By Katherine Bellchambers MNIMH
The last couple of years have been intensely stressful. This is especially true for families and parents looking after stir-crazy kids and teens.
Whether you’ve been juggling work calls and zoom meetings with home schooling or trying to prevent your toddler from redecorating your home with chocolate spread while you tie up the details on a multi million deal working from home is the gift that keeps on giving.
So it’s hardly surprising that a you-gov poll showed that there has been a massive increase in mental health problems. As a herbalist I’ve seen a significant increase in stress related illnesses amongst my patients so here are 7 herbs that can help you keep the stress and anxiety at bay and help you weather the storms.
- Camomile. This jolly little flower grows by roadsides and in fields in summer, it has a deep almost biscuity smell and is known as a digestive support which helps to heal IBS but did you know it is also a calming relaxing herb that can help you sleep at night?
It’s also safe and gentle enough to help little ones if they’re feeling worried or over wrought. Mums with sleepless breast feeding babies can calm themselves and their infants by drinking the tea as the calming benefits pass into the milk.
- Tulsi. Also known as holy basil, this relative of the culinary herb is calming and relaxing. Available from your herbalist, in health food shops and even in some supermarkets, Tulsi has a long history in Indian traditional medicine and research has supported these traditional uses.
It helps balance blood sugar so can improve your mood and resilience and this great cuppa can help with stress that comes from your environment like that HUGE pile of lego on your sofa!
- Passionflower. Passiflora incarnata is a beautiful garden climber. Did you know it is also used to help calm nervous and anxious people. It is thought this is because drinking passionflower tea can increase levels of a brain chemical called GABA (Gaba amino butyric acid) This inhibitory neurotransmitter stops messenger molecules in the body from getting to the bits of the brain that make you wired.
Herbalists use it to calm strung out and anxious people and help them sleep at night. It’s physically relaxing so makes it easier to fall and stay asleep.
- California Poppy. Eschscholzia californica is a member of the poppy family native to parts of America. Not just it’s pretty orange petals, but the whole above ground plant is used to make a traditionally used medicine for insomnia. But did you know it can also be used to help you feel less jittery?
It contains loads of mild poppy alkaloids similar but much less strong than those from opium poppies. Scientific studies show that taking California poppy helps by slowing down the production of adrenaline which promotes calm and helps you recover from stressful situations.
- Borage flowers. Borago officinalis or blue star flower is best known for its sterling work garnishing your glass of Pimms. Did you know it is also a medicinal herb? Herbalists use the phrase “Borage for courage” for a reason.
Borage oil is one of the highest plant sources of gama linolenic acid and is used to treat hormonal imbalances. If your monthly cycle is causing some (or a lot) of the stress maybe taking a borage oil supplement could help you.
- Rose petals. The scent of roses is tremendously uplifting and has been used for centuries to calm the distress of bereaved and grieving loved ones. It is also powerfully calming containing eugenol one of the constituents of clove that in higher doses can be anaesthetic.
The essential oil can raise mood and calm tension and stress. In a diffuser the scent of rose can help everyone feel better, especially when that deadline is looming and little lucia has decided that Peppa Pig is for EVERYONE. And drunk as a tea it is a delicious, uplifting drink that can really help get your feet back on the ground.
- And finally; Lavender. One of our best known herbs, lavender is calming, relaxing, healing, helps improve irritated skin and reduce itching. A drop or two on your pillow or a wheat back popped in the microwave to warm up can help you and your family find the land of nod. Lavender probably ought to be on everyone’s list of favourite things. There is a reason all those bees on a lavender bush look so dozy.
Next time you feel like everything is getting on top of you, perhaps take a walk outside. Nature has a lot to offer, but if herbal teas aren’t cutting it a herbalist near you just might have the answer – find one at https://nimh.org.uk/find-a-herbalist/
Katherine Bellchambers MNIMH, The Nottingham Herbalist, www.nottingham-herbalist.co.uk. Katherine is a herbalist specialising in women’s health and hormonal imbalance, and a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists. She also works from home and knows exactly what you are going through.