Herbs to Ease Stress & Anxiety
Have you been feeling a bit stressed, anxious, nervous, angry, or worried as all get out lately? With all that is happening in our world today, it’s no wonder you may be feeling this way. I know I have, and it makes it really hard to focus and do good work. Our world is a tough place to be right now.
This is a time where plants and herbs can offer your nervous system some much needed support. While they can’t fix all of the suffering happening today, they can provide you a sense of peace and calm, and give you the extra strength it takes to make it through tough times. Taking care of yourself makes it so you can rise up and share the special gifts that you have to make this world a better place. We need you right now!
I’m going to share with you some of the best herbs to support your nervous system. But first I’ll give you a quick introduction to two categories of herbs and their actions that help support your nerves. They are:
Nervines are a kind of herb that acts on your nervous system. Not all nervines will help you reduce stress though. Some nervines are sedating nervines like chamomile or lavender, others are stimulating nervines like coffee for instance. We’ve also got tonifying nervines that help to support your nervous system like Milky Oats.
Adaptogens help your body adapt to life’s various stressors whether they be emotional, physical, or spiritual. Adaptogenic herbs can be a great ally to have on hand throughout life. One of my very best friends in the herbal world is an adaptogen, Ashwagandha. More on that friend later.
Now onto the herbs:
While not exactly a nervine, Hawthorn is known for its heart healthy properties, it can be a wonderful ally during extremely stressful times. Hawthorn is known for aiding a grieving heart and opening your heart to giving and receiving love. It can help promote a sense of calm and courage. Think of Hawthorn during times of loss and great sadness. You can use Hawthorn leaves, berries and flowers in tea, tincture, and glycerite forms. Hawthorn is a main ingredient in our Hibiscus Heart Song, which definitely promotes a Happy Healthy Heart and Soul!
A very popular nervine known for calming your nerves and it’s great for kiddos too. Chamomile is super popular for being a sleepy time herb, and can produce wonderful feelings of peace and bliss. It’s sweet smells can send your mind on a lovely journey of calm and ease. Chamomile is a great friend to have on hand if you suffer from anxiety and is very specific for children. It helps if you suffer from insomnia, or menopausal depression too. Chamomile will relax and tone your nervous system and can be used in tea, tincture, essential oil, forms. We use chamomile in a lot of our teas, simply because our world has been a stressful place long before our current state of affairs. You can find it in our UnFrazzle Your Dazzle, Peaceful Baby, Sweet Dreams Are Made of Teas, Wonderful Womans, and even in our Diges-Teas, to ease an upset stomach.
Linden is an amazing herb if you feel you could just use a hug. Being in its presence helps me feel less stress immediately, like it’s wrapping it’s loving arms around me. Linden is also used as a heart tonic herb that is known to prevent hypertension and arteriosclerosis (thickening of arteries). It’s specific for lowering high blood pressure in relation to nervous tension. It’s relaxing properties combined with its heart toning properties makes it great if you suffer from migraines. Linden is a glorious tree, and the flowers are the part used for medicine. It can be used in tincture form, tea, or in dried herb form.
A powerfully sedating nervine, Passion Flower can help you if you suffer from insomnia. It helps you have a deep state of sleep, without waking up with a hangover like you can get from other sleeping aids. It can help you wake up feeling refreshed, instead of groggy and lethargic. Passion Flower is not an herb you want to take during the day, as it’s strong sedative powers can make you fall asleep. Passion Flower’s medicine is best taken as a tea or a tincture. We use Passion Flower in our Peaceful Baby tea & our Sweet Dreams Are Made of Teas, as well as our Wonderful Woman’s because sometimes it’s really nerve-racking being a woman, am I right?
