A Naturopath's Favourite Herbs for Stress & Anxiety
One of the main reasons I became a Naturopath was because I found myself in a career that left me incredibly anxious and very unwell. I'd always believed that being stressed and living an exhausting lifestyle was just normal and expected, because when I looked around, everyone else seemed to be doing the same thing. It wasn't until my health came crashing down and I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, that I realised I couldn't continue living that way and had to find a way to restore my health and soothe my worn-out nervous system.
I discovered herbal medicine had a lot of gorgeous plants to help me work through my anxieties and I started exploring the different remedies to find the ones I felt most effective for myself. I was amazed by how effective they could be at shifting emotions, calming me and helping me find a place of relaxation and peace. So I thought I would share my favourite herbs for stress and anxiety with you, and invite you to discover their benefits for yourself.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
When I'm feeling anxious and can feel it effecting my digestive system, with my stomach in knots, I reach straight-away for Lemon Balm. A member of the mint family, it has a delicious, refreshing citrus scent and helps to soothe the nervous system. Studies have shown Lemon Balm can elevate mood and reduce stress hormones, whilst also improving cognitive function.
How to use Lemon Balm:
Lavender (Lavandula officinalis)
Probably one of the most well known and easily recognised herbs is Lavender. Since medieval times, we have used Lavender to help relax the mind and ease tension including headaches and migraines. Recent studies have found Lavender essential oil has helped to ease anxiety in patients before undergoing MRI and dental surgery, and it has been shown to decrease anxiety and depression in the postpartum period.
So how does it work? Lavender has a positive effect on the parasympathetic nervous system when it has been triggered into a fight or flight state due to stress, helping it return to a calm, neutral state.
How to use Lavender:
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
The buddhists have a term called "monkey-mind", when our thoughts are racing and jumping all over the place. When we're feeling overwhelmed and anxious, Passionflower is the one of the best herbs I have come across to help calm our stressed minds. It is theorised Passionflower works by increasing levels of GABA in our brains, which can help us to feel more relaxed.
How to use Passionflower:
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Sweet Chamomile has been used for thousands of years to help reduce anxiety. Recent studies have found that long-term use of chamomile extract significantly reduced generalised anxiety disorder. Chamomile's axiolytic effect is due to a compound called apigenin, which has a similar effect on the brain as anti-anxiety medication.
How to use Chamomile:
I hope you've found learning about some of my favourite herbs for stress and anxiety useful and can start incorporating more lovely, relaxing herbs into your day to day life.
xx Charelle - Founder & Naturopath at The Physic Garden
*The information in this article is general, and is not intended to be given as medical advice. We recommend visiting you healthcare provider for any specific medical concerns and advice.