Most of us feel anxious or depressed at times. Losing a loved one, getting fired from a job, going through a divorce, and other difficult situations can lead a person to feel sad, lonely, scared, nervous, or anxious. These feelings are normal reactions to life’s stressors. Some people experience these feelings daily or nearly daily for no apparent reason, making it difficult to carry on with normal, everyday functioning. These people may have an anxiety disorder, depression, or both. This month in the WON Scoop I will be discussing many herbs that can help someone cope with stress, anxiety and depression.
Holy Basil: Holy Basil is a great herb to take for stress. Holy Basil is an adaptogen. Adaptogens are herbs that increase both physical and psychological resilience to stress. They have the capacity to increase physical and emotional endurance thus increasing your resilience to all stressors. Adaptogens do not alter mood directly, instead they support overall health by helping the body achieve a state of balance known as homeostasis. Holy Basil and other adaptogens calm and energize at the same time. When you are stressed your body accumulates the stress hormone cortisol. When you constantly have increased cortisol levels it is dangerous to your health and contributes to anxiety, mood swings, forgetfulness, insomnia, weight gain, and worn out adrenal glands. Holy Basil can lower levels of cortisol. Lowered levels of cortisol are associated with improved mental clarity and memory, and can reduce the risk of age-related mental disorders. Holy Basil improves memory and cognition, anxiety and depression, insomnia, migraine headaches, headaches, and Alzheimer’s disease. You can find Holy Basil in our bulk section, in capsules, in a tincture, tea, as an essential oil and we now sell Organic, non-GMO Holy Basil seeds (Sacred Basil).
Turmeric: Turmeric is an amazing adaptogen herb that has many health benefits including the ability to reduce stress related depression symptoms. Turmeric contains Curcumin, which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation plays a major role in depression. Chronic inflammation has been shown to influence almost every pathway involved in the development of depression, including neurotransmitter metabolism. Scientists believe that curcumin’s anti-inflammatory mechanisms contribute to its antidepressant activity. Curcumin also helps combat depression by increasing levels of “feel good” neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. You can find Turmeric in our bulk section, in capsules, blends, in powders, as a tea and in a tincture.
Passionflower: Passionflower is also an adaptogen and can provide relief from problems like nervousness and insomnia. It helps you mellow out by boosting the brain’s levels of a chemical called GABA. GABA is the main neurotransmitter in your brain that inhibits nerve transmission and calms nerve activity. GABA normalizes brain waves and brings the nervous system back to a calmer and more stable state to meet the challenges coming at you in life. Passionflower is effective in relieving anxiety, insomnia, and related nervous disorders. Although, Passionflower is great for calming nerves, you should be aware that it should be used in moderation. Long-term use is not recommended as it can depress the nervous system, which may result in fatigue and mental fogginess. Start with a low dose several times a day and increase as you learn how you respond to passionflower. If you begin to feel tired or foggy go off of it for a few weeks before you begin again. You can find Passionflower in our bulk section, in capsules, in several blends and in a tincture.
Lavender: Lavender flower and its extracts have been used for centuries as a treatment for anxiety and depression. It can be taken internally as a tea or a tincture. Lavender essential oil can be massaged into the skin or put in a diffuser and used as aromatherapy. The smell receptors in your nose communicate with parts of your brain that serve as storehouses for emotions and memories. When you breathe in essential oils they stimulate your brain and influence physical, emotional, and mental health. Scientists believe lavender stimulates the activity of brain cells in the amygdala, similar to the way some sedative medications work. Lavender helps with restlessness, nervousness and insomnia. It eases symptoms of depression and helps people who suffer from agitation related to dementia. You can find lavender in our bulk section, in a tincture and as an essential oil.
Lemon Balm: Lemon Balm is a memory boosting, anti-anxiety, cognitive enhancer that is also known as Melissa officinalis. Lemon Balm is a calming herb that is used to treat stress and anxiety, promote sleep, improve appetite, and ease pain and discomfort. Lemon Balm is able to improve processing speed and memory by increasing GABA activity in the brain. GABA helps ensure that we are not overly stressed and plays a role in sleep cycles. Increasing the stimulation of GABA receptors will produce a sedative or calming effect and explains why Lemon Balm works as an anti-anxiety supplement. Terpenes, parts of the volatile oil that gives lemon balm its distinctive smell, are also responsible for its efficacy as a sleep aid and sedative. Lemon balm tincture is especially potent in treating insomnia. Lemon balm can improve cognitive function and decrease agitation in Alzheimer’s patients. Lemon balm extracts bind directly to specific receptors in the brain that make it an effective and safe treatment for dementia. You can find Lemon Balm in our bulk section, in capsules, and in a tincture.
Rhodiola Rosea: Rhodiola Rosea is used to promote good health, strength, endurance and physical and mental performance. Rhodiola Rosea is used to treat a wide range of conditions, such as stress, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and cognitive impairment. Rhodiola increases the synthesis of serotonin, known as the happy hormone. It enhances the production of dopamine, which is associated with positive moods, motivation and concentration as well as optimal central nervous and peripheral nervous system function. Individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease are believed to have impaired dopamine neurons in the brain. Rhodiola rosea helps to reduce levels of cortisol when you are stressed. Rhodiola rosea is considered an adaptogen, helping a person to adapt to both physical and mental stress, while improving energy, endurance and stamina. Rhodiola rosea increases mental clarity, uplifts your mood and decreases mental fatigue. You can find Rhodiola rosea in our bulk section, in capsules, and in a tincture.
Skullcap: Skullcap has long been used for mental disorders. It has also been used to treat epilepsy, insomnia, fever and withdrawal from various drug addictions including alcohol. It can be taken to treat nervous headaches, neuralgia and pain. Skullcap also acts as a sedative and is found in many sleep teas. Skullcap is useful for anxiety of all sorts, particularly for hormonal mood swings associated with PMS and menopause. Drinking a strong cup of Skullcap tea will have a striking calming effect on the mind of agitated individuals. Skullcap is the remedy for people who experience anxiety along with restlessness, muscle tension, and jaw clenching. If you tend to toss and turn in bed, or if you feel like you can only relax when you’re out walking (sitting makes you want to jump out of your skin), or if you feel like “climbing the walls” when you’re stuck inside during a bout of anxiety, skullcap can help you unwind and reduce muscular tension and restlessness. You can find Skullcap in our bulk section, in capsules and in a tincture.
Ashwaganda: Ashwaganda is found to be very effective at calming anxiety. It is specifically helpful for someone with agoraphobia (anxiety in open or crowded places). Ashwaganda’s best use may be for someone with a chronic stressful life or physical and emotional fatigue. Ashwaganda lowers levels of cortisol. Having high levels of cortisol causes insomnia, feelings of stress, weakens the immune system, causes us to feel more anxious and depressed. Simply by lowering our cortisol levels, Ashwaganda is able to have a positive impact on stress, anxiety, sleep and depression. It increases mental alertness, focus and concentration. It relieves nervous tension and anxiety, invigorates the body, and decreases inflammation and balances or levels mood swings. You can find Ashwaganda in our bulk section, in capsules, and in a tincture.