What are the best herbs to fight stress naturally? In today’s fast-paced world, relaxing can be a difficult task. But we all need to find calm and peace to go on with our lives. And while there are many medications that can help us relieve stress and achieve relaxation, many of us look for natural ways to relax. Fortunately, there are many natural methods and plants that can help us fight stress. In this article, you will find the top relaxing herbs for stress.
Best Herbs to Fight Stress
The number of people looking for natural products to relax and relieve stress grows by the day. But some of the best herbs to fight stress are plants that you may not have heard of. Therefore, in this post we will talk about their effects and properties, but also about their side effects.
These are the top relaxing herbs to fight stress that we will explore in this article:
- Kava kava
- Lemon balm
- Mitragyna hirsuta
- Valerian root
So, let’s keep reading to find out how these herbs for stress work!
Native to India and Pakistan, ashwagandha is commonly used in Ayurveda medicine. It has become very popular thanks to its anti-stress properties. Ashwagandha can help you balance your levels of cortisol, which is the hormone responsible for the “fight or flight” response in a stressful situation.
Moreover, ashwagandha can also boost your energy levels, improve concentration, and even has anti-inflammatory effects.
The side effects of ashwagandha are related to stomach and gastrointestinal issues. Furthermore, ashwagandha might affect the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. So, if you are suffering from this condition, you should talk to your doctor before using ashwagandha.
CBD is the short name for cannabidiol and is an active compound of cannabis. But don’t think that CBD is going to get you high! Quite on the contrary: cannabidiol does not have psychoactive properties and in fact, it even counteracts the effects of THC, which is the active element of cannabis responsible for the “high”. Moreover, the CBD that you can buy comes from hemp, a strain of cannabis that has very low levels of THC and higher levels of cannabidiol. So, no: you won’t get high on CBD.
But what are the properties of CBD and why are we including it in this list of herbs to fight stress? Cannabidiol acts on the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is common to all animals (mammals, birds, fish, reptiles…) and regulates pain, hunger, locomotor activity, or stress. Hence, using CBD can help you relax and relieve stress and with hardly any side effects. However, CBD may interact with blood thinners, so you should be very careful if you are using this type of medication.
When you think of the properties of chamomile, the first thing to comes to mind is a tea for stomach upset and digestive issues. But did you know that chamomile is also one of the best herbs to fight stress? Chamomile contains apigenin, a flavonoid that acts on GABA receptors. These receptors are partly responsible for stress or insomnia. Therefore, chamomile tea can help you relieve stress and get a good night’s sleep. And of course, it will still help you improve your digestion and relieve stomach issues!
Chamomile side effects are not common and they may be related to allergic reactions.
Kanna (Sceltium tortuosum) is a succulent plant native to South Africa. Since prehistoric times, the Khoikhoi and the San people have used this small plant as part of their folk medicine. When the Dutch colonists first saw that the native population used to chew kanna, they called it “kugoed”, which means “good to chew”. Soon, they also became aware of the good properties of the plant.
The active compounds of kanna (alkaloids mesembrenone, mesembrine, mesembrenol, and mesembranol) are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which means that they help serotonin stay longer in your system before being reabsorbed. And thanks to that serotonin, kanna is one of the best herbs to fight stress, relieve anxiety, and even cope with the symptoms of depression. However, due to these effects, you should never combine kanna with antidepressants or other medications that also act as SSRIs.
If you ever happen to travel to the Pacific Islands, you may have the chance to attend a kava ceremony. Kava (or kava kava) is a plant in the pepper family that grows in the South Pacific Islands. Its roots are the main ingredient of a tradition drink that is part of both social life and folk medicine all throughout the islands. Today, in some islands (Fiji, for instance), these ceremonies have even become a tourist attraction. And the popularity of kava is spreading so fast, that now you can find in America kava bars where you can enjoy a kava drink without travelling to the South Pacific. But even if you don’t have a kava bar nearby, you can easily buy kava kava online.
