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Dissociative disorders are mental illnesses that involve disruptions or breakdowns of awareness, consciousness, identity, memory, and/or perception. The main symptom of a depersonalisation disorder is a distorted perception of their own body and the surrounding environment. The individual can feel like they are a robot or in a dream and it can affect all aspects of their life including relationships and both their working and social activities.


The root cause is, as yet, unknown but certain drugs such as cannabis and hallucinogens can cause it as can anxiety or deeply stressful and traumatic situations. Some psychologists believe it may be the brains defence mechanism to shut out emotions when the individual is under extreme duress. It can happen unexpectedly and, because it is not a subject widely taught in medical schools, can often be misdiagnosed.


Treatment for dissociative disorders


Treatment involves helping the individual to process traumatic memories, eliminate obsessive self-focus and existential rumination and undergo anxiety management.


Strenuous activities such as cycling, running and swimming can be a great way to reconnect the individual with reality and take their mind off any existing problems.


Taking up an interesting and absorbing hobby can also be a good remedy.


Drinking plenty of water can help too. A large glass before bed is important because it helps the body and brain flush itself of waste and toxins whilst the individual sleeps. Try squeezing a whole lemon or lime into the water to help provide the nutrients the brain needs to function correctly and cleanse the liver and kidneys.


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Herbal treatments for dissociative disorders

Certain herbs can have a calming effect and help with the process of recovery.

Cedar wood: The aroma of cedar wood essential oil is a sedative which can help to release serotonin which is converted into melatonin in the brain. This can relieve anxiety and promote restful sleep.

Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita): Available as a tea or in capsule form, compounds in chamomile bind to the same brain receptors as drugs like Valium. In one scientific study, there was a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms in those participants suffering from generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) who were administered chamomile supplements for two months.

Damiana (Turnera diffusa): Damiana is known for its aphrodisiac properties and is also used for nervousness, weakness, exhaustion and reducing stress.

Dogwood (Piscidia erythrina): There are a few dogwood species around the world and each are used for different medicinal purposes. The Jamaican dogwood is used medicinally for anxiety, arthritis, insomnia, migraines, muscle spasms, panic attacks, rheumatism and excessive stress.

Hops (Humulus lupulus): The oil from an extract or a tincture made from hops can help to sedate, relax and reduce the effects of anxiety hyperactivity, stress, nervousness, body pain and restlessness.

Jasmine (Jasminum officinale): One of the aromatic components of jasmine is linalool. In aromatherapy, jasmine essential oil has a tranquilizing effect. The smell of jasmine can slow down the heart rate, reduce stress and anxiety and cause a calm mood.

Kava kava (Piper methysticum ): The Kava root has been extensively researched for its beneficial effects and had many positive results for some individuals The rhizome (underground stem) is used as a sedative to alleviate anxiety, insomnia and stress and soothe the nerves. The active components in kava root are called kavalactones.

Warning: Possible side effects of over consumption of kava kava can include indigestion, mouth numbness, skin rash, headache, drowsiness and visual disturbances. Chronic or heavy use of kava has linked to pulmonary hypertension, skin scaling, loss of muscle control, kidney damage, and blood abnormalities. Kava may also lower blood pressure and it also may interfere with blood clotting, so it should not be used by people with bleeding disorders. People with Parkinson’s disease should avoid kava because it may worsen symptoms and it should not be taken within two weeks of surgery. Pregnant and nursing women, children, and people with liver or kidney disease should also avoid kava and it must not be taken in conjunction with alcohol and certain medications.

Lady slipper (Cypripedium areitinum, Cypripedium pubescens, Cypripedium calceolus): Lady slipper has long been used to treat hysteria, insomnia, nervous unrest and depression by the native tribes of North American.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia, Lavandula latifolia, Lavandula. stoechas, Lavandula luisieri): There have been many scientific studies that have proven the soothing, anti-anxiety effects of lavender oil. In one German study, lavender oil tablets were shown to reduce anxiety symptoms in a group with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) as effectively as Ativan (a prescription medication like Valium). Boiled lavender leaves and flowers can be used internally, as a tea, to help cure anxiety and insomnia. Inhaling lavender oil vapour is also used for insomnia and agitation.

