Anxiety, stress and nervousness are experienced by the majority of people in this age and time. A lot of times we deal with these issues or settle for always feeling this way, but that doesn’t have to be the case. You don’t need to get a prescription for over-the-counter medicine either, as the potency of those medicines can often cause addictive behaviours and can do more damage than they are doing good.
Though there is a plethora of natural plant remedies out there, one can also find calm by removing themselves from the over-stimulating environments, withdraw from society or a while, and take time to calm down.Yoga, tai chi, dancing, running groups, bird-watching groups, native plant societies, meditation groups, and spiritual/religious practices are all wonderful for healing.
However, if you are in a pinch for time, and you don’t have time for any of those activities, these plants can come of use. They can be taken in pill form, in teas, tinctures, and in bath teas (teas you pour into your bath for an aromatherapeutic experience).
St. John’s Wort It’s one of the ‘super plants’ and is a heal-all for many, many maladies. It’s used to prevent and reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, especially when used frequently (the more you use it, the better shape you’ll be in). However, contact a physician or experienced herbalist before you use St. John’s Wort long-term. Avoid using this with 'life-sparing pharmaceuticals’ (eg. anti-rejection drugs, blood-thinners, and antiretroviral drugs). This herb is powerful and can lead to changes in blood-serum levels of these medications. Photosensitization is possible, but it will probably only occur in fair-skinned individuals who are using large and regular doses. Fun Fact: This herb’s yellow flowers turn blood red when squeezed.
Valerian This herb is probably the most widely recommended calming and sleep-promoting herb. Freshly harvested roots and rhizomes have stronger and more calming activity than the dried herb, so opt for fresh valerian root if you can find it. Some people report feeling an unexpected stimulating effect after taking valerian root extracts. This is much more likely to happen to you when you’re consuming older valerian than fresher valerian (such an effect is very rare to nearly null in fresh root). In only a few scenarios, people have developed headaches from taking too much valerian, but these are rare and idiosyncratic cases. Dosage is specific to the individual. Start small, and work up from there if no effect is felt. What is excessive to one person may be just right for another. Don’t exceed recommended dose without professional advice. Fun Fact: The name comes from the Latin valere, which means “to be in good health.”
Lavender This is widely used in inhalants and tea baths to create a sense of relaxation. Lavender oil can occasionally cause allergic reactions with repeated use, and the internal use of lavender can cause a mild allergenic effect in sensitive people, but both occurrences are exceedingly rare. There are no contraindications for using lavender teas or tinctures during pregnancy and lactation, but the oil should be used with caution during those times, as with any essential oils. Fun Fact: Lavender’s unique flavour is the surprise ingredient in herbes de Provence. It tastes great in desserts, too!
Lemon Verbena Lemon verbena is a very mild herb that is used for calming. It’s safe for kids as well, and works excellently in a bath tea. It’s also rich in antioxidants, and at one point lemon verbena was given to male runners to help speed their muscle recovery and protect their tissues against oxidative damage during repeated running sessions. Lemon verbena is also traditionally used in teas, and the extract has been used to aid digestion, promote sleep, and of course, act as a mild sedative or calmative. Regular long-term use may cause indigestion or upset stomach in some people, but again, these are rare cases. When used externally, the essential oil form of this may cause photosensitivity in some individuals. Fun Fact: Victorian-era Europeans believed in the power of this herb’s perfume to induce passion in anyone who sniffed it.
Hops Hops, most commonly found in beer, promotes good sleep and calm (not surprisingly). As it’s not always suggested to drink alcohol whenever you’re nervous or stressed out, opt for nonalcoholic “hoppy” beers (eg. Clausthaler), as they contain high levels of this herb. Some herbalists feel it wise to avoid using hops if you are depressed, for fear that the sedative could accentuate this mood state. Handle hops carefully, as the pollen can cause a skin rash. It would be wise to avoid hops during pregnancy, as it has known mild estrogenic effects. Fun Fact: The flowers of this plant give beer and ale their bitter flavours and are widely used as an anti-inflammatory.
