No matter who you are or what your situation, life is filled with common stressors that can make it difficult to relax. The herbs on this list have a long history of use for the relief of overactive nerves. If you find that you could use some extra help in coping with stress, these herbs might be right for you.
1. Lavender:This herb is great for managing stress, and can be used in many forms. Lavender flowers can be steeped in hot water to produce a soothing tea, or it can be consumed as an essential oil. Lavender is a central herb in aromatherapy, as merely smelling lavender flowers or oil produces a calming effect. Lavender contains the compound linolool which has demonstrated anxiolytic properties and has also been shown to have a positve effect on sleep quality.
2. Chamomile: This herb has a long history of use to relieve anxiety and improve sleep quality. Chamomile is most commonly consumed by steeping in hot water to produce a slightly-sweet relaxing tea. Chamomile has been the subject of scientific research regarding its anxiolytic properties, which seem to be caused by a combination of different compounds. Chamomile has a number of other health-promoting properties which I will likely discuss in a future article. Be warned that chamomile may not be the best herb for relieving stress during the daytime, as it tends to induce drowsiness.
3. Kava-Kava: Also known simply as kava, the root of this plant has long been used by Pacific Islanders to relieve anxiety, and has even been used as a sort of "social lubricant" in a role similar to that occupied by alcohol in other cultures. Unlike alcohol though, kava has a reputation for inducing calm without disrupting mental clarity. Ground kava root is traditionally prepared via cold water extraction methods, though it can also be steeped in hot water or consumed raw. Kava contains a number of compounds known as kavalactones which seem to be responsible for its anxiolytic and sedative properties. Be warned that the use of kava can cause sedation that might be less than desirable during activities which require alertness (e.g. driving or operating heavy machinery). Be warned also that there is mixed evidence regarding the potential for liver toxicity attributed to kava.
Note: This article is not intended to constitute medical advice. Those with anxiety disorders might find it nearly impossible to cope even with the aid of the herbs listed above. If you find that your stress or anxiety is becoming unmanageable, do yourself a favor and contact a doctor to find out about available treatment options.
This article was written by Jacob Wonn, a young man with a passionate interest in herbal science.