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Using Herbs for Stress Relief

written by: BStone • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 6/16/2011

Using herbs for stress relief is a natural method for helping the body cope with stress, thus minimizing the negative effects on the body. Learn how to use herbal remedies for relieving stress.

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    What Is Stress?

    Stress is how the body reacts to external and internal triggers, problems and stimuli. Emotional turbulence, physical pain, worry about every day issues, tension, anxiety and nervousness all put pressure on the body. When we are stressed, we react. Over time this stimulus can have a negative and even detrimental effect on well-being, depending on how well we can mentally and physically deal with stress. Problems arise, from chronic fatigue, headaches and irritability, to digestive issues, high blood pressure and lowered immune defenses.

    Addressing what is causing stress in your life and finding ways to allow the mind and body to relax is important. When used over time herbs can offer great support as well by revitalizing the nervous system, relaxing the body and enhancing mental well-being. Herbal remedies are not the solution, but in conjunction with a healthy diet, exercise and stress reduction techniques, drinking infusions made from herbs for stress relief and even taking herbal supplements can facilitate a powerful recovery.

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    Helpful Herbs

    Valerian Flowers All of these herbs are useful for relieving stress naturally. They are well-suited for using over a period of time to strengthen the nerves and normalize the body. Many such as chamomile, oat straw and skullcap have a more balancing, toning effect on the nervous system and well-being. Others such as passion flower, kava kava and catnip have a mild sedating effect and are best used at the end of the day before going to bed.

    • Passionflower is very calming, ideal when insomnia is also present.
    • Oat straw will nourish the nervous system, restoring much needed balance.
    • Skullcap is a good herb for reducing anxiety. It also has a revitalizing effect on the nervous system.
    • Valerian is relaxing and has a gentle sedating effect. It is helpful for treating tension but also for reducing pain.
    • Chamomile is a very gentle, calming herb.
    • Catnip has a sedating effect on the nerves.
    • Hops is good for restlessness and nervousness. It should not be used if depression is a problem.
    • Kava kava eases the mind and body.
    • Lady's slipper is an excellent nervine tonic, easing pain, depression, anxiety and insomnia, but it can be difficult to find.
    • Siberian ginseng does not have a calming effect on the nerves, but can help the body cope with stress.

    To make an herbal infusion steep 2 teaspoons in total of dried herbs in 1 cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. Excellent herbal teas for Drink Herbal Tea for Stress Relief stress relief include blending skullcap with oat straw and lady's slipper, passionflower with hops, and valerian with skullcap. Chamomile, oat straw, Siberian ginseng and kava kava also work well on their own. Drink from one to three cups a day.

    You can also supplement with any of these herbs in tincture or capsule form. Follow the dosage instructions on the packaging. Only purchase herbs from trusted, natural sources.

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    How Effective Are Herbs?

    Herbs for stress relief are actually very effective for improving the body's ability to cope with stress, for reducing tension, anxiety and insomnia, and for improving overall well-being. Herbal teas and remedies cannot however stop problems in your life or change your perspective. Use herbs as a natural, supportive remedy for stress, but also eat a healthy diet, exercise, consider meditation, yoga or a vacation, and identify what is putting pressure on you.

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    References

    Balch, Phyllis A. "Prescription for Nutritional Healing." Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).

    Hoffmann, David. "The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies." (Element Books, 1996).

    photo by Donna C Green

    photo by Gordon Flood

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    Disclaimer

    Please read this disclaimer regarding the information contained within this article.