Rhodiola This is an excellent adaptogen and nerve and brain tonic. Rhodiola is a very popular herb in Scandinavia and Russia, and its popularity is increasing across the world. The root is considered to be the part of the plant that is the adaptogen (a substance that helps your body adapt to stress and restores its normal, healthy function). It’s also used to help counteract stress and fatigue, and promote physical vitality and good mental functioning. The root of the Rhodiola plant is similar to ginseng and has many like beneficial properties. It’s also used as an antidepressant, an antioxidant, antiviral, immune system stimulant, nervine, heart and lung tonic, etc. Clinical studies note that regular use of supplements containing rhodiola and has beneficial effects including improving memory, counteracting mental and physical fatigue, and improving mental and physical performance, especially after mental work or physical exercise. At least two studies show measurable reductions in anxiety and nervousness with rhodiola. There are no known interactions with other herbs or drugs that have been recorded. Fun Fact: Russians and Swedes use this succulent herb of the far north to promote mental clarity.
Gotu Kola This plant is an excellent tonic herb for the nervous system, as well as for improving and preserving memory, mental function, and longevity. It also shows evidence of benefitting cardiovascular health, diabetes, and oral and gum health, and reducing inflammations and clearing your body of toxins (the latter of which can be especially beneficial to ease the symptoms of rheumatism and rheumatoid arthritis). The juice or leaves can also be used to stimulate your appetite when needed and promotes good digestion. For those of you out there that live with diabetes, gotu kola can be quite helpful to you. Studies have shown that gotu kola extract can benefit the circulation in diabetics and shorten the time it takes to heal diabetic ulcers. It also helps reduce risk of hypertension and abnormal clotting and plaque formation in the blood vessels. Gotu kola also support traditional uses of gotu kola and have shown that the extract helps reduce anxiety and improves memory and mood. It has been used as a common culinary green in Asia for centuries, and it is considered to have low toxicity. The herb has been shown to stimulate the production of collagen and to help improve the toe of veins near the surface of your skin. Fun Fact: This tropical weedy herb is an ingredient in popular health drinks that aid mental clarity.
Lemon Balm This is another mild herb used for calming, and like lemon verbena, it is safe for kids and can be used in baths. It’s not only settling to the nerves, but also to the stomach, and can be used for settling stomach aches as well. Herbalists recommend it for calming a nervous heart and counteracting tension and insomnia, as well as for relaxing spasms of the stomach and the intestines. If consumed as tea after meals, lemon balm can also ease heartburn and relieve digestive upsets, such as a feeling of pressure or distension in the abdomen. Lemon balm has antiviral properties, and in the case of such viral conditions as herpes, you can drink the tea throughout the day and before bedtime. The phenolic fraction (a group of chemicals that have strong antioxidant properties), which can be extracted from the plant by gently simmering the whole herb for 40-60 minutes, is effective at relieving the pain and duration of herpes sores. The cooled tea infusion of the herb can be given to infants and young children by the spoonful to relieve colic and restlessness. There are no safety concerns known for lemon balm. Fun Fact: The “gladdening herb” is an ancient monastery herb used to calm and ease fevers and agitation.
Hawthorn Hawthorn is a great heart and digestive herb that has mild calming effects, especially when used regularly. The leaf and flower have traditionally been used in Europe to promote heart health. European doctors and herbalists alike frequently recommend hawthorn preparations for anyone with cardiovascular problems, especially in the beginning stages of disease. This includes hypertension, cholesterol imbalances, heartbeat irregularities, and even congestive heart failure, as hawthorn acts to strengthen the heart’s pumping action. Flavonoids and other powerful antioxidants in hawthorn can help protect your heart and promote cardiovascular health. It can be used regularly, even for years. Hawthorn is commonly known to reduce anxiety and nervousness, benefitting insomnia and calming a racing mind. For thousands of years, the large, glossy, red fruits of the Chinese hawthorn have been an important remedy in traditional chinese medicine for preventing and treating bloating, stomach distension, and difficulty in digesting fatty foods. Most worries about hawthorn’s safety are theoretical, but it can strengthen the effects of digitalis medications, although these are not commonly prescribed in modern medical practice. If you are taking beta-blockers or other drugs for high blood pressure, or if you have very low blood pressure, talk with your doctor or experience natural-care practitioner or herbalist before taking hawthorn. Fun Fact: It has white flowers that look like roses and is considered one of the most beautiful of all the shrubs that flower in the spring.
