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STRESS MANAGEMENT: Herbs for Anxiety and Stress

Updated on October 18, 2016
Numerous herbs have the therapeutic potential
Numerous herbs have the therapeutic potential

The healing power of herbs

First the word, then the plant, lastly the knife. --Aesculapius of Thassaly, Greek god of healing, circa 1200 b.c.

The medicinal benefits of herbs have been known for centuries, and many herbs contain powerful ingredients that, if used correctly, can help to heal the body and manage stress and anxiety.

During the past fifteen years, a growing body of research has pointed to the therapeutic potential of numerous herbs.

Why herbs are effective for stress reduction and stress relief?

A body under stress is more vulnerable to free radical damage.

The free radical theory of aging is the leading aging theory.

Many plants produce their own antioxidants (fight against free radical damage), which they use as protection against environmental stresses.

Specific herbs tend to protect specific parts of the body. However, because of their strong antioxidant properties, most have important influences on other parts of the body as well.

Bilberry, ginkgo biloba, and milk thistle are rich in flavonoids that neutralize free radicals. Milk thistle also protects the liver.

Catnip, chamomile, cramp bark, kava kava, hops, linden flower, motherwort, passionflower, and skullcap promote relaxation and aid in preventing panic attacks.

Since stress takes a big toll on your adrenal glands, consider using herbs such as licorice, bupleurum and ligustrum to support those glands. In China, all three of these herbs are commonly prescribed for people operating under a lot of stress. In China, in fact, herbal treatments are regularly incorporated with conventional methods.

Herbs for Stress and Anxiety

Ashwagandha is a Ayurvedic herb also known as Indian ginseng.Acts as sedative and nerve tonic. Helps prevent stress-related disorders and stress-related depletion of vitamin C and cortisol. Has anti-aging effects.

Bilberry acts as antioxidant. Prevents destruction, mutation, and premature death of cells throughout the body. Useful for stress and anxiety. Has anti-aging and anticarcinogenic effects.

Chamomile is a gentle relaxant. It is a good nerve tonic, soothing to the digestive tract, and a pleasant sleep aid. A traditional remedy for stress, anxiety and insomnia. (don’t use for long periods of time if you are allergic to ragweed)

Gingo Biloba improves brain functioning by increasing circulation and tissue oxygenation.

Hops helps to ease nervousness, restlessness, and stress. Relieves anxiety.

Suma boosts immune system, combats fatigue and stress.(More about adaptogens - general antistress supplements)

Kava kava relaxes the mind as well as the entire body introducing physical and mental relaxation. Helpful for anxiety and anxiety disorders, insomnia and stress-related disorders.

Catnip in an effective anti-stress and anti-anxiety herb that relieves stress. Causes drowsiness.

Dong quai, rehmania, and schizandra support the kidney, adrenal glands, and central nervous system. As you may know these are the organs among the most susceptible to the effects of stress.

Passionflower is calming, gentle sedative; helpful for anxiety, insomnia and stress-related disorders. It is a potent addition to any anti-stress formula.

Valerian keeps the nervous system from being overwhelming. It also is a powerful sleep aid when taken at bedtime and helps to ease stress-related headaches.

Polygala root and sour jujube seed are powerful Chinese herbs known to soothe and calm the spirit.

St.John’s worth is good for depression and nerve pain. Helps to control stress.

Siberian ginseng helps the body copes with stress.

Skullcap is good for nervous disorders. Good for anxiety, stress, fatigue. It also relieves headaches and aids sleep.

Wild oat is said to restore balance to the nervous system.


- Buy your herbal remedies from a reputable company.

- When using an herbal remedy for the first time, start with a small amount to test for possible allergic reactions.

- Do not use chamomile on an ongoing basis, as ragweed allergy may result. Avoid it completely if you are allergic to ragweed.

- Don’t take certain herbs if you are pregnant.

- Don’t take herbal remedies if you are nursing baby.

Prepare a nice cup of soothing herbal tea for stress reduction
Prepare a nice cup of soothing herbal tea for stress reduction

Combine Herbs

Soothing Tea

Blend lavender, oats, linden flower, catnip, and lemon balm (equal quantities).

Use four teaspoons of this mixture per quart of boiling water. Pour the water over the herbs and steep for about ten minutes. Strain and drink while the tea is still warm.

Drink a cup after each meal, up to six cups a day if necessary.

Cool-Out Tincture

1 teaspoon each tinctures of valerian rhizome, licorice root, Siberian ginseng root, kava root and California poppy plant (if available)

Combine ingredients. Take as needed during emergencies, up to 1 teaspoon per hour. Otherwise, take ½ or 1 dropperful a day as a general relaxing aid. I find that tinctures of valerian and skullcap made from the fresh root are stronger than those made from the dried root.

About the Author

Dr.Inese Millere , M.D. is wellness and mindful eating coach for busy women after 40 who want to be Fit, Balanced and Ageless: to manage stress, stress eating, have a healthy and joyful relationship with food and enjoy healthy living and longevity.


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      11 years ago

      Interestingly, there are a number of products that combine small amounts of each of these ingredients to work together. I have found some of these combination products to be quite effective.


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