There have been several studies on the beneficial use of acupuncture for treating depression. A 2013 trial in Hong Kong used dense cranial electroacupuncture stimulation on patients. Those receiving the correct acupuncture showed a significant reduction (19.4%) on the 17-item Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression scores, while the placebo group who were subjected to sham acupuncture had only a 8.8% reduction. In neither group was there any effect on the platelet serotonin system, but a further study has found that correct acupuncture treatment helped serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and improved antidepressant treatment by 33.4% compared to the control group while reducing conventional drug side effects such as sleep disorder and anxiety.
A third study looked at the ability of auricular electroacupuncture to aid conventional medication in patients with depression. Results showed that the treatment improved aspects of quality of life and showed clear stimulatory effects on measurements such as heart rate.
There is an on-going randomised controlled trial in South Yorkshire where 162 patients are being given conventional drug treatments or homeopathic preparations. The results of this study should be available in 2015.
A study carried out in 2011 investigated whether homeopathy is as good as the conventional treatment, fluoxetine, in the management of acute depression. Patients received either 20mg per day of fluoxetine or an individualised Q potency homeopathic remedy. Statistical analysis of results showed that homeopathic treatment was as good as fluoxetine treatment for acute depression in patients with moderate to severe depression. There was no difference in the number of patients reporting side effects but the fluoxetine group reported stronger side effects and more patients interrupted treatment compared to the homeopathy group.
A 2013 study into the antidepressant-like activity of propolis, a natural product made by honeybees, was conducted on mice. Researchers discovered that propolis worked to reduce depression by enchancing the glucocorticoid receptor function in the brain which is one of the therapeutic mechanisms of modern antidepressants. From this they concluded that with further research propolis may be suitable as a new way of treating depression.
Royal Jelly has traditionally been used as a food supplement in the treatment of depression. A 2012 trial investigated the ability of an unsaturated fatty acid that is uniquely present I Royal Jelly to reduce symptoms of depression in an animal model. The fatty acid (10-hydroxy-trans-2-decenoic Acid) was given once a day for three weeks and proved to have a protective effect against depression.