California Poppy This plant was used by American Indians to help soothe fussy babies. These poppies contain non-narcotic alkaloids that help promote calm and good sleep, as well as helping relax smooth muscle, especially in the uterus and bronchial airways, treating menstrual cramps and spasmodic coughs. Poppy teas, tincture, and other preparations are recommended by herbalists for relieving anxiety, nervousness, stomach and uterine cramps, and bronchial constriction. California poppy promotes healthy sleep and is a mild pain reliever. Health professionals use it to help their patients slowly reduce prescription drug use and withdrawal from addictive substances, as well as to treat children with hyperactive tendencies. Safety concerns are all theoretical. The safety of California poppy during pregnancy has not been studied, but no harmful effects have been noted. Fun Fact: Called “cup of gold” by the Spanish, this herb is powerfully calming and safe for all ages.
Some excellent ads. Lets start top left with the ‘health tonic’ which is clearly a booze delivery system hidden behind snake oil-esque tactics. Prohibition lasted from 1920-1933 in America, so it dates the image back to then. The tonic itself looks a cross between ‘brain & nerve tonic’ that Ken Griffey Jr. drinks during ‘Homer at the Bat’ and has the colour of a ‘flaming Moe Homer’ from ‘Flaming Moe’s’. Top right is an anti-communist poster the has it’s roots in the first ‘red scare’ that occurred between 1917-1920 in America after the
Bolshevik Russian Revolution of 1917. This had many senior American politicians worried about a war with the Russian in the aftermath of WW1, a second similar panic occurred after WW2. Bottom left is an ad from the 50′s, which claims to “fill your q-zone with pure beer goodness”, of course this is nonsense used to increase sales (like debates over probiotics (and others) today). Bottom right is an ad set during a TV debate between Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy, these two battled it out during the 1960 election which was the first to include televised debates. During these debates Nixon struggled, but Kennedy proved hugely popular with audiences thanks to his natural charm, something that helped his winning campaign.
Circulation and blood purification: Cinnamon helps in removing blood impurities. Therefore, it is often recommended for treating acne. Cinnamon also helps in blood circulation due to the blood-thinning compound in it.
Protection from heart disease: The content of calcium and fiber in cinnamon provides protection against heart disease. Including a little cinnamon in the food helps those suffering from coronary artery disease and high blood pressure.
Prevent the growth of cancer cells: Research at the University of Texas showed that cinnamon can reduce the proliferation of cancer cells. Not only that, cinnamon is also one herb that can cure cancer.
Alzheimer’s disease treatment: Researchers at the Cytokines Research Laboratory, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, University of Texas also has developed as one of the cinnamon spice can cure various neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, brain tumors, and meningitis. Research in the same place also shows that cinnamon can reduce chronic inflammation associated with neurological disorders.
Reducing cholesterol levels: Cinnamon can reduce levels of bad cholesterol (LDL). During this time, LDL known to be dangerous to the body because it can cause heart disease, stroke and obesity. By eating cinnamon, you can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Good for diabetes: A study in Maryland, studied the effects of various food substances including cinnamon on blood sugar. They found that the water-soluble polyphenol compound called MHCP that much on cinnamon acts synergistically with insulin and helps in better utilization of insulin. Research has shown that it is very very helpful to patients suffering from type 2 diabetes. Patients with type 2 diabetes can not use insulin properly.
Overcoming indigestion: Cinnamon is very effective for indigestion, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea and flatulence. Because carminative properties, it is very helpful in removing gas from the stomach and intestines. Therefore cinnamon is often referred to as digestive tonic.
Improving brain quality: Research at the Wheeling Jesuit University in the U.S. have shown that cinnamon has the ability to increase brain activity. The research team found that people are provided with cinnamon improve their cognitive activities such as attentional processes, virtual recognition memory, working memory, and visual-motor response speed.
Overweight: Drink a glass of boiled water with honey and cinnamon powder ½ hour every morning before breakfast or when the stomach is empty. When done regularly can reduce weight, even for people who are severely obese, have a drink this concoction regularly will prevent fat accumulation in the body, although still eating high-calorie foods.
Fatigue: A recent study showed that the sugar content in honey is more helpful rather than hurts the body. Research conducted by dr. Milton proved ½ tablespoon honey taken with a glass of water and mixed with cinnamon powder to enhance the vitality of the body.