We all experience feelings of anxiety, to varying degrees, throughout life. Whether it’s stress from work, school or myriad other life obligations, this response is part of our inherent “fight or flight” mechanism. For some, anxious feelings and symptoms can become so overwhelming and persistent that they begin to disrupt normal life. If you find yourself experiencing spells of anxiety, try incorporating the following four easy-to-grow anti-anxiety herbs into your daily routine.
Valerian is one of the best herbs for bringing down fear & worry based anxiety (excess Air) in a person as it contains much of the Earth element and is thereby very grounding. A sedative and nervine (tonic for the nervous system), warming valerian cleanses toxins from the colon, blood, joints, and nerves—everywhere that air hides! It calms muscle spasms, menstrual cramping and can help alleviate insomnia. Take it as a strong tea or decoction by boiling and straining it. Valerian was named Phu, by first century Greek physician Dioscorides, because it has a funny smell. The taste and smell of an herb is part of the medicinal value, as it tells your body what to do and how. Potent valerian will attract bees, butterflies and birds to your garden.
Skullcap is a sedative and nervine that works on the nervous and circulatory systems by bringing heat in the body down. It is a superb herb for cooling down hot emotions like anger, jealousy, and burning desire. So while valerian alleviates anxiety and insomnia due to cold emotions like fear and grief, skullcap should be used in the same manner for insomnia due to hot emotions like anger, jealousy, and desire. It has nice light flavor.
Catnip isn’t just for cats! A cooling member of the mint family, catnip is also a mild sedative and digestive aid. It is great for children and adults who can’t or won’t quiet down! Catnip is pleasant tasting and does well in iced or hot tea with raw honey. Try swapping out traditional black or green teas for catnip. If you don’t want to wait until it grows, Alvita makes a great catnip tea that is very convenient, you can find it in the tea aisle at most natural food stores. Like all plants in the mint family, catnip is very easy to grow.
Lemon balm, aka Melissa, is another member of the mint family. It has a pleasant lemony aroma and is used primarily for nervous stomach (gas, bloating) and nervous skin (cold sores/herpes). Lemon balm is used too to promote mental clarity, concentration and relaxation. I love blending lemon balm with, her sister, catnip in the summer for refreshing iced tea! It is easy to maintain and will help keep the bugs at bay.
Grow and cultivate any of these herbs in your personal garden. Be wary of planting catnip, lemon balm or anything from the mint family with other crops, as they have a tendency to take over garden plots. Gardening itself is great exercise and many anxiety sufferers are calmed by it—a win-win. Let me know how it goes!
Shar Veda is an Ayurveda Lifestyle Counselor & Health Educator, Yoga Therapist, and herbalist living in Ashland, Oregon. She works with at risk teen-aged girls and offers compassionate health and lifestyle counseling anywhere in the world via Skype and or the good old-fashioned telephone. Shar has had the great gift of studying with leading teachers in Ayurveda, Yoga, and herbalism for nearly 20 years. However, it was her adopted grandma, Doe (English-American and Blackfoot Native), who instilled within her profound appreciation for the supreme power of loving touch, healing arts, and world family. Visit her website for a video, full bio, and photos or find her on Facebook!