Five medicinal plants with stress-relieving benefits
When left unmanaged, prolonged stress can impact our productivity and emotional wellbeing, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and fatigued.
Stress triggers the body to produce higher levels of cortisol and adrenaline, both of which can affect mental health, sleeping patterns, and can contribute to an increased risk of serious health complications.
According to Dr Irshaad Ebrahim, co-founder of The London Sleep Centre and consultant neuropsychiatrist, when our internal neuro-chemical systems are working normally, they regulate biological processes like sleep, appetite, mood and energy levels. If we are stressed, the adreno-cortical system is dysregulated, and our energy sources are diverted.
There are a number of ways we can manage stress through lifestyle changes; from doing regular exercise to meditating or structuring our day differently, but if you’re looking for alternatives to prescribed medicines, these five herbs and supplements have their own unique stress-relieving benefits.
Ashwagandha has been shown to enhance mental clarity and boost energy levels thanks to its adaptogen properties, with a longstanding history of use in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. Adaptogens work by regulating the body’s stress hormones, helping to regulate its response to stress more effectively.
Ashwagandha can be taken orally on its own or with other vitamins and supplements.
A flowering herb, chamomile has been used for centuries to relieve stress and symptoms of anxiety, with additional benefits for digestion and other common ailments. The most common form of consumption is chamomile tea, made from dried flowers with varying potency.
Studies have shown chamomile tea can help to relax and is particularly popular for reducing the severity of menstrual cramps and the distress associated with period pains.
3) Lavender oil
Lavender has long been known for its floral aroma and is commonly used in perfumes and aromatherapy. However, uniquely prepared pharmaceutical quality lavender oil has been shown in more than 15 clinical trials to reduce stress and anxiety symptoms, with benefits evident in just two weeks, and as effective as commonly used anti-anxiety medication.
The stress and anxiety-relieving effects of uniquely prepared pharmaceutical lavender oil is available only in Kalms Lavender capsules, used for the relief of symptoms of anxiety, such as stress.
4) Rhodiola rosea
Another herb with adaptogen properties, Rhodiola rosea has been used to relieve symptoms of burnout, caused from excessive and prolonged exposure to stress.
Studies have shown that two daily tablets of Rhodiola rosea can help fight fatigue and restore energy levels, which increases our resistance to stress by balancing the neurotransmitters in the brain, without lowering blood sugar levels. This enhances our ability to concentrate, maintain focus, and promotes a positive mood.
5) Valerian Root
Valerian root is a popular choice that has long been used to promote relaxation, reduce stress and improve sleep, depending on the quantities consumed. Research suggests it increases levels of the chemical in the brain known as GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid), which contributes to a calming effect in the body.
Valerian root extract is a natural alternative to other stress relief methods and allopathic medicine, and is available in tablet form.
Read more advice on how to reduce stress
Need help managing your stress and anxiety? You’ll find more advice in these articles:
- 17 quick ideas to help you beat stress
- Signed off work with stress: a guide to employee rights and next steps
- Is stress causing you to grind your teeth? Here are four ways to stop it
- Worried your child is stressed? What you – and their school – can do to help
Kalms Rhodiola tablets, containing Rhodiola rosea, offer a relief from stress, exhaustion and fatigue, common symptoms associated with burnout.
And Pro Plus® Ultra combines a unique blend of vitamins and botanicals, including ashwagandha, designed to improve cognitive function and aid productivity thanks to its energising and stress-relieving qualities. Pro Plus® Ultra retails for £6.99 and is available to purchase from Superdrug.
Photo by Tea Creative │ Soo Chun