Herbs for Stress & Anxiety in the 21st Century

Stress Epidemic: Lifestyle & Herbs for Managing Stress in the 21st Century

By Dana Hutchinson, C.H., C.N., C.R.M., C.F.E.P., RYT 200 

With CNN reporting on October 24, 2018 that if you live a high-stress life, “you could have memory loss and brain shrinkage before you turn 50,” reducing the levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, which predicts brain function, brain size and performance, must be a main focus for society today. (CNN, 2018). The modern human is exposed to a greater diversity of people, higher standards, more specialized roles, a fast-paced market economy, and the constant struggle of adapting to rapidly evolving innovation. As the National Institute of Mental Health claims that 40 million adults in the US are affected by anxiety, and millions more are afflicted by depression related disorders, evolutionary psychologists tell us that part of the problem is that, “there’s a mismatch between the current environment (with its cities, bureaucracies, inequality, and social media) and the environment of evolutionary adaptation (tribal life on the savanna).” (Psychology Today, 2017). This suggests that there is a fundamental disconnect between the language of plants our ancestors used to utilize in every part of their daily lives and the adaptation our 21st century humans have made to essentially disregarding the very science that has kept us alive for so many years.

So why are we more stressed out than any generation, more disconnected with the earth than we ever have been, and forcing our bodies to continuously be on “fight or flight” mode constantly? We have reached a stress epidemic, where we have a pharmaceutical prescription addicted society, a governmental system that overworks the mass majority of society, and immune systems that simply cannot keep up with our high cortisol levels on a daily basis. This constant cycle of stress, anxiety, and worrying, is unfortunately leading modern Americans to their vitality downfall with a side of chronic autoimmune diseases patiently awaiting their chance to present themselves in the human body. As Gaia herbs states, “Stress is a normal part of everyday life, and it is the adrenals’ job to promote a healthy response to it,” it is imperative that our bodies are operating in a pristine environment to respond to healthy stress and harness the ability to remove barriers that may cause this stress trigger in the first place. (Romnie, 2016). By devoting time to our private spiritual practices, exercising daily, providing the correct nutritional diet plan for our bodies, and supplementing with a variety of herbs, we can begin to repair an exhausted system and reduce high cortisol levels.

What can you do to facilitate this stress reduction environment for your body? First, we will examine 5 herbs that can help safely manage stress and anxiety while nourishing the body on the deepest level.

5 HERBS FOR STRESS MANAGEMENT

1. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

·         Reduces Cortisol Levels

·         Reduces Symptoms of Depression

·         Restores the Adrenals & Nervous System

·         Reduces Stress & Anxiety

2. Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)

·         Boosts Immunity

·         Reduces Stress

·         Promotes Relaxation

·         Reduces Muscle Spasms & General Pain

3. Kava (Piper methysticum)

·         Improves Attitude

·         Improves Mental Clarity

·         Relaxes the Body

·         Reduces Stress & Pain

4. Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)

·         Reduces Nervous Tension

·         Restores the Nervous System

·         Nourishes the Body with Minerals & Vitamins

·         Promotes Restful Sleep

5. Milky Oats (Avena Sativa)

·         Provides Body with Calcium, B Vitamins, and Magnesium

·         Strengthens the Nerves

·         Eases the Stress of Transitional Periods

·         Reduces Mood Swings

Now that we have mentioned a few herbs that we can begin incorporating into our lifestyle, let’s examine 8 Lifestyle changes we can begin implementing to start successfully managing stress levels in the 21st century.

 

8 LIFESTYLE CHANGES FOR STRESS MANAGEMENT

1. Enhance Spiritual Practice

2. Include Breathwork, Yoga, and Meditation in your Daily Routine

3. Exercise Daily for 30 minutes

4. Implement a Plant-Based Nutrition Plan for a Month

5. Turn off your TV, Phone, and Wi-Fi and Hour Before you Sleep

6. Spend Time with Family & Friends

7. Reduce Alcohol & Caffeine Intake

8. Supplement with Vitamin D, Magnesium, and a B Complex Vitamin  

 

The Common Wealth Center for Holistic Herbalism states that natural remedies and herbal allies for combating stress, “can very effectively manage and reduce stress by boosting natural immunity, building stamina, and developing more balanced reactions to stressful events.” (CCHH, 2015). By implementing herbs, removing obstacles, and giving the body the tools it needs to repair and heal itself, we can begin to combat high cortisol levels, reduce daily stress, and switch our bodies off of a constant “fight & flight” mode. If you are interested in learning more about stress reduction and herbs, Herbal Academy offers a fantastic course for budding health care professionals: https://theherbalacademy.com/product/herbal-self-care-stress-management-course/.

