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How to Use Herbs to Relax

Updated on April 25, 2013

Relax With Herbs

You know the feeling. Your heart is racing and you’re sucking in quick shallow breaths, often between clenched teeth. A glimmer of a headache threatens behind your temples and your stomach is in knots. That’s your body’s way of telling you that its had enough for today. Enough of crowds at the grocery store. Enough of bumper-to-bumper cars on the expressway. Enough of screaming children. Enough!

Stress isn’t the healthiest thing around; it raises your blood pressure, increases your heart rate and turns you into the shrew that stalks your house when the nice you disappears. Today’s fast pace of life coupled with economic woes, child tantrums and even personal relationship problems can all add to stress. In a world of high stress and prescription drugs, it’s easy to forget that Mother Nature offers an abundance of natural herbs that can help you relax.

Supplementing Your Diet with Herbs

Many herbs contain constituents that can help you relax. The down side of supplementing your diet with herbs is that the Food and Drug Administration does not offer standardized dosage recommendations for herbal remedies and does not monitor the production of herbs. The best way to take herbal supplements is to follow the dosage recommendation on the container and to purchase your herbs from a reputable source. Before taking any herbs, talk to your doctor to make sure they won’t interfere with any current medications you’re taking.

Herbal supplements that can might help you relax and de-stress include dong quai, evening primrose oil, goldenseal, hops, valerian and kava kava. Shop at a quality health food store for these herbal supplements.

Herbal Teas

Curling up with a cup of steaming hot chamomile tea can chase away stress and help you relax. Available in most grocery stores, chamomile offers a mild sedative effect while it acts as an antispasmodic to sooth stomach cramps and gas that can accompany bouts of anxiety. For those times when you’re under the gun to finish a report or wrap up a sale, sip on green tea with added passionflower throughout the day to stay mentally alert without increasing your stress level.

Hops, the same herb used to brew ale and some types of beer, can help you relax when sipped as a tea, but it’s also a little bitter so add some peppermint and a spoonful of organic honey to make it more palatable. Peppermint on its own as an herbal tea reduces gas and sooths stomach cramping related to stress and anxiety. Kava kava is just as good in tea form as it is as a supplement for toning down anxiety, and health guru, Dr. Andrew Weil recommends kava kava in his book, “Consumer Guide to Herbal Medicines”. Lemon balm herbal tea is delightful as well as relaxing and soothing.

Sooth the Stress with Aromatherapy


Just the heavenly aroma of some herbs can aid in relaxation. If you’ve ever wondered why you love the smell of one cologne or shampoo but despise another, it’s all due to the way your brain processes the scents. The art of aromatherapy is ancient, dating back to the ancient Egyptians who would add herbal essences to small bits of animal lard and smooth the concoctions on their skin, creating the first perfumes. Throughout history, shamans, midwives and medicine men have all used herbal aromas to induce physical and mental responses.

Today, you can purchase essential oils, which are highly concentrated essences of herbs. To use essential oils, add only a drop or two to your shampoo bottle or your bathwater; they are very potent and a little goes a long way. Choose a single essential oil or make your own combination of the following oils to aid in relaxation and de-stressing. Some of the most powerful de-stressing aromas include bitter orange, eucalyptus, lavender, myrrh, jasmine, neroli, rose, sandalwood, ylang ylang and lemon. Do not take essential oils internally, unless directed to do so by a physician.

Calming Foods

Add some fresh or dried rosemary to Italian foods and other pasta dishes, soups and meat entrees for an ongoing healthful and aromatic diet aid. Rosemary is rumored to help you relax while it increases mental alertness so add this savory herb to your diet as often as you can. Additional culinary herbs that can help you relax include marjoram and turmeric.

Reduce caffeinated drinks, including coffee and dark sodas, which contain phosphorus that leaches calcium from your bones as well as making you feel on edge. Limit alcohol consumption to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. While it might make you feel temporarily relaxed, it can leave you with the jitters later and lead to insomnia.

What Are Your Favorite Relaxation Herbs?

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