Best Herbs For Stress Relief
Our modern-day lifestyles can be super stressful. Managing our career, kids, partners, homes, pets and personal lives isn’t easy. Most of us are busier than ever, making it through each day on little sleep feeling burnt out, exhausted and on edge.
While we can’t just make stress completely disappear, we can learn how to manage it. There are countless ways to naturally support stress. Routine self-care is essential, and yoga and meditation can work wonders. There are also several plants and herbs that support stress, and incorporating them into your regular wellness routine can significantly help lower your stress levels.
Top 10 Herbs For Stress Support
Plants and herbs have been used for therapeutically for thousands of years. People have turned to plants and herbs to help them heal for centuries, several of which are superior for alleviating stress.
Following are a few of our favorites:
As a revered Ayurvedic herb, ashwagandha has been used for thousands of years primarily for maintaining general wellbeing and improving vitality. It’s a well-known adaptogen, a natural substance that helps the body adapt to stress and encourages homeostasis, and it’s stress-relieving properties have been studied widely. In Sanskrit, ashwagandha translates to “smell of the horse,” highlighting the herbs aptitude to increase strength. It is sometimes referred to as “Indian ginseng.”
Research highlights ashwagandha as a “multipurpose herb” that contains anti-inflammatory, adaptogenic, neuroprotective, memory-enhancing, stress-relieving, sleep-inducing properties. It’s suggested to be so powerful in relieving stress for two primary reasons. One, it significantly decreases levels of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone. Two, it reduces hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity, which controls the stress response in the body.
2. Tulsi / Holy Basil
Holy basil tea has been one of our favorites to slowly savor on a regular basis for years. Tulsi, or holy basil, is another important Ayurvedic herb used for thousands of years as a powerful tonic for mind, body and soul. The herb is considered sacred in Hinduism and commonly worshipped as the “Goddess of Devotion.” Holy basil is a well-known antioxidant that can help fight free radical damage. It contains a complex chemical composition that includes a nutritional profile that contains vitamins A and C, zinc, iron, chlorophyll and several phytochemicals. Much like cannabis, holy basil is also packed with terpenes like caryophyllene, myrcene, linalool and more.
Several studies support the stress-relieving properties of holy basil. The entire plant is considered an adaptogen, and research shows it can help the mind and body adapt to several different types of stress including: physical, chemical, metabolic and psychological. It protects organs from chemical stress (environmental pollutants and heavy metals), physical stress from excessive physical exertion, metabolic stress through normalization of blood glucose and pressure levels, and psychological stress with its anxiolytic properties.
There’s some research to indicate that holy basil’s anti-anxiety and anti-depressive properties are equal to that of Valium and prescription anti-depressants. In one study, participants that took 500mg of holy basil extract daily experienced less stress, anxiety, and depression and felt more social. Holy basil tea has been one of our favorites to slowly savor on a regular basis for years.
Passionflower is native to the Americas, where it was traditionally used as a sedative. Today, passionflower is commonly used for sleep and anxiety support. It works for stress by increasing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, a neurotransmitter that slows down the brain and has calming effect on body and mind. Naturally boosting GABA levels can be really beneficial for stress, as it shows to contain antidepressant and sedative-like properties.
We personally love passionflower tea to help us sleep and find it pairs well with other stress relieving herbs like lemon balm and valerian. While there’s little actual research on the effects of passionflower for sleep, one study found it showed short-term benefits for healthy adults who had mild fluctuations in sleep quality. It’s perfect herb for the occasional sleepless night, especially if stress is what’s making it difficult to sleep.
Kava is another one of the top must-have herbs for stress relief. This tropical plant grows best on Pacific Ocean islands, and it’s been used traditionally for centuries amongst island tribes in ceremonial gatherings and cultural rituals. Today, kava is widely used for its calming, relaxing effects and its pain relieving properties. There are even a handful of kava bars across the country designed with the relaxed kava culture of the Pacific islands, where customers can sit, sip and enjoy increased feelings of calm, relaxation and joy.
Kava’s positive effects on the mind are created by substances it contains known as kavapyrones, which have well-known psychotropic properties. The most common are euphoria and relaxation. Seeing as higher doses of kava show to increase dopamine and stress is connected to low levels of dopamine, it’s easy to understand how it’s beneficial for stress relief.
Like passionflower, kava as a positive influence on GABA receptors. It’s anxiolytic properties and calming mind/body effects have led researchers to suggest the use of kava as a natural treatment for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
Chamomile is one of the oldest, most widely used and well-studied herbal medicines that exists. It’s full of beneficial bioactive compounds and packed with antioxidants, both of which lend to the innumerable health benefits chamomile contains.
Widely considered one of the best herbs for stress relief, chamomile is famous for the sense of calm it causes. It’s commonly used for stress and anxiety, working as a mild sedative to soothe frazzled nerves. If your stress is causing you to lose sleep, sipping on chamomile tea may help soothe you into a satisfying slumber. Chamomile contains an antioxidant known as apigenin which binds to certain brain receptors that encourage sleep and ease insomnia.
Chamomile is frequently used as part of a holistic therapy for anxiety, depression and insomnia. Research highlights its potential as a treatment for general anxiety disorder (GAD). While its unknown how chamomile works as an anxiolytic, it’s believed it’s the way the herb affects GABA, serotonin, dopamine and noradrenalin neurotransmission in the brain.
As one of the oldest cultivated crops in the world, hemp has a rich history of medicinal use. While banned for nearly a century, hemp has made a huge comeback since legalized at the federal level with the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill. Hemp extract, more commonly called CBD oil, is famous for stress relief and is used widely for this very reason.
Stress is actually one of the top three reasons people use hemp products. While more research is needed, there are plenty of preclinical studies that support the use of CBD for stress relief. In a groundbreaking 2015 review, researchers found existing preclinical evidence “strongly supports CBD as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”
While its still too early to make any health claims, there are countless people that swear by CBD for stress relief. I’ve personally discovered that consistently using CBD seems to take things down a notch, instilling a greater sense of calm that allows me to approach life from a centered space that isn’t so stressful despite what’s going on around me.
Last Thoughts On The Best Herbs For Stress Relief
It’s no secret that women are more stressed out than ever before. Our modern lifestyles can be demanding to say the least, which can leave us stressed out, sleep deprived, moody and irritable. The good news is, there are herbs that can help with all of these things.
Nature really does offer everything we need to thrive and live our best lives. Taking a holistic approach to health is a multifaceted endeavor that involves utilizing natural therapies known to support stress and increase wellbeing. Implementing the best herbs for stress into your regular self-care routine can help soothe the demands of everyday life, ultimately allowing us to better enjoy the journey.
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