Lavender tea recipe (makes 2 cups)

  • Two tablespoons of dried lavender flowers

  • Two cups boiling water

  • One teaspoon of honey

  • Organic freshly squeezed juice of one lemon juice


  • Place the dried lavender flowers in a teapot and pour the boiling water over them

  • Allow to steep for at least five minutes

  • Strain and add the honey and lemon juice

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is available as a tea, capsule, and tincture, and has been used for hundreds of years to reduce stress and anxiety and aid restful sleep. In one study, participants who took 600 mg of lemon balm extract were significantly calmer than those who took a placebo, although some research has shown that excess use can exacerbate anxiety, therefore caution is advised. This herb was brought to Britain by the Romans and has soothing and sedative properties and makes a refreshing tea that calms anxiety, restores depleted energy and enhances the memory. To make a tea, pour hot water onto a handful of leaves in a jar. Screw on the lid and then cool leave to chill for four hours in the refrigerator then strain out the leaves and serve the liquid with ice or include a handful of mint or peppermint leaves then reheat, strain and stir in the honey then sip slowly. Drink three cups a day.

Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica): The fruit of this shrub has been known to act as a sedative and loquat leaf tea can help to nourish the brain and reduce the symptoms of dissociative disorders.

Moringa .(Moringa oleifera): Also known as drumstick, this herb is known to treat anxiety, depression and sleep disorders and improve the mood. The leaves contain high amounts of quality amino acids which help to nourish the brain and reduce the symptoms of dissociative disorders.

Warning: Pregnant women should be aware of moringa’s ability to induce miscarriage.

Motherwort (Leonurus cardiac): This is a herb with a light relaxing effect that can treat anxiety, depression, rapid heart rate, heart palpitations, insomnia and vertigo.

Opium Lettuce (Lactuca virosa): Although this plant is not related to opium (Papaver somniferum) it is known to have some of opium's beneficial properties. Lactucarium, the milky fluid secreted by the opium lettuce, has been used for its analgesic, anti-inflammatory and sedative properties for centuries. Two or three grams of leaves made into a tea help to reduce anxiety.

Warning: Excess of three grams may cause diarrhoea and stomach irritation. It can also cause uterine bleeding therefore pregnant women should be aware of its ability to induce miscarriage.

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris): Due to its mild sedative properties, chewing fresh mugwort leaves can help to relieve fatigue and clear the mind. A decoction of the roots can also be for this purpose.

Warning: Mugwort should not be taken medicinally for more than one week. Break for several weeks before taking mugwort again as regular use can cause liver damage, nervous issues and convulsions. Mugwort should never be used internally during pregnancy or lactation or by anyone who has pelvic inflammatory issues as it can cause uterine contractions and can be passed through the mother's milk.

Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans): During ancient times, Roman and Greek civilisations used nutmeg as a type of brain tonic. This is because nutmeg can effectively stimulate the brain, reduce anxiety, depression and stress and eliminate fatigue. It can also improve the concentration and is an effective sedative.

Oat straw (Avena sativa): Oat straw extract has a positive impact on cognitive performance in healthy individuals. Due to the high Vitamin B complex content it is as an effective herbal remedy for anxiety and stress. Oat straw's calming qualities also strengthens nerves and encourages a restful night's sleep. It is also a good allopathic medicine for treating depression, nervous exhaustion and panic attacks and calming hyperactive children. Taking 1600 mg oat straw extract daily can greatly improved cognitive function including attention, focus and concentration abilities in elderly adults.

To make an infusion (herbal tea) pour a cup of boiling water over the ripe dried stems of oat straw, leave to steep for 10 minutes then strain and drink it. Honey can be added to sweeten it.

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) Passion flower has long been used to help reduce anxiety, hysteria and nervousness by nourishing the nervous system. It is traditionally used in both herbal and homeopathic medicine for asthma, attention deficit disorder, high blood pressure, insomnia, nervous exhaustion and pain. It has been studied for its sedative properties and shown to reduce the symptoms of anxiety as effectively as prescription drugs in some individuals. The German government has approved its use for nervous restlessness and it can aid restful sleep.

Pepperwort (Lepidium meyenii): Pepperwort can help to improve the mood and overall brain health due to its very rich nutritional content.

Periwinkle (Vinca minor, Vinca major): The leaves, and seeds of the periwinkle contain vincamine, a precursor to the chemical vinpocetine, which is used medicinally to naturally enhance memory by improving brain circulation which may also help to reduce the symptoms of dissociative disorders.

Warning: Madagascar periwinkle is not widely recommended as a dietary supplement because some of the alkaloids in the plant can cause serious and potentially dangerous side effects.

Rosemary  (Rosmarinus officinalis) has properties that are particularly useful for treating a poor memory and poor concentration when it consumed as a tea. Even smelling rosemary has shown to improve the memory.

