Herbs and Stress Management- the hidden secret for getting your ZEN on!
Are you stressed? If the answer is yes then skip down a paragraph. If you answered no, then read on.
Do you have any of the below symptoms?
Poor immune system
If you answered yes to any of these then there is a good chance you are stressed, and even though you may not feel like you are, your body is telling you otherwise.
Stress is becoming the norm in modern society, with deadlines, the concept of ‘we must be busy’ and juggling work, social life, family duties, it all becomes a lot to handle. And it is ok to put your hand up and say I am not coping. In many cases it is our bodies which give in first, displaying some of the above symptoms which ca then manifest into larger, more complex health conditions.
You can use herbs for just acute flare ups of stress, so think of teenagers studying for exams, or an extra busy period of work which find people speeding more hours at work than usual. Herbs can be taken during this time to help even out your bodies response to the increased stress load.
So what can we do to support our bodies stress response?
diet an lifestyle can be integral in supporting our stress response but sometimes we need something a little stronger,
This is where herbs are fabulous, and I cannot rate them highly enough when it comes to reducing stress levels. I have seen time and time again the positive impact that herbs can have on someones stress levels. I myself, my family and in particular my clients; the effects are profound.
So what herbs should I look for?
There are so many herbs which are fantastic for stress management, but these are a few of my favourites:
This is one of my favourite herbs for managing stress. It helps the body adapt to stress, whether it be physical or psychological. This herb is also has anti-anxiety properties, so if you are that way inclined, then this is a fantastic herb.
This is the ultimate ‘’chill out’ herb. Kava is a nervous system relaxant and an anti-anxiety herb. It woks directly on our bodies neurotransmitters to bring the balance between the inhibitory and the stimulatory chemical messengers in our brain.
Everyone know lavender for its relaxing effect from just its smell, but have you considered using it internally to help manage the stress from a physical side of things? Lavender is a great sedative (and by sedative I don’t mean its going to put you to sleep, just relax the nervous system) as well as anti-anxiety properties. So whilst your burning some lavender essential oil, you can be drinking some lavender tea for an added relaxing effect.
Good old chamomile. Chamomile tea is well known for its relaxing effect on the body. It has a mild sedative effect, making it a great one to consume before heading off to bed. It also has strong effects of the rest of the body by being an anti-inflammatory, and a great digestive tonic.
Valerian and Passionflower
These 2 herbs are great for sleep. If you are have trouble falling asleep then trying these herbs is a good place to start. Valerian will assist in helping you fall off to sleep, whilst passionflower will help you stay asleep. These herbs can also be taken through the day as a way of again relaxing the nervous system. The good thing about using herbs to help you sleep is there is no ‘hangover’ effect like some pharmaceutical sleeping tablets.
When shouldn’t you use herbs?
Unfortunately there are lots of instances where herbs may not be appropriate so for this reason self prescribing is not recommended. Seeing a qualified naturopath and herbalist is where you will get the best results and the highest level of safety in regards to using herbs. Many medications interact with herbs so if you are taking any pharmaceuticals (this includes the oral contraceptive pill) then it is vital to make sure that nothing you take is going to interact.
Karah is a degree qualified Naturopath with over 8 years experience in the health industry. She practices from Geelong, Ocean Grove and Bannockburn and specializes in digestive conditions.