Montana Natural MedicineBlack Bear Naturopathic Clinic, PC

General Family Medicine, IV Chelation Therapy, Environmental Medicine, Bio-identical Hormones

10 Herbs for Stressful Times

Dr. Christine White, Naturopathic Physician

Oat Straw/Avena Sativa
This is a wonderful herb to help with stressful times. It is soothing to the nervous system and is especially helpful for people who are exhausted to the point of having an inability to concentrate, who feel a sense of weakness in their arms and legs as if they are just too heavy, and who have a headache from the base of the neck down their back. It can even help with cravings if you are trying to quit smoking.

Matricaria Chamomilla/Chammomile
Are you restless, irritable, overly sensitive, feeling like all you can do is complain about things? Well, this is the herb for you. Brew a strong cup of tea, use two tea bags or the equivalent in loose herb, to help soothe and calm you, and it will also often help an upset stomach and indigestion. Some people with allergies to the sunflower family may not tolerate chamomile.

Metha piperita/Peppermint
Stomach upset, irritable bowels, and general indigestion. It is a soothing pleasant herb that mixes well with others, try it with chamomile. Kids generally love it and it is easy to grow and harvest fresh for daily use. Drink it hot or cold.

Nepeta cataria/Catnip
It's not just for your cat! A strong relaxing herb, it is great for tension headaches, insomnia, and nervous irritation. Try it in a tea; it has a bit of a minty hint.

Elder Flowers and Elderberry
Colds and flu, it's a great antiviral. There are lots of products on the market, and many of them are designed for children. It has a wonderful taste and since stress makes us vulnerable to illness, knowing a good antiviral will get you well sooner.

One of the best nerve tonics. It is very quieting and soothing to the nerves and helps calm nervous excitement. You will often find it in calming tea blends, or find in bulk in an herb shop such as Meadow Sweet Herbs, here in Missoula.

A cup of ginger tea is great for belching, gas and nausea, and especially motion sickness. Stress tends to upset the digestive process and ginger is a great way to settle things down. You can get it in tea bags, use the dry herb from your spice cupboard, eat it fresh or make tea from the root, and many health food stores carry candied ginger which travels really well.

Curcuma longa/Tumeric
A powerful antioxidant, it is sometimes considered a support herb in term s of the effects of chronic stress because it has so many effects on the body including assisting the immune system and helping our bodies cope with toxins, especially the toxins from smoking cigarettes. Use it to season your food or look for it in the supplement isle.

While most people think of lavender as an herb used for fragrance because the essential oil is so soothing to the senses, the whole herb in a tea taken internally can be quite helpful for tension headaches, an upset stomach and general nervous tension. Do not use essential oils internally or topically unless you know what you are doing.

It is great for restlessness, emotional stress, insomnia, anxiety, and nervous irritation. This herb is generally a powerfully calming and sedative herb, however for some people it can be stimulating to the point of creating insomnia. It works well in capsules or as a tea, but know it isn't the best tasting herb on this list. I include it, because it works really well for most people (and be ware, if your cat likes catnip, she'll go after this herb in the same way)!

Please keep in mind that these are general recommendations, and may not apply to everyone. As always, if you are pregnant, nursing, or taking pharmaceuticals, you should be aware of how any herb will effect you differently than the general population. As with anything you want to do that is new, go into it well informed.


Dr. Christine White is a Naturopathic Physician practicing here in Missoula and owner of the Black Bear Naturopathic Clinic, PC. As a Naturopathic Physician, Dr. White's uses herbs extensively, as well as homeopathy, diet and lifestyle counseling, nutritional supplementation, intravenous micronutrient therapy, and bio-identical hormones. She is a primary care provider treating infants to elders.


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