Calming Herbs and Relaxing Teas

Calming herbs and relaxing teas take the edge off stress and offer a bit of herbal anxiety relief. They help you face situations anxiety and stress provoking situations with a bit more ease. When feeling upset or nervous, they calm and soothe, especially when used along with stress reduction techniques.

Calming herbs belong to a group of herbs called nervines. Nervines relax, nourish or strengthen the nervous system. Some act directly to restore tissues. Others have a more general effect such as being relaxing or oxygenating the blood, thus benefiting the nervous system indirectly.

Relaxing herbs ease some of the more immediate and negative effects of stress. They may also provide mild herbal anxiety relief by reducing nervous feelings. Many have additional health benefits as well.

Unlike adaptogenic herbs which primarily make your body more resilient to stress in the long term, nervines have noticeable effects shortly after using them.

Because herbs act in different ways, it is best to match your symptoms to an herb's actions or choose blends. The closer you match your needs to a specific herb, the better it will meet your needs. Herbal profiles provide this information. Follow dosage instructions and safety precautions for safety and best results.

Although a single dose or two of calming herbs may provide immediate benefit, take them several times a day for an extended period of time for deeper benefits.

12 Relaxing Calming Herbs

When you feel butterflies fluttering in your stomach and your heart beating a little faster, reach for some herbal calming remedies and relaxing teas.

Herbs for stress and anxiety are commonly available in grocery and health food stores in a wide variety of teas, capsules, or liquid extracts. Some teas are available as single herbs, but most are packaged as blends.

Look for names such as 'Tension Tamer' by Celestial Seasonings. Or make your brew from loose herbs. Slowing down to make a pot of tea is very relaxing and centering in and of itself.

Lemon Balm - Melissa officinalis

calming herbs

Melissa is a cooling herb. If you (or someone you know) are angry or raging, let Melissa help you cool off.

Combined with chamomile, this calming herb is good for 'tantrum-throwers'. With motherwort it can be helpful for stress induced palpitations.

Melissa cools an acid stomach and is used to ward off oral herpes. It lifts your mood and relaxes the nervous system.

Lemon balm has a lovely taste and fragrance. Crush a fresh leaf in your hands and inhale deeply. Let the light lemony scent brighten your day. Dried lemon balm makes a delicious cup of relaxing tea.


Fresh Oat - Avena sativa

Avena is a good choice if you are 'stressed or stretched to the limit' and feel emotionally frayed. It is also good for people who 'fly off the handle' and have no emotional grounding.

Avena helps symptoms of stress such as mental fog, muscle pain and high blood pressure caused by tension. It soothes the gastro-intestinal tract. Fresh oats are helpful for controlling cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Oats takes the edge off of caffeine, nicotine and morphine cravings. It has a mild anti-anxiety effect.

Avena sativa makes a lovely herbal infusion that is truly a 'food for the nerves'.

This slow-acting calming herb builds benefits over several months. Fresh oats can be combined with stronger herbs as needed. The tincture or extract must be made from fresh white milky tops.

Do not use Avena sativa if you have celiac disease.

Chamomile - Matricaria recutita

Chamomile has long been a beloved medicinal herb of the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. Today, it is a favorite the world over as a mild sedative and deep sleep aid.

My sister, a Type A personality who is always on the go, grinds her teeth furiously while sleeping. When she has a cup of chamomile tea before bed, there is no grinding.

Use alone or combined with Hops for 'nervous stomach'. This calming herbal remedy works by easing smooth muscle spasms in the stomach and intestines. It is also reduces inflammation and wards off bacteria, viruses and parasites.

Always cover your chamomile tea while brewing to keep the essential oils from leaving with the steam.

If you are allergic to ragweed or are pregnant, it is best to avoid chamomile.

relaxing tea

Astragalus - A. membranaceus

Astragalus root is an adoptogen, or tonic herb because it is excellent for strengthens the immune reservoir and rebuilding depleted endocrine and immune activity. It helps the body cope with stress by supporting cortisol production.

Astragalus is used as part of a cancer protocol and for chronic fatigue syndrome. It lowers blood sugar and inhibits ulcers.

You may find astragalus  in Oriental markets. Add chopped pieces of root right to the soup pot or add ground up root to foods and beverages.