Yet another very popular herb for reducing stress, and for very good reason. Lavender is not just for the good smells, it can be very helpful if you’re feeling great sadness or depression. Lavender can also be used to promote healthy sleep. It’s a gentle nervine tonic that can be used to treat states of nervous debility and exhaustion. Lavender flowers can be used in a tea infusion, a tincture, or essential oil. Our Lovely Lavendula Hand Sanitizer can provide a sense of calm, as Lavender is one of its essential ingredients. And, I swear our Essential Salve has calming properties for my daughter. When she was a toddler, she’d get an ouchie on her knee, start crying, and I’d bring the salve over. She’d apply it to her forehead, and suddenly she was a-ok. Silly girl! Or, is it potent lavender? Hmmmm. 🤔
Known as Nature’s Sunshine, Lemon Balm is bright, uplifting and yet a gentle nervine, and she’s oh so delicious!. You can use her as a remedy for Seasonal Affective Disorder, and other dark states of depression. Lemon Balm’s antidepressant actions can help you to relieve tension and stress. Some herbalists use it as a trophorestorative (helps restore to normal functionality) for the nervous system, like in our Daily Divini-Tea. Lemon Balm also has a tonic effect on the heart and circulatory system and has been known to aid in lowering blood pressure. It has been helpful in easing migraines that are associated with excess tension. Lemon Balm makes a lovely infusion, and can also be used as a tincture. I use it in a lot of my teas, and maybe it’s because I’m a bit partial as Lemon Balm’s latin name is Melissa officinalis, and believe it or not, I’m a Melissa, not a Melanie! I guess that’s why I’m so bright and sunshiny, eh? 😉😉
You’ve probably heard of Saint John’s Wort as it’s been popularized as the depression herb to treat all things sadness.. While SJW can be great for depression, it’s specific for specific types of depression. Saint John’s Wort is best when you’re dealing with a traumatic change in life. Whether that be job loss, divorce, death of a loved one, or other such traumatic times you may be going through. It is also specific to menopausal changes that trigger irritability and anxiety. It is not your everyday anxiety depression herb. It can be used very well in conjunction with Lemon Balm for Seasonal Affective Disorder. Saint Johns Wort flowers can be used in tincture and herbal infusion form.
Milky Oats are a nervine tonic and can be one of the best herbs for supporting or “feeding” your nervous system, especially when you are under great stress. And yes, it’s the same plant that oatmeal comes from! Avena sativa (oats) is It’s specific in cases of nervous debility and exhaustion associated with depression. It can be used in conjunction with other nervine herbs, both relaxing and stimulating, to help strengthen the entire nervous system. The ideal preparation for Milky Oats is in tincture form from the fresh milky oat tops. You can also make an infusion of the dried oat tops and the nutritive Oatstraw. We use it a lot in our blends both for its nervous system support, and it’s nutritive benefits.
You’ve got to get to know one of my absolute favorites, a must have herb, Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is a powerful, yet gentle herb. It’s specific if you do too much in life, and need help in ADAPTING to life’s various stressors. Sound familiar? For myself, as a mother and a business owner, who’s eager to save the world, Ashwagandha is my absolute best friend! I notice it most when I’m not taking my Ashwagandha regularly; I have a very hard time dealing with my emotions brought about in day to day life. When I do take it regularly, I can blast through life’s challenges like a pro! Ashwagandha is great to take in the evening, as it is a mild sedative and can help you relax. I also use Ashwagandha in our Where Is My Mind??? tea, as it’s not only shown to reduce anxiety & lower the stress hormone cortisol; it’s also been known to improve memory and mental focus. Perfect for Where Is My Mind???
There are many herbal friends that you can use to help you deal with stress in life. It's important to remember that herbs are not a one for all magic fix pill, and I urge you to be very choosy as to which herbs you decide are best for you.
If you’re looking for some tasty teas to help support your nervous system during these trying times, check out these 3 favs!
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*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.
About the Author: Melissa Mutterspaugh
Melissa lives in Oregon, in the foothills of Mount Hood. She's a clinical herbalist, environmental educator, mother, wilderness therapist, lover, nemophilist, music loving maniac, and the founder of Mountain Mel's Essential Goods. She is passionate about inspiring others to take better care of our planet, through taking better care of themselves, naturally!