“Take your seat on the shore. Listen to the ancient voice in the waves. Taste the salt of life on your tongue. Run your fingers through the eternal sand. Breathe deeply. If you find yourself worrying about your cell phone and emails, if you find yourself feeling guilty that you should be doing “something important,” breathe deeply again. And again. Breathe deeply until every fabric of your being is reminded that this, being here, is your top priority. This is peace. This is wisdom. The work is a means to living, but this is the living.”
– Brian Vaszily
With more than one-third of the American population suffering from stress, it has become a major health concern for people all around the world as well, with ever-increasing dependence on medical drugs. Induced from work, health and family related issues, recurring or constant high levels of stress can aggravate the risks of breast cancer, insomnia, low immunity, heart stroke, obesity, high blood pressure, muscle pain, loss of memory, gastrointestinal diseases and skin problems. With nature’s gift as herbs, it is possible to combat stress with their healing properties.
Also known as the Indian Ginseng, Ashwagandha has been used by ancient Native Americans traditionally to strengthen the nervous system and protect against infections due to its high antioxidants’ content such as Superoxide dismutase and Glutathione peroxidase. This makes it an effective anti-stress remedy to regulate cardiovascular activities, boost memory and reduce stress. It improves the supply of oxygen in the blood and provides mental peace. Ashwagandha is a very safe herb and can be consumed daily in the form of supplements that are widely available at all Ayurvedic and drug stores. It is also a natural aphrodisiac.
Popularly known as Peppermint, it is widely used as tea to soothe and relax the mind. It benefits those suffering from ailments such as insomnia, digestive disorders and diabetes that are notoriously aggravated by stress. In Ancient Egypt, chamomile flowers were used to heal wounds, treat skin inflammations like eczema and psoriasis, fight cold and menstrual cramps.
This herb is making a breakthrough in the medical world as a super drug to fight stress since it was discovered to be a mental and physical capacity boosting herb. It is a powerful antioxidant that is popularly used in Russia where it is commonly used for improving physical performance and adrenal restoration. It is an excellent anti-stress herb for athletes and defense personnel who are sleep-deprived and in need greater physical stamina and energy. It can also be used for weight loss. However, it must be consumed only with prior consultation with your physician as its side-effects include heightened sensitivity and feelings of anxiety. It is very important to take correct dosage from a trusted brand. Also, this herb is not suitable for anyone suffering from kidney or liver diseases.
A South-Pacific herb, Kava Kava’s root was used for many years as a cure for anxiety and stress due to its sedative properties. Au courant, this intoxicating pepper can be taken in the form of capsules or spray. Its long term effects have been reported to be restfulness, muscle relaxation, heightened mental clarity and patience lasting from 8 hours to 2 days from ingestion. Its styrylpyrones can cause a mild euphoric effect. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises against the over consumption of this herb as it may give a skin rash or liver infection from prolonged use.
Research proves that passion-flower (Passiflora incarnata) is an effective alternative to deal with stress related problems as it does not induce high levels of drowsiness as registered in the case of drugs. The flavonoids in the herb are ideal for those with a tendency to have erratic heartbeats when dealing with stressful situations as passion-flower provides quick relaxation.
It is a traditional Chinese herb abundant with antioxidants that fight free radicals and keeps stress at bay. Its antibacterial properties help build immunity towards common cold, influenza, respiratory problems, allergies, chronic fatigue and low blood pressure. It also protects the liver and heart. It is one of the safest herbal stress relievers. Astragalus can be applied topically, consumed in the form of pills or injected.
Stress leads to many chronic diseases. It is important to control them through safe alternatives instead of drugs. However, some people may be allergic to plant extracts of herbs. When combined with other medications, they may also exaggerate their efficacy. It is advisable to consume them in recommended quantities with your physician’s advice especially if you are a pregnant woman, lactating mother, or under 18 years old as long term effects of some herbal stress relievers may be unknown.