Recent studies focused on the pharmacology and feasibility of herbal compounds as a potential strategy to target a variety of human diseases ranging from metabolic to brain disorders. Accordingly, bioactive ingredients which are found within a variety of herbal compounds are reported to produce both neuroprotective and psychotropic activities which may help to combat mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances and cognitive alterations. In the present manuscript, we focus on three herbs which appear effective in mitigating anxiety or depression with favourable risk-benefit profiles, namely Scutellaria baicalensis (S. baicalensis
), Hericium erinaceus (H. erinaceus
) and Rhodiola rosea (R. rosea
). These three traditional folk medicinal herbs target the main biochemical events that are implicated in mental disorders, mimicking, to some extent, the mechanisms of action of conventional antidepressants and mood stabilizers with a wide margin of tolerability. In detail, they rescue alterations in neurotransmitter and neuro-endocrine systems, stimulate neurogenesis and the synthesis of neurotrophic factors, and they counteract oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction and inflammation. Albeit the encouraging results that emerge from both experimental and clinical evidence, further studies are needed to confirm and better understand the mental-health promoting, and specifically, the antidepressant effects of these herbs.
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