Essential Takeaways
  • Clinical research has shown the effectiveness of many herbs for the treatment of depression and anxiety.

  • Xiao Yao San (also known as free and easy wanderer) is one of the most researched Chinese herbal formulas and has been shown to help with symptoms like depression or anxiety.

  • Daily Harmony, which is Elix’s version of Xiao Yao San, is supercharged with added adaptogens like astragalus and reishi.

A 2018 study found that anxiety and/or depression is one of the top 10 reasons that people visit their doctors globally. With mental health symptoms like depression and anxiety being reported by more than 20% of U.S. adults, and an even higher proportion of adolescents and young adults reporting such symptoms, it’s apparent that many of us are searching for better ways to support our mental health. 

If you're reading this, you might be looking for ways to support your mental and emotional well-being with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Thankfully, TCM offers us time-tested, research-backed herbal formulas for symptoms of depression and anxiety—solutions that have been used for thousands of years. 

Current Treatment for Anxiety and Depression 

When it comes to managing mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, the Western, biomedical approach usually involves a mix of talk therapy and medications tailored for you. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a popular choice, which helps by changing the way you think and behave, aiming to lift your mood and reduce anxiety. 

As for medications, doctors often start with SSRIs (like sertraline or fluoxetine), which are known for being effective and having fewer side effects. If SSRIs don’t do the trick, SNRIs (like venlafaxine or duloxetine) might be the next step. For quick relief from intense anxiety, short-term use of benzodiazepines might be suggested, although they're generally used with caution due to their addictive potential. 

Side Effects of Depression + Anxiety Medications

Medications might not do much for mild symptoms, and sometimes, they can lead to unwanted side effects, such as an upset stomach, diarrhea, headaches, drowsiness, sexual dysfunction, and even suicidal thoughts. If someone has mild symptoms or wants to look for something else to add to their current treatment plan, TCM is a great choice, as there is evidence showing the benefit of adding certain Chinese herbs into the mix.

Clinical Herbal Support for Anxiety & Depression 

Chinese medicinal herbs have been used safely for thousands of years to give the body the foundational support it needs, so that it functions better and helps symptoms fade away. It's treatment at the root instead of masking symptoms. Modern research has shown the effectiveness of many herbs for the treatment of depression and anxiety. A common combination of herbs used include bupleurum (chai hu) and white peony (bai shao). Chinese herbal formulas are made with a combination of herbs that work together to provide holistic and more effective results when compared to taking individual herbs, it also lessens the possibility of adverse side effects. 

Herbs for Depression and Anxiety

A review of studies show that the combination of bupleurum and white peony has antidepressant properties - it reduces oxidative stress, supports HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis regulation, and protects neurons. The HPA axis regulates how your body responds to stress. Bupleurum has been shown to have antiviral, liver protecting, fever reducing, and immune regulating properties. Meanwhile, white peony has anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, antioxidant, and immune regulating properties. They’re a powerful duo! 

Large Meta-Analysis on TCM (Bupleurum) for Depression  

A large meta-analysis, reviewing 55 studies with 5,572 participants and 12 trials of people taking a bupleurum-based formula, had positive findings: participants treated with TCM formulas, whether alone or combined with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), showed significant improvements in their Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD scores). These treatments were associated with fewer and less severe side effects, underscoring the potential of TCM in complementing conventional depression management strategies.

Research Backed Herbal Formula for Anxiety and Depression 

One formula, Xiao Yao San (also known as free and easy wanderer), has been time tested in the world for around a thousand years. It is one of the most widely researched Chinese herbal formulas! Read on for a handful of studies showing how Xiao Yao San supports depression and anxiety symptoms. 

Meta-analysis on Chinese Herbal Medicine for Depression

In the field of TCM, Xiao Yao San has been studied extensively for its potential benefits in treating depression. A meta-analysis of 40 trials involving 3,549 participants diagnosed with depression, which included 11 studies on Xiao Yao San, found that this herbal formula improved clinical outcomes and had fewer adverse side effects compared to conventional antidepressants. This suggests that Xiao Yao San could serve as an effective alternative treatment for depression.

Meta-analysis on Xiao Yao San and Anxiety 

A 2023 meta-analysis of 14 trials with 1,256 patients showed that Xiao Yao San combined with anti-anxiety medication is safe and effective. Even more, it showed that this formula alone was effective in treating anxiety. 

Systematic Review on Combined Treatment Effectiveness

If you haven’t been impressed by Xiao Yao San yet: a systematic review of 26 randomized controlled trials, including 1,837 patients, showed the efficacy of Xiao Yao San and its modified forms when combined with antidepressants. The results demonstrated a superior effect in alleviating symptoms of depression. This indicates that Xiao Yao San, when used in conjunction with standard antidepressant therapies, may enhance treatment outcomes.

Relevance of Xiao Yao San in Oncology Settings

Moreover, Xiao Yao San might also help in oncology settings. A review of 18 trials, which included 1,441 patients with various cancers—gastric, lung, esophageal, breast, and liver cancers—and incorporated four studies on Xiao Yao San, suggested that TCM formulas might offer more benefits over conventional antidepressants. These benefits included improved HAMD scores and reduced adverse effects, like functional gastrointestinal disorders, sleep disturbances, blurred vision, and fatigue. Xiao Yao San could be a valuable supportive care option for cancer patients experiencing depression, highlighting its versatility and potential across different medical disciplines. 

Daily Harmony A Modified Xiao Yao San 

Daily Harmony is Elix’s version of Xiao Yao San: ours is just further supercharged with adaptogens like astragalus and reishi. Adaptogens are known to help our bodies strengthen our stress response, so that we become more resilient to stress. 

Adaptogens In Daily Harmony 

Astragulus has been shown to have so many beneficial properties: it’s anti-aging, immune boosting, anti-tumor, anti-viral, anti-microbial, and anti-radiation. Plus, it helps with blood sugar regulation and cholesterol reduction. 

Similarly, reishi is a powerful herb, as it’s anti-cancer, anti-tumor, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-viral, liver protective, anti-diabetic, heart protective, and antioxidant. This incredible mushroom also contains nutrients like proteins (including the amino acid leucine that has antioxidant effects), iron, magnesium. It has vitamins C, D, E, and a range of B vitamins, including riboflavin, niacin, thiamin. 

Adrenal Fatigue and Reishi 

Studies have shown that reishi can help your body regulate stress hormones, like cortisol, keeping the adrenal system happy. That way, your body is more equipped to handle everyday stressors. 

Daily Harmony 

Daily Harmony is a gentle yet powerful organic formula with herbs that have been studied to help with depression and anxiety. Many of these herbs have also been studied to help the body take on everyday stressors, offering us the support we need to move smoothly through daily life. We are continuously amazed at the impact these herbs can have on our wellbeing, and we hope you feel the same way. 

Discover the benefits you’ll get by adding Daily Harmony into your daily ritual today!

We always suggest talking with your doctor before starting any new herb or supplement. 




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