Treating depression, anxiety, insomnia without prescription drugs: What to consider

Experts say 80% of population use some type of herbal medicine

DETROIT – The World Health Organization estimates that 80 percent of the world's population uses some type of herbal medicine.

It's a growing trend in treating a variety of issues, such as fatigue, stress and PMS. Two Michigan women shared their experience with Chinese herbal medicines and how the holistic approach to their conditions changed their lives.

Read original report: Metro Detroit women say Chinese herbal medicine helped with pain, anxiety

Mia is 76 years old. She said she's feeling good these days, but that wasn't the case a couple of months ago.

"Yes, a lot of broken bones," Mia said. "Just the whole body pain, bone pain."

Mia said she was involved in a serious car crash.

"The worst thing is, I couldn't sleep and I still had bone pain in my left foot so it was hard to walk," Mia said.

The former nurse went through physical therapy and was using an opioid for her sleeplessness.

"My general practitioner didn't want to give it to me anymore," Mia said. "He said, 'Not at your age. You could become addicted to it.' I thought, 'I can't go on like this. I have to try something else.'"

That's when Mia visited Jason Gauruder at Garuda Health.

"The herbal medicine has been around for 2,000 years," Gauruder said. "The four biggest ones I treat are fatigue, anxiety, insomnia and depression."

Gauruder is a board certified Chinese herbalist.

"There's a whole different set of herbs that are specific to each part of the body that can help clean up whatever the problem is," Gauruder said. "Anxiety is actually just a symptom. It's not a diagnosis in itself. So for them, they say, 'OK, the person (is) suffering with anxiety as a symptom, but what is the Chinese medical diagnosis to what is causing the anxiety?'"

"He showed me his mixture area that he would take a little bit of this and that and he gave me this little tiny spoon that I would take two scoops (of), three times a day," Mia said. "I started it and it was remarkable.

"I feel good. I have strength and energy, and I'm happy again. I don't have any anxiety or depression. I drive all over the place and I'm truly OK."

Dawn Aiuto is a 35-year-old mother of four and a small business owner.

"Right, so, I've dealt with anxiety probably since I've had children," Aiuto said. "(It) probably worsened in my 30s, and I've tried a little bit of other medication and none of it was working."

About seven months ago, Aiuto decided to try Chinese herbal medicine.

"I was intrigued," Aiuto said. "So now I take herbal medicine three times a day and it's changed my life for the better. I'm able to control my anxiety. I don't have panic or anxiety attacks -- probably a tenth of what I did prior to coming here."

"That's where the Chinese medicine can step in and where it's very good at chronic care, but it's not so good at acute care and trauma care," Gauruder said.

Anyone considering the holistic treatment should think about a few things first.

"It's not best to buy something online based on some random internet recommendation," said Dr. Frank McGeorge, a health reporter and emergency room doctor.

Packaging and processing of herbal medicines aren't well controlled, so buyers should go to a reputable source.

"There's potential for contamination and potential for different amounts of active ingredients," McGeorge said.

As for the results, Mia and Aiuto said their experiences have been positive.

"I couldn't say as a physician scientist there is proof that they work," McGeorge said. "If you believe they work, you take them and they seem to work -- that is great."

Added Aiuto, "I'm a believer in, there are some things that you need medicine for and there are some things that you can do naturally or do more holistically, and I think that this is definitely one of them."

Experts said a good practice would be to discuss alternative treatments with a physician. It might also be helpful to consider complementary medicine, which is utilizing alternative treatments along with standard medicine.

You can learn more by visiting Garuda Health's website, Facebook page or Instagram page.