There’s nothing like the smell of fresh lavender, especially when you’re stressed out. In this article I share 3 common herbs for stress. Enjoy!
There’s a lot of simple things you can do to help relieve stress and utilizing the medicinal properties of herbs is one of them.
Lavender (Lavendula spp.)
Lavender is one of my main go-to herbs to help me relax. It’s known worldwide as an herbal “rescue-remedy” for reducing stress, anxiety and tension.
Its strong, relaxation-inducing scent is used in massage therapy lotions, candles, bath salts, tinctures and essential oils.
As one of the few essential oils that can be applied directly to the skin, a dab of lavender on the inside of your wrist can help soothe a stressful moment.
Lavender is also used in teas, often paired with chamomile. If you aren’t a tea-drinker, dried lavender can be added to a sachet and placed beneath your pillow to help induce sleep.
Holy Basil (Ocimum Sanctum)
Holy basil, with its astringent taste and powerful aroma, is not the sweet basil you use to season marinara sauce.
Cultivated in the Southeast Asian tropics, holy basil has long been considered sacred in India where it is still used in worship services.
For centuries, holy basil has been used in Ayurvedic therapies to treat a wide range of ailments including respiratory conditions, skin conditions, inflammation, microbial conditions, infertility, and psychological distress.
Modern scientific research is now demonstrating its beneficial effects. Evidence suggests that it offers protective benefits against physical, environmental chemical, metabolic, and psychological stress.
Researchers are interested in the active ingredients that can be derived from the flowers, stems, leaves, seeds, and roots and used for medicinal purposes.
The active ingredients in Holy Basil have been found to have “adaptogenic effects,” which means it helps the body better manage the physiological response to stress.
Studies also show it helps reduce inflammation and keep blood glucose levels in balance. There also is evidence to support using holy basil as an antimicrobial agent in hand sanitizer and mouthwash.
There are several methods of application for holy basil including a dried powder, a capsule containing the concentrated herb extract, tea, or a tincture.
And your Naturopathic physician may advise using a specific amount and a specific type of application based on your individual health concerns.
For your safety it’s important to note that Holy Basil interferes with several pharmaceuticals including these common anti-coagulant medications: Coumadin (warfarin), Heparin, Aspirin, Plavix (clopidogrel), Fragmin (dalteparin), Lovenox (enoxaparin), and Ticlid (ticlopidine).
Due to this, you should consult with your Naturopathic physician before taking a Holy Basil supplement.
Wild oat (Avena sativa)
Wild oat is far more than a common breakfast cereal or baking staple. Oats are members of special medicinal herb group called nervines.
For more than 150 years, traditional medicine practitioners have used nervines, such as Wild Oat, to lower anxiety, reduce stress, support healthy sleep, enhance cognitive function, and settle digestive stress.
Wild Oat is a slow acting remedy that helps calm the nerves, bring relief to emotional instability, and restore a sense of tranquility.
It has been a part of holistic treatment for Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome, PMS, panic attacks, anxiety, and for people who are persistently “on edge.”
Commonly used in tincture form, Wild Oat extract is a safe, gentle way to support nervous system health and restoration without the drowsiness associated with sedatives.
It can also be prepared as an herbal infusion for tea. Preparation involves steeping it in hot water until the beverage has cooled to room temperature before drinking.
And that’s it… Lavender, Holy Basil and Wild Oat — these 3 common herbs can help you deal with stress. I’m feeling stressed and I have some lavender plants in my yard. So I’m going out back to dip my face in it. Cheers.
Mars, B. & Fiedler, C., The Home Reference to Holistic Health and Healing. AppendixA: Lavender. (2015) 191. Fair Winds Press: Boston, MA.
Curtis, S. Essential Oils. (2014) 82-83. Winter Press: London.
University of Maryland Medical Center Complementary and Alternative Medicine Guide Onlien. “Lavender.” Accessed April 7, 2017: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/lavender
Ernst E., The Desktop Guide to Complementary and Alternative Medicine: An Evidence-Based Approach. (2001) 130-132. Edinburgh: Mosby.
Howard S, Hughes BM. “Expectancies, not aroma, explain impact of lavender aromatherapy on psychophysiological indices of relaxation in young healthy women. “Br J Health Psychol. (2008 Nov 13. Pt 4):603-17.
Williams TI. “Evaluating effects of aromatherapy massage on sleep in children with autism: a pilot study.” Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2006;3(3):373-7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16951722
Koulivand, Peir Hossein, Maryam Khaleghi Ghadiri, and Ali Gorji. “Lavender and the Nervous System.” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM 2013 (2013): 681304. PMC. Accessed: 7 Apr. 2017: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3612440/
Levy, Susan E., and Susan L. Hyman. “‘Complementary and Alternative Medicine Treatments for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.’” Child and adolescent psychiatric clinics of North America 17.4 (2008): 803–ix. Accessed 7 Apr. 2017: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2597185/
Bennett, Robin Rose. (2014). The Gift of Healing Herbs. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books.
Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press. (p. 532,
Duke, James. A. (2002). Handbook of Medicinal Herbs (2nd Ed). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. (p. 534)
D. Wheatley (2005) Medicinal plants for insomnia: a review of their pharmacology, efficacy and tolerability. J Psychopharmacol, Volume 19, Pages 414-421.
Murray, M. “Insomnia” as cited in Pizzorno, Joseph E. (2013). Textbook of Natural Medicine. St. Louis, MO Elsevier. (chapter 182).
Zick, Suzanna M et al. “Preliminary Examination of the Efficacy and Safety of a Standardized Chamomile Extract for Chronic Primary Insomnia: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Pilot Study.” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 11 (2011): 78. PMC. Web. 13 Oct. 2015.
Cohen, MM. “Tulsi – Ocimum Sanctum: A Herb for All Reasons.” Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine 5, no. 4 (2014): 251-9. doi: 10.4103/0975-9476.146554
Duke, J.A. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs (2nd ed.). Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press: 2002.
Prakash, P., and N. Gupta. “Therapeutic Uses of Ocimum Sanctum Linn (Tulsi) with a Note on Eugenol and Its Pharmacological Actions: A Short Review.” Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology 49, no. 2 (2004): 125-131.
Sumit, B., and A. Geetika. “Therapeutic Benefits of Holy Basil (Tulsi) in General and Oral Medicine: A Review.” International Journal of Research in Ayurveda and Pharmacy 3, no. 6 (December 2012): 761-764.
Winston, D. “Nervines: Complementary Herbs for Adaptogens.” Accessed 2 Nov 2017: https://www.herbaltherapeutics.net/_media/nervines.pdf (Main Site: https://www.herbaltherapeutics.net)
Red Root Mountain School of Botanical Medicine. Accessed 2 Nov 2017: http://www.redrootmountain.com/relieving-stress-part-i-nervine-tonics-for-a-new-year/277
Kennedy, D.O., Jackson, P.A., et al., “Acute effects of a wild green-oat (Avena sativa) extract on cognitive function in middle-aged adults: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, within-subjects trial.” Nutri Neurosci (2017) 20:2. Accessed 2 Nov 2017: http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080%2F1028415X.2015.1101304