It is particularly important to take time out for yourself to relax and restore during the hectic holiday season. Herbal remedies can work wonders to soothe both the body and mind, especially those classified as nervines, which support the nervous system. Other herbs offset the negative effects of stress and help to maintain balance and calm in the adrenal glands, as well as brain centers involved in the stress response.
Stress can be deadly. According to the American Psychological Association, stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. And, according to the Cleveland Clinic, stress can significantly lower your immune system, leaving you ripe for infections.
“Eliminating or modifying stress factors in one’s life is vital to protect and augment the immune response,” Leonard Calabrese of the Cleveland Clinic says.
Instead of taking prescription medications ― which come with their own troubling side effects ― there are natural herbs that can help you successfully deal with stress. Dr. Chris D’Adamo, an epidemiologist at the University of Maryland, tells Newsmax that “many prescription drugs for anxiety and stress like benzodiazepines may be problematic in the long run.”
Ellen Kamhi, author of The Natural Medicine Chest, says that stress-busting herbs can help control the high cortisol levels released by the adrenal glands when we are anxious. Too much cortisol can wreak havoc with our health. Here are some suggestions:
- Rhodiola rosea. Dr. D’Adamo says that this flowering herb is his first choice for increasing resistance to stress. Studied extensively in many European countries, according to the American Botanical Council it helps prevent stress and fatigue, and acts as a powerful antioxidant to enhance immune system function
- Ashwagandha. The benefits of this plant are wide ranging but according to experts, it’s a superstar when it comes to lowering your stress levels. A 2017 study showed that adults experienced a 44% reduction in stress levels after taking Ashwagandha compared to just a 5.5 percent decrease in the placebo group.
- Valerian. This herb, which is native to Europe and Asia, is also grown here in North America. It’s used commonly to treat sleep disorders but is also effective in treating anxiety and psychological stress. According to studies, valerian seems to act like a sedative on the brain and nervous system.
- Lemon balm. This delicious, easy-to-grow mint plant has an array of positive effects on the nervous system, says Kamhi. It can decrease the negative effects of stress without causing drowsiness.
- Milky oat tops. According to Amodrn this herb is like nutrition for the nervous system and is especially effective in relieving stress-induced emotionality and grief. Also called Avena sativa, it has been used for centuries to help mellow the mood, ease anxiety, combat the effects of daily stress and resolve sleeplessness, says the Herbal Academy.
- Chamomile tea. A soothing cup of warm, herbal tea can work wonders on frazzled nerves. Herbal teas like chamomile have been shown to be excellent stress busters.
- Essential oils. Oils like lavender and citrus are wonderful for relieving stress and anxiety and for dealing with those troublesome sleepless nights, says Kamhi.
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