Support a Healthy Stress Response with Botanicals

Published on April 19, 2021

By Gaia Herbs

Gaia Herbs

Stress is so much a part of our daily lives that most of us don't take it seriously. While common, stress can have severe effects on your health. It can impair your ability to make good decisions, sleep, maintain a healthy weight, and recover from illness. It can even disrupt your hormones and accelerate the aging process. Fortunately, many botanicals can support your body as it healthily responds to stress.*

The Three Phases of Stress

There are three phases of stress. The first two phases are acute, meaning short-lived, while the third phase is chronic, meaning persisting over a prolonged period.

  1. Acute, non-recurring, and mild response: In this phase, you may suffer from stress for a short time, but it does not incapacitate you. You need support, but you can function normally.
  2. Acute, recurring, and poor recovery: In the second phase, your stress is recurring, and you may take longer to recover. Your sleep can become affected, and you may feel nervous and uneasy. If this is the case, ask your doctor for lab tests to evaluate your cortisol levels, a stress hormone.
  3. Chronic, prominent symptoms and poor recovery: By the third stage, your stress has become chronic. Your symptoms are prominent, and it takes a long time to recover because your adrenal glands are most likely exhausted. You may also have unusual sleep patterns, sleep apnea, and excessive fatigue. Chronic stress can also impair your short-term memory.

Since chronic stress can lead to serious diseases — including heart disease and depression — it is best to consult your healthcare practitioner on coping methods if you are continually overwhelmed and debilitated. However, everyone suffers from acute stress (both phase 1 and phase 2) now and again.

4 Botanicals to Support Stress Management

For centuries, people worldwide have used herbal remedies as natural alternatives to manage feelings of stress and anxiety. Many people have found that certain herbs and herbal supplements can promote a sense of calm and manage stress levels.


Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an adaptogenic herb that can help the body adapt to stress by increasing or decreasing biochemicals as needed to produce a state of balance.* Ashwagandha may help ease people’s subjective perceptions of stress and physical symptoms.REF#1367

Recommended dosages for Ashwagandha are:

  • 3 to 6 grams of the dried root per day
  • 6 to 15 ml of a 1:2 fluid extract per day
  • 300 to 500 mg of an extract standardized to contain 1.5 percent withanolides per day


Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) is another adaptogen that may help your body adapt to occasional stress.REF#1368 In the 1960s, the Soviet Union secretly researched Rhodiola to improve the performance of their Olympic athletes and cosmonauts.*

Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human trials have demonstrated Rhodiola's ability to elevate mood, counter stress-induced fatigue, increase mental performance and concentration, and support healthy sleep.* This may be because Rhodiola decreases levels of cortisol.REF#1368

Recommended dosages for Rhodiola are:

  • To support a positive mood: 170 mg or 340 mg twice per day for six weeks
  • To energize: 200 mg three times per day
  • To promote healthy sleep: 600 mg per day


Native American healers and 19th-century herbalists traditionally used Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) to induce sleep gently.* New research indicates it also has daytime benefits. Studies have found Passionflower can be effective at reducing feelings of nervousness and tension, with fewer side effects than other treatments.REF#1369

Recommended dosages for Passionflower are:

  • Dried herb: 2 grams, three to four times per day
  • Infusion: 2 grams in 150 ml of water, three to four times per day
  • Fluid extract, 1:1 or 1:2 (g/ml): 2 ml, three to four times per day
  • Liquid Phyto-Cap form: Two capsules, three to four times per day
  • Tincture 1:5 (g/ml) extract, three to four times per day

Holy Basil 

Considered a sacred herb also known as Tulsi, Hindus often planted Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) around Hindu temples. It is another adaptogen traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to relieve occasional stress.*

A clinical study of several active compounds found in Holy Basil demonstrated that the herb combats stress by maintaining blood sugar levels within normal limits.* It also balances corticosterone (a hormone involved in stress response) and creatine kinase (a marker of heart health) and regulates the growth of the adrenal glands (which secrete steroid hormones).REF#1370

Recommended dosages for Holy Basil are:

  • 300 to 600 mg per day in divided doses (does not need to be taken with food)

Additional Botanicals for Everyday Stress Relief


Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) has been an herbal remedy used for centuries to promote relaxation and calmness.* It is available in many forms, including tea, supplements, and essential oil.