Scullcap - Scutellaria lateriflora

Scullcap is helpful for nervous exhaustion and strengthening a depleted nervous system. This calming herb is a good choice if you are experiencing spasms. It helps relax a nervous stomach, controls tremors, restless legs and relieves diaphragm spasms.

If you clench or grind your teeth, scullcap may help. It has a mild anti-anxiety action. It has been shown to control Parkinson's symptoms over time.

Only fresh or freeze-dried scullcap is useful. If the tincture or extract is made with dried herb, it won't have a beneficial effect.

Wood Betony - Pedicularis spp.

Wood betony is a gentle acting mild herb. It helps relieve stress, headaches and insomnia. It is mildly calming herb.

Wood betony relieves chronic muscle pain and headaches resulting from tension, stress and anxiety. It relieves pain and spasm in tired, sore, overworked muscles. If various groups of muscles, especially the shoulders, neck and the face stiffen up when stressed, this herb may be for you.

Kava kava - Piper methysticum

Kava relieves pain and stiffness associated with body armoring with anxious feelings. It acts in the brain's amygdala where the stress response is initiated, making it an important calming herb to help ward off distressing feelings.

Kava has a long history of use as sacred plant that helps people feel at ease in social situations. It also helps cool hot flashes, eases joint pain, muscle tension and menstrual cramps.

You know you have the good stuff if it makes your mouth feel a little numb. Be sure to read the precautions and follow the directions when using Kava.

Passionflower - Passiflora incarnata

Passionflower is stronger than most calming herbs. It is a weak sedative that can be helpful if you have insomnia because you lay in bed thinking the same anxious thoughts over and over.

Use for tension, back pain, nerve pain, headaches, and gastro-intestinal symptoms caused by stress.

California Poppy has similar uses but is stronger acting.

Motherwort - Leonurus cardiaca

calming herbal remedies

Motherwort is especially helpful to women who are irritable, anxious and emotionally volatile. This is one of the calming herbs that grow wild in my area. My husband wanted to mow it down until I told him it was for menopausal rage. Needless to say, he didn't touch it.

Motherwort can reduce hypertension and relieve heart palpitations caused by anxiety.

Combine Motherwort with blue vervain for PMS, cramps, and feelings of anxiety. Combine with pulsatilla for herbal anxiety relief or constant worry and fear.

Motherwort has a strong, bitter taste so you may prefer to use it as a tincture or extract.

Valerian - Valeriana officinalis

Valerian is a stronger acting sedative that also helps relieve gastro-intestinal symptoms caused by stress including IBS and diarrhea. Mix Valerian with catnip or chamomile if you internalize stress in your gut. Valerian doesn't taste very good and has a strong odor.

Some people find Valerian to be stimulating rather than relaxing.

Linden flowers - Tilia spp.

If your upset leads to headaches and higher blood pressure, this may be the calming herb for you. Linden is a mild acting herb that can help with general stress.

Linden mildly reduces anxious and/or depressed feelings, lowers blood pressure and eases headaches. It can help you sleep. Linden flowers are an excellent remedy for upset stomachs in both children and adults.

Europeans use Tilia for atherosclerosis and to improve blood flow to the brain.

Linden flowers make a delicious infusion. Steep a teaspoon or two in a cup of hot water for 15 minutes. Strain and drink.

Reishi (Ganoderma) and Maitake (Grifola frondosa)

Reishi mushroom is a nervine that eases insomnia. It is tonic to the cardio-vascular system.

Maitake mushrooms help protect and detoxify the liver and assist with hypo-immune conditions such as cancer, AIDS and chronic fatigue as well as hyper-immune conditions including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease.

Dried reishi and maitake are available at some grocery stores and Asian markets. Add to soups, stews and other foods. Or make a decoction by brewing two teaspoons in 12 ounces of water for a few hours. For therapeutic use, mushrooms are sold in capsules.

Whether you choose calming herbs for stress or herbal anxiety relief, they work well as tinctures, extracts or relaxing teas. Use a combination of calming herbs and other herbal allies to help you relax and protect yourself from the negative effects of stress.

Need a source of high quality herbal products? Check out Mountain Rose Herbs.

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