Anxiety has become increasingly common in today’s fast-paced and stressful world. Many people seek alternative approaches to manage their anxiety, and herbs have emerged as a promising natural remedy. Herbs have been utilized for centuries in traditional medicine systems worldwide, and their therapeutic properties are now being recognized by modern science. This article explores the top herbs for anxiety and their potential benefits in promoting calmness and relaxation.
Chamomile is a well-known herb widely used for its calming properties. It contains compounds that bind to specific receptors in the brain, reducing anxiety and promoting sleep. Chamomile tea is a popular and easily accessible form of consumption that can be enjoyed throughout the day. It is also available in supplement or essential oil form for topical or aromatic use.
Lavender is renowned for its soothing scent and ability to induce relaxation. Its aromatic compounds have been shown to reduce anxiety symptoms by calming the nervous system. Lavender can be used in essential oil form through inhalation or applied topically. It can also be ingested as a tea or used in bath products for a calming effect.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb utilized in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. It allows the body to adapt to stress and reduces anxiety by balancing stress hormones like cortisol. Ashwagandha supplements are available in various forms, such as capsules or powders, and are widely used for their anxiolytic properties.
Passionflower is a calming herb that can alleviate anxiety symptoms by boosting gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that allows the control of anxiety and promotes relaxation. Passionflower can be consumed as a tea or taken in supplement form, often combined with other calming herbs.
Valerian root has been utilized since ancient times for its soothing and anxiety-reducing properties. It enhances GABA activity in the brain, leading to a calming effect. Valerian is commonly consumed as a tea or taken as a supplement. Still, it may cause drowsiness, so it’s best used before bedtime.
Lemon balm, a component of the mint family, has been traditionally used to ease anxiety and promote relaxation. It contains compounds that increase GABA levels, helping to reduce anxiety symptoms. Lemon balm tea or extracts can be a refreshing way to calm the mind and alleviate stress.
Rhodiola rosea is an adaptogenic herb famous for its stress-reducing properties. It helps the body adapt to stressors and promotes a balanced mood. Rhodiola supplements have shown the potential to reduce anxiety symptoms, enhance mental performance, and reduce fatigue.
While herbs can help manage anxiety, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional before incorporating them into your routine, especially if you have pre-existing medical conditions or are taking medications. It’s worth noting that individual responses to herbs can vary, and it may take some trial and error to find the most effective herb or combination for your specific needs. Nevertheless, herbs provide a natural and potentially beneficial approach to reducing anxiety and promoting overall well-being in an increasingly stressful world.
NourishDoc: Hello, everyone. Hope everyone is just getting on started with this week. So I’m super excited, but we are discussing anxiety and stress. God knows there’s so much anxiety and stress out there, but today’s session is about how herbs can help us, and that’s why we have Sarah with me. Sarah is a master herbalist; you must see her Insta account. It’s amazing. Thank you so much, Sarah, for joining me.
Herbalist Sarah: Thank you, Amita. I’m honored, and herbs have been used for thousands of years for emotional health. So when speaking to groups, I say that at this end of the spectrum, people who are together never have stressed. Do I believe them? No, but they fake it well. Then, on this end, we have people that have gone through crises.
They need pharmaceutical medicines to get better. It’s completely legitimate, and if it’s working for them, it’s great, and then there’s the rest of us that live somewhere in between. Some days we’re together; some days, we’re falling apart; some days, we have anxiety; and some days, we control it.
Herbs For Nervous Tension & Anxiety
So that’s where herbs shine because herbs can help us when we’re frustrated. When we’re feeling exhausted, when we’re feeling sad and lonely and depressed, and at least in the US, herbs have just been forgotten about. For instance, an herb called Skullcap is in the mint family. This herb has been used for generations when you’re nervous, have butterflies in your stomach, maybe it’s the first day of work, maybe your kids are going back to school or going to a new camp, or you’re going out on a date, or you have a job interview. When you have that nervous tension in your body, taking some skull cap tea or taking some skull cap in a tincture form can help lower your cortisol levels and help you function better.
NourishDoc: Okay, so now, let’s talk through so many herbs that we can use, like in the form of tea, in the form of capsules, in the form of powder. So, we’re talking about anxiety today. What common herbs have you seen that can help reduce, and how should we take them?
Common Herbs To Lower Anxiety
Herbalist Sarah: Sure. So for me, I currently reside in both New York and Los Angeles. So, everyone’s a little bit neurotic, type A personality, overwhelmed by working too hard. So, I tend to use herbs in tincture or liquid form. It’s different from the style in America to sit back, relax, deep breathe, and drink a cup of tea; we go through the drive-thru and get our Starbucks, and we down it in about 3 minutes.
How Can Herbs Be Taken?
So, herbs come in tincture or liquid form, and what we do is we take either a root or flower petals, pour grain alcohol over them, and let them sit for six to eight weeks; you can see that the grain alcohol or glyceride will break down the properties of the herb and then we get this handy dandy, an easy-to-use herb in tincture form. I love herbs and tincture form because you can stick it in your bra, put it in your backpack, and put it in your briefcase; you can carry these on the plane.
You can grab a paper cup, take a dropper full of the herbs, pull it up, the typical dose, again everybody’s different but is anywhere between 25 and 45 drops, drop it in a little water or juice and take your herbs and an herb like skull cap gets into the bloodstream within 20 minutes. Within 20 minutes of taking it, most people will feel calmer without sedation.
