Herbal Health Information on Stress

I could write a book on this and I expect if you suffer from stress you would say so could you.

Anxiety, insomnia, panic attacks, palpitations, tiredness, irritability, lack of confidence, feeling inadequate and I am going to stop there.

The obvious answer is change of lifestyle to remove the source of the stress, but, hey, that is in an ideal world.

The less obvious answer is to look at what you CAN change in your lifestyle even it is something small such as join a Yoga class, take time out for yourself, walk away from a stressful situation and calm down before going back to face it, can you hand a job over to anyone else to do, get a cleaner for the housework, take a holiday. ANYTHING!

Stress is not a problem to the body, providing the body has the ability to cope with it which to be fair, we are set up to do via our Adrenal glands. I am sure you have heard of the ‘fight or flight’ response which either helps you to deal with a stressful situation or get the hell out of there. When the stress is overwhelming the adrenals get exhausted and the body fails to deal with stress well.

First thing to do is look at your diet. A body cannot keep going under any circumstances if it is poorly fed.

Eat three good meals a day:-

Consisting of nutritious foods such as fruit, veg, meat, fish, and a sensible intake of carbohydrates.

NOT CHOCOLATE which gives you a short term sugar boost and contains a feel good factor but does not last and may send you in to an emotional low when the blood sugar levels drop.

Drink WATER. Caffeine in tea and coffee is the very worst thing for stress as it increases heart rate and may cause palpitations and anxiety and will definitely prevent you sleeping well.

However, Caffeine is addictive so if you need to come off it, do it slowly, otherwise you will get headaches and feel pretty rough for a couple of weeks. I recommend reducing one cup a day in three day steps, remembering to substitute with water or non caffeine hot drinks such as Rooibos and Chamomile tea.

Exercise is a wonderful stress buster, so go to the gym or preferably do something in the fresh air.

Herbs will vary on whether it is anxiety or depression or insomnia or tiredness.

The main area which needs supporting is the nervous system.

St. John’s wort, which we saw on the shingle beach video, is a wonderful nervous system supporting and repairing herb as well as having anti depressant properties. Don’t take it if you are on any orthodox medicines.

Valerian is  great for calming both the body and mind and I usually mix that with Skullcap which is excellent at calming the brain down so that it does not go in to those mad thought loops at night when you are trying to get off to sleep.

Don’t forget the humble Chamomile which is very gently calming and helps you get a good night’s sleep and the lime flowers we saw growing in Pevensey church yard in the Pevensey walk video.

The adrenal glands can be supported with Ginseng, but there are lots of cautions with Ginseng

Not with tea or coffee

Not if you have high blood pressure

Never for more than three weeks at a time.

Growing in your garden you may have:-

Borage which also supports and restores the adrenals.

Lavender which is great in an herb pillow to help with insomnia and the oil is wonderfully soothing in a bath.

Lemon balm which makes a very nice anti stress tea.

There are many ways of helping combat stress with herbs so do come and see me in my clinic if you would like help.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist

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