Herbs For Stress
Herbs For Stress
Stress, Anxiety and Tension seem to be common characteristics of our daily lives. Our lives are been transformed from different stresses from within and without us, painless changes at times and painful changes at other times. Nothing seems to have a solid foundation anymore, whether it is family relationships, the workplace, the national economy, or international politics. It can be a time of great stress for some people. Luckily in the clinic we use many herbs for stress.
There are several ways to define stress, but perhaps the most encompassing is “Stress is the response of the body to any demand”. Just staying alive creates demands on the body for life maintaining energy; even while we are a sleep our bodies continue to function. So by this definition stress is a fundamental part of been alive and should not be avoided. The trick is to ensure that the degree of stress we experience is such that life is a joy, not a drag.
A certain amount of stress is needed by anyone who wishes to perform at their best, yet it is a major factor in high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and coronary artery disease. No other single cause is responsible for the world-wide escalation of alcohol and drug abuse.
Any demands made on us in daily life bring about certain reactions in the body. These reactions can be either physical or emotional or both, from hot and cold to joy and sorrow. As aware feeling people we make a big distinction between the pain caused by the loss of a loved one and the pain of the temperature dropping too fast, but to the body, it’s all the same because the stress response is always the same. Nerve signals are sent from the brain to several glands, and these react by secreting hormones to cope with the task ahead. So stress is just not worry and strain, it is a keynote of life, with all its ups and downs. A new and exciting love can cause just as much stress as an old and cranky boss!
The range of responses, within the body, triggered by stress demonstrates the intricate ties that that exist between the mental and physical body, the deepness of the mind and body connection, therefore with Herbal Medicine in treat stress, the herbalist will take a holistic approach to treat both mind and the body.
Stress And Illness
There can be no doubt that there is a definite relationship between stress and illness, although the exact nature of that relationship is not fully understood yet. The disease process is thought to arise as a result of factors such as:
1).The physiological effect of certain hormones from the adrenal & pituitary glands
2). The impact of the inflammation process
3). A general state of lowered resistance or immune function.
The actual physical disease that manifests itself depends on a range of factors including genetics, physical weakness, diet, life events and lifestyle.
There is much that can be done to ease the impact of stress and lessen the weight of anxiety and tension we so often carry around with us. There are many different therapies available, but these therapies are only ways to help us find the peace that is within us anyway. We are in fact our own healers, the key is to take responsibility for our own health and well beginning and the quality of our lives we live. Healing comes from within and is an inherent part of been alive.
There are many techniques and tools available to use, which can help us find this inner peace, a good combination of different branches of healing can produce a unique blend of therapies which maybe ideally suited to a particular person. This blend of therapies can be referred to as the four branches of healing.
The Four Branches Of Healing
The four branches of healing can be identified as:
1. Medicine: This can include herbs, aromatherapy, Bach flower remedies, and diet.
2. Body work: This can include massage therapy, yoga, acupuncture, reflexology.
3. Psychotherapy: This can include talk therapies, counselling, psychotherapy and transpersonal psychology.
4. Spiritual Integration: This can be meditation, prayers or miraculous healing
We are all different individual, so each will find their own individual combination that works best for them and release their powers of self-healing. This is holistic medicine at it’s best addressing the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of a person. It emphasizes the uniqueness of the individual and the importance of tailoring treatment to meet each person’s needs.
The Role Of Herbs
Herbs have been used as medicine for as long as humanity has been keeping records. It is only very recently that Western medicine approaches to medicine have moved to the one-sided, scientific view of illness that has promoted the development of chemical medicine. We have now become accustomed to “health” coming from a bottle of pills.
Herbs contain complex chemicals that are called secondary plant products because they play no apparent role in the life of the plant. These chemical are in fact the very ones that have such a marked action on human physiology. By eating living plants and taking herbal remedies we are linking ourselves to the energy source of the sun.
In no other system of the body is the connection between the physical and psychological aspects of our being as apparent as the nervous system. Herbs can have a benefit on the nervous system in a number of ways. Herbs which act on the nervous system are called Nervines and there are three types: Nervine Tonics, Nervine Relaxants and Nervine Stimulants.
1. Nervine Tonics: Perhaps the most important contribution herbal medicine can make in the whole area of stress and anxiety management is in the strengthening and feeding the nervous system. In cases of shock, stress, or nervous debility the nervine tonics can be used to strengthen and restore the tissues. Into this category you can also include the Adaptogen herbs Panax and Siberian Ginsengs because of their undoubted ability to help the whole body and the mind cope with the demands made upon them. Skullcap, Damiana, Vervain and Wood Betony are in this group of tonics
2. Nervine Relaxants: In cases of stress and tension, nervine relaxants can help alot, they work directly on the nervous system helping to relax it. Anti-spasmodic herbs which affect the peripheral nerves and muscle tissue can also be used for their indirect relaxing effect on the system. Many nervine relaxants also have anti-spasmodic actions and include Cramp Bark and Valerian.
3. Nerve Stimulants: Direct stimulation of the nervous system is not very often needed in out hyperactive times. Bitter herbs like peppermint can have a positive effect on the nervous system, other include Wormwood and Mugwort.
“You are what you eat”. Nowhere is this more true than in a person who is under stress and suffering subsequent tension. People tend to comfort eat with the wrong types of foods when under stress. Never eat when you are feeling stressed.
In general a healthy diet is one rich in fresh raw fruit and vegetables and fruit, plenty of water. There should be plenty of roughage in the diet. Avoid artificial additives in any form. A good supply of the B-Complex vitamins and Vit C are essential.
Avoid stimulant foods and drinks like tea, coffee, chocolate, fizzy drinks, alcohol and tobacco. Getting a good night’s sleep is essential.
Massage is a great way to relax by releasing body tensions through skilled and caring slow movements either by deep tissue strokes or gently movements. A lot of tension builds in the neck and shoulder regions and these areas respond well to one or two sessions of deep tissue massage.
(Taken from the book: Herbal Stress Control by David Hoffmann)
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