9 Herbs to Help Relieve Stress

Stress seems to be the one constant in our lives today. It is all too easy to end up taking on more than we feel we can handle, whether out of a sense of duty or a dislike of saying no to those closest to us. This is particularly true in the holiday season – the pressures of trying to balance money, work and family can seem truly overwhelming.

Taking a few minutes to relax with a warm cup of herbal tea can help to take the edge off the ragged nerves of this time of year, and here’s a list of the top 10 to try.

Chamomile

Chamomile is probably the best-known herb in use today, precisely because it is a wonderful stress reliever and, unlike some of the herbs on this list, it tastes good in a tea. Adding a cup of chamomile tea to your nightly routine can help you to sleep better, which helps to control the production of the stress-hormone, cortisol.

Lavender

Like chamomile, the stress-relieving properties of lavender are well known, making it a popular scent to add to a wide range of products from sleep pillows to bath salts. It is particularly good at easing tension headaches and other aches and pains caused by stress-induced muscle clenching.

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is a calming herb which has been used to help to reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety since the Middle Ages or longer. It is seldom used alone, but is often combined with chamomile and valerian for a wonderfully relaxing bedtime drink.

Passionflower

In spite of the name, it is the fruit of the plant which holds the benefits. It boosts production of a chemical called GABA which helps to lower anxious brain activity and soothe away worries caused by overthinking. Studies have shown these benefits to be short-term, however, so saving passionflower for when you really need it might be a better idea.

Ginseng

Both Chinese and Siberian ginseng help to boost our ability to cope with the stress of modern living. It delays and reduces the production of cortisol, helping to ease stress without the sedative effects of valerian, hops, and chamomile.

Holy Basil

This is a close cousin to the sweet basil commonly used in cooking, and is also known as Tulsi. It helps to regulate cortisol levels, along with helping to boost the immune system – an added benefit at this time of year, when colds and flu are more common. However, it is a herb to be cautious with while pregnant – seek advice in this case.

Green Tea

Green tea is packed full of antioxidants, so it should come as no great surprise that it has uses other than being a great tasting and refreshing drink. Studies have shown that people who drink five cups of green tea a day have significantly less trouble dealing with stressful situations than those who don’t.

Valerian

Valerian is often used to help to cure insomnia, since it causes drowsiness, but it is also a great herb to use to help to combat the effects of stress. It is a mild sedative, and as such can certainly help you to get a good night’s sleep, and that is a stress-reliever all on its own.

Hops

Yes, hops. They’re used in beer, but that is only the start of their uses. They don’t taste very good, though, so use very sparingly and add a sweeter tasting herb such as lavender if you intend to give hops a try. They do have a wonderfully relaxing effect – if you can stomach them.

Top Ten Healthy Herbs and How to Use Them

Herbs are very good for us. Not only do they add various flavours to our food without piling on the calories, they have wonderful health benefits that many people are only just beginning to truly appreciate. A basic knowledge of how food can help to keep you healthy while eating brilliantly is key to the foundation of a truly healthy life. To help you decide which of the bewildering array of herbs to pick, here’s a list of ten you shouldn’t be without.

Rosemary

Rosemary has been shown to can boost memory and concentration. It also helps with muscle and joint pain when applied topically. It tastes great when added to hearty food like meat and potatoes.

Parsley

Parsley is usually only seen as a garnish, and as such most people don’t eat it. This is a shame, since it is rich in vitamin A and C, and is also high in antioxidants. It has been proved to help reduce high blood pressure. It works well with chicken dishes.

Ginger

Ginger is a good anti-inflammatory, and has been used topically to help to ease arthritis for centuries. When taken internally, it helps to ease gastrointestinal problems, from IBS to diarrhoea and nausea. Best of all, there are wonderful tasting desserts which call for ginger, making it a welcome – and tasty – addition to your kitchen.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is another anti-inflammatory, but it also has antibiotic properties. Like ginger, it is great for preventing and treating issues like diarrhoea and indigestion. It can also help to control blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol levels in people suffering from type 2 diabetes. It also doesn’t have to be kept just for desserts. Using it as part of a glaze for roasts and vegetables can add a wonderful touch of heat.

Garlic

Most people seem to know that garlic is good for them. It helps to ease the symptoms of colds and flu, it helps relieve hypertension, and is a great boost to the immune system. It tastes great in stews and soups of all kinds, and is commonly found in Mediterranean cooking.

Nettles

Yes, stinging nettles. Not a plant many think of as a herb, but a great addition to any kitchen. It helps to reduce inflammation, particularly that associated with arthritis. It is also great for controlling dandruff and improving the overall health of your hair. It can be infused into a refreshing tea, along with being used in soups, pesto and polenta recipes.

Chives

Chives are rich in vitamins A and C, and has been shown to reduce the risk for gastric cancer. While sprinkling chopped chives over salads and pasta is a great finishing touch, cooking with them is just as good, particularly when adding them to potato recipes.

Coriander

Coriander has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, along with helping to reduce cholesterol levels. Add it to roasted vegetables or nourishing stews, or look at Indian and Thai meals.

Bay Leaves

Bay really comes into its own in the winter months. It contains an oil called cineole, which helps to ease the discomfort of blocked sinuses. It also boosts the immune system, and can help to prevent heart disease. They add a mild spice to stews, soups and sauces of all kinds, but should not be eaten whole, so remove them before serving.

Dandelion

Another unusual herb, dandelions are often overlooked as a food herb. They are a natural mild diuretic, which make them useful for treating high blood pressure and liver and kidney issues. It makes a great tasting addition to salads, a wonderful infused vinegar, and a lovely after-meal tea.

There are thousands of other herbs that can be used. They are easily available and make for a great way to help to boost your health while tasting great.