Stress and anxiety are two very common things many people face these days. It is more common for people to struggle with either of these than not. Thankfully there are so many great herbs that can help alleviate stress and anxiety without the use of prescription medications.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been approved by the drug administration. This is not medical advice and I am not a healthcare professional. Always ask your doctor what is right for you before starting any herbal remedy or dietary supplements. Especially if you are on medication.
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Anxiety disorders and stress go hand in hand. In fact, stress can trigger anxiety and lead to higher cortisol levels in the body. We know that cortisol (stress hormone) is so important for regulating proper hormonal function. If cortisol is spiked, there will be many other issues going on within the body. Our nervous system is at hand when cortisol levels rise as stress hormones increase. It is not able to function at its full potential with stress levels being high. High cortisol levels are also linked to anxiety, depression, poor cognitive function, headaches, digestive problems and mental health issues. This article explains further.
Anxiety can look different for everyone. Some have severe panic attacks, while others get high blood pressure, and some may get upset digestion. In my personal experience when I experience stress and anxiety, my digestive tract gets upset. Thankfully I’ve been able to take control of that and really learn how to keep calm in high stress situations. All glory to God. There have been so many great herbal supplements and essential oils that have helped me in my journey of healing from stress and anxiety. I also implemented a few other things. This includes, lifestyle changes, lowering stressful situations, improving sleep quality, and implementing relaxation techniques (prayer & quiet time).
Why Herbs for Stress and Anxiety?
As a new mom in 2017, I was faced with an incredible amount of anxiety. I had no idea what to do and quite honestly, was in denial. I didn’t want to face the fact that I was struggling with anxiety. Going the traditional route and taking anti-anxiety medications wasn’t an option. I was facing anxiety symptoms along with chronic stress but knew there had to be another way. Thankfully my naturopathic doctor picked up on what I was going through and recommend an adaptogenic herb. It helped my body to adapt to the stress I was dealing with at the time. I noticed significant improvements in my nervous system as well.
Adaptogenic herbs are an incredible alternative to medication prescribed by a healthcare provider. Adaptogens are plants and mushrooms that help your body respond to stress, anxiety, and fatigue. They help to bring your body back to a normal balance by managing both mental and physical stressors. They have a positive effect on the body with no unpleasant side effects when you start or stop them. While anti-anxiety medications can have negative effects once you decide to stop taking them. Many people face withdrawal symptoms that can last several months after getting off. They can also have some serious side effects for overall health. There are side effects with medication so be sure you are aware of them before starting.
Best Herbs for Stress and Anxiety
Here are some great herbal remedies you can incorporate into your daily supplement regimen. Ask your practitioner before starting something new to make sure it is a good fit for you. I recommend purchasing herbs for Mountain Rose herbs. They have dried herbs to make teas, tinctures, and herbal supplements! All organic and great quality.
This was the first adaptogenic herb I tried out. It was a huge help as a postpartum mom! The roots of this herb is what’s considered an adaptogen. Rhodiola is also known as arctic root and golden root. People use it to treat anxiety, depression, and fatigue. It can be taken as a capsule or you can drink it as an herbal tea. You can find the herb here.
Many people use different parts of the holy basil plant to treat different things. The neat thing, is all parts of holy basil are considered an adaptogen. So it is great for stress and anxiety. According the the journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine holy basil has anti-depressant and anti-anxiety properties. Ayurvedic practitioners recommend drinking the leaves in a tea for the best out come. You can find the dried leaves here.
Lemon balm, a member of the mint family, is my all time favorite herb. We have a ton of it growing in our garden right now, since there as so many health benefits. I love to make fresh herbal tea with it to help calm down my nervous system. I usually make it before bed or if I have a busy day where I know my stress levels will be slightly elevated. Lemon balm is great for mood and cognitive function. It also is great to promote healthy sleep, receive stress, and reduce anxiety. Many people use lemon balm to help them calm down before bed time. You can drink it in the form of tea or take capsules. You can find lemon balm here
Reishi mushroom, also known as Ganoderma lucidum is a fungus mainly grown in Asia. They can be eaten but are mostly consumed as a powder. There is research that shows reishi mushrooms help boost the immune system, fight fatigue and depression, and have anti-cancer properties. This article has great information about this medicinal mushroom.
Valerian root commonly used in Russia and Greece for insomnia, anxiety, nervousness, headaches, and stress. Typically grown in grasslands, it produces a beautiful purple, pink, or white flowers in the summer. The medicinal benefits comes from the rhizome root of the plant. It’s said to increase the levels of GABA in the brain which in turn helps with anxiety and insomnia. You can find valerian root here to make tea or capsules.
I’m currently taking kava kava for stress and it has been helping me so much. This plant is native to the South Pacific islands and has a long history of use. The active ingredient is known as kavalactones. They help reduce anxiety, reduce pain sensations, and protect neurons from damage. Kava Kava is also promotes healthy sleep, but it is more commonly used to decrease anxiety.
St Johns Wort
St. John’s wort is one of the most popular herbs used for anxiety and stress. It grows wild and has beautiful yellow flowers. This medicinal herb works by keeping the brain from using neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, GABA, and norepinephrine. Because of this, the neurotransmitters are more accurately used in the brain. You can use St. Johns wort as a tea, capsules, or tincture.
Ashwagandha, known as Indian ginseng and winter cherry. It’s been used for thousands of years for stress relief, concentration, and increased energy. This is one of the adaptogenic herbs my naturopathic doctor put me on while nursing. She would alternate between this and Rhodiola. I found it worked great for that period in my life. It’s commonly taken in the form of capsules.
Vitamins and Minerals for Stress and Anxiety
Those are the many herbs that have a positive impact on the nervous system. If you struggle from severe anxiety there are so many other vitamins and minerals that can also be helpful. Studies show that low vitamin d levels can contribute to anxiety and depression. I love these vitamin d drops and take them during the winter months. I personally take a higher dose because my vitamin D levels have always been fairly low. Vitamin D is also great for proper immune function and supports bone health so that’s an added bonus.
Another great vitamin is vitamin b. I’ve read in recent studies that specifically vitamin b6 is great for those who struggle with anxiety and depression. I love core formulas b happy supplement. It’s a b complex that provides thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin b6, pantothenic acid, and inositol. This supplement provides nutrients necessary for the nervous system, ATP production, blood sugar balance, healthy growth, hormones and metabolism. It’s a great way to get in your b vitamins!
A great mineral to add in is magnesium. Using natural herbs are great but sometimes our body need a little extra help as far as minerals go. Adding in a mineral such as magnesium can help promote relaxation and peaceful sleep. I find when it’s my time of the month and I’m dealing with mood swings, magnesium helps me to fight those pesky PMS symptoms. Usually I take mine right before bed to help me sleep. I like to take Magnesium Glycinate such as this one.
When it comes to adaptogenic herbs, I’ve always been told it is best to alternate between them. You never want to take them for long periods of time. They are meant to be supportive while you are addressing the root cause of your anxiety and/or stress. We always have to remember it’s never good to stay on something long term, even herbs. While they don’t harm you, it’s always good to give your body what it needs to heal and get to the root cause. Adaptogenic herbs are meant to support your body while healing. If you struggle with severe anxiety, I would consider working with a practitioner who can help you figure out what exactly is causing your anxiety. A lot of times it can be linked to parasites, mold toxicity, Lyme disease, or even EBV.
If you ever have any questions please feel free to reach out! Have you ever taken adaptogenic herbs? Do you find they help with stress and anxiety in your life?