Natural Stress Relievers

Enlist these herbal allies to help you handle daily stress.

| June/July 2012

  • Stress really does contribute to the chronic diseases that ultimately kill so many Americans, such as heart disease and diabetes.
    Photo by JanBussan
  • American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) can combat stress with similar actions to its Asian botanical cousin (Panax ginseng).
    Photo by Steven Russell Smith Photos
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) has long been used as a heart tonic.
    Photo by lfrabanedo
  • Repetition of a mantra or a prayer is a time-honored method for coping with stress. If you don’t have a favorite mantra, try “om” or “All is well.”
    Photo by Inga Ivanova
  • Stress is hard on the heart. Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) is calming and quiets heart palpitations.
    Photo by Ron Rowan Photography
  • If stress interferes with a good night’s sleep, try California poppy (Eschscholzia californica).
    Photo by NNehring
  • Rumor has it that ancient Scandinavian peoples such as the Vikings chewed the rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) root for endurance and strength. Today, research has found that rhodiola extracts improve cognitive function, reduce fatigue, and have antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects.
    Photo by emer
  • Many of the commonly used adaptogens come from the East. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners have long valued schisandra (Schisandra chinensis).
    Photo by russal

Stress kills. If you think this sounds extreme, listen up. Stress really does contribute to the chronic diseases that ultimately kill so many Americans, such as heart disease and diabetes. Hormones released during the stress response also interfere with sleep, damage brain areas critical to memory formation and age our cells.

Of course, stress isn’t all bad. Without change, life would be bland and boring as a blank, white wall. The trick is learning how to handle stress. 

The stress response is automatic, allowing our bodies to jolt into action to avoid physical harm. Something threatens your physical, emotional, social or financial well-being and—boom—primitive brain areas jump-start the fight-or-flight response. The problem is that our stress responses are designed to help us flee a hungry lion, not manage our psychological reactions to modern problems. The good news is that we can involve higher brain areas, which have the ability to call off the alarm.

Stress-Relief Tea recipe

Stress Solutions: Natural Stress Relievers

Reassessing the situation in a positive light is your best tool against out-of-control stress.  Though it’s easier said than done, you can learn to watch yourself for signs of stress—the clamped jaw, clenched fists, tight neck and shoulders, headache, stomach pain—then calm yourself. Stuck in traffic on your way to an important meeting? Ask yourself whether flooding your body with adrenaline will get you there faster. Is your life in danger? What can you do to soothe yourself?

Ideally, your response is not to take a deep drag on a cigarette, gobble a donut, chug an espresso, yell at fellow commuters or toss back a shot of alcohol (especially since you are driving in this scenario). The sad truth is we often use these maladaptive coping mechanisms, which only amplify the damaging effects of stress. But we can all learn to optimize our skills.

11/23/2015 3:17:20 AM


Anton G
11/5/2012 5:55:09 PM

Ur brain is the best stress manager, to find out how to use its hidden potential, check out

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