Sage (Salvia officinalis): The thujone in sage is GABA and Serotonin (5-HT3) receptor antagonist. It enhances concentration, attention span and quickens the senses; hence sage infusion has long been recognised as the "thinker's tea." Its effects help deal with grief and depression and can also treat dissociative disorders.

Warning: Sage should be avoided if pregnant or suffering with epilepsy.

Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora): has anxiolytic properties which is beneficial to anxious individuals as it does not have any known harmful side effects.

St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) is a herb that is especially useful in the treatment of anxiety, depression and insomnia and can also be helpful to women who suffer these symptoms and other emotional disturbances during the menopause.

Nutrients that can aid recovery from dissociative disorders

Amino acids: Isoleucine, leucine and valine are three amino acids which are often taken as a supplement to help to build muscles in body-builders. They can also have a beneficial effect upon  individuals suffering from fatigue and depression.

Aspartate is an amino acid said to increase energy, fat loss, libido, metabolism, muscle growth and strength and testosterone levels and reduce fatigue and depression. It is also thought to enhance sleep quality and mood. It is often combined with various minerals such as copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and zinc as it can help  to increase absorption of these minerals  As a supplement it is often used to enhance athletic performance. Some forms are used to reduce brain damage caused by cirrhosis of the liver (hepatic encephalopathy) and given intravenously by a healthcare professional. However it can cause some serious side effects in some individuals.


Aspartic acid in aspartame, the artificial sweetener that is used in many 'sugar-free' products, has the same detrimental effects on the body as glutamic acid, when it is isolated from its naturally protein-bound state, causing it to become a neurotoxin instead of a non-essential amino acid. There are over 92 side effects associated with aspartame consumption because it can dissolve into solution, travel throughout the body and deposit in any tissue. Aspartame brings on clinical diabetes and can cause convulsions and can make the consumer gain weight because it causes powerful sugar cravings which is ironic when it is consumed by people wishing to avoid sugar.


Possible side effects of aspartic acid of aspartate supplements

  • Acne

  • Depression

  • Diabetes

  • Diarrhoea

  • Headaches

  • Memory loss

  • Mood swings

Found in its highest quantities in the brain, aspartic acid increases neurological activity. It is found in higher amounts in people with epilepsy and in lower amounts in those suffering from depression. Therefore people with epilepsy should reduce intake of the following foods and people with depression should increase their intake of these foods.

Highest sources of aspartate in alphabetical order

Choline is an essential nutrient for brain health, intelligence and synaptic plasticity. A choline deficiency can impair memory and reasoning and affect mood and focus.

Natural sources of choline in alphabetical order

Lecithin can be used to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines and help to calm the mind and reduce both brain fog and panic attacks.  

Magnesium raises the resistance against stress, depression, tensions and helps to prevent mental tiredness. It also strengthens the memory and concentration. Today's intensive farming techniques have stripped the soil of its magnesium content which has caused a deficiency in the human diet. Only organically produced natural foods will contain enough magnesium.


Highest sources of magnesium in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Rice bran 781 mg

  • Basil, coriander, dill and sage 694 mg

  • Hemp seeds 640 mg

  • Pumpkin and squash seeds 535 mg

  • Raw cocoa 499 mg

  • Flaxseeds 392 mg

  • Brazil nuts 376 mg

  • Sesame seeds 353 mg

  • Sunflower seeds 346 mg

  • Chia seeds 335 mg

  • Chlorella 315 mg

  • Wheat germ 313 mg

  • Cashew nuts 292 mg

  • Almonds 268 mg

  • Caraway seeds 258 mg

  • Black strap molasses and dulse 242 mg

  • Buckwheat 231 mg

  • Spirulina 189 mg

  • Oats 177 mg

  • Durum wheat 144 mg

  • Macadamia nuts 130 mg

  • Adzuki beans 127 mg

  • Kelp 121 mg

  • Millet 114 mg

  • Kale 88 mg

  • Amaranth 65 mg

  • Globe artichoke 60 mg

  • Okra and nettles 57 mg

  • Chestnuts 54 mg

  • Rocket 47 mg

  • Dates 43 mg

  • Plantain 37 mg

  • Lentils 36 mg

  • Butternut squash 34 mg

  • Coconut 32 mg

  • Potatoes with skin 30 mg

  • Passion fruit 29 mg

  • Savoy cabbage, halibut 28 mg

  • Bananas, rabbit 27 mg

  • Green beans 25 mg

  • Peas 24 mg

  • Raspberries 22 mg

  • Guava 22 mg

  • Blackberries 20 mg

  • Courgettes 18 mg

  • Kiwi fruit, fennel, figs 17 mg

  • Endive 15 mg

  • Cucumber, lettuce 13 mg

Manganese deficiency can lead to confused thinking and poor memory, mental and physical tiredness and nervous excitability. Foods rich in manganese include citrus fruits, the outer covering of nuts, in the green leaves of edible plants and green vegetables such as peas and runner beans. Shellfish are another good source.


