Got Stress? Anxiety? 11 Herbs that can help!

Stressed? Anxiety?
Fast, Easy and Effective Ways to Reduce Stress and Anxiety

(I have updated this twice-it started out with 8 herbs and is now up to 11 different herbs to try for anxiety)

stressed person
Before I go into detail about the herbs that can help you to manage your stress and anxiety, I do want to point out that diet and lifestyle still need to be addressed.

For years I suffered from anxiety. (Back then it was just called “being very shy”). Thankfully back then doctors weren’t as quick to diagnose and medicate every mental health issue.

But what helped me, (and may help you) is balancing my blood sugar. Back then in my elementary school years, before school, I ate 2 chocolate pop tarts, only a few bites of my lunch usually and then a pretty healthy dinner. By the time I got to high school and college I stopped eating the pop tarts but can’t say my diet was much better.

It wasn’t until I started to eat balanced meals, whole foods and reduce the processed junk that my anxiety diminished. I can’t say I don’t have some situational anxiety from time to time but nothing like what I grew up with!

Use the herbs but while they are helping start making small changes to your diet too! If you need more dietary help for your stress and anxiety just give me a call!

Lifestyle Tips for Reducing Stress and Anxiety

basket of veggies
• Keep blood sugar balanced
• Start the day with a meal high in fat, with moderate protein and low amounts of whole food carbs. (i.e.: eggs, bacon, avocado, with sauté kale or spinach, or a green protein smoothie)

• Minimize or eliminate caffeine (try Teccino or dandy blend tea-taste just like coffee!)

Add in a B complex supplement. (stress depletes us of our B vitamins) Add in an extra B12 if you do not eat red meat
Add in a vitamin C with bioflavonoids, 1,000 mg. per day as stress will also deplete your vitamin C

Add in magnesium. I like magnesium l-threonate (crossed blood brain barrier), ReMag by Carolyn Dean, or Natural Calm magnesium powder to drink before bed time.

• Stress slows down your digestion making you absorb less nutrients so when stressed be sure to slow down, take 3 deep breaths before your meal and chew each bite of food 15-20 times.

• When stressed we tend to eat and work at the same time. Studies have shown that this actually reduces work performance. Take a brain break and eat away from your desk, get some fresh air and talk with a co- worker about something other than work. This will greatly reduce your stress load!

Herbs for Quick Stress relief

ginkgo flower picture
With herbs everyone reacts differently so some may love one herb for stress and another person may not get the same effect. It will be a try and see approach.

Purchase herbs for stress in tincture form (unless noted otherwise) and only get from reputable source such as Herb Pharm, Gaia Herbs or Rose Mountain Herbs or your local trusted herb shop. Try only one herb at a time so you know what is or isn’t working. Make sure the herbs you are using are certified organic.

Herbs in tincture form are more potent if made with alcohol. But if you have issues with alcohol it is still best to opt for the non-alcoholic tinctures. One dropper full of tincture has the alcohol amount that is equal to the amount of alcohol in one banana.
Always talk to your doctor before adding in any herbs as this is for educational purposes only since I am not aware of your medications, heath issues and more.

Gingko Biloba: Choose in extract/tincture form or gingkolide tablets. With tablets, take 160-180 mg. one time daily. It has been shown to be significantly more effective than a placebo for anxiety. It may reverse depression especially in older people on blood pressure medication. Do not use this herb if you have a racing mind at bed time. Also, avoid this herb if you are prone to migraines. I prefer this herb in tincture form. It is known as the herb for memory and concentration.

Kava: This is good to use if you have anxiety. Take 60-120 mg. daily and do not exceed 120 mg. daily. Do not use this herb for children. This herb is known to ground and center you, keeping you relaxed and alert. You can take this herb during the day as it will not make you drowsy. Kava is known to increase the dream state. It is a mood elevator. You can take 2 droppers full at bedtime or a heaping teaspoon in one cup water 2 times per day as a tea. You can mix your Kava with Valerian together at bedtime for improved sleep.

Eleuthero: This is an adaptogenic herb which has been shown to enhance mental performance, concentration and alertness. This is not an actual ginseng but is often called a ginseng because it works in a similar way. It is used for nervous breakdowns and depression. It is used to strengthen the entire system. Adaptogenic herbs help to build resilience to stress. Take any adaptogenic herb for 12 weeks only, then take a week or 2 off and then go back on or switch at that point to a different adaptogenic herb such as Rhodiola. Ashwagandha is also an adaptogenic herb and this one is better taken in the evening. Take only 1/8 of a teaspoon of eleuthero tincture.

