Anxiety impacts approximately 31.1% of Americans, and stress usually follows. Whether you deal with stress and anxiety daily or once in a while, pharmaceuticals don't have to be your first line of defense. There are natural solutions to managing and reducing stress and anxiety, like herbs.
Stress and anxiety are inevitable. An estimated 31.1% of Americans experience anxiety disorders at some time in their lives (1). Whether you deal with stress and anxiety daily or once in a while, there’s nothing wrong with learning natural ways to reduce stress and anxiety.
But first, what happens to your body when you struggle with stress?
When the body is stressed, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) contributes to what is known as the “fight or flight” response (2). The fight, flight or freeze response is an evolved survival mechanism that protects us from perceived threats (3). Unfortunately, the body can also overreact to everyday stressors, resulting in many of us being stuck in fight-or-flight mode.
Aside from everyday stressors, we sometimes deal with particularly high-stress situations, such as the death of a loved one, long-term emotional abuse, chronic illness, or job loss. The variety of stressors can keep our cortisol levels up all day long, resulting in difficulties calming down after high-stress situations, becoming easily stressed, or even more prone to anxiety.
So, what can we do to support our body and reduce stress and anxiety?
That’s where herbs come into play, and so many amazing herbs can relieve stress and anxiety.
Herbs have been used for centuries in traditional and folk medicine practices. Written records indicate medicinal plants dated back at least 5,000 years to the Sumerians. Archeological studies have shown that the practice of herbal medicine dates as far back as 60,000 years ago in Iraq and 8,000 years ago in China (4).
Oddly, despite herbal remedies being successfully used all this time, the pharmaceutical industry has led many to believe their products are the only way to successfully aid one’s medical journey. More often than not, the side effects from medications leave the patient with more significant concerns than the patient's initial complaint, which, more times than not, leads to additional medicines being added to the patient's daily regimen.
Some of my favorite stress and anxiety-reducing herbs include:
Ashwagandha helps lower cortisol levels and has been used by researchers to regulate chemical signals in the nervous system of animals. One study finding that ashwagandha blocks the stress pathway of rats (5). Researchers didn't stop at animal studies; they also studied humans. They successfully reduced human stress by using ashwagandha in a 60-day study of 64 people with chronic stress. In that study, 69 percent reported reduced stress, anxiety, and insomnia (6). If you’re looking for a supplement with ashwagandha, I highly recommend Earthley’s Cocoa Calm.
To learn more, check out my blog, Benefits of Ashwagandha.
Catnip has a calming and sedative-like effect that may also benefit those struggling with stress and anxiety. Catnip promotes relaxation and can benefit those with chronic stress and anxiety while supporting overall mental health (7). Some herbalists even use catnip to help calm children with hyperactivity (8). If you’re looking for a supplement with catnip, I highly recommend Earthley’s Calm and Clarity.
To learn more, check out my blog, Benefits of Catnip.
Chamomile contains an antioxidant known as apigenin, also found in parsley and oregano (9). Apigenin binds to specific brain receptors and may reverse chronic mild stress, lower stress-induced alterations, and promotes restful sleep (10,11). A study involving postpartum women who drank chamomile tea for two weeks reported better sleep quality and fewer symptoms of depression (often linked with sleeping problems) compared to the group that did not (12). If you’re looking for a supplement with chamomile, I highly recommend Earthley’s Anxiety Relief.
To learn more, check out my blog, Benefits of Chamomile.
Lemon balm is also used to relax and improve mood, aiding symptoms of stress. Researchers have studied the potential of using lemon balm to ease stress-related negative attitudes. Although more research is needed, this seems like a viable pharmaceutical alternative. One study found that participants who took lemon balm experienced decreased negative mood effects. Participants also had a reduction in laboratory-induced psychological stress and an increased sense of calmness (13). If you’re looking for a supplement with lemon balm, I highly recommend Earthley’s CBD Oil (Formula C) or Relax and Renew Oil.
To learn more, check out my blog, Benefits of Lemon Balm.
Spearmint may help promote relaxation. Spearmint alleviates stress because the leaves of this plant contain menthol, which has a relaxing, sedative-like effect on the body. It’s assumed that spearmint encourages relaxation and eases stress by interacting with GABA receptors, the neurotransmitters that reduce nerve activity in your brain (14). In an animal study, spearmint extract reduced anxiety and enhanced sleep quality (15). If you’re looking for a supplement with spearmint, I highly recommend Earthley’s multivitamins Nourish Me Naturally and Nourish Her Naturally.
To learn more, check out my blog, Benefits of Spearmint.
⚠️ Warning: The Holistic Hipppie is not a functional medicine practitioner. The FDA has not evaluated these statements. This content is not medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure, or replace medical guidance. The Holistic Hipppie assumes no liability for the application of the information discussed.