Stress. An unavoidable fact of life… by technical terms a natural reaction to any demand on or imbalance in our bodies whether physical, emotional or mental. This stress reaction can be triggered by exciting or upsetting events which release sudden energy in what some call a fight or flight response. The brain sends the stress signals to the pituitary gland which is responsible for releasing hormones into the bloodstream. These hormones are then circulated to the adrenal glands which convert them into cortisol and thus begin a domino effect inside your body which could potentially save you in a life-threatening “stress” situation.
However, these days many of us find ourselves “so stressed out” as a result of over-filling our lives with WAY too many non-essential (yet important to today’s society) events, tasks and deeds in an attempt to keep up with or out-do the Jones’. Self-inflicted, chronic stress calls for a life-style and heart change. This type of stress is the cause of many health disorders including addiction, anxiety, immune deficiency and high blood pressure…but we aren’t going open that can of worms today.
Today, I want to tackle how to deal with acute (or short-term) stress, where an event out of one’s control triggers a natural stress response. It is just too easy to get bogged down in any stressful event, causing mental, emotional, and physical strain on ourselves without ever getting a break. Without a break in the natural chemical cycle going on inside of our body due to stress, we find ourselves fatigued, irritable, sleep deprived, frantic and simply put… a mess. Let’s address natural ways to cope with acute stress.
Whole Body Approach
Stress cannot be curbed by just one or two herbs. There is a diverse group of herbs to address stress. If you stop by a health food store and browse through their stress help supplements you will find an array of ingredients. This is because stress doesn’t just affect one body system – it affects your whole body. That is why I recommend a whole body approach to dealing with stress.
There are five main groups of herbs I like to be sure are in my herbal remedies for stress:
Sedatives/Calming Herbs – these herbs focus on soothing frayed nerves, reducing anxiety and aiding in a peaceful sleep. I usually use calming herbs or low doses of sedative herbs for daytime remedies and increase the sedative doses for nighttime remedies.
Liver Herbs – all the stress hormones running through your system must be filtered through your liver and a lot of people tend to reach for a drink, smoke or sugary foods during times of stress which adds to your livers toxin load. Including herbs that nourish your liver to your remedy is a good idea.
Adaptogen Herbs – these herbs can help your body cope with stress and strengthen your immune system, increase stamina, create mental alertness and help balance internal organs.
Adrenal Function Herbs – your adrenal glands are some of the main players when it comes to your body’s natural stress response and can easily become exhausted during high or continued stress situations. Taking these types of herbs helps reduce fatigue and nervousness.
Digestive Herbs – almost everyone gets digestive upset during stressful situations and your digestive enzymes can become unbalanced. These herbs help keep upset stomach, nausea and digestive disturbances at bay.
Herbs for Stress
Below is a list of herbs that I have used in different combinations to help my body cope with stress. There are certainly more herbs out there that also help, but I haven’t had the chance to use them myself. Most of the herbs in my list are safe to use for almost anyone, but there are a few that those who are on medications or pregnant/nursing should avoid. As I always say…do your own research to find out which herbs may work best for you!
Herb Group Form
Ginseng, Siberian Adaptogen Tea, Capsule, Tincture
Chamomile Digestive, Calmative Tea
Lemon Balm Digestive, Calmative Tea or Tincture
Valerian Sedative Tea or Tincture
Red Rooibos Adaptogen, Digestive Tea
Catnip Calmative Tea
Dandelion Liver Tea, Capsule, Tincture
Ashwaganda Adrenal Tonic Capsule or Tincture
St. John’s Wort Adaptogen, Adrenal Tonic Tea or Tincture
Passionflower Sedative, Adaptogen Tea or Tincture
Hops Sedative, Digestive Tea or Tincture
Fennel Digestive Tea, Capsule, Whole
Oatstraw Calmative Tea or Tincture
Peppermint Digestive Tea
Licorice Adrenal Tonic Tea, Capsule, Tincture
Milk Thistle Liver Tea, Capsule, Tincture
Stress Buster Tea Recipe
Try this herbal infusion the next time you need a break from stress!
3 teaspoons lemon balm
2 teaspoons Siberian ginseng root
2 teaspoons oatstraw
1 teaspoon dandelion leaf
1 teaspoon passionflower
1 teaspoon orange peel
¼ teaspoon stevia herb
Mix all herbs together in a teapot. Pour 3 cups of boiling water over the herb blend and cover. Let herbs steep for at least 15 minutes, longer is best. Strain and drink a cup every few hours.
If you don’t have time to make your own tea, stop by my shop and try our Beautiful Day Brew or Tension Ease Tea!
Of course, herbs aren’t the only way to naturally deal with stress. Don’t forget to utilize other avenues like essential oils, a healthy diet, uplifting relationships, plenty of rest and prayer!