My Top 5 Natural Stress Relief Herbs & Supplements (For Body & Mind)
It’s a word that gets tossed around all the time, resulting in a normalization of something that is, in fact, very dangerous.
Stress has been called the silent killer and in my opinion, having been a former health writer and researcher, it’s actually to blame for most diseases we face today.
UNDERSTANDING THE IMPACT OF STRESS
I recommend watching the documentary Stress: Portrait of a Killer to get your feet wet in understanding the magnitude of stress (you can watch it free here).
Another really great film that shone light on the topic even more for me was a documentary entitled HEAL.
I thought it was so important that I purchased the film for myself and as a gift for loved ones who suffer with what I think may be stress-induced illnesses.
One other thing that comes to mind is a book I read earlier this year called The Deepest Well, Healing The Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity which went into great depth about how stress, particularly in early childhood development, can lead to a whole plethora of illness and poor performance - from asthma to ADHD to complete pauses in growth! This book made me get serious about how I interact with stress, as well as practices I can adopt now to heal past damage.
If you’re reading this still not convinced stress is a big deal, or that’s it’s just “how things are”, I urge you to check out the materials listed above. Do it for your own health and well-being, or for those you love.
Even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms now, stress can cause DNA damage that festers inside of you and rears it’s ugly head years later as disease.
My guess, though, if you’re reading this, is that you do understand the toll stress can take on the body and mind.
Maybe you’re here because you or someone you love has just endured a stressful event or is experiencing prolonged chronic stress. Good! Because we need ways to recover when we experience stress. And this can be difficult in our always on, go go go, do do do, modern world.
CHRONIC STRESS RECOVERY
After experiencing a bout of chronic stress in my own life recently, I ended up diving into some research for natural ways to help my body and mind adapt better and develop more resiliency.
I saw such positive effects that I felt inspired to write an article listing the herbs and supplements that really caused a difference in how I felt - physically and mentally.
My hope is that anyone out there who is struggling finds this article, and that these natural supplements bring lightness and joy back to living.
I’m not a doctor, so please bear in mind this is for informational purposes only. Just because these natural remedies worked for me doesn’t mean they will work for you. I recommend trying new supplements and herbs one at a time, in small doses, to make sure your body doesn’t react in a negative way.
HERBS & SUPPLEMENTS FOR NATURAL STRESS RELIEF
Used medicinally for centuries (and much longer I’m sure), ginseng is a studied and proven medicine for stress-related diseases afflicting the body and mind.
Ginseng regulates immune and hormonal responses to stress, suppresses anxiety and depression caused by stress, and is now being found to prevent and treat diseases with chronic inflammation origins (stress = inflammation).
Here is a really interesting study on ginseng & stress.
Oftentimes, stress can manifest as weight - making us tired, depressed, sluggish, lazy, grief-stricken, and unmotivated. Ginseng is particularly wonderful for treating these symptoms because it restores focus and energy levels (without causing jitters).
Traditional Korean Ginseng really helped take my mood from irritable and edgy to relaxed and focused, despite the stress I was enduring.
B-complex is part of my daily supplement regimen and has been for many years. As someone who used to suffer with terrible anxiety and depression, researching natural ways to improve mental health was at the top of my to-do list for a long time. To this day, I still believe a large part of the mental stability I enjoy now is from daily Vitamin D & B-Complex supplementation.
But not just any B-Complex!
It’s important to find a coenzymated, methylated form of the B-Vitamins and to stay away from Folic Acid (an inferior form of folate —and now thought to be dangerous to health despite being recommended to pregnant women for decades).
The B-Complex that has worked for me since 2013 is this Coenzymated & Methylated B-Complex by Emerald Labs. This supplement does so much for the body at a cellular level, but in regards to stress - it’s vital for energy production and healthy stress response.
My only word of caution is this: if you are prone to anxiety or nervousness, start slow. Maybe half a capsule every two days to begin with. If you experience a racing heart (like I did when I first started this supplement), that can be an indication of low potassium levels. Ease into it, talk with a doctor or naturopath who is up to date on the latest health findings and natural treatments.
