Stress is a normal part of everyday life, and it’s the adrenals’ job to promote a healthy response to it.* Biologically speaking, stress is the brain’s response to anything that demands its attention. All changes naturally trigger this stress response.* This bodily function also has the innate ability to divert focus from the immune system and trigger a healthy inflammatory response, so the adrenals normally work to keep it in check.*
There is a group of herbs called adaptogens that work to support the adrenals and their response to stress.* These herbs support the body’s natural resistance and promote equilibrium of mind, body and spirit.
Adaptogens can be divided into three groups. Physically and emotionally supportive adaptogens support your body’s ability to naturally protect against daily stressors, supporting your daily circadian rhythm.* Regulating, calming and restoring adaptogens support balanced adrenal function, promoting the body’s nighttime circadian rhythm. Physically and emotionally motivating adaptogens naturally awaken the body and set in motion internal activity that can help people power through their days.* They are not stimulating like caffeine but instead provide support for the adrenals.
In addition, another group of herbs called nervines, can also provide support for the nervous system. Nervines are herbs that provide support to the nervous system.
Here are five herbs for stress management:
Promotes calmness and support during occasional stress.*
American Skullcap has a long history of use in Western herbalism, especially in women, and it is one of the most widely used nervines. This herb, which has small blue flowers, promotes a naturally calm and balanced mood and supports uptake of nutrition to the nerves. (The leaves are used in modern herbalism.) When taken in the evening, it promotes normal, healthy sleep, and this herb provides antioxidant support as well.*
A member of the Mint family, American Skullcap (sometimes called just Skullcap) is also used to support a healthy menstrual cycle, including a healthy mood.*
(This should not be confused with Chinese Skullcap, Scutellaria baicalensis, which provides liver support.*)
Nourishes nervous system function and promotes a healthy mood.*
When your body is stressed, the immune and nervous systems can be affected, leaving you depleted. Adaptogenic herbs such as Ashwagandha help nourish and restore optimal nervous and immune system health by normalizing mood, energy levels, hormones and overall immune function.* Ashwagandha is one of the most popular Ayurvedic herbs used today. This herb is both a tonic, meaning it supports the body’s overall wellbeing, and an adaptogen, meaning it supports the body’s natural resistance.*
Ashwagandha also promotes a healthy sleep cycle by supporting the nervous system during nightly restoration.*
Supports a healthy response to stress.*
Holy Basil, also known as Tulsi or “the incomparable one,” translates to “balance,” which is symbolic of its most common modern use. The leaves of Holy Basil support a healthy response to stress, while nourishing the mind and elevating the spirit.* As an adaptogenic herb, Holy Basil supports the adrenals and a state of equilibrium in the body.* One of the most revered plants in India, Holy Basil is often described as keeping you “in the eye of the hurricane.” Tulsi is commonly sipped as a tea, or taken as a liquid extract or capsule when more potency is desired. (Learn more about why we call it “stillness in action.”)
Supports normal calm and relaxation from tension brought on by daily stress.*
Native to Oceania, Kava Kava root has been used by native populations there for hundreds of years, usually consumed as a beverage. This relaxing nervine has much deeper meaning to those who come from the South Pacific island nations where it grows. There, the herb is revered and used religiously, culturally and socially. Kava supports emotional wellbeing, and it promotes a calm mood without inducing sleep.* The roots of this herb are also used to promote natural muscle relaxation and support for occasional muscle tension.*
Optimizes energy levels while promoting a healthy mood.*
It is said that your environment impacts how you grow up and function in the world. The same is true for plants. Rhodiola thrives in the harsh climate of Siberia, and it is one of few plants to withstand such an extreme environment. Its ability to evolve under such circumstances mirrors its herbal uses.* This adaptogenic herb supports the body’s natural resistance and adaptation to both physical and emotional stress.* By optimizing energy levels, Rhodiola is commonly used to support a healthy stress response via the adrenal system, as well as athletic performance.*