Herbs to Help You Defeat Holiday Stress
Most of us look forward to the holidays. It’s a time for family, friends and planning for the New Year. But it can also be a season of stress. There’s so much to accomplish… but very little time. And wintry weather can make completing your to-do list nearly impossible.
Wouldn’t it be great if there were a simple way to beat year-end stress?
There is. In fact, there are several. And today, I’ll share a few stress-busting herbs that can help you deal with holiday stress.
Panax ginseng is one of the best known – and best studied – herbs. It’s been a part of the Chinese herbal tradition for many centuries. And with good reason.
Ginseng is a potent adaptogen. That is, an herb that helps your body deal with stress. One way it works is by promoting lower levels of your body’s main stress hormone, cortisol.1 When your cortisol levels go down, your body switches into “recovery mode,” allowing you to relax and feel less tense.
Schisandra isn’t as well known as ginseng, but it may be even more effective at helping you beat stress. This Asian shrub produces a lovely reddish blossom and a fruit known in China as “five flavor fruit.”
Russian studies suggest it has positive effects on your heart, nerves, blood vessels, and immune system. They’ve found schisandra promotes feelings of relaxation, as well as supporting greater endurance, mental sharpness and working capacity.2
You can find Panax ginseng and schisandra at health food stores and online.
If you’re fond of a cup of tea, chamomile can help you relax. It’s especially effective before bedtime. But chamomile’s taste reminds many people of straw.
A better choice for a relaxing cup of tea might be another flower – passionflower. Studies show it’s very effective at helping you de-stress.
Passionflower encourages less tension, restlessness and irritablility.3 Australian researchers have found it promotes better sleep.4 And doctors in Turkey have even used passionflower to help patients relax before surgery.5
Passionflower is readily available in several forms – including as a tea.
Aromatherapy is another effective way to de-stress. Lavender is well known for its relaxing properties. A hot, lavender-scented bath is a wonderful way to pamper yourself as you feel the stress just melt away.
But don’t be fooled by its delicate scent. Lavender is powerful stuff.
In a recent study, doctors at United Hospital in St. Paul exposed some patients waiting for surgery to lavender oil. These patients felt less nervous about their surgeries than patients who weren’t exposed to lavender oil.6
Another calming essential oil I enjoy is orange. Like lavender, it promotes a sense of calmness and ease. Austrian researchers exposed dental patients to the scent of orange in the waiting room. These patients were far more relaxed about their upcoming dental appointments than a second group not exposed to orange.7
A great way to use orange is to put a fresh, torn-up orange peel and a crushed cinnamon stick into a pan with 3 or 4 cups of water. Then simmer the contents on the stovetop – being careful not to let the water boil all the way down.
Soon your house will fill with a warm holiday scent that also promotes relaxation and feelings of calm.
Yours in continued good health,
Best Life Herbals Wellness Team
1 Rasheed, N., et al, “Involvement of monoamines and proinflammatory cytokines in mediating the anti-stress effects of Panax quinquefolium,” J Ethnopharmacol. May 8, 2008;117(2):257-62.
2 Panossian, A. and Wikman, G., “Pharmacology of Schisandra chinensis Bail.: an overview of Russian research and uses in medicine,” J Ethnopharmacol. Jul 23, 2008;118(2):183-212.
3 Krenn, L., “Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata L.)–a reliable herbal sedative,” Wien Med Wochenschr. 2002;152(15-16):404-406.
4 Ngan, A. and Conduit, R., “A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality,” Phytother Res. Aug 2011;25(8):1153-1159.
5 Aslanargun, P., et al, “Passiflora incarnata Linneaus as an anxiolytic before spinal anesthesia,” J Anesth. Nov 3, 2011. [Epub ahead of print]
6 Braden, R., et al, “The use of the essential oil lavandin to reduce preoperative anxiety in surgical patients,” J Perianesth Nurs. Dec 2009;24(6):348-355.
7 Lehrner, J., et al, “Ambient odor of orange in a dental office reduces anxiety and improves mood in female patients,” Physiol Behav. Oct 1-15, 2000;71(1-2):83-86.
Hello, it’s Jaime.
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