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Relieve Stress with Herbs and Hypnosis

Updated on March 11, 2010

WebMD estimates that 75% to 95% of all doctor's visits are stress-related.  I've witnessed the same percentage with clients who come for hypnosis.  As much as I'd like to make people's sources of stress go away, it just isn't an option.  Our challenge is to reduce the negative reactions to stressful situations, eventually responding to all scenarios in a positive and proactive manner. 

The first half of this article explores several of the most respected herbal books and sites and provides their recommendations for herbs that can help diminish or relieve stress.  The last half of this article provides a lengthy excerpt from an actual hypnosis session geared specifically to help clients understand and then reduce their stress.  As you read and take in that occasional deep breath, you will find things to be just a little better. 


Earl Mindell's Herb Bible


Hops is a relaxing herb. Mix 1/2 teaspoon in 1/2 cup water. Drink daily. Sprinkle hops on your pillow.

Passionflower is especially good for times of acute anxiety. Mix 15 to 60 drops of extract in liquid. Drink daily. Do not use during pregnancy.

Valerian is nature's own tranquilizer. Take 1 to 3 capsules daily, or 10 drops of extract in liquid.

Skullcap is one of the oldest remedies for stress. Use 1 teaspoon of dried herb in 1 cup hot water for a home-brewed tea. Mix 3 to 12 drops of extract in liquid daily. Take 1 capsule up to 3 times daily.

Herbal Tea Gardens, by Marietta Marchal Marcin

(This book is wonderful! Not only does it list many herbs, their uses, and how to prepare them, but it actually maps out small gardens and exactly where to plant various herbs for specific benefit. To give a few examples; a Relaxation garden, Headache Relief garden, and an Immunity Booster garden.)

Stress Reliever tea

1 tsp dried chamomile flowers

1 tsp dried or fresh lemon balm

10-20 drops skullcap tincture or 1 tsp dried skullcap

Mix chamomile and lemon balm. Infuse 1 tsp mixture in 1 cup boiling water and steep 10-15 or to taste. Add skullcap tincture before drinking.

Prescription for Herbal Healing, Phillis A. Balch

(Note: this is a partial list of beneficial herbs and info provided in the book. In other words, I HIGHLY recommend this book.)

Brahmi (Indian pennywort, water hyssop)

For anxiety disorder and stress: Brahmi induces a sense of calm and peace. It helps reduce the restlessness and distraction that nervousness causes. Coupled with its unique ability to improve cognitive function, brahmi is ideal for those who spend time in stressful work or study environments.

Chamomile is used in teas and tinctures internally, and in creams and compresses externally. Recommends German chamomile tea bag, prepared with 1 cup water.

Scutellaria (other common names: Baikal skullcap, Chinese skullcap, scute, skullcap)

The Univ of Maryland Medical Center provides an excellent and very detailed page:

Also check out:

Siberian Ginseng tincture - take as directed on the label (avoid if you have prostate cancer or an autoimmune disease such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis)

Catnip tea - take as directed on the label recommends:

Best Herbs For Anxiety

  • Kava kava
  • Ginseng
  • Valerian
  • Ashwagandha
  • Lemon balm
  • Zizyphi seed and Iligustrum
  • GLA
  • Catnip
  • St. John's Wort
  • Bugleweed
  • Chamomile provides the following:

(Note: this is an edited version of this page. I recommend visiting the page for more thorough information.)

It is to be noted that herbs can be most effective when they are taken as soon as symptoms of stress are perceived. The longer you have been stressed, the more time it’ll take for herbs to act.

  • Ashwagandha – Ashwagandha (Indian Ginseng) is one of the most popular herbs to be recommended for stress.
  • Kava kava – One of the most popular herbs for stress reduction, this herb reduces stress extremely effectively without the side effects associated with conventional medicines.
  • Passion Flower – This herb acts in a manner to alleviate multiple symptoms of stress and anxiety. It relaxes tense nerves, induces sleep and relaxes.
  • Skullcap – This herb is considered one of the best herbs to reduce tense nerves. This nervine is generally used at bedtime so as to ensure a good night's sleep. It also helps in preventing panic attacks while asleep.
  • Valerian – This herb is a natural sedative and helps in relieving insomnia, an extremely common symptom of chronic stress.
  • California poppy – Similar to Valerian, California poppy also helps in combating stress by inducing the required sleep.
  • Hops – Also a sleep inducing drug, this herb is mostly used to make a sleep pillow. This is done by inserting a pouch of hops in the pillow fluffing.

Even though most of the herbs are harmless and do not have a negative effect on the system, it is advisable that a naturopath or a herbologist be consulted before you take the decision of opting for a herbal cure for your stress or anxiety problems. This is mainly due to the fact that herbs, though free from side effects, may induce undesirable effects like headaches, variation in body temperature, etc.


Hypnosis and Meditation for Stress Reduction

This is what I say at the beginning of most every stress-related session. If you happen to feel a bit stressed, should you simply go along with the suggestions, you might find things to be just a little better for you.

Join me with some tried and true relaxation techniques...

"Take in a deep breath now … and hold it to the gentle count of three … exhale when it feels right and just begin to let your body go. This is the single, most important fundamental principle in meditation, hypnosis, and reducing stress and anxiety. That's right, the single, most important guiding principle in solving some of your greatest challenges is simply breathing.