 

Sources:

“5 Sources of Stress and Anxiety in the Modern World.” Stone, Jim. Psychology Today, March 30, 2017. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/clear-organized-and-motivated/201703/5-sources-stress-and-anxiety-in-the-modern-world

Herbal Self-Care for Stress Management Course. Herbal Academy. https://theherbalacademy.com/product/herbal-self-care-stress-management-course/

Herbs for Stress. Common Wealth Center for Holistic Herbalism. https://commonwealthherbs.com/herbs-for-stress/

“Stress might lead to memory loss and brain shrinkage, study says.” LaMotte, Sandee. CNN, October 24, 2018. https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/24/health/stress-memory-loss-under-50-study/

Romnie, Stephanie. “5 Herbs for Healthy Stress Management.” July 29, 2016. Gaia Herbs, plant intelligence. https://blog.gaiaherbs.com/2016/07/29/5-herbs-for-healthy-stress-management/

Life's Magical Gifts; Flower Essences

What are flower essences, how are flower essences used, and what are 8 ways to use them?

By Dana Hutchinson, C.H., C.N., C.R.M., C.F.E.P., RYT 200

What are Flower Essences?

Flower Essences are herbal deconstructions of flower petals and spring water, which uniquely address emotional and mental aspects of human wellness. As most flower essence practitioners and researchers believe that illness or disease is the cumulative result of ignoring energetic and emotional imbalances, flower essences can balance negative emotional & mental patterns before they turn into physical disease in the body.

The first 38 flower essences were formulated by Dr. Edward Bach in the 1930’s, where he believed that each flower was intended to help remedy a particular negative emotional state. Flower essences are made by collecting non-toxic petals of the desired flower and laying them in a glass bowl of spring water. Then leaving them out in the sun for 4 hours or lightly boiling the material and water and removing the flowers from the bowl, you will be left with the “mother” essence which contains the life force of the flowering plant or the soul of the plant and its healing vibrations. This “mother essence” is then preserved with brandy and diluted into stock bottles with 1 drop of the mother essence in spring water making up 1 “stock essence.” Then, 1 drop of the stock essence in water makes up the dosage bottle that is distributed for use to clients.

Flower essences work in a very subtle manner, so their effects may vary between client and may take about 2-3 weeks for one to notice a shift in their personality or way of thinking. Overtime, taking the correct combination of essences, one will undoubtedly notice a marked difference in their mood, energy, and overall health; often leading to a profound inner transformation. Unlike essential oils or herbal remedies that contain physical substances extracted from plants, there is no physical part of the flower in a flower essence bottle, only the healing vibrational energy from the flower petals. As each flower has a different healing quality, flower essences offer a fantastic way to heal and grow, as they act as a catalyst for change at a deep emotional level. You will be connecting on a spiritual level with nature, which often brings about clarity about your life’s purpose.

How are Flower Essences Used?

Flower Essences are used to assist emotional blockages in the human personality. In order to successfully use flower essences in a wellness treatment plan, one must recognize that the human being is more than a physical body; that it is a body of life and a body of sensitivity and feelings. As flower essences are an energetic imprint of the life force of plants, these essences evoke specific emotional qualities within us. Their vibrational power works similarly to inspirational music, that can carry meaning through a vehicle of sound and light, where the flower essence’s potent life force qualities is carried through the medium of water.

Flower essences are used to address a negative mental or emotional state. The original Bach Flower Remedies and other newly developed Flower Essences gently restore the balance between the mind and body by casting out negative emotions such as fear, worry, hatred,  and indecision which may interfere with the equilibrium of the being as a whole. They are used to assist certain mental ailments or support a wellness journey by taking 4 drops 4 times a day under the tongue. They are used to combat certain states of mind, like anger, anxiety, stress, trauma, depression, grief, jealously, despondency, fear, over caring for others, worrying, and loneliness. Bach developed seven categories to group his 38 developed flower essences under.

Bach 7 Categories:

For those who have fear

o   Rock Rose: Helps when you experience fears, such as terror or fright that makes you feel frozen and unable to move or think clear. 

o   Mimulus: Helps when you feel fear, the type of fear that you can put a name on such as fear of dogs, spiders, being alone, losing a job, illness etc. Also, fear of speaking freely of it to others or shyness. 

o   Cherry Plum: For those who fear losing control of their thoughts and actions and doing things they know are bad for them or which they consider wrong. Teaches trust in one’s spontaneous wisdom and the courage to follow one’s path. 

o   Aspen: Helps when you feel fearful without knowing why. The fear is vague and unexplained and may haunt you day or night. 

o   Red Chestnut: Helps when you find it difficult not to be anxious for other people, you are afraid that some unfortunate things may happen to your loved ones.

For those who suffer uncertainty

o   Cerato: Helps trust your own judgment in decision-making.

o   Scleranthus: Helps when you have a hard time choosing between two things, such as Mexican or Chinese food, you simply cannot decide which restaurant to go to.

o   Gentian: Helps when you get discouraged and depressed when things go wrong or when you are faced with even small delays or difficulty.

o   Gorse: Helps when you feel great hopelessness and have given up belief that more can be done.

o   Hornbeam: Helps when you feel that you do not  have sufficient amount of strength mentally or physically to carry the burden that life has placed on you.

o   Wild Oat: Helps when you are at a crossroad in life and are uncertain as to which direction to choose.

