Today's guest post comes from Patricia Bratianu. Patrica is a nurse and a registered herbalist with the American Herbalists Guild. She has a Ph.D. in natural health and is passionate about helping people find health care options that work for them. For another one of Patricia's articles, please visit: http://fibromyalgia.newlifeoutlook.com/fibromyalgia-anxiety/ http://fibromyalgia.newlifeoutlook.com/fibromyalgia-anxiety/
The Best Herbs for Anxiety and Stress Relief
As if the everyday stresses of living with a chronic health condition like fibromyalgia aren’t enough, chronic pain depletes your body of endorphins, the natural compounds that relieve stress, pain, and depression. Stress and anxiety have a direct impact on pain levels, and so the cycle goes around and around.
Fibromyalgia, anxiety and stress may go hand-in-hand, but you can fight back with herbs — the safe, reliable, natural option for relief of stress and anxiety.
Why Use Herbs?
Herbal medicine has been used to treat stress and anxiety for thousands of years, and modern research confirms that herbal medicine is a safe and effective alternative to pharmaceutical drugs.
Pharmaceuticals often cause multiple undesirable side effects, including drowsiness. Most herbal remedies for anxiety and stress are gentle and free of side effects — but that doesn’t mean they’re weak.
Herbs work with your body’s natural soothing actions. Some herbal remedies for stress relief work quickly, however, most must be consumed regularly for at least a month to get the maximum benefit.
Unlike pharmaceuticals, herbs contain vitamins, minerals and natural compounds that nourish your nervous system. They provide benefits for your entire body. Most of the calming herbs reduce discomfort and ease abdominal distress.
While most herbal remedies are much safer than pharmaceutical medications, it is best to check with a qualified health care provider who has extensive herbal knowledge before using herbs to treat stress or anxiety.
Some herbs should not be used simultaneously with certain medications, and herbs, like all other substances, may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.
Make Tea, Not War
When using herbs to relieve anxiety and stress, I recommend consuming them as teas — usually three or four cups each day.
One of the reasons that I suggest tea is so that you will take a break. Use the time it takes to drink your tea to put your feet up and mentally disengage from the day’s events. It’s a great time to meditate, take a few deep breaths, gaze outdoors, or remind yourself of an uplifting quote.
If you do not have time to brew up a fresh cup of tea several times per day, make up a day’s supply in the morning and keep in an insulated thermal container.
Brewing tea from fresh or dried herbs is not the only way to get your herbal fix.
When herbs are extracted in alcohol to make tinctures and elixirs, a high percentage of the plants’ healing compounds are extracted. They are readily absorbed when the medicine is consumed.
Glycerin is used to make glycerites, which contain no alcohol. Glycerites are sweet and extract a fair amount of a herb’s healing compounds.
I prefer not to use herbal pills or capsules unless they are made with freeze-dried or concentrated extracts, as their goodness is not as readily absorbed as that from tinctures.
For instant stress relief, you can try taking an herbal bath by brewing a quart of herb tea and adding it to a bath, or suspending a cloth bag filled with fresh or dried herbs in the bath water.
Taking a hot herbal bath can rapidly relieve pain as it soothes your mind, body and spirit. I like to add a cup or two of Epsom salts to herbal baths. Epsom salts contain large amounts of magnesium, which is a naturally relaxing element that supports detoxification and helps relax tight or sore muscles.
Lemon balm, also known as Melissa, is one of my favorite herbs. It is in the mint family and likes moist soil and a moderate amount of sun. Lemon balm is a pretty plant that has fragrant green leaves. You can easily grow it in your garden or in a pot.
I prefer to use lemon balm as a tea, but it can be prepared into a wide array of herbal medicines. The sweet glycerite is a wonderful remedy to take during acute stress. Simply place a few drops of it under your tongue.
Lemon balm has been proven effective as a remedy for depression. It soothes nervous stomachs and relieves stress.
I grow several types of passionflower in my garden. The old-fashioned purple variety is the best one for healing purposes, but all will work. Passionflower, also known as maypop, is an easy-to-grow vine that flourishes in warm locales.
Mine covers an old wooden swing in the corner of my yard, so I get a double benefit when using passionflower to relieve stress — I sit in the swing while enjoying a cup of passionflower tea and let my worries fade away.
Passionflower is not flavorful, so it’s best to blend it with other, tastier herbs. Try mixing it with chamomile or lemon balm, or add a couple of rose petals, a small pinch of lavender and a bit of stevia for a stress relieving treat.
Passionflower can help you to sleep better, yet does not leave you feeling groggy the next day. It relieves pain from muscle aches and headaches and settles butterflies in the stomach.
Lavender is an excellent herb to use for the treatment of pain, stress, and headaches. It has proven, time-tested relaxant properties. Try making a soothing compress and placing it on your forehead or the back of your neck next time you feel stressed.
You can make a sleep pillow out of lavender and other relaxing herbs. Simply sew two small rectangles of cloth into a pillowcase shape. Place a handful of dried herbs in the bag and then sew up the fourth side of the bag. Don’t overfill the bag — it should lie flat. Place the bag inside a full-size pillowcase and concentrate on the relaxing herbal fragrance when you put your head on your pillow at night.
Other Herbs to Try
Lemon balm, passionflower, and lavender are just a few of the many relaxing herbs you can use to relieve stress and promote overall comfort. Some other favorites include:
* Red clover
Do some experimenting and see which individual herbs or blends are most effective for you. I find that red clover is very effective for me.
If anxiety interferes with your ability to sleep, try some valerian, hops or kava. Skullcap and vervain are useful for relieving stress headaches.
Learn as much as you can about the herbs you’re interested in using and speak with a qualified practitioner for expert advice. Be patient. Herbs will help to relieve stress and anxiety; however you must use them regularly for them to work their best.
I hope you have enjoyed today's guest post from Patricia Bratianu who a writer at NewLifeOutlook|Fibromyalgia.