Nature's Stress-Shedding Secrets

Make herbs for serenity part of your everyday routine.

| February/March 2005

  • Sage
  • Valerian
  • German chamomile
  • Passionflower
  • SERENITY BOUQUETS Arrange tiny fresh herbal bouquets and place them where you’ll pause and see them often. I always have one by the phone and one in the bathroom. Both are places we often have a moment to observe the intricate beauty of plants. Make the bouquets small so you can focus on each unique petal and leaf. Rub a leaf or two after you have washed your hands or hung up the phone and take the peaceful scent of their perfume with you.

  • Anise
  • Valerian

Several years ago, each visit from my Italian mother-in-law was nerve-wracking. I felt trapped: she seemed to disapprove of me no matter what I said or did. A friend suggested I drink chamomile tea — no coffee — all day, as needed during my mother-in-law’s visit. “We always use it for stress,” she said.

My mother-in-law stood in the kitchen the next morning and stared at me. “Absurd!” she said. “Chamomile is only for drinking at bedtime.” Taking courage, I replied, “I like it in the morning.” In truth, I disliked the flavor. After a moment of perplexity, she asked me to prepare a cup for her too. We drank chamomile all day as long as she visited and her stay was notably less stressful on me than the previous ones. From then on, every time she visited, I made and drank pot after pot of chamomile tea. Gradually, much to my relief, my tolerance — and appreciation — for my mother-in-law changed. I soon learned to love her and the taste of chamomile.

Ever since that experience, I’ve been a true believer in how herbs can help us all cope better with our daily routine, offering a dose of that very important ingredient that I’m sure will help us all live longer: serenity.

Although we may not be able to completely escape the challenging personalities and fast pace of everyday life, we can make our time more serene and joyful with the simple addition of herbs.


Explore the deep beauty of your natural surroundings. Examine the intricacy of the leaves and blossoms of your favorite herbs.

Nature’s Calmers at a Glance

Matricaria chamomilla
Part used: flowers

A must-have in every Mediterranean household, this wonderful gift of nature has been used since time began and has never fallen out of fashion, even now in our fast-paced, high-tech, chemical-laden world. It will relax and calm high-strung nerves, bring on sweet sleep, ease digestion, calm fussy  babies and more.

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