Herbs for Reducing Stress and Anxiety
From Herbs for Reducing Stress and Anxiety
By: Rosemary Gladstar.
STRESS IN THE MODERN WORLD
Svevo Brooks, author of The Art of Good Living, pinned down one of the Western world's largest problems when he observed, As the pace of life quickens, we more deeply need calm, uninterrupted moments for the renewal they impart to our spirit. Leisurely walks, afternoon naps, the opportunity to stop and inhale the fragrance of a flower... these small interludes, once commonplace, are increasingly rare. Taking time for ourselves can do wonders for this most modern of problems.
Using Natural Therapies
The approach presented here is to provide tried-and-true ways to strengthen and buld a healthy nervous system using natural therapies. Holistic treatments can be used in conjunction with conventional allopathic treatments to augment healing at all levels of life: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. In the great circle of holistic healing, all systems are part of the whole and should be used when appropriate.
The healthier the nervous system is, the better equipped to provide sensory input and motor response that facilitate optimum quality in our lives. Herbs and natual therapies play a vital role in the health and well-being of the nervous system. Not only are herbs full of concentrated nutrients that are important both nutritionally and medicinally, but herbs also form a direct link with intuition and higher intelligence. Far more than just "green matter", herbs have an inherent ability to channel life energy and to connect with those places in us that are "disconnected" and in need of healing. Herbs contain chemicals that have no apparent function for the life processes of the plant. However, thse very chemicals have a direct and positive influence on the human body. Is there some devine plan at work here? Perhaps it is true that humankind's oldest system of medicine offers a form of healing that transcends the physical and connects us directly with a higher consciousness.
Reaping the Benefits
There are numerous physical ways that herbs benefit the nervous system. Because they serve as a source of energy and vitality for the entire body, herbs benefit the whole body while caring for the nervous system. Drinking a warm cup of chamomile tea after a long day at work is certainly a simple and rewarding way to relax the entire body. Immersing oneself in a warming, soothing bath in times of stress can be quite sustaining. Using herbs over an extended period of time for chronic stress problems can have long-term benefits. There are many excellent herbs and herbal formulas to use for relieving stress, anxiety, and mental tension.
Though herbs are not as effective as orthodox medicine in dealing with acute pain, they can help relieve and soothe the pain through toning and nourishing the affected areas. Using herbs on a routine basis is a wonderful way to maintain a healthy, strong nervous system. In this way, herbs serve as preventive "medicine" -- truly the best medicine of all.
Be Familiar with Nervine Categories
The following categories are helpful in defining the action of herbs in the nervous system (NS). There is great overlap among these categories, but grouping the herbs gives some definition ofhow and what the herbs are doing in the body. Most herbal nervines do not manipulate life energy, but rather work in harmony with it. Those herbs strong enough to change energy patterns through manipulation are often the plant substances synthesized by drug companies and more are not legally available without prescription.
NERVE TONICS: Herbs that feed, tone rehabilitate, and strengthen the nervous system are called nerve tonics. Examples of nerve-tonic herbs are oatstraw, skullcap, wood betony, chamomile, valerian, hops, and lemon balm.
NERVE SEDATIVES: These herbs directly relax the nervous system and help reduce pain, ease tension, and encourage sleep. Unline allopathic drugs, they do not accomplish this by deadening nerve endings, but rather by gentle action that soothes and nourishes the peripheral nerves and muscle tissue. Nerve sedatives include: California poppy, passionflower, St. John's Wort; catnip, valerian, lemon balm, hops, lovelia, skullcap, and cramp bark. Also included with the nerve sedatives are the antispasmodic herbs that help relieve muscle spasms and cramping.
NERVINE STIMULANTS: It is not often that stimulants, as we usually think of them, are recommended for NS disorders. When you are stressed, depressed, and worn out, the last thing you need is to have your system roused with caffeine-rich foods, sugar or drugs -- all common "remedies" for the blues. Instead, mild herbs that gently and surely nourish and spark the system are appropriate; they activate the nerve endings by increasing circulation, providing nutrients, and increasing vitality and zest. They neither provoke the system nor agitate it. Try lemon balm, peppermint, ginkgo, gotu kola, spearmint, wintergreen, cayenne, ginger, bee pollen, elcutherococcus, (Siberian) ginseng, spirulina, rosemary, and sage if you need a stimulant.