You’ve heard about herbs and that they might bring stress relief, but you may have hesitated. Are they safe? Which ones to take? How much? Which ones are the best ones?
Sure, there’s Valium, but synthetic drugs can have so many side effects. How about something more gentle and natural? There are quite a few herbs that can help relieve stress symptoms and generally do so without affecting your ability to think clearly.
Herbs have been used for generations, and for the most part, they’re not only highly effective with few side effects, but they’re cheaper than prescription medication too. Just be sure not to underestimate them. Herbs can be very powerful, and you need to learn how they work and be aware of possible interactions between herbs and any other drugs you might be taking.
In order to understand how herbs can help, it’s useful to know what happens when we are stressed. First of all, when stressed, we become tense throughout our bodies. Our muscles tighten, our brain becomes overwhelmed with stimulation, and our nervous systems go into high gear. If this condition persists too long or is repeated too frequently, our bodies will begin to break down.
That’s why it’s important to find a way to relieve stress without adding even more stressors to our bodies, as is often the case with drugs or alcohol. And that’s where herbs fit in.
Here are some favorite herbs for stress relief. People respond better to some than to others. The key is to experiment, pay close attention to their effects on you, and find those that work best for you.
We tend to relate hops to beer, but it is also used as tea to relieve depression and calm the nervous system. It also helps alleviate other conditions often associated with stress, such as digestive disturbances.
Skullcap is a plant that grows freely in North American and in tropical climates. It is one of 50 fundamental herbs used in Chinese herbology. For centuries, Chinese physicians have used it as to calm nervous tension and anxiety.
Passion Flower is found worldwide, except in Antarctica and Europe. It is popular in Europe to relieve nervous tension. The leaves can be used to make tea to relieve insomnia, depression and anxiety.
Valerian has been used in Europe for generations. It’s highly effective in calming stressed nerves. Its smell may take some getting used to, but once you reap the benefits, you may actually come to like it (or at least develop positive associations with it). If you find the odour too hard to take, try it in tablet or pill form. It works just as well.
Lemon Balm is a member of the mint family. Originating in Europe, it is well known for its calming effect. It can be taken as an herbal tea and can be used as aromatherapy.
Chamomile is a long-time favourite that is usually drunk as a tea to trigger relaxation and improve sleep.
We’ve heard a lot lately about green tea. It is now readily available in any grocery or convenience store as an iced tea, in tea bags, and other formats. It is a natural relaxant, in part because of theanine, a main substance of green tea. But be careful… If also contains caffeine, though not very much. However, if you’re not used to caffeine, it may keep you awake at night.
You’ll find various combinations of these herbs as calming teas in your grocery store or in pill form in your local health food store. Which ones work best? Personally, I like ones that include passion flower and/or valerian best. And hops, especially when you’re ready for sleep.
My recommendation for you? Try some of them and keep tabs on how they work for you. You may never need another Valium ever again. Just remember that herbs too are powerful. Be very careful with driving and operating machinery until you know how they affect you. And, of course, you may want to check with your doctor first.