Chamomile contains flavonoids, terpenoids, and other compounds that can provide a calming effect on the nervous system, which can help soothe feelings of stress and promote relaxation.REF#1371

Chamomile essential oil is sometimes used in aromatherapy to relieve relaxation and stress.* It can be inhaled or applied topically but diluted before use.

Recommended dosages for chamomile are:

  • One to four cups of Chamomile tea per day
  • 220 to 1,600 mg of Chamomile extract per day
  • Three to four drops of Chamomile essential oil diluted in a carrier oil, applied topically or inhaled.

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is an herbal remedy that can help support well-being and promote relaxation. It belongs to the mint family and is known for its calming properties.* Lemon Balm contains rosmarinic acid and other compounds that can support the nervous system and help manage feelings of stress.REF#1372

Recommended dosages for Lemon Balm are:

  • One to three cups of Lemon Balm tea per day
  • 300 to 600 mg of lemon balm extract per day
  • 60 drops of liquid extract per day


Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is commonly used to help support feelings of relaxation and sleep quality.* It is a perennial plant native to Europe and Asia and is now grown in many parts of the world.

Valerian root contains compounds that can support the nervous system and help ease feelings of stress and anxiety.REF#1376 This, in turn, can help support high-quality sleep and tiredness at appropriate times.REF#1373

Recommended dosages for Valerian are:

  • 300 to 900 mg of Valerian root extract per day
  • Two to three cups of Valerian tea per day
  • 100 to 200 mg of Valerian liquid extract per day

St. John's Wort

St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is a flowering plant native to Europe and found in other parts of the world. It has a long history of traditional use for various ailments.

St. John's Wort contains active compounds hypericin and hyperforin, which may have mood-supporting properties.* This herb may help support a balanced mood and feelings of contentment and happiness.REF#1374

Recommended dosages for St. John's Wort are:

  • 300 to 600 mg of standardized extract (0.3 percent hypericin) three times daily
  • One to two teaspoons of the dried herb infused in hot water for 10 to 15 minutes, up to three times daily.

*It is important to note that St. John's Wort can interact with certain medications, including antidepressants, birth control pills, and blood thinner. Speak with your healthcare provider before taking it.


Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a spice commonly used in Asian cuisine and traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for its health benefits. It is rich in curcumin, which can help fight free radicals and supports overall health.*

Research suggests that Turmeric may help soothe irritation and support healthy brain function.REF#1375

Recommended dosages for Turmeric are:

  • 400 to 600 mg of turmeric extract, containing 95 percent curcuminoids, per day
  • One to three g of turmeric powder per day, mixed with food or taken in capsules

*While herbal supplements and other natural remedies can help manage feelings of stress, they should not be used as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. It's always best to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement or herbal medicine, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition or are taking prescription medication. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate herbal remedies, so it's essential to research and choose reputable brands independently tested for quality and purity.

Support Your Stress Relief Naturally

Gaia Herbs Stress Response® is a natural herbal supplement formulated to support the body's response to stress and promote a sense of calm. Made with a blend of adaptogenic herbs, including Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, and Holy Basil, it helps the body adapt to stressors and maintain balance during physical and emotional tension.

With its synergistic blend of herbs, Stress Response® offers a natural and holistic approach to managing everyday stress in today's fast-paced world. It can be used as a daily herbal supplement to support the body's response to stress or during times of increased stress.

Stress — even everyday stress — can have so many harmful effects on your health it just doesn't make sense to try to tough it out without help. Many safe and effective botanicals alleviate the effects of acute stress. And that's good news because less stressed you will be a healthier, happier you.


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