Herbs to De-Stress

Something is needed in….


How about some of mother nature’s helpers??

As most of us know, constant stress is very detrimental to our health, mentally, physically and emotionally and too much stress can impact our lives in many negative ways. Here is a list of some favorite herbs to help calm and soothe and to help relieve the effects of too much stress and anxiety.


The word adaptogen is derived from the Latin word adaptare which means to adapt or adjust. Today this term is used to describe a group of specific traditional herbs that have been used in natural healing modalities (Traditional Chinese Medicine, Western Herbalism) for centuries.

These are plants that have the ability to help us adapt and adjust to various physical, chemical, environmental and biological stressors.

These are the most common herbs used for stress:

  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
  • Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)
  • Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus)
  • Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis)
  • Korean Ginseng (Panax ginseng)
  • Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum)
  • Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica)


Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an adaptogen used for nervous exhaustion, especially with stress-induced nervous exhaustion. This is an important herb used for chronic immune-deficiency; recovering from an illness; for physical performance and insomnia.

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 64 participants with a history of chronic stress were given 600mg per day of high concentration full spectrum extract from the root of the Ashwagandha plant. After the study period of 60 days, the cortisol levels were substantially reduced in the Ashwagandha group relative to the placebo group. A 2014 systematic review also concluded that Ashwagandha significantly improved outcomes on anxiety or stress scales when compared to a variety of controls, including placebo and psychotherapy.


Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus)

Photo credit: oleg_kosterin  CC BY

Siberian Ginseng

Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is best for improving mental clarity and emotional stamina during stressful situations, as well as boost physical endurance. It also helps improve circulation, boost mood and protect the immune system. Siberian Ginseng is also used in exhaustion and poor immune function as well as for conditions like chronic fatigue caused by a virus (e.g. Epstein-Barr, Cytomegalovirus). Siberian Ginseng can assist in improving an individual’s response to stress by acting directly on the hypothalamus to regulate hormones, including mineral corticoids, glucocorticoids and reproductive hormones. It reduces excessive corticotropin release and has also been reported to affect noradrenalin responses in the brain that assists in blunting the stress response.


Photo Credit: VoDeTan2, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Schisandra (Schisandra chinensis) is known to increase physical and mental endurance and to help with poor memory and concentration. Studies have shown its effects just after 2-10 weeks of therapy. It is also a nerve tonic to help relax, support and energize the nervous system by improving its tone, vigor and function. Schisandra is also a great liver herb and is used for acute and chronic liver disease to combat the onslaught of toxins we are exposed to.


Korean Ginseng (Panax ginseng)

Korean Ginseng

Korean Ginseng (Panax ginseng) has been shown to improve attention and increase the quality and quantity of mental work. It is also useful in high stress situations as it reduces cortisol levels, loss of physical stamina and fatigue. It is useful in depression, chronic immune deficiency and cardiovascular disease. Korean Ginseng must be used with caution however, as overstimulation may occur. It is contraindicated in patients with high blood pressure, insomnia and in pregnancy. It should also be avoided with certain medications such as warfarin and MAOI antidepressants (e.g. phenelzine). Overuse may result in headaches, insomnia and palpitations.


Rama Tulsi Plant, Holy Basil, Ocimum sanctum

Rama Tulsi Plant, Holy Basil,  Ocimum sanctum (Green) – Plant.  Treeify.in

Holy Basil

Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) improves mental performance, cognition and concentration. It aids the mind and body to adapt to and cope with a wide range of physical, emotional and chemical stressors. It has also been shown to stimulate immune function and assist with cardiovascular and metabolic markers such as high blood pressure, blood lipids and blood sugar levels.


Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica)

Photo credit: Photo 33583040, (c) 柯柏丞, some rights reserved (CC BY)

Gotu Kola

Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) is similar to holy basil and the two work well together. It is well-known for its adaptogenic properties, especially when it comes to brain and nervous system support. Studies have shown that Gotu Kola can help relieve symptoms of anxiety, improve memory and boost circulation. It also exhibits sedative and anxiolytic properties as well as antidepressant effects.



Adaptogens have minimal side effects and not-specific actions that positively affect our overall function, which can improve our resilience in so many ways. Not surprisingly, these are some of the most popular herbs prescribed by naturopaths and herbalists today. These herbs may be taken as capsules, tinctures or teas.


Herbal ExtractsHummingbird Creations has many of these herbs and more as tinctures.

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