What is Stress?
The body has a normal and natural stress response which stems from the sympathetic nervous system. You’ve probably heard it referred to as the “fight-or-flight” response. When this response is initiated, stress hormones such as epinephrine (adrenaline), pour into the bloodstream. Our physiology adapts to support either fleeing the scene or getting ready to fight whatever the “threat” may be.
Stress that is ongoing is referred to as chronic stress. Pressures of daily life in combination with past traumatic experiences can keep us in a heightened state of chronic stress. This means our sympathetic nervous system may be continually activated.
Long Term Effects of Stress & Anxiety
Chronic stress wears the body down. It impacts the nervous system, cardiovascular system, endocrine system, immune system - all of our major working parts. It doesn’t just stop at the physical body. Mentally, stress can manifest as inner self-talk that is harsh and negative. Emotionally, it can lead to exhaustion, frustration, anger, and an inability to manage emotions in general.
Typically after an immediate threat has passed, cortisol and adrenaline levels will drop, allowing the “rest and digest” (parasympathetic) part of the nervous system to take over. However, when continually activated, high cortisol levels in the body can result in a chronic state of hyper vigilance.
Here’s where herbs can help us. Although they won’t eliminate the causes of stress in our lives, our plant allies can support, soothe, and balance our physical and emotional bodies as we experience chronic stress and anxiety.
Herbs for Stress-Relief
Holy Basil, or Tulsi
Tulsi is an important plant for spiritual and emotional growth. It is known to balance the mind and is used as a meditative aid. It is also an adaptogen, so it helps the body regulate stress. Tulsi is an immune-modulator, anti-depressant, antioxidant, and nervine. It is not recommended during pregnancy.
Preparations: Tea, tincture, infused oil
An interesting fact about milky oats is that it comes from the same plant as oatmeal. It is also a trophorestorative (an herb that restores nourishment) for the nervous system. This makes milky oats an important resource for adrenal exhaustion and chronic fatigue.
Preparations: Fresh tincture with alcohol or vinegar
This herbal ally is perfect if you hold tension in the body, grind your teeth, and experience body pains related to stress and anxiety. It’s helpful for easing acute anxiety and panic attacks.
Preparation: tea, tincture, and massage oil
The sweet scent of linden flowers gently soothes the nervous system. It is an antispasmodic, it helps relieve body tension and relax muscles. Linden has been used to help people experiencing anxiety, depression, insomnia, and digestive issues related to stress.
Preparations: tea, bath
Mimosa is referred to as the Tree of Happiness in Chinese medicine. The bark is known for its ability to stabilize emotions, while the flowers have a more uplifting, antidepressant effect. Mimosa is a great remedy for those addressing anxiety, depression, grief, PTSD, insomnia, and other emotional disturbances. Not to be used in pregnancy.
Preparations: tea, tincture, syrup, honey
Lemon Balm is a member of the mint family and is considered a calming herb. It helps reduce stress and anxiety, promote sleep, and improve appetite.
Preparations: tea, tincture, vinegar, essential oil
Lavender is one of the most popular herbs and it is a classic relaxing and soothing herb. It’s well known for aiding in relaxation, promoting deep sleep, and stabilizing mood. It’s uplifting and beneficial for anxiety and depression.
Preparations: Tea, tincture, infused oil, essential oil
These herbs, either used individually or combined, will benefit in helping you slow down, relax, and recover from external and internal stress.
Check out our stress-relief herbal tea blend here.