Stress happens to all of us, and it’s important to keep it in check. Our stress levels can affect serious illnesses including depression, heart disease, and other health problems such as high blood pressure and insomnia.
In this blog, we’ll talk about 5 herbs for combatting stress so that you can prevent illness, perform at your best, and live to your greatest potential.
Also known as tulsi, this adaptogen was used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years to improve stress levels and support mental health. It acts as a nervine, which can support the nervous system and promote mental calmness. Its apoptogenic properties can help the body adapt to and reduce stress, while improving cognitive function.
As a bonus, holy basil may also support immune function; try consuming it during the winter when colds and flu are common.
It’s no wonder that we associate lavender with going to sleep—its aroma is naturally relaxing! A bushy, purple-coloured, and strong-scented perennial plant, lavender has been shown to benefit mood, reduce anxiety, and improve sleep. One sign of stress is insomnia, so the more you can get your zzzzs, the less stressed you might be when you wake up.
Lemon balm is used often as an antioxidant to protect the body from stress. Because it’s also an herbal nervine, it’s used as an uplifting herb and for relaxation, as it can reduce tension and body excitability.
Bonus: It also supports a healthy immune system and can balance out your mood.
While passionflower was used as a mild sedative for centuries, more scientific evidence is required to confirm its efficacy. It shows promise in promoting relaxation and treating anxiety and sleep disorders because it can boost levels of an amino acid called gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA. GABA binds to GABA-A and GABA-B receptors between nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, and slows or blocks nerve signals in the brain, resulting in reduced feelings of anxiety.
In clinical trials involving mice, researchers found passionflower had sedative effects and results similar to anti-anxiety medication. Passionflower may have some side effects, but fewer than those you might experience when using prescribed sedatives.
Like passionflower, valerian root increases the amount of GABA in the brain and is commonly used as a sleep aid. It’s often paired with passionflower, as both have similar calming effects.
Other herbs and fungi we’ve talked about in other blogs that can also combat your stress include ashwagandha, panax ginseng, reishi, and rhodiola.
Also, remember that herbs work differently on everyone, and it’ll take some time to see what works for you. If you're considering taking a particular herbal supplement for stress, consult your doctor.
You should also consider identifying what exactly causes your stress, whether it’s at home or at work. Minimize the effects of those stressors by reading our past post on techniques for managing stress. Exercise regularly and try tools like meditation, mindfulness practices, tai chi, yoga, guided imagery, and biofeedback.
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