6 Herbs To Relieve Stress & Anxiety For Kids & Their Parents Too

mom and daughter sharing herbal tea to help relieve stress and anxiety
Life can be stressful, even for our kids. Thankfully there are herbs that can support them (yes, you too momma) when it comes to relieving depression and anxiety. We see these nervous system killers in our kids even more as we’re in the darker seasons of the year, with things like Seasonal Affective Disorder. Then there’s school, holidays, peer pressure, online pressure, active shooter drills in schools, and the wild wild world that our society is. It’s no wonder so many of our children are feeling depressed and dealing with anxiety. 

It’s hard enough being an adult, but our children are being exposed to these stressors at an alarming rate, and the results aren’t so hot. In fact, we’re seeing childhood depression, anxiety, and behavioral issues skyrocket on a regular basis.  In 2018-2019, 15.1% of adolescents ages 12-17 years had a major depressive episode and this has grown post pandemic.

This compounds when you start to recognize the connection between gut health, and mental health. Our kids are being fed absolute crap for food in schools, and almost everywhere we turn.

Thankfully there are natural ways we can support our children when they’re dealing with stress, anxiety, and the ever looming depression. In this post, we’re going to cover some of the best herbs, and herbal categories, to help ease their stress, and anxiety.

Before I get into it, I’d be wrong to not mention that the herbs mentioned below are not to be treated as an instant fix pill. They are not that at all. We also need to consider lifestyle choices, like diet, exercise, getting outside, and more. And, we can use the herbs as helpers! So, let’s get into it with these amazing plant friends that can be such fantastic allies for our children today. Wanna check it out in the podcast version? I got you, just scroll to the bottom!

 

Nervine Herbs For Calming Nerves

Nervine herbs could be one of the more important categories of herbs to discuss here. They are, by definition, herbs that act on the nervous system. There are relaxing nervines, tonifying nervines, and stimulating nervines like coffee. I’ll cover a couple of my favorite nervous system loving herbs for kids here.

 

Milky Oat Tops- Avena sativa

Yup, I said it, oats. The same plant that the breakfast grain oatmeal comes from, is an amazing trophorestorative for the nervous system. A trophorestorative is an herb that helps restore a particular system back to optimal function. And, Milky oat tops are phenomenal for the nervous system in this way. They nourish the nervous system, and gently build it up. They’re an herb you want to take on a long term basis. But,  you have to be quick, because it’s a very short window  of time each year that these gentle mood boosting herbs are at their prime for making medicine. In the meantime, you may want to source your milky oat extract from your local herb farmer, or from these guys right here.

While these nervous system loving oats are gently calming, they aren’t sedating. Meaning, if you take them, or give them to your kids throughout the day, they won’t pass out in class. Bonus!

 

Chamomile- Matricaria recutita 

This is one of my daughter’s absolute favorite herbs. She’s been sneaking little nibbles of my chamomile flowers straight from my tea since she was about 1.5. It’s been quite beautiful watching their relationship develop over the years, and honestly, chamomile is perfect for her. Because yes, my daughter deals with anxiety too. 

Chamomile is mostly known for its ability to promote a good nights sleep, and that’s because of its calming nervine properties. It’s amazing for that, and so many other medicinal properties to this plant as well. It’s actually our herb of the month for January 2024 inside the Kid Safe Herb Club, where we cover so many of the other medicinal properties of this tasty, anxiety calming herb.

 

Antidepressants For Kids

These are herbs that can help boost the mood, uplift the spirits, and maybe even help when someone is in that melancholic phase of life. I must say, one of my absolute favorite antidepressants in the entire world, is simply heading outdoors for a walk. Better than any herb I’ve ever worked with.  And, that being said, there’s some magnificent herbs that can also support our kiddos, and maybe brighten up their mood a bit.

 

Lemon Balm- Melissa Officinalis 

Lovely Lemon Balm, also known as Nature’s Sunshine, for its ability to uplift the spirits, particularly during the darker seasons of the year. In fact, this is one of my favorite herbs to recommend when people are dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder.

 It’s specific for children, teens, and adults that are dealing with mild to moderate forms of depression. It’s soothing for the nervous system, and can work wonders when it comes to reducing stress and anxiety. It can alleviate stress related headaches, promote a solid night of sleep (more about herbs for sleep here which is so important in the whole big picture of easing stress and anxiety. 

And, good news for the kids, it’s super tasty! I’ve been making Lemon Balm Popsicles for my daughter since I can remember. They’re such a great treat for the taste buds and for the nervous system too.

