Herbs for Stress Relief: How to Choose and Use Relaxing Herbs
Herbs for stress relief have been effectively and gently helping people take the edge mental tension for generations. They can provide in-the moment relief and long-term benefits when you are facing stressful times. Knowing how to choose the right stress-relieving herbs for your needs, and how to use them, will give you the most benefits.
Herbal anti-anxiety and calming remedies act as your allies against everyday distress in two ways. They either help you relax and calm down or they help your body adapt and cope in stressful times. When used together, both types of stress herbs provide you with a broad range of support. Some herbs do double duty. They have a relaxing effect and offer protection from the ravages of stress on your body over time.
How to Choose Herbs for Stress Relief
- Stress herbs are generally quite easy and safe to use. However, certain ones can be contra-indicated for your situation and medications. I highly recommend that you read the full profile for each herb (just search by herb name + herbal profile), including precautions for use, before choosing the best herbs for your needs. If you have a medical condition and/or take medication, please consult with your doctor before using herbal remedies.
- Match the specific benefits of the herbs with your needs. Find this information in the herbal profile. You can use just one herb or combine them. Many herbs for stress relief are readily available as combination remedies. Choose a single herb or combine them into capsules, syrups, tinctures, extracts, and my personal favorites - infusions and teas.
- For internal use, choose liquid tinctures and extracts made from organically-grown or wildcrafted plants rather than powdered herbs in capsules. These tend to be of better quality. Coarsely ground herbs properly dried and stored for teas are good. Tablets are generally the least desirable. The more an herb is ground, the less time it holds its benefits.
- You may also want to choose herbs for external use. Some plants, like lavender, chamomile, rose, and jasmine are lovely calming when diffused into the air or when their essential oils are applied to the skin in a carrier lotion or oil.
- Choose a few favorites from the two types of stress-relieving herbs and use them regularly to promote emotional calm and physical wellness. You might want to choose several calming herbs so you can choose the ones that are best for your stress symptoms and experiences at the time. Choose one or two favorites from the adaptogen category for on-going support.
Types of Stress Relieving Herbs
There are two main types of herbs for stress relief. Calming herbs are helpful for in-the-moment relief. Adaptogenic herbs protect the body from the damaging effects of long-term distress.
Calming herbs or Nervines generally work quickly to ease feelings of nervousness, stress and/or anxious feelings. They have a short-term positive effect on the nervous system. Nervines include kava kava, lemon balm, chamomile, hops, scullcap, lavender and more. These herbs are commonly consumed internally as teas, capsules, and tinctures. Some of them, such as chamomile and lavender essential oils, are commonly diffused in the air or applied to the body in lotions and massage oils.
Lavender is perhaps the best known and most loved aromatherapy stress and anxiety herbs. For a quick breath of calm, keep a bottle of lavender essential oil or a potted lavender nearby. Snip off a few leaves or flowers, roll them in your hands and inhale deeply. Lovely.
Adaptogenic herbs act as tonics that support the organs and systems of your body and help them be more resilient during stressful times. Adaptogens are taken daily and safe to take for long periods of time. Although some act quickly, It may take weeks or months to realize their full benefits. Herbal adaptogens include ashwagandha, holy basil, rhodiola rosea, schisandra berry, and more.
These stress-relieving herbs are commonly taken as tinctures and capsules. Some adaptogens, such as holy basil, are also enjoyed as a tea. Others, like astragalus root, can be added to soups and stews.
How to Use Herbs for Stress Relief
Teas, infusions, tinctures and capsules are convenient and beneficial ways to enjoy calming herbs. Tinctures are probably the most potent because the herbal constituents are extracted into alcohol and water. For best results, follow the directions on the packaging. When a range of doses is suggested (ie: 5-20 drops), start with the lowest dose and work up from there until you get the desired effect.
Teas and Infusions
There is nothing like a sipping a soothing cup of hot freshly brewed herbal tea to take the edge off a stressful day.
- Practice mindful presence while making and drinking your tea to relax and center yourself. Give your full attention to the art of making and drinking tea. Enjoy a ritual of choosing your herbs, preparing them in a special cup, and savoring your brew.
- For a deeper level of support, drink infusions of healthy herbs to replenish much needed minerals, vitamins and water to shore up your adrenals during times of stress. When taken in sufficient quantity, certain stress relieving herbs offer more benefit than a few hours of easing tension. Oatstraw is a good example.
- Pair your herbal tea or tincture with vibrational or energetic remedies. Some herbal remedies act specifically on your energetic body. Flower essences are vibrational remedies that subtly ease stress and anxiety due to mental and emotional aspects or personality traits. Rescue Remedy is popular for calming distress with emotional upheaval. Aromatherapy essential oils can work on the physical and/or energetic bodies. They smell heavenly and are quite versatile and effective as mild herbal anti-anxiety and de-stressing aids. Roman chamomile is known for promoting inner peace. Paired with a nice cup of tension taming tea flower essences and/or aromatherapy make for a wonderfully soothing combination.
Tinctures, Extracts and Capsules
- Tinctures and extracts are in liquid form. The herbs for stress relief may have been extracted in alcohol or glycerin. More compounds tend to be extracted in tinctures, but glycerin is better for children or people who have problems with alcohol. Tinctures can be consumed directly under the tongue or added to water or juice. Very hot water will evaporate off most of the alcohol.
- Capsules are more convenient than tinctures when you are at work or on the go. They may contain liquid or powdered forms of the herb.
- Some herbalists recommend tasting your remedy before swallowing to get the most benefit. Put some tincture on your tongue or break open the capsule. Pour them into hot water as a tea. Tasting allows for a transfer of physical and energetic information from the herb to your body via your tongue. This mindful practice also creates more of a conscious connection, or partnership, between you and the plants.
Adaptogenic Herbs to Help Your Body Cope with Stress
Stress herbs play an important role in naturally managing feelings of stress and anxiety. Using a variety of your favorite herbs for stress relief can help you feel more relaxed and centered. Not only do they soothe your nervous system, they protect your mind and body from the ravages of distress, helping you be healthier and more resilient when challenging times come your way.
Herbs for Stress Relief updated 12/2020
For Educational Purposes Only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult with your health provider before using natural remedies and/or complementary therapies if you are pregnant, nursing, or you are being treated for a medical condition. Be aware that certain herbs and supplements interact with medications.
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