Holy Basil is one of the most powerful adaptogenic plants. Adaptogens help you adapt to a multitude of stressors.
Indian scriptures dating back 5,000 years or more repeatedly mention Holy Basil as the most life-enhancing herb.
Because of the delicious and nourishing aroma of Holy Basil, I like to enjoy it as a beverage rather than a capsule.
You can enjoy several hot cups of tea a day during particularly stressful times or, what I find to be most therapeutic, make an infusion.
Infusions are simply steeping the herbs for longer periods of time to better extract the medicinal properties. Studies show that 4-8 hours is a significant amount of time to steep the herbs.
For infusions, it’s best to purchase the tea leaves in bulk.
To make an herbal infusion, I simply bring a large pot of filtered water to a boil. Then, in a quart-sized glass jar, I add several tablespoons of the herb(s), then pour the hot water over to fill the jar. Make sure to put a metal utensil in the jar before pouring to absorb heat so as not to crack or break the jar. I let this sit until it’s cooled down, then put the lid on, and sit out of the way for several more hours to steep. Enjoy this potent medicine 4-8 hours later.
Pro tip: I make herbal infusions as part of my morning ritual. You can make as many quarts as you want, using whatever variety of herbs you choose. This way, by early afternoon I can begin enjoying them all the way into evening.
As I just mentioned, this (along with a Methylated B-Complex) supplement is one that I started taking years ago and has helped my overall health so much, but especially my mental health.
Vitamin D is actually a hormone, and it is responsible for regulating over 3,000 genes in the human body!
One of the wonderful benefits of Vitamin D is that it helps the body deal with stress, on a cellular level and —what might be most important to you right now— an emotional/mental level. Here’s a great study on the subject.
Supplementing with Vitamin D3 alone might not be a good idea. It’s been discovered that another vitamin - Vitamin K2 - has a very important symbiotic relationship with Vitamin D3.
First, you need to understand that Vitamin D3 increases Calcium absorption.
Without K2, Vitamin D supplementation can cause calcium to get lodged in soft tissue rather than in the skeletal system where it’s needed. Calcium in soft tissue is not good, resulting in cysts (which can grow into tumors), bone spurs, and disease.
K2 acts as a traffic director, if you will, ensuring that the calcium is distributed to the skeleton and not soft tissues.
I don’t recommend taking Vitamin D3 without K2, and I’ve had great results from this specific formula.
Rhodiola is a powerful plant ally that has been used to treat depression, fatigue, and anxiety throughout Russia and Scandinavia for centuries.
Numerous studies point to Rhodiola’s extreme benefits for stress. Personally, I noticed it’s effects within two days. In this study, stress-induced fatigue, anxiety, and exhaustion improved in just three days and continued to improve thereafter.
Helping to balance neurotransmitters in the brain, Rhodiola is also helpful for alleviating symptoms of depression.
There’s also a marked impact on mental focus and physical energy levels.
I really recommend this herb as part of your natural stress relief medicine cabinet.
Update: Surprise, I’m adding a 6th! I’ve realized that this next remedy is also crucia for stress relief (and serious good health!):
I can’t believe I forgot to add Frankincense to this list.
Not just any frankincense, it needs to be therapeutic grade which I trust doTerra to provide.
The new studies coming out about frankincense are seriously amazing - shrinking tumors, promoting overall improved cellular function throughout the body, relieving aches and pains in a noticeable way, and improving psychology - namely relaxing and easing stress when used internally, topically, or as aromatherapy.
Sidenote: I think it smells amazing, and my husband loves it, so I use this essential oil on my wrists and neck as perfume. Medicinal perfume. How can you go wrong?!
Do you have experience with a particular herb or vitamin that really helped bring stability back to your life? If so, please leave it in the comments below for everyone who reads this to benefit from.
Thanks so much for reading and may we all experience lightness and joy in life.
Until next time ~
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