Herbs have used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine and in herbalism. Herbs have been known to treat a variety of symptoms and diseases. Stress is the number one most serious health problem in America today. Due to the change in the majority of jobs from physical to mental aptitude its no wonder why Americans are so stressed out. In addition, the society is on the go 24/7 leaving no time for people to relax, rest or shut off their brains. Not to mention that the pressure and mounting economic problems that we are facing in this day in age is one for the record books. With all this stress we become physically, emotionally and mentally unbalanced. To maintain, restore and prevent further chronic stressful influence on our mind and body, herbs are the perfect remedy to balance the body’s nervous system.
Herbs can be categorized in three types adaptogen, tonic, and nervine herbs. Adaptogenic herbs help the body adapt to stress through balancing the nervous system. Tonic herbs strengthen the organs and bodies system to prepare for stress. Tonic nerves are able to increase or decrease the activity of the bodily processes in a specific system. Nervine herbs heal the damage caused by stress and combat further stressful influence. Nervine herbs can be distinguished as a sedative to relax and calm the nerves or as a stimulant to perk up energy. Most herbs fit into more than one category or type of herb giving it increased ability to relieve, reduce and alleviate symptoms, illnesses and disease.
Due to the fact that herbs generally correlate to specific areas or systems of the body, there are a large number of herbs that can relieve stress and anxiety. Here you can find a few of these herbs and how they affect the body.
Ginseng- There are several kinds of ginseng however three can be helpful at reducing stress, Siberian, Korean or Panax and Indian or Ashwagandha ginseng are all good at normalizing the body in times of stress. Ginseng is an adaptogen and a tonic, which protects the body against stress. Ginseng regulates the circulatory and immune systems, which help to support the body in times of stress. Ginseng is a popular herbal supplement for athletes because it improves performance, increases stamina, improves recovery time and boosts ones immunity.
Maitake- Maitake is a mushroom that grows in clusters at the base of trees. It has been used in Chinese medicine as an adaptogen to enhance the immune system. Research has also indicated that it can be used to regulate blood pressure, glucose, insulin, and both serum and liver lipids, such as cholesterol, triglycerides, and phospholipids, and may also be useful for weight loss.
Gotu Kola- Gotu Kola has a triple effect as an adaptogen, tonic and nervine herb. Gotu Kola rejuvenates the skin by stimulating repair, growth and strengthening. It also helps with stress coping and reducing anxiety. Gotu Kola improves concentration and memory.
Wild Yam- The Wild Yam is an adaptogen and nervine, which targets the muscles and skeletal system. It acts as a muscle relaxer to reduce inflammation. It also is toted as an antispasmodic, antiheumatic, hepatic, diaphoretic, and reduces nausea during pregnancy.
Licorice Root- Licorice root is an adaptogen and tonic for the respiratory and immune systems. Licorice root helps regulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. It helps the body to handle stress by normalizing blood sugar levels as well as adrenal glands, and stimulates cranial and cerebrospinal fluid. Licorice root boosts energy, calms the mind and is soothing to the body.
Red Clover- Red clover is a digestive tonic and a skin nervine herb. Red clover contains a natural plant estrogen called phytoestrogen. Phytoestrogens maintain proper skin and bone health. If ingested it cleanses the blood and detoxifies the tissues. Additional estrogen in the body can alleviate high stress symptoms and reduce cholesterol.
Chamomile- Chamomile is a digestive tonic and sedative nervine herb. It was originally used to reduce fevers. Now it has been proven to be one of the safest herbs on the market for relaxation and calming effects. Chamomile has a restorative effect on the body by enhancing the metabolism, treating a nervous stomach and depressing the central nervous system. As a tranquilizer, chamomile enhances sleep and feelings of relaxation. Its properties include anti-inflammatory, anti anxiety, antihistamine, antioxidant and antispasmodic.
St. John’s Wort- St. John’s wort is a stimulating tonic herb. It also is a functional nervine with respect to the integumentary system. St. John’s wort specifically helps the pituitary gland, which regulates the secretion of six hormones that regulate homeostasis. St. John’s wort helps to break down excess quantities of the stress hormone norepinephrine that get excreted into the bloodstream during stressful situations. In this way it helps to treat stress, anxiety, depressive disorders and mental disorders.
Skullcap- Skullcap is a tonic and nervine herb that can be used for relaxation without a sedative effect. Skullcap is the best nourishing tonic for the nervous system. It strengthens and supports the nervous system. It slows down the nerves to calm and sooth the body and brain. Skullcap is great for muscles spasms, headaches, agitation, anxiety, insomnia, hysteria, exhaustion, depression and nervous tension. As an anti-inflammatory, and antispasmodic it decreases fevers, enhances digestion, and stimulates liver function.
Motherwort- Motherwort works on the circulatory, respiratory, reproductive, and nervous systems as a tonic and nervine herb. Motherwort stimulates circulation to strengthen the heart. It quiets the nerves, promotes relaxation, and relieves stress.
Lemon Balm- Lemon balm is a sedative nervine and tonic herb that calms and regulates the nervous system. By inhaling the aroma of lemon balm you will reduce your blood pressure, calm palpitations, reduce rapid breathing, decrease digestive spasms, eliminate nausea and indigestion, relieve migraines and combat fever. It relieves anxiety, dispels sadness, and uplifts the spirit. Lemon balm also has antibacterial, antiviral and antihistamine characteristics.
Kava Kava- Kava Kava is a nervine herb from Melanesia. Kava Kava treats anxiety and depression, relieves stress and insomnia. It also doubles as a powerful muscle relaxer, tranquilizer and analgesic, although it is not addictive. Kava Kava works subtly to relax the entire body.
Hops- Hops is a nervine herb that acts as a sedative. Its has a calming and relaxing effect on the Central nervous system to ease restless tension, irritability, nervous system disorders, indigestion, and insomnia.
Passion Flower- Passion flower has a mild tranquilized effect as a sedative nervine herb. It relaxes blood vessel spasms, decreases migraines, promotes sleep, treats anxiety, insomnia, depression, and nervousness. Passion flower has a calming effect without feeling like one is sedated. This herb calms the body and also is effective as a painkiller.
Lavender- Lavender is known to be the most calming herb today. Just smelling this herb can relax the mind and body by reducing irritability, anxiety, stress and tension. Lavender is a nervine herb with powerful sedative capabilities to promote relaxation, enhance sleep, balance hormones, relax muscles, and stimulate the immune system. It also has healing benefits as a digestive aid. Lavender decreases the stress hormone cortisol levels to slow the brain waves, which reduces stress, nervousness, agitation and promotes a sense of calm.
Valerian- Valerian is a sedative nervine used to relax the nervous system. Its ingredients are comparable to prescription grade sedatives given out by physicians. Valerian decreases stress levels, alleviates anxiety, improves sleep, calms nerves, and decreases tension and irritability. Valerian is ideal for those who also suffer from nervous muscle spasm.
Oats (Avena Sativa)- Oats or wild oats are a functional nervine that nourishes the nervous system. This herb can alleviate mild depression, balance sugar levels, help nervous exhaustion and weakness and relieves stress. As an anti-inflammatory and high in mineral content, oats sooth inflamed skin and strengthen the nervous system.
Graduated with a BA in exercise science and have worked in the medical field since. My focus is alternative medicine however all aspects of health interest me. Check out my health website!
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