Chronic and acute stress can at times get so taxing that you may feel the need to resort to conventional medications like antidepressants, sleeping pills and mood elevators. However, before you reach out for these chemicals, you should try the various herbal options that are available for effective management of stress and the anxiety that accompanies it.
Some of the herbs that can help in reducing stress and anxiety are listed below. While some are preventive in nature, there are others that act immediately, over a longer period of time or by inducing sleep. Some of the milder herbs that induce calm and relieve tense nerves are catmint, lime blossoms, chamomile, lemon balm or peppermint.
Infusions of lime blossom, catmint, lemon balm or chamomile have a calming effect. A herbalist may suggest taking skullcap, valerian or cowslip as stronger relaxants than the above, or the restoring herb St. John’s wort.
It is to be noted that herbs can be most effective when they are taken as soon as symptoms of stress are perceived. The longer you have been stressed, the more time it’ll take for herbs to act.
- Ashwagandha – Ashwagandha is one of the most popular herbs to be recommended for stress. It works as an adaptogen, promoting the body’s ability to maintain homeostasis and resist stress. The benefits of this herb are far too many to list by. It is also referred to as Indian Ginseng by many.
- Kava kava – One of the most popular herbs for stress reduction, this herb reduces stress extremely effectively without the side effects associated with conventional medicines. In most cases, the herb does not leave you with a foggy feeling but increases alertness and memory thereby aiding in sociability and mood elevation. The herb should be avoided if you take alcohol, other antidepressants or have Parkinson’s disease.
- St. John’s Wort – This herb, while effective, does not show results as immediately as some of the others like kava kava. This is mainly because of the manner in which it works. The herb reduces the uptake of serotonin, thereby making more serotonin available in the system. Since serotonin helps in keeping the body calm, the herb ultimately helps in a generally calmer personality. Over time, St. John’s Wort makes the skin more sensitive to the sun and therefore a good sunscreen should be used as a preventive measure as soon you start this herbal therapy.
- Ginseng – The Siberian Ginseng helps in fighting the onset of stress by toning the nervous system. Panax Ginseng relaxes tense muscles and helps in relief from psychological stress. The Indian Ginseng (also known as Ashwagandha) has berries that promote overall health and help in alleviating symptoms of stress, anxiety, emotional trauma, and tiredness.
- Mulungu – A herb used extensively in the Amazon region, the bark and root of this tree help in regulating heartbeat and reducing blood pressure. By controlling these symptoms of stress and anxiety, this herb helps in reducing the negative impact of stress on health. This plant has been validated in research as an effective remedy for anxiety.
- Graviola – Another herb that has been used in the Amazon extensively, this small tree has special medicinal qualities. The leaves and bark and roots have been known to have a tranquilizing effect and reduce tension.
- Bugleweed – An infusion made from boiling water, herb and a dash of lime (optional) helps in soothing hyper nerves.
- Fennel – For those who exhibit various bowel related symptoms due to stress and anxiety, this herb helps in reducing gas, stomach upsets and relaxing the intestines.
- Meadowsweet – This is an herb that helps in headaches that result from chronic stress and continued anxiety.
- Feverfew – Another herb that helps in reducing stress related headaches like migraine, this herb is extremely effective.
- Motherwort – The herb helps in reducing palpitations caused by extreme anxiety. If the palpitations are accompanied by blood pressure, adding linden blossoms helps.
- Passion Flower – This herb acts in a manner to alleviate multiple symptoms of stress and anxiety. It relaxes tense nerves, induces sleep and relaxes.
- Skullcap – This herb is considered one of the best herbs to reduce tense nerves. This nervine is generally used at bedtime so as to ensure a good night’s sleep. It also helps in preventing panic attacks while asleep.
- Valerian – This herb is a natural sedative and helps in relieving insomnia, an extremely common symptom of chronic stress.
- California poppy – Similar to Valerian, California poppy also helps in combating stress by inducing the required sleep.
- Hops – Also a sleep inducing drug, this herb is mostly used to make a sleep pillow. This is done y inserting a pouch of hops in the pillow fluffing.
Even though most of the herbs are harmless and do not have a negative effect on the system, it is advisable that a naturopath or a herbologist be consulted before you take the decision of opting for a herbal cure for your stress or anxiety problems. This is mainly due to the fact that herbs, though free from side effects, may induce undesirable effects like headaches, variation in body temperature, etc. in some people. If you are taking other medicines, they may also interfere with them. An experienced herbalist will be able to prescribe the right herb by carefully analyzing your body constitution, so you’ll experience the least degree of after effects. Pregnant or nursing women need to be careful and need to check with regards to the herbs that are safe to use.
Once you have found the herb that suits you best, don’t get addicted to it! Make sure to give a break in the dosage so as not be become psychologically or physiologically dependent on the same.