Herbs for Stress and Anxiety

This article was first published on Dictated News
herbsAnxiety and stress aren’t just bad for the mind or emotional state, they can take a real toll on physical health.  Chronic stress is linked to everything from high blood pressure to increased risk of heart attack.  While pharmaceutical medications geared at soothing anxiety have serious potential side effects, there are many safe, effective herbal medicines which can help calm a worried mind and support a healthy body.  Here are the best herbals for anxiety.

Lemon Balm, or Melissa officinalis, is a sunny, delicious herb in the mint family which can help to lift the mood and calm anxiety.  It makes a wonderful hot or iced tea, and can be taken in other forms such as a tincture (liquid alcohol extract), or as a standardized extract.  Lemon balm is especially indicated if anxiety is accompanied by digestive problems, heart palpitations, restlessness, and insomnia.  It makes a great sleep aid when an over-active mind is preventing the body from getting to sleep.

Chamomile.  Everyone knows about this friendly little yellow flower as a sleep aid, but it also makes a wonderful treatment for anxiety and stress, without putting you to sleep.  It is specific for nervous system irritability, as well as anxiety which is accompanied by irritability, sensitivity, and restlessness.  Chamomile is most effective as a hot tea, but can also be taken as a standardized extract for anxiety and nervous disorders.  Chamomile can be a helpful sleep aid where there is pain, since it is also an anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic, which can help with cramps, digestive distress, and other spasmodic situations.

Skullcap is a strong and effective herb is useful in tincture form for anxiety and stress, and as a tea for insomnia.  In tea form it acts as a strong sedative, helping to sleep deeply without waking up feeling like a zombie.  It is helpful when anxiety is due to drug withdrawal (or removing other substances like sugar or a food allergie) and acts as a trophorestorative, which means it actually heals the nervous system after a long illness or chronic stress.  If using the tea for sleep, make sure the water cools down for a minute from boiling, or else the heat destroys the constituent which has the sedative effect.

Lavender is a beautiful, safe, and gentle herb, lavender works best as an essential oil for anxiety, stress, and calming the mind.  Using the oil for aromatherapy in the bath, an infuser, or a few drops in a mist bottle can give an instant feeling of serenity.  It can also be applied to the temples for tension headache and other forms of stress.  When using any essential oil be sure to mix with a little carrier oil or water, see instructions on the product for how to properly dilute the oil.

Milky oat is the most wonderful herb I know of for true nervous system exhaustion and burn-out.  It is especially indicated for extreme sensitivity and related anxiety.  The best way to take this medicine is in tincture form, and it has to specify that the oatseed was processed during the “milky period,” an extract from the fresh milky oat.  When this form of the medicine is taken it can help to repair and soothe an over-stimulated nervous system, allowing the body to heal through adequate sleep and by stopping what can be a vicious cycle of sensitivity, overload, and debilitating anxiety.

While herbal medicinesare by far safer than their pharmaceutical counterparts, it is very important to check in with your health care provider, especially if you are taking any prescription medications.  A skilled Herbalist or Naturopath can help you find the herbs which can best support your particular body and needs.  The best herbals for anxietymay be different for each individual, which makes working with a natural health practitioner an excellent idea in finding the right herbal allies.