Herbs for stress and anxiety

 

bath oilsWho doesn’t need a bit of support when it comes to managing stress in their life? We all have to come to terms with it, there’s no way of removing it completely from our lives, but we can learn to manage it so that it doesn’t affect our health. Unfortunately living in a state of stress (fight or flight mode) can disrupt our physical and mental wellbeing, and it’s important to be aware that this can be the underlying issue behind so many symptoms.

Thankfully, nature gives a long list of remedies to help us cope with stress and anxiety. There are three main categories of herbs for stress: adaptogens, nervines, and antispasmodics (and they often overlap).

 

Adaptogens

As we can guess from the name, these herbs help the body to adapt to disruptive circumstances by increasing our resilience in dealing with all kinds of stress, but especially they improve the way our body responds to it. How? For example by strengthening our adrenal glands (which can be considered our batteries), lowering our cortisol (the stress hormone) levels, stimulating our mental performance and cognitive function, and increasing energy levels. Everyone can benefit from this category of herbs, and they are particularly useful for people working on shifts.

  • Ashwaganda Withania somnifera
  • Siberian Ginseng Eleutherococcus senticosus
  • Rhodiola Rhodiola rosea
  • Ginseng Panax Ginseng
  • Maca root Lepidium meyenii 

 

Nervines

These herbs are basically food for our nervous system. The nervous system consumes excessive amounts of nutrients when under stress, while our digestive system is not working efficiently at the same time (when in fight or flight mode our body gives priority to the circulatory and respiratory systems, so our digestive system goes to second place) resulting in low nutrients absorption from the food we eat. This means that our nervous system is going to be underfed and overworked, making us very sensitive to any source of stress. Nervine herbs come to help to give us exactly the nutrition we need to support and strengthen our nervous system, calming our minds, relieving overthinking and restlessness, and uplifting us.

  • Skullcap Scutellaria lateriflora
  • Valerian Valeriana officinalis
  • Chamomile Matricaria chamomilla
  • Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis
  • Gotu Kola Centella asiatica
  • Oat Avena sativa

 

Antispasmodics

This is a more physical category of herbs, as they help us release the tension we hold in our muscles. They can greatly relieve any musculoskeletal pain and spasms due to tension, as well as any stress-related digestive issues. In my practice, I found I had great results using them to treat PMS and menstrual cramps, especially Passionflower works wonders!

  • Passionflower Passiflora incarnata
  • Motherwort Leonorus cardiaca
  • Lavender Lavandula officinalis
  • Linden Tilia 
  • Cramp bark Viburnum opulus

 

As with all natural remedies, these herbs can have contraindications and interactions so I do recommend consulting a trained herbalist before taking these or any other herbs. It is also a good idea to get a consultation with a trained herbalist so you can get the remedies most suited for you, as we all have different needs as well as different underlying causes to be addressed.