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Calming herbs for stressful times

If you've been stressed out (aren't we all to some extent), you would well familiar with the common signs of stress: anxiety, nervousness, anxious, trouble falling (& staying) asleep, skin problems & yes, even digestion issues.

Being fans of holistic self-care, we've been spending a lot of time studying and turning more to plants & herbs to help balance our stress symptoms. Here are five calming herbs we thought would come in useful in helping to balance stress and turbulent emotions - whether you are suffering from a full blown anxiety, stress, sleepless nights, fear or even skin rashes, these herbs are known to soothe turbulent emotions:

1. Lemon balm

Lemon Balm is a nervine herb (ie a property of a herb that helps to support the nervous system). Lemon balm has a gentle calming property, and helps one cope with anxiety, indigestion (it is related to the mint family and also a carminative).

2. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic root used traditionally in Ayurveda. Adaptogenic herbs are herbs that helps manage and balance the body to adapt to exernal and internal stress conditions. Ashwagandha has been shown to support and regulate cortisol levels, repair oxidative stress/damage, supports sleep & reduce inflammation.

3. Passionflower

Passionflower is a calming, relaxing herb long used in South America. I came upon this herb a couple of years back while I was still living in Singapore & dealing with stress & mild depression. Passionflower is known to help one with anxiety, insomnia, panic attacks.

4. Valerian

Valerian is a herb popular in Europe and long used for treatment of sleeping problems and anxiety. Valerian helps balance mood swings and mute/soften feelings of anger, fear, rage.

PS: I love that Valerian is easily found in Europe in the form of fresh salads,I typically try to incorporate these herbs into salads whenever I can. In Asia, I have not seen fresh Valerian in the supermarkets, and thus I typically purchase these in dried form (for use in herbal teas).

5. Reishi

Reishi is a medicinal mushroom, known for its adaptogenic properties. Long used in the East, Reishi is known to support the immune system and helps support stress, inflammation & oxidative damage at cellular levels. This medicinal mushroom has also been shown to help lessen anxiety, depression & fatigue.

How do I use these herbs?

One of the commonly asked question from the ZS Communitea is: "how do I use these herbs?". The easiest way to easily and gently introduce these herbs to your everyday life is through herbal teas (my personal way to stay hydrated). Prepare the base tea (green, black or green tea, to your preference) with two to three teaspoons of your preferred herb : let steep in a heat resistant tumbler and sip throughout the day. Other ways of incorporating these herbs: smoothies, raw desserts.

Note of caution: If you have an existing medical condition, or on medication please consult your doctor before consuming a herb that you may not be familiar with.

Beauty Sleep Elixir : A Recipe

Interested in more herbal latte recipes? More here.

There is such great insight in the mind body connection - all that is needed is just a little bit of self awareness. We could eat and drink the best possible superfoods and water but if we do not take the & time to look after our emotional & physical selves we will not be living our best possible self.

I hope this helps you in your holistic self-care journey. All the best, wishing you happiness, health & many pots of herbal tea!


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