Stress is a major contributor to almost all health conditions in my clinical experience as a holistic nutritionist and women’s health expert. Stress is also a major factor in my own health- if I have a particularly stressful month, my period is often delayed because the stress inhibits my body’s ability to ovulate. No ovulation = no period.
I’m going to share a story, not about any particular woman or client, but an amalgamation of similar stories I’ve heard over the years. As you’re reading, if any (or all!) of this fictitious lady’s experiences are like yours, the herbs I’m outlining in this article may be really helpful for you.
For our purposes, let’s call her Judy.
Judy has an on-the-go lifestyle. She’s in a management position at work, which has coworkers and customers constantly coming to her to solve problems. Judy also has 3 kids under the age of 16. She’s married, and her hubby works full time too. When Judy’s alarm goes off, she hits the snooze button about 3 times before finally getting out of bed, throwing on some clothes and rushing out the door with her first coffee of the day. Don’t even think about talking to Judy before her coffee- it might mean disaster.
At work, her day starts immediately with a million problems to be solved. Coworkers even follow her into the bathroom when they need her. By 10AM, Judy’s energy is crashing. She hasn’t eaten breakfast (or has scarfed down a bagel from the local coffee shop) and is on her third cup of coffee. She feels irritable, and flips out on people when it isn’t necessary. By lunch, she’s ravenous. Not having brought a lunch, she heads out to the closest fast food restaurant for something crappy, along with another coffee. She eats while she works.
By 3PM, Judy is having a hard time staying awake. She wants to sleep at her desk, and she’s feeling both anxious and depressed. She knows she has to push through the rest of her work to get home for dinner with the family, so she hits up the vending machine for some chocolate and pounds back some more coffee with sugar. At 5:30PM, she arrives home to 3 hungry kids and a starving hubby. She starts freaking out on her family for stupid stuff, but she can’t help herself. She has zero energy to make dinner, so she orders in pizza- loaded with cheese and processed meats.
After dinner, her day still doesn’t stop. With homework, laundry, cleaning and TV, she’s heading to bed about 11PM. Of course, by this time, she’s gotten a second wind- she’s wired but tired and can’t fall asleep so she stays up watching TV and drinking wine until 2AM when slumber finally arrives. Her sleep is restless, and she’s back to pressing that snooze button all over again the next day.
Does this story sound familiar? Too much to do, too little support and not enough time to do it in? Feeling anxious, depressed, tired and pissed off at life- simply going through the motions without really living?
This is an all-too-common situation, which wreaks havoc on our mood, our hormones and our stress-regulating adrenal glands.
Luckily, medicinal herbs can be seriously helpful in regulating mood, creating stable energy and bringing back that joie de vivre you used to have. Below I’m outlining 6 of my favourite medicinal herbs for mood and stress. If you want to use them, you can get them all blended together in my Stress Tea!
6 Effective Medicinal Herbs to Manage Stress and Adrenal Fatigue
Nettle is a fantastic herb for women, and it grows locally in North America! You might even find it in your backyard or during a hike. Nettle is what’s known as an adaptogen herb, or a medicinal herb that can help the body react to stress- by bringing you up or relaxing you, no coffee or alcohol needed.
Using nettle can provide the body with loads of stress + mood boosting nutrients including magnesium, iron, calcium, vitamin C and some B complex vitamins. Nettle is also anti-inflammatory, and inflammation can breed all types of health issues, putting more stress on the body. If your sleep is disturbed because you’re waking to pee, nettle may be able to help you get. Good night’s sleep.
Nettle is a seriously amazing tonic for women’s bodies, being so full of nutrients with the ability to tone the entire female reproductive system. Nettle is quite a safe herb to use (although it might sting you when fresh!) and works well for many women under stress.
Another local (to me) adaptogen herb, oat straw has many benefits for the on-the-go, stressed out woman. The high levels of adrenal-supporting B vitamins make this herb a great addition to your natural medicine cabinet. If your libido is low, oat straw could be a great tonic.
Oatstraw is a seriously soothing herb that acts as a nervine tonic, soothing anxiety, especially when combined with chamomile and lemon balm. You can get these herbs all together in my Stress Tea formula. Even exhaustion and mild depression can be supported with oat straw. Like nettle, oatstraw is safe for most anyone to use.
One of my absolute favourite herbs for women (hence why I’ve added it to both my Stress Tea and Cramp Tea, chamomile tastes delicious and can be grown in your backyard!
Chamomile has an affinity for both the nervous system and digestive system, making it a great addition if you have a nervous stomach, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. The reason for this is that it has bitter properties, stimulating more digestive juices and liver detoxification.
It is of course calming to the nervous system, and is a great ally if you have anxiety- especially if it comes premenstrually.
As a bonus, if you have irregular or absent menstrual cycles, switching between chamomile and red raspberry leaf tea for a few days is something I’ve seen bring on menstrual flow.
Another fantastic herb for women with stress, depression, anxiety and hormonal imbalances, lemon balm aka melissa is incredibly calming. Lemon balm is also easy to grow- being a member of the mint family, it will grow like wildfire without much attention.
If you have a hard time relaxing or getting a good night’s sleep, lemon balm can calm your nerves, release tension headaches and gently support those with mild depression.
Lemon balm also has analgesic (pain-relieving) properties, making it excellent for use with period pain, cramping, stomach upset and headaches.
Contraindications: Lemon balm should not be used within a few hours of taking thyroid medication unless recommended and monitored by a qualified practitioner.
I first learned of this herb during nutrition school, and have been in love with it ever since. Tulsi aka Holy Basil is an adaptogen, and it’s the first herb I’m mentioning that doesn’t grow wildly in my area, although you can buy plants or seeds and grow it in your garden. It hails from India, where it has been used for generations in Ayurvedic medicine to help stressed out and tired people.
Like chamomile, tulsi can also aid digestion, specifically with gas and bloating due to it’s carminative properties. Tulsi is both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
I LOVE to drink the scent of roses. Personally I find it extremely calming, almost like being wrapped up in cozy blankets and slippers on a dreary winter’s day (which is what I’m seeing as I look out the window writing this). Interestingly, roses aren’t just for looking at or giving on Valentine’s Day.
Though they definitely do have aphrodisiac properties, when it comes to stress and mood, roses are beneficial when your mood needs an uplift. If you’ve been feeling blue or have mild depression, roses can create a feeling of well-being and mild euphoria (oh, ya).
Be sure that if you want to use the roses in your garden for medicinal purposes, you use organic, non-sprayed plants, as roses are usually heavy with pesticides.