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Herbs for Stress

January 04, 2018

We all experience it… Stress. But have you found a solution that actually works?

There are many, and some of the most effective ones happen to be herbs.

I want you to consider looking at how you ‘handle’ stress. Consider that you CAN alleviate the ‘in-the-moment’ stress quickly AND also build up your own resiliency towards stress over time.


[ri-zil-yuh ns, -zil-ee-uh ns]
1. the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity.
2. ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.

It’s like becoming thicker skinned when it comes to stress affecting you. Over time your reaction to your common stressors lessen and things don’t ‘bother’ you as much as they used to.

This IS possible and adaptogenic and nervine herbs are the key.

Types of Herbs for Stress

When using herbs for stress you need to focus on a couple of categories of herbs – adaptogens and nervines

Adaptogens are herbs for bringing health to the entire body. They work by supporting various systems of the body, helping to strengthen, tonify, and improve overall health. There are many different adaptogens, many specific for stress, immunity and well-being. Adaptogens are safe and can be taken long term for both an immediate and accumulative effect within the body.

Nervines are a category of herbs that have a direct effect on the nervous system. They can affect your mood and state of stress in the moment, but they also help to support and strengthen the nervous system. Nervines range in strength and many can be taken daily long term. However the more sedating ones should be used on an as needed basis.

How To Use Herbs for Stress

The key to realizing the true potential of using herbs for stress is to use them on a daily basis, long term. That is one of the reasons I focus on using adaptogens and nervines that are safe for daily use and have an accumulative effect.

Over time you will notice you feel better, happier and the things that used to set you off or make you super stressed no longer have the same power over you.

Yes, herbs can do this! Now you can see why I am so excited about this topic 

Consistency is also important. These types of herbs work best when they are continuously in your system, so taking your herbs multiple times a day will have the best results.

I personally think liquid herbal extracts are the best delivery system for herbs. The active components are extracted out of the plant into a super concentrated liquid. When you take liquid herbal extracts, the components are absorbed directly into your bloodstream within minutes, bypassing the liver and digestive tract, bringing you relief and results much more quickly. Liquid extracts are also easy and convenient to take with some juice or water.

Herbs for Stress A-Z

You can learn about these herbs in much more detail through their links, but here is a quick reference for the top herbs for stress.

Ashwaghanda (Withania somnifera)

The queen of the adaptogens. Ashwaghanda is such a wonderful herb. The root is a calming adaptogen that is very effective for combating stress. One of the only calming adaptogens, ashwaghanda is very useful for overcoming stress, anxiety and provides general support to the endocrine, immune and nervous systems.

Eluthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus)

Eluthero is a multifaceted adaptogen that works as an adrenal tonic, supports the immune system, and increases endurance and stamina. Many athletes use this root to aid in recovery and prevent immune system depletion from excessive training. Studies have shown with the use of Eluthero participants experienced improved cognitive function when under stress or working long hours. Eluthero can also enhance the quality of sleep (but do not take it before bed). 

Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum)

Holy basil, also known as Tulsi, is a fun herb to take. You can feel the grounding effect right away. It has been shown to encourage normal cortisol and blood sugar levels – both essential for having energy and feeling happy. It also has the ability to lower the stress-induced release of adrenal hormones. 

Kava (Piper methysticum)

Kava is one of those herbs that you never forget after using it only once. The second Kava touches your mouth, you will feel a numbness travel down your throat. A calm then follows and descends throughout your body. Kava works as a muscle relaxant and calmative. It is not an adaptogen, but is very useful in stressful moments and for freakouts. It is a top choice for those experiencing anxiety.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

Also known as Sweet Melissa (it smells as good as it sounds), lemon balm is a wonderful nervine. Calming to the nervous system, lemon balm is also antiviral – supporting to the immune system.

Linden (Tillia platyphyllos)

Linden flowers come from a beautiful, fragrant tree. They have a calming affect on the body similar to chamomile, but not as sedating. Linden works as a nervine helping to calm down the nervous system well supporting and making it more resilient.

Milky Oat Tops (Avena sativa)

One of the most popular nervines in the herbal world, Milk Oat Tops are picked at the height of the season when the tops of the wild oat plants are ‘blooming’. This creamy elixir has a long term nutritive and calming affect on the nervous system, helping you to naturally not be as affected by daily stressors.

Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)

Wanna take the edge off? Feeling strong emotions like anger, frustration, exhaustion or sadness. Try Motherwort. This gorgeous plant takes the edge off. Calming to the nervous system and supportive of the heart, Motherwort also works longterm towards building a more resilient nervous system as well. This herb is a little bit bitter, but well worth it.

Passionflower (passiflora incarnata)

Considered a nervine and hypnotic, passionflower is the most sedating of all nervines. It is helpful for those who have trouble transitioning into restful sleep due to circular thinking – you know, the brain that goes on and on at night while you are trying to sleep. It is also helpful for stress induced headaches. It also contains properties that may help to lower blood pressure.

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)

Reishi is one of my favorite adaptogens. It nourishes the spirit (Shen in Chinese). Imbalances in Shen are experienced as anxiety, insomnia, bad dreams, moodiness and poor memory. It strengthens the immune system and can reduce allergies. Reishies adaptogenic benefits are accumulative, but it has been shown to improve adrenocortial function – helping to reduce stress.

Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)

Rhodiola provides many benefits for the nervous system. It is one of the main herbs I work with in my formulas. Rhodiola has been shown to aid with not only stress but also the immune system, memory, enhance alertness, reduce fatigue ,  and uplift mood. All without being overly stimulating.

SchizandraSchizandra (Schisandra chinensis)

If any herb was considered a workholic, it would be Schizandra. This herb supports the immune, nervous, and endocrine systems. It is mildly stimulating to the nervous system while also calming the nervous system and releiving anxiety. Schizandra helps to support the part of the immune system that is most affected by stress and anxiety.

Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)

Skullcap works to soothe and renew the nervous system. It helps with states of exhaustion and is very useful for ‘busy mind’ syndrome and PMS. Skullcap may also be useful for those who find it difficult to fall asleep due to restlessness caused by pain or those who have nightmares.

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

Popular for its many medicinal qualities, St. John’s Wort has a sedating and calming affect on the nervous system making it helpful for anxiety, tension and irritability.

Along with mind body therapies such as meditation and deep breathing, herbs are one of the most effective tools available to help overcome the negative effects of stress and to build a stronger resiliency so that the normal, everyday stress no longer affects you as much.


Hoffmann, David. Medical Herbalism, 2003
Winston, David. Adaptogens, 2007