Stress Busters

Today we women do it all—yes, you men also ‘do it all’—that’s just the way the world is today; keeping us constantly busy! We work, parent, shop, cook, clean, and most of all, we get stressed! Most adults know that we are supposed to find the time to take care of ourselves, but that doesn’t always happen. We know we need to sleep, eat healthy food, drink water and exercise, but we usually find it difficult to include these necessities into our busy schedules.

Many countries have a rest period—a ‘siesta’ or a ‘tea-time’ in the middle of their work days. Imagine if we had the custom to stop the busy flow of our day and sit down to a relaxing cup of tea. Imagine if that cup of tea was filled with calming medicinal herbs. What would happen? Wouldn’t we all become calmer, or feel less stressed? The answer is emphatically yes!

When I first studied herbal medicine, ‘tea-time’ is what my teacher believed everyone should do at least once a day. She taught us that certain herbal teas could help counter the terrible side-effects of chronic stress such as high blood pressure, headaches and digestive disorders. She spent a lot of time teaching us how to make wonderfully relaxing herbal blends. In my first few months of practice, I believed I could convince my clients of the need for this ‘tea-time’ ritual, but since most of my clients were habitually busy, running from one activity to the next, ‘tea-time’ was not going to happen for them in the foreseeable future. Most of my clients didn’t even have time to wait for the water to boil, let alone have time to steep the tea. So I re-evaluated what I had learned and began offering a ‘quicker’ solution for my clients—I taught them about ‘tinctured herbs.’ Tinctured herbs are herbs that have been steeped in grain alcohol, in order to capture and preserve their medicinal qualities within a liquid form that is both potent and easy to take. All one has to do is put 25-35 drops into a small cup of water or juice and drink it—the alcohol has no effect. An herbal tincture or mix could be kept in a small bag or purse and taken while driving the carpool, before a big business meeting, as you run out of the house, as you are preparing dinner, or anytime you are feeling stressed. And the good news is that the entire process takes only about 30 seconds.

There are many soothing and calming ‘anti-stress’ herbs; so each person will require a different herb, or different herbal combination, depending on the source of their individual stress. Some people need only a single herb to help ease the negative effects of stress, while others find that combining all of the herbs listed below makes them feel their best, and here they are:

  • Motherwort is my all-time favorite herb to help stabilize moodiness. This is an herb that can be felt within twenty minutes after taking it. It is an herb that can be used by women of all ages and stages of their lives. Motherwort is wonderful for taking that ‘edge off’ of your feelings and is helpful if you suddenly feel as if that ‘black-cloud’ is descending. It can be used prophylactically if you know you will be encountering a difficult time.
  • Skullcap is for nervous tension and also helpful with anxiety. Skullcap, like motherwort is an herb you will begin to feel working within twenty minutes of ingestion. It is best used before an intimidating experience, like a business meeting you have been anticipating for weeks, or right before it is time to put your children to bed. Skullcap can be taken over a long period of time, or as needed in the moment.
  • Mimosa bark is purported to bring ‘joy to a person’s heart’. In Italy it was customary to bring the one you loved a bouquet of mimosa flowers. So, in a similar vein, why not treat yourself with the special present of mimosa bark if you are just feeling sad, moody and unloved. Mimosa bark can be used occasionally as needed.
  • Fresh milky oats is a wonderful herb if you have been through long-term stress. Oats can help with frazzled nerves. This herb is best taken three times a day over a long period of time. This is not an herb whose affects you will feel right away. Think of fresh milky oats as a massage for your central nervous system.
  • Eleuthero is an herb called an adaptogen. Simply stated, adaptogens are a family of herbs that heal the entire body. Eleuthero is especially useful for type-A personalities who work too hard and become ‘burned-out.’ This herb will help balance one’s adrenal glands. Eleuthero is best taken three times a day for a long period of time to feel its effects.

While it is always best to work with an herbalist who can take your history, understand your personal needs and create a personal blend, the herbs that I have listed are safe and can be experimented with freely. Most of these herbs combine with most conventional drugs, but it is best to check with an AHG herbalist if you are not sure.