So, many products on the market will work, but you’ll feel exhausted like you were hit by a Mack truck. So, my favorite herb, which I opened up with his skull cap, is Nervous Anxiety tension, safe for children; of course, check with your pediatrician; safe for geriatric patients and my second favorite herb is Motherwort. Motherwort is for hormonal gloominess. That can be before your cycle, during your cycle, after your cycle, young girls before they even start their cycles, women that have stopped their cycles.
Yes, men get hormonally moody also, and Motherwort is an herb that helps that grey cloud disperse; when everything’s going well in your life, you’re getting along, your work is going well, and all of a sudden, you’re like, oh my gosh, I’m starting to be super gloomy. That’s when Motherwort is a phenomenal addition, and the question is, can you mix a skull cap with Motherwort in the same cup? Of course, you can because someone can simultaneously feel hormonally gloomy and agitated.
NourishDoc: Okay, and what about some herbs like Ashwagandha, for example, that’s gaining many tracts nowadays? Do you want to talk a little bit about that?
Ashwagandha for Anxiety and Stress
Herbalist Sarah: Sure. Ashwagandha is a wonderful herb used all over the world very successfully. Usually, in its original form, Ashwagandha is used in a powder form and with Ashwagandha. The traditional use of it is you take like a tablespoon of Ashwagandha, mix it with some warm water, and drink it. In America, we tend to have things more in tincture than powder form.
Ashwagandha is specific for low thyroid; if someone is a little questionable, they don’t need thyroid medicine but feel lackadaisical and exhausted; Ashwagandha can be magical, and if your thyroid is still functioning well, Ashwagandha calms the system down and helps you focus. Many children do better in school and can focus and concentrate more on their homework when they include Ashwagandha in their lives.
NourishDoc: Okay, and you said it’s safe to take it daily, Ashwagandha?
Herbalist Sarah: Yes, again, everybody is different; I need to know their medical history; when you work with an herbalist, we usually have appointments for an hour and a half, and we take a complete history. But Ashwagandha is on the list of safe herbs, and yes, you can take Ashwagandha daily. What I found that’s amazing is when someone’s going through a crisis, and they’re going to reach for their skull cap, Motherwort, or Ashwagandha.
When things start to steady out, and people feel more in control of the world around them and their selves emotionally, they tend to stop taking it naturally. So, I’m not concerned about people overusing these herbs because the second you feel better, you’re onto the next project and adventure.
NourishDoc: All right. Are there any other herbs you think are safe for stress and anxiety besides what we just talked about?
Herbalist Sarah: Sure, there are so many. I started Skullcap and Motherwort because it’s so typical. Run into any woman and most men, and they’ll say, yeah, four out of five days I feel stressed, or six out of seven days, I feel hormonally moody. Ashwagandha was a great addition because it’s called an adaptogen. An adaptogen helps our bodies adapt to stress. So, living in a busy city, looking for parking, jumping on and off trains, and even if you live out in the wilderness, even if you live in the rural parts of the world, there’s still stress and anxiety. So, an adaptogen will help your body cope with stress.
Herbs for Depression
Another herb I love is a very popular herb called Rhodiola. Rhodiola, in clinical studies, can help with depression. Rhodiola is used when people feel like couch potatoes; they like to get up in the morning and, like, go, I am too depressed. I’m not getting out of bed. No way. At the same time, the skull cap person will be so anxious. They’re getting out of bed quickly because they have so much to do but are anxious.
Rhodiola is more of a couch potato, letting the world pass me by, the job, my relationship with my kids; I am just in this downstate. Rhodiola gives you a little bit of a boost. It gives you a little bit of an energetic lift, not like caffeine. You don’t come down off of Rhodiola. So, if you’re feeling lackadaisical, sad, overwhelmed, and need that boost in life. That’s where Rhodiola shines.
NourishDoc: All right. This is a quick 10-minute session that we wanted to bring, just talking about simple common herbs that can help us deal with stress and anxiety. Anything else that you like to add or that you want to show your book, you’re welcome to do that.
Herbalist Sarah: Sure. So, in my book Mood Topia, I wrote this book, and I was thinking, when I wanted to write a book, should I do it on seasonal allergies? So many people have that. Should I do it for chronic headaches? There are so many topics, and then suddenly, it hit me. People are unaware that herbs are so beneficial for our emotional health. Even if you’re feeling very emotionally stable, you can take herbs to calm you down before a test or before, as I said before, a job interview.
So I wrote my book Mood Topia. Tame Your Moods and de-stress using herbal remedies and aromatherapy. I go into detail about all the herbs and essential oils available to us to help us improve our emotional health. It’s a very easy read. It’s not complicated, and it’s a book. I’ve received wonderful reviews. People feel that it’s a great handy book for looking up travel. I’m worried about having trouble falling asleep while I’m traveling or, oh my gosh, I started working out and getting exhausted going to the gym. So there are lots of easy practical tips in Mood Topia.
NourishDoc: Okay, and I want to add that we are adding much of this kind of knowledge to our platform in collaboration with Sarah. Stay tuned, and keep supporting us. Thank you so much, Sarah, for being with us today.
Herbalist Sarah: Thank you, Amita. I’m so honored to be able to share the little tidbits of knowledge with your followers.