 

Tulsi aka Holy Basil Ocimum sanctum- 

If ever I were to say that there’s a super powered herb, Tulsi just might be one of them, particularly when it comes to dealing with stress, anxiety and depression. In fact, Tulsi, or Holy Basil has been shown to counter the negative effects of stress. It will also prevent elevated cortisol due to excess stress. It’s also an adaptogenic herb, a nervine and yes, it can be used to boost the mood, alleviate anxiety, and has been shown to increase dopamine and serotonin levels in lab studies. And, guess what, it’s a super tasty herb, yet again! In fact, my daughter LOVES any teas I make that feature Holy Basil. And, of course the benefits don’t stop here with this powerful plant.



Adaptogenic Herbs To Support Children & Teens

Adaptogenic herbs are herbs that help the body adapt to life's various stressors whether they be mental, physical, spiritual, emotional. They give a certain level of protection against the long-term effects of stress. Adaptogenic herbs work best when they are taken on a longer term duration. Whereas, some of the relaxing nervines almost feel like a hug for the nerves. Here’s a couple of my favorite adaptogenic herbs for myself, and for my daughter as well.

 

Ashwagandha- Withania somnifera

This is an all time personal favo of mine, and thankfully my kiddo can tolerate Ashwagandha quite well too. It’s a gentle nervine,a s well as an adaptogenic herb. It’s known to restore the nervous system to healthy function (aka trophorestorative), and supports adrenal function as well. It has a gentle calming effect that can work wonders to reduce anxiety and hyperactivity, and has been shown to be quite beneficial in cases of ADHD as well. 

Ashwagandha is best taken in long term durations, and with healthy fats like coconut milk, or ghee.

 

Reishi Mushrooms- Ganoderma lucidum

Reishi mushrooms are a powerful adaptogen, also known as “The Elixir Of Life” Or “Fungus of Immortality” referring to its ability to promote overall vitality and longevity. This mushroom can be helpful for our kids too, as it has calming effects on the nervous system, can reduce anxiety, and promote restful sleep. There have been studies done in China where 90% of participants that consumed Reishi mushroom extract calmed their nervous excitability. The medicinal benefits of reishi mushrooms are vast. Though, there is ample adulteration on the market with these products, and plenty of companies who market their reishi, without understanding the best ways to extract their triterpenes, and their polysaccharides, so buyer beware!  You can benefit from Reishi mushrooms by simply adding them to soups and broths, and sipping on them throughout the year. Or, add some to a healthy hot cocoa for your kiddos!

 

Wrappin’ It Up!

Stress and anxiety can be a major problem for our children, and of course for us too. It’s important to consider dietary and lifestyle factors before turning to herbs as a super remedy for these issues. We always need to look at the root cause, and see how we can fix the problem from there. Then, we can turn to herbs to support the nervous system, brain, body, and soul.

Also, while the information in this post is what I know to be true, it’s important to note that not all herbs are for everybody. There are contraindications to look out for, and I can’t cover them all in this short article. 

If you’d like to dive deeper into the ways you can support yourself and your kids with stress relief, and dealing with anxiety, check out this workshop and be sure to try the tasty recipes included. 

 

Want to dive deeper? Tune into the podcast episode here:

 

 

  

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK587174/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4296439/ 

Adaptogens, Herbs For Strength, Stamina, & Stress Relief David Winston, RH (AHG)

Adaptogens In Medical Herbalism Elite Herbs & Natural Compounds for Mastering Stress, Aging, & Chronic Disease

Western Botanical Medicine Christa Sinadinos

Medical Herbalism David Hoffman

We Love the Mission and Sustainable Herbs available through Oshala Herb Farm & Mountain Rose Herbs and Receive a Small Commission when you Purchase through our Affiliate Links. 
 *Always remember to contact your healthcare provider when considering the use of botanical medicine as a possible treatment option and the medical considerations. While the information in this article is absolutely relevant, herbs work differently for each person and each condition.
 **I am a trained herbalist and not a licensed or registered healthcare practitioner. I cannot diagnose health conditions, nor prescribe medicines legally; I am not a medical doctor. However, I will recommend or suggest medicinal herbs for various health complaints, as I do believe in the safety and efficacy of botanical medicine.
 ***The information I’ve provided is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment. Please consult your medical care provider before using herbal medicine, particularly if you have a known medical condition or if you are pregnant or nursing.

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