Researchers say that gastrodin, a constituent of Oriental herbal medicine, can treat PTSD-related depression

Gastrodin is one of the main constituents of Oriental herbal medicine and has been previously shown to effectively treat various mood disorders. A study published in the Journal of Natural Medicines has suggested that it can also be used as an effective herbal preparation to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is a mental health problem that occurs in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous situation. People with this disorder often relive the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks. They may also feel isolated, irritated, and guilty. They may also encounter problems with sleeping and concentrating. These symptoms are typically severe and persistent, which greatly affect the everyday life of the person. (Related: Adolescents who consume a high-fat diet are at an increased risk of PTSD when they’re older.)

Researchers from Kyung Hee University in Seoul, Republic of Korea conducted the study in order to determine whether gastrodin would reduce stress-associated depression-like behaviors in a mouse model of single prolonged stress (SPS)-induced PTSD. Being exposed to severe and chronic stress can result in the development of neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression and PTSD.

After that, the researchers gave mice 20, 50, or 100 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) of gastrodin once a day for two weeks. To measure the levels of norepinephrine in the hippocampus of mice, they put them into forced swimming test. Norepinephrine is a naturally occurring chemical in the body that serves as a stress hormone as well as a neurotransmitter.

The results revealed that daily treatment of 100 mg/kg of gastrodin significantly reversed depression-like behaviors and restored SPS-induced increases in hippocampal norepinephrine levels and tyrosine hydroxylase expression in the locus coeruleus. In addition, the treatment of gastrodin also improved levels of neuropeptide Y in the hypothalamus and mRNA expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the hippocampus, which were previously decreased due to SPS.

Based on the findings of the study, the researchers suggested that gastrodin contains antidepressant effects and may be used as an effective herbal preparation for treating PTSD.

More on gastrodin and its benefits on brain health

In Chinese medicine, gastrodin, which is derived from the root of exotic orchid called Tall Gastrodia (Gastrodia elata), has been used for thousands of years to treat a wide variety of cognitive problems, such as vertigo, headaches, paralysis, and seizures. According to scientific studies, gastrodin serves as a broad-spectrum “brain shield,” for it provides protection against various factors that cause age-related degradation of the brain and mental processes. Listed below are some of the brain benefits of gastrodin:

  • Gastrodin can stimulate the brain’s self-healing, regenerative properties.
  • Gastrodin combats the main mechanisms of the brain that are common to age-related memory loss, to slow-onset neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, and even to rapid-onset conditions such as head trauma, strokes, and open-heart surgery.
  • According to laboratory studies, gastrodin can restore balance in disordered brain chemicals that produce too much cellular excitation and too little of the opposing calming, inhibitory effects that are essential to keep the brain functioning normally.
  • Both of the neuro-regenerative and neuroprotective properties of gastrodin serve as keys to the prevention of short-term memory problems, serious neurodegenerative disorders, and destructive strokes.
  • Some evidence has also shown that gastrodin can be therapeutic to seizures, tics, migraines, and diabetic neuropathy.

Overall, gastrodin possesses brain-regenerative properties, such as rebalancing neurotransmitters, improving blood flow, preventing memory loss, protecting brain functions during a stroke, and potentially reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

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