Highest sources of manganese in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Cloves 60.1 mg

  • Rice bran 14.2 mg

  • Pine nuts 8.8 mg

  • Mussels 6.8 mg

  • Hazelnuts 5.6 mg

  • Pumpkin seeds 4.5 mg

  • Whole wheat 2.1 mg

  • Cocoa beans 3.8 mg

  • Soya beans 2.2 mg

  • Sunflower seeds 1.9 mg

  • Garlic 1.7 mg

  • Brewer’s yeast 0.08 mg (depending upon source)

  • Egg yolks 1.1 mg

  • Black beans 1.1 mg

  • Dried peas 0.39 mg

  • Kidney beans 0.2 mg

Omega-3 fatty acids: Depression and anxiety can sometimes be due to a lack of omega-3 fatty acids in the system. Omega 3 fatty acid is a vital component of brain structure. Babies who are breast fed score higher on IQ-tests as it contains more of those structural omega-3 fats than formula. Omega-3 fats are essential because the body is not capable of making them and therefore must be consumed in the daily diet. Low Omega-3 levels have been linked to memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. The brain craves these healthy fats to prevent mental degeneration especially as it ages. 

Highest sources of omega-3 fatty acids in milligrams per 100 grams

  • Krill oil 36000 mg

  • Flaxseed oil 22813 mg

  • Chia seeds 17552 mg

  • Walnuts 9079 mg

  • Caviar (fish eggs) 6789 mg

  • Cloves (ground) 4279 mg

  • Oregano (dried) 4180 mg

  • Marjoram (dried) 3230 mg

  • Tarragon (dried) 2955 mg

  • Mackerel 2670 mg

  • Herring 2365 mg

  • Salmon (wild) 2018 mg

  • Lamb 1610 mg

  • Basil (dried) 1509 mg

  • Sardines 1480 mg

  • Anchovies 1478 mg

  • Soya beans 1433 mg

  • Trout 1068 mg

  • Pecans, sea bass 986 mg

  • Pine nuts 787 mg

  • Bell peppers (green) 770 mg

  • Oysters 740 mg

  • Radish seeds sprouted 722 mg

  • Purslane 400 mg

  • Basil (fresh leaves) 316 mg

  • Rabbit 220 mg

  • Kidney beans 194 mg

  • Wakame seaweed 188 mg

  • Alfalfa sprouts 175 mg

  • Brussel sprouts 173 mg

  • Rocket 170 mg

  • Cauliflower 167 mg

  • Spinach 138 mg

  • Broccoli 129 mg

  • Raspberries 126 mg

  • Lettuce 113 mg

  • Blueberries 94 mg

  • Summer squash 82 mg

  • Strawberries 65 mg

  • Milk 75 mg

  • Eggs 74 mg

  • Chinese cabbage (pak choy) 55 mg

  • Parsnips 49 mg

Theanine produces calming effects in the brain and nervous system by increasing levels of serotonine and dopamine.

Theanine is related to glutamine, and can cross the blood-brain barrier .Because it can enter the brain, theanine has psychoactive properties. Theanine has been shown to reduce mental and physical stress and may produce feelings of relaxation and improve cognition and mood. It also helps to keep the body alert and attentive reducing stress levels and can cause a focused state of relaxation without tiredness or over-stimulated. Research shows that that it helps moderate heart rate and blood pressure and in one study, individuals prone to anxiety were calmer during a test if they first took 200 milligrams of L-theanine. Along with its nootropic properties, it is also a good mood-enhancer. Nootropics are substances that improve cognitive function, particularly creativity, executive functions, memory, and motivation. Drinking green tea can have a slight effect but taking capsules of 400 to 800 mg daily will have a more powerful result.

Natural sources of theanine

Vitamin B complex deficiency can cause symptoms of mania, psychosis, fatigue, memory impairment, irritability, depression, and personality changes. Supplementation of B-complex has been shown to reduce confusion, depression, and work-related stress.

There are many other natural foods and nutrients that can help an individual recover from dissociate disorders. See the links below.

Associated articles

"Nature cures not the physician..." Hippocrates 460 BC


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