Finding a natural solution
Cory is an herbalist, mother of two wonderful girls, homeschooler, organic gardener and soap maker from Central Florida. She has been making herbal medicines for 10 years. Visit her Poppy Swap store, Aquarian Bath, for gentle, handmade artisan soaps. Here, she introduces three of her favorite plants for stress relief and simple ways to grow and prepare them into home remedies.
We all seek more peace and tranquility in life. Growing a few herbs is a fabulous way to help with relaxation and stress reduction. Plus, planting herbs is a fun activity. Learn how to select herbs that will actually help you relax!
To make sure it is a stress-free experience, each herb has unique properties that also make them useful for relieving stress and anxiety. I have chosen three herbs that I find easy to grow, and they are holy basil, motherwort and skullcap.
Medicinal Uses of Holy Basil: Holy basil, also known as Tulsi, is native to India where it is a sacred temple herb. Ayurvedic teachers recommend eating two leaves a day to benefit one’s physical body and spirit. The leaves and flower are considered to be adaptogenic, which means they can help the body resist all types of physical stress. Holy basil is also antimicrobial, so while it helps strengthen the body, it simultaneously fighting pathogens that makes it really unique. This herb can help people cope with pressure from heavy workloads, so I like to use holy basil for reducing chronic stress.
There are three main types of holy basil. The first two are varieties of Ocimum tenuiflorum, or O. sanctum. Rama Tulsi has green leaves. Krishna tulsi has purple leaves. A third variety is Vana tulsi (O. gratissimum). Holy basil leaves can be made into tea or tincture.
Tips on Growing Holy Basil: Holy basil is easy to cultivate from seed in the spring. After it has six leaves, you can start pinching back the top leaves to help it grow bushy. Harvest leaves and flowers often throughout the summer.
Medicinal Uses of Motherwort: Leonurus cardiaca is an important herb to help regulate women’s menstrual cycles. It can help reduce irritability and anxiety associated during PMS and other times. Motherwort is a very bitter herb and it is easiest to take in tincture form.
*Note: Motherwort should not be used during pregnancy.
Tips on Growing Motherwort: Motherwort is also an annual that is fairly easy to grow. Motherwort needs partial shade. In hot climates such as Central Florida, it needs to be grown as a winter annual. Harvest the leaves and flowers when the plant is in full bloom.
Medicinal Uses of Skullcap: Scutellaria lateriflora is especially helpful for relieving neck and shoulder tension brought on by mental or emotional stress. I love skullcap because it helps me remember to breathe deeply. It is very difficult to keep the neck and shoulder muscles tight when the lungs are filling fully with air. Some people find that skullcap can also help reduce mild stress induced insomnia.
Tips on Growing Skullcap: I grow skullcap in a dedicated pot from seeds sprinkled over loose soil. You can also get it started easily from divisions. I collect the flowering stalks while they are in bloom and tincture, leaving some go to seed for next year’s harvest.
Simple Tincture-Making Method: Tinctures are a nice way to take herbs for acute stress, because they are fast acting and contain more of the active medicinal components as compared to a tea. The easiest way to make a tincture is to chop the fresh herbs, pack them loosely in a jar and cover the herbs completely with 100 proof vodka. Seal the jar with with a non-metallic lid, label it with the plant name, plant part and date. If your jar is not full, you can add more leaves and vodka to your jar as the growing season progresses. Shake the jar often over six weeks, then strain out the herbs, bottle and label the extract. Use about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon in water for an adult dosage. This tincture-making method can be used for all the herbs in your stress-relief garden.
*Please check with your health-care professional before taking any herbs.
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