Last time in our stress series, we looked at relaxation tips to reduce the stress response and better cope with the effects of stress.
Today in Part 6 of the stress series, we’ll further our exploration of ways to reduce the physiological response to stress using herbs to help create better balance, more calm, and induce relaxation.
Calming herbs can help to slow down the mind, ease tightness, lengthen in and out breaths, reduce anxiety and more. Some of them also act as muscle relaxers and some induce sleep; therefore, they should be taken with awareness of quantity and timing.
- Chamomile – Traditionally chamomile has been used as an evening time infusion to induce relaxation and bring on sleep. You’ll find it in many “sleep teas.” (Persons with ragweed allergies should avoid it.)
- Passion Flower – Passion flower has been used to reduce anxiety and insomnia, making very suitable for those who suffer from my anxiety-induced types of stress. It is also an ingredient in our Balance Spray.
- Valerian Root – Valerian root is considered a calming herb, used as a muscle relaxant and sedative.
- Lavender – Lavender is thought to help bring on sleep.
- Phellodendron – Phellodendron is used to relieve anxiety, perception of stress, and reduce cortisol levels. It is found in Relora as well as the Balance Spray I recommend.
- And many, many more. You can look for “sleep teas” or herbal blends for sleep to get an idea of the relaxing herbs.
Herbs that truly balance on a physiological level often fall into the category of “adaptogens.” Adaptogens are plants that adapt and respond well to stressors in their environment. These properties of adapting to stress so as to suffer less then get passed on they’re consumed, eg by humans in herbal infusions. Generally speaking, all the adaptogenic herbs are safe for anyone to take anytime.
- Ashwagandha – A traditional Ayurveda herb that has recently become mainstream, ashwangandha is a superb herb for reducing the effects of stress on the hormonal system and helping to restore hormonal balance.
- Rhodiola – This is one of the most powerful and sought-after balancing herbs; it is supposed to prevent fatigue, relieve depression, and enhance performance. It tastes and smells like dirty gym socks so I recommend getting it in an capsule or tincture blend.
- Eleuthero – Formerly Siberian Ginseng, Eleuthero was discovered and used by Soviet (Russian) Olympic athletes to quicken workout recovery, improve muscle gains and performance. So, if stress has you run down, this might be the adaptogen for you.
- Tulsi – Tulsi or Holy Basil is another Ayurvedic herb that has recently become popular. It can fall into either the relaxing or balancing herb category as it is used for tranquility, stress relief, and stamina.
- Schisandra – This five flavor berry is a a nourishing tonic in Chinese medicine used to build the body’s resistance to stress, maintain immune and liver function, reduce anxiety, maintain energy, and prevent adrenal fatigue.
- And many more. Look for licorice (a supporter to other herbs and not suitable for everyone), Gynostemma (Jiao Gu Lan), Astragalus, Ginseng, or Maca (for hormonal strength).
Do some more research or talk to a registered herbalist before you commit to an herbal supplement program. Herbs can be very powerful and have many complicated effects, so use them wisely. They can be a strong ally to helping you acheive your health goals when used wisely. Adaptogens are a particularly appealing classification of herbs.
Tell us in the comments below: which of these herbs have you used? What were your experiences?