10 Best Herbs for Stress Relief

10 Best Herbs for Stress Relief

Reading Time: 5 minutes


The worldwide pandemic saw an unprecedented increase in stress-related health issues. More and more people discovered the holistic healing help of herbs for stress relief.   

Using herbs for health has been a part of the apothecary arsenal for thousands of years. The oldest written record we have of plants being used as medicine dates back to 1500 BC in Egypt.  

Herbs used for stress relief are part of the group known as adaptogens. They help balance the body and aid in relieving physical and psychological stress.  

When taking any medicine, exercise caution and follow the guidelines you are given by your holistic health professional or other physicians. Any supplement, herbal or otherwise, may interact with the medications you are on.  

Why Use Calming Herbs for Stress Relief?  

Using herbs for stress relief, as with other health issues, encourages and enables the body to heal itself. While herbs are not to be used without education and caution, they don’t have the severe side effects of manmade drugs.   

Using herbs for health has been a part of the apothecary arsenal for thousands of years. The oldest written record we have of plants being used as medicine dates back to 1500 BC in Egypt.  

Whether your stress comes from work, financial issues, health issues, relationship problems, or nutritional deficiencies, the effects on the body are real and damaging. There is a reason stress is called, “The Silent Killer.”  

Growing herbs outdoors adds sensational sights and smells to your environment which can help relax the mind. They are even included in edible landscaping ideas.  

How to Take Herbs for Stress Relief  

Let’s look at the ways herbs are taken or used, so when you do further study or talk to your physician, you’ll be better informed.  

  1. Infusion – creates a tea made by pouring boiling water over dehydrated flowers, leaves, or fruit of the herb. Cold infusion takes longer and isn’t as potent.  
  2. Decoction – more potent than an infusion. The bark, roots, woody stems, rhizomes, flowers, petals, and fruits are added to water and carefully simmered, never boiled, for 15-20 minutes. Not all herbs are suited for a decoction.  
  3. Tincture – made by soaking the bark, leaves, fruit, and roots of herbs in alcohol or apple cider vinegar for six to eight weeks. Tinctures are concentrated extracts usually taken by placing some of the liquid on the tongue.  
  4. Essential oils – Best known of all herbal solutions. They are created by extracting the plant’s oils from flowers, fruits, leaves, and stems. They’re concentrated and aromatic. Used in aromatherapy, salves, balms, and creams.   
  5. Cream – made by combining essential oils with an emollient, such as mango butter and water or hydrosol for quick absorption by the skin.  
  6. Salve – Similar to a cream but thicker and not as readily absorbed. They are made by infusing oil with whole or crushed herbs then combining it with a wax and allowed to firm up.   

10 Best Herbs for Stress Relief:  

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)  

By calming the nervous system, it balances the body by reducing stress-related fatigue and helps the body sleep better. It has been shown to work effectively as an anti-anxiety and anti-depressant for those with stress-related issues. Helpful for menopause.  

Asian Ginseng (Panax Ginseng)  

Considered one of the most powerful herbs. It supports the nervous system to reduce and often alleviate mental fatigue, boost energy, relieve anxiety and depression, and remove inflammation from the body.   

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)  

It improves the quality of sleep by reducing or eliminating the number of times we awaken at night. Helps reduce anxiety and emotional stress.   

Lavender (left) and chamomile (right) flowers for tea.

Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) – aka “the elixir of life”  

Works to relieve both physical and mental stress by reducing cortisol levels which affect all body systems. It improves sleep (which helps every body system), elevates mood, increases memory function, and supports brain health.  

Holy Basil also supports the immune system and has powerful antioxidant properties. It also helps reduce blood pressure. If you are considering planting herbs in pots, this is one you should try.  

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)  

One of the best-known herbs. It improves depression, relieves travel stress for people and dogs, reduces anxiety, improves sleep, and reduces insomnia.   

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)  

By supporting the nervous system, it helps balance the body reducing its stress response. It improves mood and cognitive function, reduces symptoms of anxiety, improves sleep, increases a sense of calmness and wellbeing, and has anti-viral properties.  

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)  

One of the most potent nervine herbs. It is an effective pain reliever, alleviates insomnia, calms nerves and nervous energy, relieves anxiety, lowers blood pressure, and relieves tension and migraine headaches by relaxing bloods vessels.   

Effectively relieves hot flashes, menstrual cramps, and mood swings in women.  

Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)  

Similar in function to Ashwagandha, it reduces the level of cortisol in the body affecting all systems. By producing a sense of calmness and relaxation, mental energy is restored allowing for better focus, clarity of thought, and improved memory.  

St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)  

Known for its use to relieve depression and symptoms of menopause. St. John’s Wort works by affecting the uptake of the hormones produced by the body in response to stress. Also used to relieve anxiety, and lift moods.  

Turmeric (Curcuma longa)  

Used for millennia to lower the body’s stress response. Its primary uses include pain relief, anxiety and depression relief, alleviation of inflammation, and reversal of damage caused by chronic stress. I use turmeric powder almost every day, mixed with ginger and black pepper to make Golden Milk for relief of joint pain and inflammation.   

tumeric - herbs for stress relief

Proper Use of Herbs for Stress Relief  

They are not instant fixes like most of us want. Because herbs have an accumulative effect, the best results come with a little time and consistency. Everyone has their preferred way of using herbs, but most prefer a liquid form for the quickest results.   

Most herbs will be more potent in synergy with other herbs producing a more well-rounded effect. Talk with your herbalist, holistic health professional, or other physicians to see what works best for you.  

Another word of caution, not all herb sources are the same. Find a source for quality herbs and herbal supplements. It means a little research, but we are talking about helping your body find stress relief.  

By growing herbs from seed at home, you can be sure of the quality. Most of these herbs are easily grown in containers or raised beds.  

Life can be chaotic and stressful, give your body a helping hand by using some of these herbs for stress relief.   

Originally published in May/June 2022 issue of Countryside and Small Stock Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *