Finding Peace with Calming Herbs
Herbs work in harmony with the body & provide a host of side benefits, rather than side effects. Herbs & herbal medicines are at the heart of the Ayurvedic tradition. Many of the formulas still being used today have been passed down for over 5,000 yrs! Our plant friends are a wonderful addition to any treatment plant when also used with a doshically appropriate diet & lifestyle practices. Herbs are directly connected to the source energy of the sun & are full of it’s powerful life force energy. In comparison, most over the counter medicines, pharmaceuticals & supplements are highly processed oftentimes using synthetic ingredients. This is something to consider when choosing where to spend your resources. The closer you can get your medicinal herbs (and your food!) to their original state, the better! Here are a few calming herbs that can be used to help with anxiety, stress or sleep.
Ashawagandha is one of the best overall rejuvenative tonics in Ayurvedic herbalism. This means it works to strengthen all of the systems of the body particularly the nervous system. Taking Ashawagandha regularly is a wonderful way to manage stress, anxiety & treat insomnia. It also words to strengthen the reproductive system as well as building all of the muscles of the body. Ashawagandha improves libido, memory, eyesight & fertility. Ashawagandha is a key herb used to treat more the emotional component of chronic digestive disorders such as ulcerative colitis as there is an intimate relationship with the gut & the mind.
Rose is a beautiful herb for the heart & the nervous system. It can calm the nerves & lift the spirits when taken both internally or applied topically. Rose has the power to “soften the edges” for people who tend towards being emotionally hard & sharp. The dried petals can be made into a tea to be taken internally. For topical use the petals can be gently infused as a medicated oil or the essential oil of Rose can be added to a carrier oil such as almond oil to be massaged into the skin.
Chamomile is a well known & commonly used herb as a tea for calming the nervous system to help prepare the body for sleep. It is a light & gentle herb that can also be used to help treat anxiety. Side benefits of using Chamomile for sleep & anxiety is that it also strengthens digestion & the eyes. A cup of chamomile tea boiled with ginger is a great remedy for menstrual cramping & also can be used for minor digestive disturbances like dispelling gas, bloating & is a gentle laxative.
Brahmi is known to “rekindle the flame of intelligence”. It is one of Ayurveda’s most well respected tonics for the mind & nervous system. It is considered sattvic as it promotes peace & concentration as well as encourages devotion & enhanced spiritual practices when taken regularly. Brahmi can help calm the nerves while also being effective in treating Parkinson’s disease, MS, epilepsy, ADHD, autism, dementia & depression.
Oatstraw is a gentle & supportive tonic for the nervous system so it makes a great remedy for anxiety, stress, restlessness, insomnia & even depression. It works wonderfully as a tea to promote restful sleep & treat insomnia with long term use. A side benefit of Oatstraw is that it contains minerals such as magnesium, iron & calcium.
Valerian Root is a very grounding herb therefore it is heavy in nature making it a great sedative so best taken at night for sleep as it may cause drowsiness. Due to its grounding qualities it can also be used to treat vertigo & fainting. Another side benefit of Valerian is that it helps to move toxins from the colon, blood, joints & nervous system.
Skullcap is a calming herb that relieves stress, tension, anxiety & worry. It can be used as an exceptional sedative for sleep though it is not as heavy as Valerian Root. Skullcap is also a brain tonic & can help to increase memory, clarity, awareness & concentration. As a side benefit Skullcap works resolving emotions stored in the heart as well as easing detoxification symptoms during recovery from alcohol addiction.
Tulsi (Holy Basil)
Tusli (Holy Basil). Tulsi is wonderful tea that can be sipped on throughout the day. As it’s name suggests Tulsi is considered a sacred plant that is calming in nature. Similar to Brahmi it is sattvic, bringing about a feeling of lightness with heightened awareness & spiritual clarity. Tulsi can also be used to treat depression. Emotions like grief are stored in the lungs, one side benefit of Tulsi is that it can aid in the release of these old emotions that are stored in the there.
Lavender has an affinity for calming the nerves to help with anxious feelings & preparing the body for sleep. The essential oil can be diffused before sleep to create a tranquil environment or the essential oil can be added to carrier oil to be applied to the bottoms of the feet before bed. It also is excellent for soothing the skin & decreasing itching when used topically in a medicated oil or salve.
There are many things to consider when using our powerful plant allies. Even though herbs are intelligent & beneficial not all herbs are meant for long term use & some may interfere with other medication. You should always consult a doctor or clinical herbalist before using any medicinal herbs.