In this blog post we wanted to share 12 of our favourite medicinal plants to help support you during this global pandemic. We will be focusing on some of our favourite herbal allies that help us in times of prolonged stress, with depression, anxiety, grief and low-mood. These herbs all have a unique list of actions on the body, often times having direct effects on the nervous system (hence why we call most of them herbal nervines). Even something as simple as drinking a cup of herbal tea can be that grounding connection and return to nature, helping to bring you back to centre. Check out our list and see if there are any that really resonate with you.
Passionflower • Passiflora incarnata
This hypnotic looking beauty might just be what you need to quiet that busy mind. This plant is indicated in anxiety and tension, specifically if circular thought patterns are what is keeping you from catching z’s at night. Calming and gentle, Passionflower helps you break free from the anxiety spiral. It’s thought to increase the amino acid Gamma amino butyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, which can induce calming effects.
Skullcap • Scutellaria lateriflora
This mint family plant is all about the nervous system. Working to relax tension and anxiety, nourish and restore nervous system function, this plant is the total package. Skullcap is great in times of emotional/mental exhaustion, depression and anxiety. It its an amazing sleep herb and is most helpful to those who find their mind overactive at night and are prone to worrying.
Valerian • Valeriana officinalis
If you have ever tried this herb you’ll understand when I say, people definitely have strong opinions on whether they enjoy it or not. This funky root medicine has a very distinctive smell and taste, some love it and others could live without it. Valerian is of great value when mental overactivity and tensions in the body are the way stress manifests. It' antispasmodic action is especially great for neck and shoulder tension. I find it can be really tasty blended with other herbs and sweetened with some honey.
Chamomile • Matricaria recutita
Known as “the mother of the gut”, chamomile is one of our most commonly used herbs for digestive complaints. It is also gently sedating and is just what some people need to help them wind down. Chamomile has an affinity for the neck and head and can be great for those who find tension manifesting in those areas. This is a great herb for children too!.
Hops • Humulus lupulus
Hops works to help relax the central nervous system and can be a great sleep ally. They are sedative, spasmolytic and are also a relaxing bitter, making it a helpful digestive herb as well!
Hyssop • Hyssopus officinalis
This herb often gets dubbed a “children’s herb” and, in my humble opinion, is underused and undervalued. Gentleness is not synonymous with weakness , and Hyssop proves that. It’s uplifting nature helps ease anxieties and relax the body into a restful state of being. It may even have special indications in helping with grief and guilt and has an affinity for the lungs. Either way, hyssop makes a delicious and soothing herbal tea.
Oatstraw/Oatseed • Avena sativa
Oats have a lot to offer. As a valuable food staple, we know it is extremely nutritious and healthy, but as an ingredient in herbal tea, it has a long list of benefits with a special affinity for the nervous system.
Herbalists distinguish between two parts of this plant, having similar, but also a few differentiating properties.
Oat straw is considered a tonic for the nervous system, used primarily for its calming effects, especially in cases of anxiousness. Oatseed (Milky oats) is also a tonic for the nervous system, but is known more for its nutritive and building actions and is used more specifically for uplifting the mood (we call this a thymolepetic= “mood altering” especially in an anti-depressant way).
Ashwagandha • Withania somnifera
Ashwagandha is a mighty root medicine. This adaptogenic herb is an amazing support to the immune system and assists the body in adapting to increased levels of stress, helping to curb anxiety and even depression. This could be a great choice if there is exhaustion and stress brought on by caring for an ill loved one. Overtime, it can help with energy and sleep as well.
Lemonbalm • Melissa officinalis
This gentle beauty, hailing from the mint family, has long been used as a medicine to “uplift the spirit.” If you have ever grown this plant you will know why. There seems to be a gentle playfulness about this plant with its ability to bring lightness and joy into the heart and mind. Typical of mint family plants, the volatile oil content is responsible for its delicate lemony scent.
Lemonbalm is known to act a bit like a restorative nervine tonic. It has an amazing relaxing and uplifting quality to it, helping with low mood, anxiety, trouble sleeping, restlessness and grief.
NB: Those who have hypothyroidism may want to avoid Melissa, as it has been shown to inhibit thyroid function.
Lavender • Lavandula officinalis
Lavender is a herbal go-to when looking for safe and familiar herbs for kids and adults. Alongside our lovely mint family herbs, Lavender lends itself as a calming and slightly sedating herb. It too has a similar role to play in soothing an upset stomach and relieving tension or irritability.
Rose • Rosa spp.
This glorious heart-opening medicine might be just what you need if you are feeling weighed down by grief and hopelessness. It can be a great teacher and can help to heal the physical and energetic heart. Medicinal use isn’t just the act of ingesting, put the petals in your bath water or go outside and smell the flowers, your herbalist told you to!
Vervain • Verbena officinalis
This is an amazing nervine tonic & thymoleptic herb for an over-taxed nervous system. I find this to be an extremely grounding herb, helping to bring ones self back into their felt body and out of their head. It can be helpful in boundary work, dream teachings and overcoming obstacles. It is quite a bitter herb in tea, but pairs nicely with Oat and can taste delicious with some honey.
Check out our wide range of pre-blended teas and capsules, or have us formulate a custom blend just for you!
Are there any other herbs you reach for that aren’t on our list, or are there any rituals or tips that are helping you navigate these uncharted waters? Please share with us, we would love to hear from you!