Stress plays a part in many people's lives; more so than ever in the modern world. Stress is a natural response and a necessary aspect of our survival instincts; however, when short-term stress becomes long-term, problems can arise both emotionally and physically. In physical terms stress can impair your immune system leaving you susceptible to colds and flu, it can aggravate existing health conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and IBS, make headaches worse, and on a more serious note hold long term health risks such as high blood pressure, heart disease and adrenal gland exhaustion. Stress can also cause sleepless nights. See entry on insomnia
In terms of long-term stress it is important to try and recognise the causes and make attempts to minimize them. However, this is not always possible or easy! There are a number of things which you can do to minimise the effects of stress allowing you to cope better, these include eating a nutritious balanced diet, relaxing, regular exercise and using herbal medicine. Seek help from counseling if necessary.
It is also worth remembering that conditions such as food intolerances/allergies can cause emotional symptoms such as mood swings, anxiety, lethargy etc (as well as physical symptoms). Seek advice from a qualified medical herbalist.
A brisk 30 min walk - to improve physical health and emotional wellbeing. Helps to relieve stress and keep blood pressure and cholesterol down. Consider yoga, swimming, stretching and cycling. Remember to get out of the office or house for a break, go for a walk ideally surrounding yourself by nature. Remember to have 'me time'; allow yourself time to relax.
There are a number of herbs which can be used in the treatment of stress. One of my favourite herbs is Skullcap which is a nervine and is especially beneficial for those who have whirling thoughts in their heads. Being a nervine it helps to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. See individual entry for further information and dose.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
Damask rose (Rosa damascena) - Uplifting, mildly sedative and cooling
Herbal relaxants can be used to promote calmness and are especially beneficial for anxiety and insomnia
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita)
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lime flowers (Tilia spp)
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
As with all health problems it is strongly recommended that you consult a medical herbalist to create a specific prescription to meet your individual needs.
If the advice given does not meet your needs consult a medical herbalist or a doctor, or other health care professionals. The information is for educational purposes and is not in place of a consultation with a medical herbalist who are trained in diagnosis and treatment, but also know when it is appropriate to refer.
The doses are for adults; children need smaller doses and not all herbs are suitable to use. Consult a medical herbalist.
'Turbulent life events had left me anxious, stressed, confused, and out of balance. Veda listened carefully to my tearful tale; her calm, thoughtful manner immensely reassuring.
Consultations were thorough, careful, and considered, and I always felt confident that my needs were being addressed. The medicine Veda gave me helped enormously. I could feel the difference quite quickly, and a couple of months later I was seeing the world more clearly, and calmly, and with a wonderful renewed sense of balance.'
Tea of Happiness
To promote emotional wellbeing
Lavender 1 part
Chamomile 1 part
Lemon balm 1 part
Damask Rose 1 part
Marigold 1 part
Directions: Mix the dried ingredients together in a clean dry bowl, place in an airtight container and store in a cool dark place. Use 1 teaspoon of the mixture per cup of boiling water. Leave to infuse for 5 mins. Drink up to 3 cups a day.
Lemon balm tea
To make Lemon Balm Tea (Especially good for digestive problems due to stress)
Make an infusion with a handful of fresh leaves and 150 ml water, or 1 tsp of dried herb to 1 cup of boiling water. Drink 3 cups a day.
When making teas it is best to use a teapot or a cup with a saucer on top. This ensures that volatile oils are not lost and that you get the most out of the tea. The are two ways to make a herbal tea: infusions and decoctions. If the plants used contain hard, woody material then decoctions are used; when leaves, flowers and stems are used infusions are called for. Making an infusion is like making a cup of tea; the herbs (either fresh or dried) are placed in a teapot or teaball, boiling water is poured over them and the herbs are left to steep for 10-15 mins, then drunk. Decoctions involve bringing the plant material to the boil then simmering, usually for 10-15 mins. Both of these methods ensure that all the active chemicals are transferred to the water.
Lavender – can add a couple of drops to pillow can aid a restful sleep (Do not use more than 5 drops as high doses can be stimulating).
To relax tense muscles add to the bath a few drops of essential oil of either: Lavender, Rose, Rosemary or Lemon balm.
An infusion of either lemon balm, lime flowers or chamomile could be added to the bath water:
Add 20g dried herb to 500ml of boiling water (use a teapot or cover). Infuse for 5-10 mins. Add to bath water. Alternatively you can place a handful of the herbs in a muslin bag and suspend from the water tap so that water is running through it.
Bach flowers are used to treat emotional problems