Kava’s active compounds (kavalactones) are very effective in relieving stress, anxiety, and insomnia. Furthermore, they also have euphoric feelings that will help achieve a nice sense of wellness. The side effects of kava include drowsiness, dehydration, and dizziness. Also, you must avoid kava if you have liver problems since it could have hepatotoxic effects.
Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a tree native to Southeast Asia that has become incredibly popular thanks to its multiple effects. Indeed, kratom is not only one of the best herbs to fight stress. It also helps relieve pain, manage the symptoms of depression, or help cope with opiate withdrawal. However, kratom has also become a controversial product because of how it works. Kratom’s alkaloids bind to some of our opioid receptors, and that is how kratom triggers all these effects. But because of this mechanism of action, there are some groups that claim that kratom is an opioid and is dangerous. Nevertheless, kratom is being studied for its promising properties to fight opioid addiction.
Today, many people use kratom to fight the symptoms of anxiety and relieve stress. However, kratom also has side effects when not used properly. These side effects may be very unpleasant and are often caused by high doses. Therefore, make sure you take a look at our guide on kratom dosages before giving it a try.
Lavender oil is a common herb for stress. Its floral scent has anxiolytic properties that can help you relax and find calm. Moreover, this beautiful plant is also a great aromatherapy product to fight insomnia and get a good night’s sleep.
When you smell lavender, you absorb linalool, a natural terpene that occurs in lavender. Linalool makes its way through the lungs into your bloodstream to finally reach the GABAA receptors in your brain. Thus, smelling lavender can help you enhance the function of these receptors, which are responsible for stress management –among other things. So, thanks to its fragrance, lavender is one of the top herbs to fight stress.
But you can also consume lavender orally. For example, you can try these lemonade lavender recipes! The side effects of lavender include headache and diarrhea, so be careful when you ingest lavender.
Lemon balm is another herb that may also interact with the GABAA receptors. That may be the reason why lemon balm is so often listed as one of the top herbs to fight stress. It is also a good natural remedy for insomnia. But other than helping you cope with stress thanks to its calming properties, lemon balm has other properties. This herb can also alleviate attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or high-blood pressure. Moreover, a lemon balm tea is great for a good digestion. Nevertheless, you should avoid lemon balm on an empty stomach, as it may cause stomach pain and vomiting.
If you know kratom, this name will probably ring a bell. And that is because Mitragyna hirsuta –also known as “kra thum khok”, is a close relative to kratom (Mitragyna speciosa). Both plants have similar properties, though kratom is more popular. Nevertheless, Mitragyna hirsuta is still a very good natural product to ease anxiety and fight stress. And it also has uplifting properties that will enhance your mood.
Mitragyna hirsuta has become a popular kratom alternative, especially in those places where kratom is banned. But unlike kratom, and despite its name, Mitragyna hirsuta contains neither mitragynine nor 7-hydroxymitragynine. Instead, its main compound is mitraphylline, an alkaloid that has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anxiolytic effects. Thanks to mitraphylline, Mitragyna hirsuta is one of the best herbs to fight stress.
However, you should be careful when using Mitragyna hirsuta, since its side effects range from dizziness to tachycardia or even hallucinations. As it happens with other herbs for stress, these side effects are often the result of large dosages.
We could not end this list of the top relaxing herbs without valerian root. This plant has been one of the best herbs to fight stress and fight insomnia for over 2,000 years. Do you want to get rid of stress or sleep better? Just try valerian root! It does not taste so good (and that can be an understatement), but luckily you can find valerian extract or capsules, which are much easier to consume.
But valerian root also has side effects, which include drowsiness, dry mouth, or dizziness.
Natural Methods to Fight Stress
There are other techniques that you can apply to promote relaxation and say goodbye to stress:
- Work out regularly
- Try breathing and relaxing exercises
- Practice mindfulness
- Go outdoor and enjoy nature
- Try yoga
And of course, check these top relaxing herbs to fight stress!