Feeling a bit over the edge? Is stress taking a toll on your physical health?
Chronic stress and tension can cause and aggravate several health conditions, including cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure and stroke, and depression. While antidepressants and beta-blockers are recommended treatments to manage stress and tension, they have undesirable side effects. Some herbs can prove effective to combat stress and tension. Here we look at eight proven herbs that can help relieve tension and stress.
#1. Withania Somniera/Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha, also known as Withania Somniera, belongs to a class of herbs known as the adaptogens and effectively relieves tension and stress. The herb regulates how the human body responds in case of stress. Considering its effectiveness, the herb has a long history of use in traditional Indian medicine.
Several studies have confirmed the effectiveness of ashwagandha for relieving tension. One of the most recent studies to investigate the efficacy of the herb was conducted in 2019. The study involved 58 participants with significantly higher stress levels. Each participant received one of the following treatments:
- Ashwagandha extract dosage of 250 mg per day
- Ashwagandha extract dosage of 600 mg per day, or
- a placebo.
The results indicated that the participants who received a daily dose of ashwagandha showed lower stress hormone cortisol levels than those who received a placebo. Moreover, there was also a significant improvement in the sleep quality of the participants. The improvement was a lot more evident in participants who took 600 mg of ashwagandha than those who received a lower dose.
Ashwagandha is available in the form of a tablet and also as a liquid extract.
Chamomile is a flowering herb that is similar to a daisy. It is also one of the proven herbs that help relieve tension. Two varieties of chamomile can help manage stress and anxiety, including the Roman chamomile and German chamomile.
Studies have confirmed that chamomile effectively helps with stress and anxiety and improves symptoms of insomnia and depression. In a clinical trial, chamomile effectiveness as a long-term treatment for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) was studied. The participants received 1,500 mg of chamomile every day for 12 weeks. Later, some participants continued taking chamomile for another 26 weeks, while the remaining participants switched to a placebo.
The results indicated that the participants who continued to take chamomile had the same probability of experiencing a relapse of GAD symptoms as those who switched to a placebo. However, in case of a relapse, the symptoms were less severe among participants who continued to use chamomile.
People may use chamomile in the form of tea, extract, and tablets. Chamomile creams are also available that can help relieve certain skin conditions.
Another herb with proven effectiveness for relieving tension is Ginseng (also known as Korean or Asian ginseng). Research indicates that ginseng is useful in managing stress and anxiety as it helps stabilize the nervous system’s response in case of a stressful situation. Moreover, it improves cognition and thought processing abilities when exposed to high levels of stress. Furthermore, ginseng combats fatigue well and improves energy levels, which is another common symptom experienced by people who often experience tension and stress.
Lavender, a flowering plant from the mint family, is another proven herb that helps relieve tension. Regular use of lavender can help reduce anxiety and allow the nerves to calm down when exposed to stressful situations. Several studies have proved its effectiveness. A review article published in 2017 suggests that lavender contains two types of terpenes named linalool and linalyl acetate, which can have a calming effect on the brain’s chemical receptors. Moreover, the use of lavender essential oil may also be useful for treating short-term anxiety disorders. However, more research is required to find out about the long-term effects of the use of lavender.
You can enjoy the tension-relieving benefits of lavender by making lavender tea or using its essential oil in aromatherapy or bath.
An active ingredient of the cannabis plant, cannabidiol (CBD) is also a proven herb that helps relieve tension. Research indicates that the use of cannabidiol can have a calming effect on the nervous system. Moreover, its use can have positive effects on managing stress and anxiety as well as sleep disorders.
While the FDA does not currently approve cannabidiol, the natural ingredient is widely available in liquid extract, tablets, and topical cream.
Rhodiola is one of the most effective herbs for managing stress and anxiety. It has long been used as a traditional medicine in Russia and many other European countries. It is a perfect natural remedy for chronic stress symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and insomnia.
Regular use of Rhodiola helps remove ammonia and lactic acid from your blood, which can facilitate dealing with muscle fatigue. The effectiveness of Rhodiola for stress management and against stress-induced health conditions was verified through several studies.
Kava, a shrub native to the Pacific Ocean islands, is used as a beverage to relieve stress and enhance mood. However, with the scientific name of Piper methysticum, this shrub is a proven herb that helps relieve tension. A clinical trial confirmed the effectiveness of kava as a treatment for Generalized Anxiety Disorder. In a six-week study involving 75 participants, each participant received one of three treatments.
- Kava extract at doses of 120 mg per day,
- Kava extract at doses of 240 mg per day, or
- A placebo.
Participants using kava showed a significant reduction in anxiety than participants who received the placebo. Moreover, the study also confirmed that the use of kava is safe. However, it is best to discuss it with your doctor before using this herb to relieve tension.
Passionflower is a diverse family of plants with more than 500 different species. Some studies have shown that a particular species of passionflower named P. incarnata may effectively manage stress and anxiety. In some studies, the effectiveness of passionflower was comparable to the effectiveness of benzodiazepines, the drug prescribed to manage symptoms of anxiety.
Herbs have been used for thousands of years to improve several health conditions, and their effectiveness is now proven by science. If you are already using certain medications for a particular health condition, it is best to discuss the use of herbal products with your doctor, as some herbal products can cause undesirable side effects.