Lemon Balm: This plant has anti-depressant effects along with calming, anti-anxiety effects as well. Use it to calm the nerves and to boost mood. Those with ADHD can also benefit from using this herb. Drink lemon balm tea one to three times daily. Use lemon balm tincture, 10-20 drops in water 3-5 times per day for depression, anxiety and tension headaches. Some people add fresh lemon balm leaves to their drinking water. Do not use if you have a hypothyroid condition.

Skullcap: This is good for nervousness, anxiety and stress. It is also useful for those of you with insomnia, especially if it is due to an overactive mind at bedtime. Take one half of a dropper full of tincture before bedtime.

Nettle leaves and seed: This is one of my favorites for body restoration. Nettles are a source of nutrients for all individuals. It is one of the most nourishing plants growing on the land. The leaves and seed offer a wide variety of nutrients. Take a dropper full of nettle leaf tincture 3 times per day or buy organic whole seeds, grind them up and eat 1-3 teaspoons per day.  (you can sprinkle the seeds into smoothies and salads). While this plant is not directly known for its anti-anxiety properties, it is nourishing and balancing and can support the body and give it what it needs during times of stress and anxiety. 

Motherwort: Do not take this herb if you have heavy menses. Otherwise, this is another good herb to use for anxiety. It is not a sedative so can be used during the day. A dose of 10-20 drops can safely be taken as often as every 10 minutes if needed to calm you down, say during a panic attack. Fresh tincture is best and best option as opposed to tea and capsules. Do not use this herb long term if you also have depression. It can relax you to the point of making you feel more depressed and unmotivated. Use it instead for episodic anxiety.

Valerian: This has a different feel to it, a different calming effect as oppose to Kava. It is helpful for anxiety and tension. This herb should be taken only at bedtime or when you know you are not going anywhere! Do not operate any heavy machinery or drive while taking valerian. For some it can give the opposite effect-instead of calming you down, it may increase your anxiety. For that reason, dose low. The same rule that applies to Motherwort applies to Valerian. Use on occasion to aid with sleep but don’t use it all the time during your depressive state. Most people do best using the tincture form instead of capsules. Take 400-900 mg per day of whole valerian or root extract.

Linden: It has been used to calm the nerves and promote rest.  The flowers and leaves are known to have a calming action on the nervous system.  Linden flower tea is very popular in Europe and used to calm the nerves and aid digestion as well. 

Tulsi Tea:  This is also called Holy Basil.  Choose an organic brand and drink 1 to 3 times per day during times of stress. I like the brand Organic India. 

Sage Leaf: Sage promotes a calming sensation to the brain and is good for those who tend to “overthink”.  If you tend to get sweaty palms or produce excess sweat during times of feeling anxious, sage can he helpful for that as well.  Take this in tincture form at one to three droppers per day. 

Sources:

Balch, P. ( 2012)   Prescription for Herbal Healing.  2nd Edition.  NY: Avery Publishing

Gaby, A.(2006) The Natural Pharmacy. Revised and updated 3rd edition.  NY: Three Rivers Press

Gladstar, R. (2012) Medicinal Herbs. A beginners Guide.  CA: Story Publishing

Hoffman, D. (2003) Medical Herbalism.  VT: Healing Arts Press

Mars, B. (2007) The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine.  CA: Basic Health Publications

Pursell, JJ.  (2015) The Healing Apothecary.  OR: Timber Press. 

Skenderi, G. (2003) Herbal Vade Mecum. NJ: Herbacy Press

 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services LLC believes in supporting the body with food, herbs and supplements to get you feeling your best. For more information visit her site at www.trufoodsnutrition.com. She is the author of the E book Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition, Supplement and Herb Guide

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Mid terms, finals and Exams: 6 Herbs that can help with Focus, Memory and Concentration

Mid Terms and Finals: 6 Herbs that can Support Memory, Learning, Focus and Concentration

person studying

 

While a healthy diet rich in a variety of whole foods and one that supplies plenty of quality fats, protein and carbs from whole foods is ideal for brain health, we all know that is not always the case with our teens and young adult children who are in high school and college.

Below is a list of herbs and other nutrients that can support brain health during exams.   Either way, opt for one or two and see what works for you or your child. 

If you are pregnant or breast feeding do not take any herbal remedies.  If you are on any medications, consult with your doctor, herbalist, nutritionist or ND prior to taking any herbs or supplements as some can interact with medications. Always dose low and work your way up to higher dosage if needed. 

Do not try all of these.  Pick one or two that you feel addresses your needs. 

