Calming Herbs and Relaxing Teas

Calming herbs and relaxing teas take the edge off stress and offer you a bit of herbal anxiety relief. They help you face situations that cause you to feel anxious or stressed with a bit more ease. They help calm you when you are already feeling nervous or upset, especially when used along with stress reduction techniques.

Calming herbs belong to a group of herbs called nervines. Nervines work in different ways to 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 help you reduce some of the more immediate and negative effects of stress and may also provide mild herbal anxiety relief. They reduce anxious and nervous feelings and may provide additional health benefits as well.

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

For best results, you want to match your symptoms to the herbal action. The closer you can match your needs to a specific herb, the better it will meet your needs. Read the complete herbal profile. Follow dosage instructions and safety precautions for any herbs you choose to use.

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

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.

These relaxing herbs 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 calming herbs blends.

Look for names such as 'Tension Tamer' by Celestial Seasonings. Or make your brew from loose herbs. Slowing down and making your own brew 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) is angry or raging, let Melissa help you cool off.

Combined with chamomile, this 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 and 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 for people who 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 can help 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 in controlling cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It 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 been a beloved medicinal herb of the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans and is now 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 herbal calming 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 very allergic to ragweed or are pregnant, it is best to avoid chamomile.

relaxing herbs

Astragalus - A. membranaceus

Astragalus root strengthens the immune reservoir. It is excellent for rebuilding depleted endocrine and immune activity. It is used as part of a cancer protocol and for chronic fatigue syndrome. It lowers blood sugar and inhibits ulcers.

Astragalus is sometimes available as a food in Oriental markets. Add a piece of root right to the soup pot or grind it up and add to foods and beverages.

Scullcap - Scutellaria lateriflora

Scullcap is helpful for nervous exhaustion and strengthening a depleted nervous system. Scullcap can be 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 you stiffen up various groups of muscles, especially the shoulders, neck and the face when stressed, this herb may be for you.

Kava kava - Piper methysticum

Kava helps relieve the pain and stiffness associated with 'body armoring' with anxious feelings. Kava acts on the amygdala area in the brain where the stress response is initiated, making it an important calming herb to help ward off stressful and anxious 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 this herb.

Passionflower - Passiflora incarnata

Passionflower is stronger than most nervines and 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. You can 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 herbal remedy for you. Linden is a mild acting herb that can help with general stress.

It 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 1-2 teaspoonsful in a cup of hot water for 15 minutes. Strain and drink.

Reishi (Ganoderma) and Maitake (Grifola frondosa)

Reishi is tonic to the cardio-vascular system, is a nervine and can help with insomnia.

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. Reconstitute and add to soups, stews and other foods. You can also 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 to enjoy calming herbs or stress or for 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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