There is something truly magical about herbs and their ability to harmoniously bring us good health and a deeper understandings of the world around us.
You don’t have to be an avid herbalist or botanist to understand and administer the power of herbs. All you need is a bit of curiosity, patience and a willingness to learn.
One of the first things I learned on my herbal journey was that the mind and body are not separate entities. For example, those butterflies you feel when you’re nervous, or the feeling in your guts you get when you’re scared or anxious—those are not just a coincidence.
Our mind and body work as a complete system. Oftentimes, one relying on the other. It is important to keep this in mind when looking to treat an ailment using herbs. Once one commits to understanding the intricate relationship our mind and body share, a better understanding of how to approach a treatment method is achieved.
There are countless benefits to using herbs in your everyday life. Some of my favorites are those of which aid in an improved state of mind.
Here are my top four herbs that can be used to bring balance within the mind and create a more stable and calm disposition:
1. Lemon Balm
Many studies have been done on Lemon Balm to prove that it effectively treats insomnia, stress and anxiety. In one study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnological Information, researchers found that using lemon balm also improved memory and lengthened attention span in individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. This effect may be due to Lemon Balm’s antioxidant content, which is thought to protect body cells from damage caused by the chemical process of Oxidation.
Lemon balm can be taken in several ways, two being teas and infusions. When steeped for at least four hours, they are the easiest ways to add lemon balm to your daily regimen. If drinking in a tea, it is recommended to consume about six ounces, four times a day. Lemon balm also works well as a tincture/extraction (when the herb is placed in a jar and extracted using a high grain alcohol or glycerin for six weeks).
2. Valerian Root
Valerian Root is one of the most well-known herbs for treating sleep disorders like Insomnia. It has an astounding ability to calm the nervous system, as well as relaxing muscles and joints. Because it has such an impact on the nervous system, it can also be used for stress and anxiety. It is calming without exerting a too sedative effect and is non-addictive. Valerian root can be found and administered in many forms. I’ve found that having a cup of Valerian tea before bed works best.
We cannot talk about calming herbs without mentioning Chamomile. Chamomile has been used for centuries in teas as a mild sleep aid, an anti-inflammatory and as a treatment for stomach ailments, fevers and other conditions. One of the best documented uses is for relaxation. The oil found in the flower has a calming effect on people and can be used to help induce sleep, ease frayed nerves and promote a general sense of calmness and well-being—thus making it great for those with nervousness or anxiety problems. The best way to tap into all of chamomile’s calming properties is by drinking its tea or using its essential oil.
Ashwagandha is one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic healing. With many uses, it is mainly used for its adaptogenic properties. Adaptogens are substances (a combination of amino acids, vitamins, and herbs) that regulate your response to stress or a changing environment, making Ashwagandha a quintessential herb when it comes to treating anxiety and acquiring a more regulated mood. According to the study by the National Center for Biotechnological Information, this powerful herb has been proven to combat the effects of stress. It also improves memory and reaction time and reduces anxiety and mild depression without causing drowsiness. It even helps reduce brain-cell degeneration (whoh!). Due to its bitter taste, the best way to take Ashwagandha is in powdered form (either in capsules or tablets) twice a day. In traditional Ayurvedic practice, a cup of hot milk that contains a teaspoon of powdered Ashwagandha before bedtime is beneficial for alleviating anxiety and insomnia.
We’ve only touched the surface of healing herbs and their potential to naturally bring us both good health and harmony. To use herbal remedies is to treat your ailment at the root, as opposed to just treating the symptoms. This is extremely beneficial because you have a greater potential of healing yourself for the long term.
The herbs discussed are primarily used to promote a better mood and ease the nerves, so you have nothing to lose…and tranquility to gain!
Author: Linda Clements
Apprentice Editor: Carlene Kurdziel / Editor: Catherine Monkman