Mid- term and Finals Brain Boost

Herbs to Take to Help with Studying and Test Taking

 ginkgo-flower-picture

  • Huperzine A: This is not an herb per se but is a compound that is found naturally in some plant species.  The most common plant that it is extracted from is the Chines Club moss.  Take 50-200 mcg. one time daily.   Used for memory, learning enhancement, alertness. This is also used for cognitive decline/dementia in the elderly.  You can take it with or without food. 
  • Bacopa monnieri: This plant that is found in warm wetlands has been shown to nourish the nervous system, boost brain function, and enhance memory and learning.  This herb may be even more effective when combined with Brahmi (Gotu kola) It can be helpful for memory, focus, clarity, mood, attention, learning and concentration.   Research on Bacopa’s memory enhancing effects is still ongoing but current studies are promising.   Studies used 300-450 mg. extract per day for 12 weeks. 
  • Brahmi (Centella asiatica): This  plant is also known as Gotu Kola and is a plant that is grown in tropical climates or in higher, cooler elevations of China or India.  Brahmi has been shown to  decongest the brain lymphatic system and can drain 3 pounds of toxins from the brain each year! When used with Bacopa, these two herbs can work together to boost brain function, memory and learning.  For studying use Bacopa and Brahmi together for enhanced brain effectiveness. Take 500 mg. 3 times per day after each meal. 
  • Vinpocetine: You may want to start stocking up on this product now as it may not be available to the public in the future.       Vinpocetine is a synthesized compound derived from an alkaloid found in the leaves of the Vinca minor plant or from Voacanga seeds.  It is said to increase blood flow to the brain and is used as a memory enhancement.  There have been no reports of adverse effects of taking Vinpocetine so my personal thoughts are that the FDA wants to take this off of the natural health food store shelves because they want to use it in new drugs they are bringing to market.  Take 10-20 mg daily and up to 60 mg. but this high dose is most often used for age related decline. 
  • Rosemary: Rosemary is used for poor memory and has a long history of memory enhancement.  One study showed that those who had been exposed to rosemary via aromatherapy had reduced anxiety, increased alertness and exhibited better performance on memory testing.  Rosemary is available in enteric coated capsules and a daily dose would be 4 to 6 grams. However, even smaller quantities may be sufficient. 
  • Ginkgo biloba: this is the worlds oldest living species of tree.  The leaves are used in herbal remedies.  It is used for age related decline and early onset Alzheimer’s but also shows promise for memory and concentration.  Oral doses taken by healthy volunteers showed that ginkgo is capable of improving cognitive function, mental sharpness, concentration and memory.  Most trials have shown amounts of 120 and 240 mg. of Ginkgo biloba extract used. If purchased in tincture form, start with one dropper per day and work up to 3 droppers per day as needed.   I have found Ginkgo to be dose dependent, meaning more is not always better.  Start out slowly.  If you suffer from migraines avoid this herb. 

When Purchasing Herbs Know this!

ginkgo-leaf

Many products when tested contain little if any of the actual herb or do not contain the correct part of the herb or the correct constituents.  If you buy your herbal products from a discount store (many of them that I will not name personally) know that you are probably wasting your money. When purchasing herbs it is best to use reputable and trusted companies. Some that I like (I have no affiliation with any of these companies) include www.bayanbotanicals.com, Gaia herbs, and Herb Pharm.   You can find some of these brands locally but others you may have to order online. 

A Word of Caution!

rosemary

Everyone thinks more is better. This is not always the case with herbs.  Many are dose dependent.  Follow the guidelines here and always start low and slow and work your way up to a dose that works for you.  Each body reacts differently to herbs based on your body’s needs.  Start using one to two herbs prior to exam time so that you have a plan in place already to help you. 

This information is provided for educational purposes only and is not meant to be used to treat, diagnose or cure.

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate) is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit her site at  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, then like here fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

Sources

https://examine.com/supplements/huperzine-a/

https://www.ncbi.nlm/nih.gov/pubmed/23772955

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4124189

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22747190

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3116297/#!=po1.47059

http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Regulation/FDA-rules-vinpocetine-not-a-legal-dietary-ingredient-despite-successful-NDI-filings

 

Other Sources

Balch, P. (2012) Prescription for Herbal Healing.  2nd Edition. NY: Avery

Gaby, A. (2006) The Natural Pharmacy. Revised and Updated 3rd Edition. NY: Three Rivers Press. 

Hoffman, D. (2003) Medical Herbalism.  VT: Healing Arts Press. 

 

 

 

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