SELF CARE: Herbal Management of Stress


A strong foundation is integral to becoming your best self: 

Eat Healthfully           Sufficient Quality Sleep           Physical Activity

Sufficient Water        Being Part of a Community        Manage Stress.


But how do you achieve this without feeling like it is ‘one more thing to do?’

Calming Herbs (known as Nervines) & Adaptogen Herbs paired with lifestyle additions can be synergistic in coping with life’s stressors. These can help create the ‘space’ our body and mind need to reset, thus the ability to perceive and handle stressors differently.

       Calming Nervine & Tonic Herbs

They are a wonderful way to bring the gentleness back into your life. They work to calm and nourish our nervous system.  It can be a good way to help our system to maintain more evenness throughout the day. Many of these herbs are even gentle enough to be used with children.

Depending on the herb part traditionally used, they can be found as glycerites, tinctures or tea.



Chamomile- Classically, used as a relaxing tea. This gentle yet powerful herb also has anti-inflammatory properties and can help in stimulating digestion.

Lemon balm- Often referred as the “gladdening herb” has been used for thousands of years to relieve stress and anxiety especially calming restlessness and a sense of disorder.

Passionflower- Has been traditionally used by indigenous populations in the U.S for insomnia, melancholy and epilepsy. One small study showed passionflower extract was equal in effectiveness to oxazepam in reducing general anxiety1 (benzodiazepines are a class of medications typically used for acute anxiety).

Hops- Most know of this plant from beer production.  But this plant has been used in many different cultures for restlessness, insomnia, excitability and to improve digestion. They can be create a hypnotic and sedating effect.


Adaptogenic Herbs

These are a nice compliment to the above for managing stress. It works by moderating cortisol along the HPA axis (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal). Cortisol is generated as a response to stress and is a necessary hormone that influences many actions in the body such as blood pressure, inflammation, & electrolytes. However, it is when our body adapts to persistent upregulated HPA axis stimulation, that  dysregulation occurs with unwanted physical manifestations.

In clinical herbology, One would also consider the energetics/personality of a person when choosing an adaptogen.



Ashwagandha- is one of the most calming of the adaptogen herbs. Has been shown to have anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory properties as well.

Rhodiola- Has been used to increase physical & mental endurance and has anti-depressant effects. There is ongoing research interest in its potential use in neurodegenerative disorders.

Ginseng-has been used to help fatigue, and mental & physical endurance. One randomized control trial using Panax ginseng, showed decrease in cancer related fatigue related to radiation or chemotherapy. 2 


Adaptogens & Nervine Herbs work synergistically with lifestyle tools such as breathwork, mindfulness, & gratefulness to help us strike a balance.

One Step at a time, one Breath at a time…



1. Akhondzadeh S, Naghavi HR, Vazirian M, Shayeganpour A, Rashidi H, Khani M. Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2001;26:363–367. 

2. Barton DL, Liu H, Dakhil SR, et al. Wisconsin Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) to improve cancer-related fatigue: a randomized, double-blind trial, N07C2. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2013;105:1230-1238.

Head Shot of Dr. Leong Dr. Lillian Leong

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