Harvard studied the effect of Omega 3 on patients. He found they were a natural antidepressant, with no side- effects. There have been numerous studies on this subject since.

Omega 3

A great deal has been said about omega 3 over the last years. So much so that I don’t think we really hear any of it any more. The marketing hype around omega 3 has been so deafening. There is a whole fascinating chapter on this in Dr Servan-Schreiber’s book (chapter 9), explaining our original diet.  As man’s brain was developing, he was living around the great lakes in East Africa, feeding on fish and consuming plenty of Omega 3.

The problem is that in our modern diets (not to mention IBS specific diets) we are consuming less and less of the beneficial omega 3, present in cold-water fatty fish. Instead we are consuming more of the inflammatory omega 6. Omega 6 can be found in grain-fed animals and most vegetable oils (olive oil doesn’t contain omega 6, and virgin coconut oil is said to contain low amounts). And this is having an impact on our bodies and our brains.

How can I get more Omega 3 in my diet?

The main sources he quotes are wild salmon, mackerel, whole anchovies, herring, sardines, tuna, haddock and trout, and game. There also plant sources, including  spinach, spiruline and seaweed. Why not replace a few Omega 6-rich meals by some of these Omega 3-rich alternatives instead.

Omega 3 supplements

The problem with IBS is that we often don’t absorb nutrients in food as well as we should. So it could be worth considering a more concentrated form of  Omega 3 supplement (ask your doctor or chemist for guidance). 

If you are having problems with depression you may need a supplement in the form of fish or krill oil. (Dr. Servan-Schreiber notes, however, that cod liver oil is not a good source of omega 3). He states that we should consume 2-3 g per day of a mixture of 2 omega 3 fatty acids: EPA and DHA. He, along with other researchers recommends taking a supplement containing vitamin E, vitamin C and selenium to reduce the oxidation of omega 3 once in the body.

Other natural antidepressants

There are other natural antidepressants that are worth trying:

St John’s Wort

While researching the subject of depression and IBS, I came across this article written by Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D. at the Mayo Clinic about his experience and advice on another natural antidepressant, St. John’s wort, which you may find of interest.


One final natural antidepressant that you may be able to incorporate into your diet if you digest it, is turmeric. Read this excellent article for more information on turmeric, it’s uses, and its surprisingly wide range of beneficial properties.

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