 

Insufficient interest in present circumstances

o   Clematis: For those who find their lives unhappy and withdraw into fantasy worlds. They are un-grounded and indifferent to the details of everyday life. Teaches one to establish a bridge between the physical world and the world of ideas and may foster great creativity. Is also used to bring clarity and alertness to the present moment.

o   Honeysuckle: Helps you to let go of past experiences or events. Your thoughts are in the past rather in the present.

o   Wild Rose: Helps you to take responsibility for your own life and take a lively interest in life, work, and the world in general.

o   Olive: Helps you regain energy, vitality, and interest in life.

o   White Chestnut: Helps when your mind is cluttered with thoughts usually arguments, ideas, thoughts which you do not wish to have in your mind.

o   Mustard: Helps when you feel suddenly depressed without any reason. It feels like a cold dark cloud that destroys normal happiness and cheerfulness.

o   Chestnut Bud: Helps when you from making the same mistake over and over again. You do not take full advantage of observation and experiences and therefore it takes longer for you to learn a lesson.

Loneliness

o   Water Violet: Helps you get a warmer relationship with other people. You love being alone, but often find yourself lonely.

o   Impatiens: For those who act and think quickly and have no patience for what they see as the slowness of others. They often prefer to work alone. Teaches empathy and understanding of and patience with others. It is found to be fast-acting in alleviating an impatient attitude and lowering stress.

o   Heather: Helps when you are unhappy being alone for any length of time, you are always seeking the companionship and find it necessary to discuss your affairs with others, no matter who it may be.

 

Over-sensitivity to influences and ideas

o   Agrimony: Helps you to communicate your real feelings and worries. You are the cheerful, humorous type that gets distressed by argument or quarrel. You often hide your feelings behind humor and you use alcohol or drugs in excess to stimulate yourself.

o   Centaury: Helps when you find it hard to say no, and therefore easily get imposed on. You often find yourself serving others, neglecting your own particulate mission in life.

o   Walnut: Helps you break free from old ties and at times of major life changes. It helps you move forward and make necessary changes in order to be happy. Walnut gives consistency and protection from outside influences.

o   Holly: Helps when you suffer from angry thoughts such as jealousy, envy, revenge and/or suspicion

 

Despondency or despair

o   Larch: Helps you to regain self-esteem and confidence in yourself.

o   Pine: Helps when you feel guilt and self-reproach, often for other people’s mistakes or just anything that goes wrong. You are never content with your effort and results.

o   Elm: Helps when your responsibilities overwhelm you. You feel depressed and exhausted and may lose self-esteem.

o   Sweet Chestnut: Helps you at moments when the anguish is too great and seem to be unbearable. Your mind or body feels as if it has tolerated the uttermost limit of its endurance. It feels as there is nothing, but destruction and annihilation left to face.

o   Star of Bethlehem: Helps when you experience trauma, serious news, loss of someone dear, the fright following an accident etc. The distress and unhappiness feel unbearable.

o   Willow: Helps when you have suffered adversity or misfortune and find it difficult to accept. You feel sorry for yourself and are grumble and sulky.

o   Oak: Helps when your inner strength wanes, usually because you are an over-achiever and will overwork and ignore your tiredness.

o   Crab Apple: Helps when you feel that there is something not quite clean about yourself. You may need to wash hands often, find things dirty without any reason, you may find yourself ugly although others find you very attractive. This is the cleansing Essence.

 

Over-care for welfare of others

o   Chicory: Helps you to be less critical, opinionated, and argumentative. You always find something about others that you believe should be put right.

o   Vervain: For strong-willed people who hold strong views. They put unnecessary effort into everything they undertake, your mind race ahead of events, you may suffer from lack of sleep due to an overactive mind.

o   Vine: Helps you respect other people’s views and ideas, you tend to try to persuade other people to do things your way.

o   Beech: Helps you be less critical toward other people and accept them as they are.

o   Rock Water: Helps when you expect too much of yourself.

8 Ways to Use Flower Essences

There are a multitude of ways that you can use flower essences both internally and externally. Of course, the most common example of absorbing the vibrational medicine is to put 4 drops under the tongue 4 times a day for at least a week. Some will enjoy adding their 4 drops daily to 8oz. of water and sipping 4 times throughout the day in between meals. If you are using essences 4 times a day, you should notice a shift in two to three days from the beginning of usage.

The most fascinating thing about flower essences is their ability to heal on the emotional, mental, and spiritual levels, which can assist balance, health, and harmony in your physical body.

 

Here are 8 common ways to use Flower Essences in your daily life:

 

1. Take directly under the tongue 4 drops 4 times a day

2. Use several drops in your bath

3. Use in a spray or a mist

3. Add them to other herbal tinctures to enhance the benefits

4. Put a few drops in beauty products, shampoos, massage oils, and lotions

5. Apply to acupuncture points of to the chakras

6. Rub them on your hands to massage yourself and topically absorb the vibrational energy

7. Drop a few drops in your tea, smoothie, water, or juices for extra “clarity”

8. Dab a few drops on problem skin areas, minor cuts, scrapes, and bruises