The stress we experience today is different from the stress our ancestors faced. It's more complex, and it has a greater potential to harm our health. It’s the underlying issue for most health conditions (and doctors visits) yet it's often not taken seriously.
Most of us are dealing daily with chronic stress on some level—and that may be affecting our sleep, digestive systems, creating inflammation and messing with our mental health. Chronic stress affects about 75 percent of Americans at any given time, according to the American Psychological Association, but there are ways to manage it naturally.
From a herbal perspective, there are three herbs that I think everyone dealing with stress could benefit from. Ashwagandha (Indian ginseng), Holy Basil (tulsi) and Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidium) extract are all my favorites when taken in combination. I like to then add a cooling herb like amla to balance out the warming effects of the other herbs.
If a person is dealing daily with emotional stress (and name someone who isn’t) we need a herbal adaptogen like ashwagandha. Ashwagandha is a bit of a paradox as it helps to regulate our calm, while also gently giving us more energy.
This allows us to have more capacity to deal with stress and helps nourish the whole body. While ashwagandha is phenomenal at helping us deal with modern stresses, it works best in synergy with other supporting herbs, so it is often formulated with licorice or holy basil. I personally prefer to mix ashwagandha with holy basil and find it very effective.
Holy basil is a sacred herb and is noted as a probable adaptogen (more research is needed to confirm what most herbalists already know.) This herb has a balancing and synergistic effect when blended with ashwagandha. The two herbs work well together, making the absorption of the herbs more effective than if they were used alone.
Reishi extract is also a phenomenal mushroom that nourishes and calms the central nervous system. Reishi is great for calming the mind, easing anxiety and promoting sleep. It has been called the mushroom of “spiritual potency” and some people feel it has a grounding effect on the body.
These herbs may help you with managing stress, but they should be used in conjunction with healthy sleep, diet and lifestyle habits. Herbs can play an important role in your stress reduction plan, but they are only one part of dealing with stress. It’s never been more important to make yourself a priority. Your health depends on it.