With the surrounding controversy and safety concerns of the now-popular CBD oil products, you may be wondering what supplements you can take instead to help combat anxiety and manage day-to-day stress. Luckily, there are plenty of other stress-busting herbs that are legal everywhere and easily accessible to consumers. Here are our top five.
Kava Kava (Piper methysticum)
Kava kava root is an herb that is native to the South Pacific islands. The root is used to brew a drink that promotes relaxation. A member of the pepper family, it is also used as a treatment for occasional anxiety. It can also be taken in capsule or tincture form. It is not intended for long term use, and recent studies have concluded that excessive use can cause liver damage, especially when combined with alcohol use.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon balm has long been used for its stress-reducing properties and effects on working memory. It is preferable to consume lemon balm in a water-based drink (such as a tea) or in a food base (such as yogurt). It is important to note that products with artificial sweeteners have been shown to lower the effectiveness of the herb, so choose products with only natural sweeteners.
Tulsi/Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum)
Tulsi, or Holy Basil, is known as an adaptogen in the world of herbs. Adaptogens work to assist the body in response to stress. They also have a positive effect on adrenal health and inflammation. They are usually packed with antioxidants which fight against cellular damage. Called “Queen of Herbs” for a reason, Tulsi tea is a top choice to reap the benefits, but it can also be taken in capsule or tincture form.
Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng) American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
There are three ginseng herbs to choose from. Both Amercian and Asian ginseng are ‘true’ ginseng, and there is also an herb called Siberian ginseng or eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus), which is not a true ginseng. All three are useful and are adaptogenic, which help the body regulate stress hormones and promote calm. Ginseng is used today for a wide variety of benefits as a dietary supplement. From improving overall wellness to jumpstarting the immune system, people also use it to fight aging, anxiety and depression. There have even been studies done to examine its effect on lowering the body’s blood sugar. The most popular way to consume ginseng is via tablet or tea.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Ashwagandha is commonly known as the Indian winter cherry and sometimes as Indian ginseng. You can buy it in powdered form, meant to be mixed into drinks and consumed. Several studies have shown a marked reduction in cortisol (the stress hormone) levels after being given therapeutic doses. There is even some promising data on the use of ashwagandha for diseases like dementia and Parkinson’s.
Which stress-busting herb should you choose?
- Always research the herb you want to try first. It’s important to note whether or not the herb should be should long-term or short-term. Are there any known side effects that you should be aware of? For most women of child-bearing age, it is also important to know whether or not an herb can be used while pregnant.
- If you are on any prescribed medicine, check with your pharmacist about any known drug interactions. Herbs have medicinal properties, therefore they also have interactions. For example: if you are on medicine to lower blood sugar, you would want to be careful using cinnamon in medicinal doses because you could unintentionally lower your blood sugar too much by using both.
- Make sure you use the right dosage and the right length of time to see results. Herbs can take some time to work and sometimes it is suggested to take them in specific intervals of time such as three weeks on, one week off to ensure that your body responds properly to an herb, and reduced risk of overdosing and organ damage. Following the recommended dosage suggestions as well as a consumption schedule will ensure safety.
- And as always, other methods such as diet modification, sleep and exercise are proven to help with stress and anxiety levels. Consider these tried and true options as well, before trying herbal supplements. Stress-busting herbs are great when you need them, but shouldn’t be relied upon as the main source of stress-management care. Remember: true wellness results as a combination of efforts to meet the needs of your body and mind.