Republished from TheHealthyShopper.ca
Feeling stressed? According to Canadian government statistics, 6.6 million Canadians aged 15 and older said they felt “quite a bit” or “extremely stressful” on most days. That represents nearly one-quarter of the population.
Stress is an automatic response and not always a bad thing. In fact, stress can be a highly motivating, positive force. However, when it is chronic or interferes with your ability to function or enjoy life, it’s time to take steps to manage it in a healthy way.
One way to manage stress is with herbs. Numerous herbal remedies have been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety, promote sleep, and promote a sense of calm. Here are five of them.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera). This Ayurvedic herb is considered to be an adaptogen, which means it helps the body maintain balance and resist stress. In a placebo-controlled, double-blind study of 64 individuals with a history of chronic stress, those who took 300 mg of ashwagandha daily for 60 days had a significant reduction in stress scores and a substantial decline in cortisol (a stress hormone) levels when compared with the placebo group.
German chamomile (Matricaria recutita). “Have a cup of chamomile tea” is a common suggestion when someone says they are feeling stressed or having trouble sleeping. Chamomile is also available as a supplement standardized to contain 1.2% the active ingredient called apigenin. In a University of Pennsylvania Medical Center study, 57 individuals with mild to moderate generalized anxiety disorder were assigned to take either chamomile extract or placebo for 8 weeks. Those who took chamomile showed a significantly greater decline in anxiety symptoms than those taking placebo.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis). This member of the mint family has a long history of reducing anxiety and stress and aiding sleep. One study compared two different doses of lemon balm (300 mg, 600 mg) and placebo in healthy individuals who underwent simulated stress. The 600-mg dose successfully reduced the negative mood effects of the lab-induced stress and significantly increased calmness and alertness.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis). If stress or anxiety is keeping you awake, valerian may help. A dose of 150 mg taken two to three times a day has been used to treat insomnia and anxiety. This herb is often combined with lemon balm or St. John’s wort (usually used for depression) for mild to moderate anxiety.
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata). The leaves and roots of passionflower are used as a supplement or tea to reduce stress and anxiety. It has been shown to be as effective as some benzodiazepines for managing anxiety. For example, 36 individuals with generalized anxiety disorder took either passionflower extract or oxazepam (30 mg/day) for four weeks. Both groups experienced similar improvement, but those taking oxazepam experienced significantly more problems with job performance. Another study found that passionflower tea helped with sleep quality.
Talk to your healthcare provider before you take any herbal remedies, as they may interact with medications or natural supplements you are taking or have an impact on any medical conditions.