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.


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.



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/.



“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/