But we both know it can't be that simple. There has to be more to it. And there is. It's the WAY you breathe that matters, and to a lesser extent, what you think about as you breathe. And so, we're going to practice this for just a moment as your body becomes more and more relaxed. Now, as deep as you can, but not to the point of it being uncomfortable, take in another deep breath... hold it to the gentle count of three… and as you exhale, know that your body has already begun transitioning to a deeper state of relaxation and peace."

The session usually continues with my suggesting some sort of relaxation exercise, the progressive relaxation being the most common (letting the flow of relaxation slowly reach each part of the body), while I also suggest that they imagine being at some place - real or imaginary - that they really enjoy, some place that just naturally allows them to feel good.

As you read this, you, too, can experience benefit. Remember, while you sit and consciously read, there are many positive things happening for you on the subconscious level. And if you'd like, let someone read this to you.

Give yourself a few moments of peace...

"Deep breathing is important to handling stressful situations because it begins a wonderful chain reaction of events that cause you, in every way, to get better and better, healthier and healthier. When you breathe deeply and when your body begins to relax, even if it's just for a moment, your body begins a chemical process quite opposite to the chemical process that results from stress and anxiety.

You may find interesting the source of mental stress on the human body, which is the ancient stress - fight or flight. Thousands of years ago, survival depended upon heightened awareness, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, rate of breathing, blood flow to the muscles, increased metabolism - all these were preparing man for conflict or escape.

For some reason, even though mankind no longer lives in such environments, this stress remains within some people. You no longer require this survival mechanism. Stress no longer serves this purpose.

And so, when you breathe deeply and when your body begins to relax, your body begins the chemical process of lowering the blood pressure, slowing the heart rate and rate of breathing, and reducing the blood flow to the muscles. As a result, all the cells, tissues, and organs of the body begin to function more efficiently without the external distractions, so to speak, of humanity's past.

Now imagine that you can literally see and feel the following events as I detail them to you…

As a result of everything functioning more efficiently, your body more readily digests and properly assimilates the food in your system; more nutrients are brought to all the cells, the lymphatic system more easily removes lingering toxins. And since your cells have less toxins and more nutrients, they begin to function in perfect health and harmony with all other cells and systems throughout the body.

It is as if you oil a slightly rusted, complicated machine. Before, as the parts moved, they rubbed against each other and struggled to complete its movements. Pieces didn't slide well and everything seemed to take far more energy and effort required in order to simply function as was originally built. But after you oil those key areas, and it doesn't take a lot of oil, just a little… just enough… the machine works effortlessly, silently, and seemingly stronger and in more control.

And so, as you take in another deep breath whenever it feels right, all your cells begin to function with ease and in harmony with all the other cells within your body. Those responsible for healing and recuperation, for example, communicate instantly and effortlessly with those responsible for the sense of touch in your hands or fingers. And isn't it interesting now that you are aware of whatever your hands or fingers are touching?

The cells in your nervous system perfectly working with the receptor cells. The tiny eardrum cells letting the cells in the leg muscles to loosen even further.

As a result of your cells now operating more efficiently and effectively and your body better absorbing the nutrients and removing the toxins, your muscles become stronger, just a tiny bit more; your reactions a little quicker. You have more energy throughout the day. Without even thinking about it, you somehow become more productive and you accomplish more with less effort. As your body becomes even this tiniest bit healthier, it begins to crave healthier foods. Your attitude becomes even more positive and your mind opens up to things you've not noticed before -- solutions, easier ways to do things, healthier foods, activities.

And now, because you have more energy, because you're accomplishing more, because you have just the slightest bit better outlook on life, your mind begins to relax and more easily prioritize those things that are important and set aside those things that you have no control over. Once this becomes natural and automatic, you sleep better at night. And the healing, restorative power of sleep, including interesting and surprisingly vivid dreams, causes the cycle to begin again upon awakening; the cells functioning even better, even MORE efficiently and thoroughly.

All this activity in your life resulting from simply taking in a deep breath here and there several times throughout your day, giving yourself that brief moment of peace, and allowing your body to just let go and sink into nothing.

Now, understand that ALL of this likely will not happen simply because of one deep breath. The nature of this restorative power is that a few deep breaths will lead to others. These, in turn, will cause other healthy behaviors. These healthy behaviors lead to beneficial cravings, which will also serve to remind you to continue practicing deep breathing periodically throughout your day.

Each time you do so, you will strengthen all those things you do well now, getting better and better in every way. Each time causing you to become more responsive to all the positive imagery and post-hypnotic suggestions that reside deep within your subconscious. And you will find it easier and easier to draw upon these to give you that unspoken, unthinking motivation that simply causes you to act naturally and in harmony, calm, cool, and collected, in control, in appreciation for all things.

This is your new solution for stress … Whenever you become stressed in the future … you’ll simply take in a deep breath… or maybe even two or three, whatever is comfortable and pleasant for you … and you let your body go as your muscles go loose and limp. And then, after this short release and recharge, you can go about your day knowing that even if some things linger, they have still decreased. More importantly, you begin to truly comprehend the fact that each time you do so, you get better and better, healthier, happier, more balanced, calm, cool, and collected.

And this is so...


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