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Three Herbs for Stress Reduction

by Institute for Vibrant Living

In the modern world, prolonged stress is far too common. Most of us are on the go and under pressure every day.  Life can be difficult, as we juggle to meet the demands of modern life in our careers, families and especially around the holidays.  You might be surprised to learn that there are three herbs for stress that can safely and gently bring a little calm to the chaos of daily living.

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is a member of the mint family and considered a calming herb in Chinese medicine.  It has been used since the Middle Ages to calm anxiety, treat insomnia, and reduce feelings of stress.  In modern medicine, lemon balm is often combined with other calming herbs like chamomile or valerian in teas or in supplements to induce relaxation.  

Studies have shown that lemon balm does indeed elevate your mood, induce calm feelings and increase alertness.  It’s believed that a compound called eugenol in lemon balm is responsible for its effectiveness in calming muscle spasms, killing bacteria and producing feelings of calmness.

You can find lemon balm in bulk dry leaf form, in tea, capsules, as an oil, extract or tincture.  In general you can take safely take 300 to 500 milligrams up to three times per day, drink it in tea form up to four times per day or us 60 lemon balm drops (tincture) per day.  Of course, always consult your doctor when taking new supplements to prevent any drug interactions.

Holy Basil

Holy basil is also a member of the mint family of herbs but is not to be confused with its cousin sweet basil, commonly used in cooking. Native to tropical Asia, holy basil has been grown in India for more than 3,000 years and is considered a sacred plant.

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Holy basil is packed with potent antioxidants, and has antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a great supplement to treat a variety of stress inducing illnesses.  It has shown to ease the symptoms of the common cold, bronchitis, and digestive disorders like ulcers, and even reduce fevers.  Modern medicine is finding this divine herb is an adaptogen, meaning it helps the body cope or adapt to handle stress and anxiety.

It is believed that the compounds eugenol, caryophyllene and triterpenoic acid in holy basil are the reason it is one of the best herbs for stress relief. 

Holy basil is best absorbed in soft-gel capsule form in 300-milligram doses for the average adult, but check with your doctor before taking any new supplements to avoid negative drug interactions.

Chamomile

Nothing is more fragrant, delicious and relaxing than a steaming hot cup of chamomile tea after a long stressful day.  This herb, a member of the daisy family, has been used for centuries to soothe, calm and heal a variety of medical issues.

Extensive scientific research over the past two decades has shown chamomile to be a potent stress-busting herb.  The scientific data shows it to have antiseptic, antispasmodic, antibacterial, and sedative properties.  Some animal studies have documented chamomile’s positive effect on parts of the brain that anti-anxiety medicines are administered to treat to reduce anxiety and stress.

Nothing increases stress like sleep-deprivation. It’s a chronic problem in our modern day lives and chamomile is an effective natural remedy that induces calm and helps promote sleep.  In fact, it is probably the most widely consumed herbal tea in the world according to the Research Foundation in Boulder, Colorado.  Its long history of use and the new research documenting its positive effect on stress levels make it a smart herb to add to your daily diet.

With no known negative side effects, there is no standard dosage for chamomile. In general, 400 to 1600 milligrams seems to be the amount in capsule form to provide the most benefit. Consult your doctor before taking it in any amount.

Three to Be Stress Free

Taking herbs for stress relief is an easy natural way to improve your health.  Lemon balm, holy basil and chamomile have long histories of use and modern research is supporting their use to help combat mental and physical strain.

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