Alchemy of Calm: Matching Stress Types with Herbal Remedies

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The UK is a nation of worriers. Current estimates suggest over 8 million people are experiencing an anxiety disorder at any one time (Mental Health UK) and almost a million people in the workplace are affected by work-related stress, depression or anxiety each year.

Popular treatments for anxiety and depression include antidepressant medication, talking therapy, and cognitive behavioural therapy, but did you know the plant world offers some amazing natural remedies for mood and can help balance your outlook when you’re feeling stressed out, anxious or burned out? 

Plants have been used for their mood-enhancing compounds for thousands of years, and these days you can find them in many forms to support your health, from tinctures and teas to essential oils and plant-infused creams containing active ingredients to help soothe and calm the nervous system: think a few drops of lavender essential oil dabbed onto a pillow to help you sleep, a cup of chamomile tea before bed, or a CBD-infused massage balm to deliver relief for aching muscles. 

However, if you’re not a trained herbalist, the world of plant remedies can sometimes feel a little overwhelming. How do you match your symptoms to the plant and know which one will suit you best? Here’s where our stress profiling steps in… Read on to match your stress type with the herb and take the guesswork out of which one to try.

Types of stress and herbs to treat them

#1 Struggling with Sleep

It’s a common phenomenon. When the lights go out, your brain has a not-so-funny habit of switching on. Before you know it, you’re ruminating on the day’s events or worrying about the future, tossing and turning as the clock ticks down the hours. If that sounds familiar, then try valerian, passionflower and hops, to help you wind down before bed. 

  • Valerian is a potent sedative and nervine tonic and was even used by doctors during World War 1 and 2 as a treatment for shell shock and nervous stress. It is revered in traditional Nordic, Persian and Chinese medicines and a popular remedy for insomnia. 
  • Hops is an aromatic bitter plant that is mostly known for its use in beer making. However, it has a long history of use in traditional medicines as a nervine tonic to reduce restlessness and irritability, and even to relieve toothache! Try Living Nutrition’s Organic Fermented Night Time blend. 

#2 Struggling with Anxiety

Anxiety can be an acute, short-term symptom attached to a particular concern, or a chronic condition that can become habitual and hard to break. If you struggle with anxiety, try and break your day up into small, manageable tasks. Try passionflower and ashwagandha.

  • Passionflower: This sedative and tranquilising herb acts on the central nervous system, making it a helpful approach for nervous restlessness. It has been used in Native Central and North American herbalism for centuries. 
  • Ashwagandha: Sometimes called ‘Indian ginseng’, ashwagandha is considered the chief adaptogen in Ayurvedic medicine and famed for its benefits to the nervous system, including lowering cortisol levels and inflammation, and enhancing mood. It contains a potent class of active compounds called withanolides with mild anti-inflammatory properties.

#3 Nervous stress

If you’re constantly worrying and seeing everything through a negative lens, it can be hard to rise to even ordinary daily challenges. If small activities feel overwhelming, explore the following: lavender, ashwagandha and lemon balm

  • Lavender is well known for its soothing and calming effect and considered a sedative herb possessing helpful sensory compounds. 
  • Lemon Balm can bring calm and stability inside and out, especially when a stressed nervous system affects digestion. Try Living Nutrition’s Organic Fermented Tranquillity blend.

#4 Burnout and exhaustion

Burnout is usually preceded by a period of high stress, where your personal needs can take a back seat to more immediate issues such as work, relationship issues or caring responsibilities. The difficulty is that once you’re in a state of burnout it can be difficult to bring yourself back into balance.

Prioritising sleep, rest, deep nutrition, breathwork and meditation can all be great strategies to pursue. In terms of herbs, it’s a good idea to reach for the adaptogens, which can help to gently balance the different organ systems and fortify your resilience against stress. Try red ginseng, rhodiola, and holy basil

  • Red ginseng – also known as Korean or Panax ginseng –  is rich in bioactive compounds called ginsenosides that have potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. It has been used traditionally to combat fatigue and increase energy levels. 
  • Rhodiola – also known as Arctic root or Golden root – is a herb that grows at high altitudes in Europe. It is a powerhouse containing 140 active compounds, including rosavin and salidroside, and can support emotional resilience during stress. 
  • Holy Basil – also known as Tulsi –has a rich history in traditional Ayurvedic medicine and possesses pharmacological properties with anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects.

#5 Struggling with Hormonal stress

When we are out of balance, one of the first systems to be affected is our endocrine or hormonal system. For women, this can look like hormone swings with high oestrogen and progesterone taking a dip, blood sugar imbalances, fatigue and emotional mood swings.

For men, stress can affect their thyroid and testosterone production, causing low mood, fatigue and low libido. During these challenges, look for adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms that can support stamina, sex hormone expression and balance. Women can try shatavari herb, men can try tribulus. Both men and women can also benefit from cordyceps mushroom’s properties. 

  • Shatavari can support female health through all stages of the life cycle, from menstruation to fertility and menopause. In Ayurveda it is highly valued for its longevity and hormonal health benefits, and possesses calming effects on the nervous system, enhancing cognition and mental clarity. 
  • Tribulus supports physical health, athletic performance and vitality due its mild androgenic effects, and has been used traditionally to boost men’s fertility, testosterone and libido. 
  • Cordyceps is a powerful adaptogenic mushroom rich in an active compound called cordycepin; it can be used to support energy levels, physical stamina and both male and female libido and fertility. 

Here at Living Nutrition, we are specialists in bringing the best out of plants to benefit human health and help you deal with your stress in a natural way. All our organic herbs are lovingly fermented in a two-step process to optimise the active compounds in each plant: fermentation is the best way to activate a plant’s chemical makeup including its enzymes, antioxidants and polyphenols.

Fermentation also enhances important sensory compounds and live biotics that ensure the whole plant can interact with your digestion and flourish in your microbiome.

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