Herbs to ease seasonal stress

The buildup begins and so do the stress levels, from arranging where the Christmas lunch will be held to who’s going to be there, who doesn’t want to be there, who’s being difficult about it and who really doesn’t want to be involved in any of it.

Then it starts again for Christmas dinner. With split and mixed families the problems simply quadruple.  Couple that with decisions on gift buying, food buying, plans and holiday arrangements, and it quickly builds to a crescendo, before the big day even arrives.

As much as the media promotes a time of joyful smiling families, lots of great traditional (and expensive) food and the gift buying can make Christmas an anxiety-filled whirlwind of shopping, planning, even negotiating, while rushing through frantic shopping centres for the last-minute item.

It often becomes a mind and budget-blowing free for all with an extra side of loads of stress and anxiety for the event planner/organisers within the family.

This is when a carefully selected range of herbs can get you through the festive season without mind or body taking on the stress of it all, so that you eventually succumb to physical and emotional health issues.

A family of herbs called nervine herbs are gentle, yet effectively reduce the physiological and psychological stress that your mind and body might be trying to cope with during this time. 

The adaptogen herbs will also be of enormous assistance to help your body adapt to the different emotions and physical stressors, while gently effecting a normalising balance on your body without the negative side effects of pharmaceutical preparations.

Some useful herbs for stress and anxiety are:

St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) - best known as a herbal anti-depressant. Research backs this up, with its use indicated in many states of anxiety and depression without the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs.  It has a tonic effect on the ventricles of the heart, the aorta and arterioles.  It is also used for nerve pain within the body such as fibromyalgia.  St John’s Wort does counteract with certain pharmaceutical medications so it is always best to seek the advice of a registered Naturopath before commencing use.

Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) – While being an adaptogen (altering the processes of the body to restore them to their normal function), it is also an antioxidant, antidepressant, reduces feelings of anxiety, is a nervous system stimulant, heart protective, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and a hormonal regulator.  Rhodiola’s actions are best suited for increasing endurance, relieving fatigue, calming physiological responses from physical and emotional stress, reducing depression and anxiety and improving poor memory and concentration.  It is also used for cardiovascular disease, immune insufficiency and cancer, while reducing oxidative stress and inflammatory disorders.

Withania (Withania somnifera) – Also known as Ashwaganda, this herb is well regarded in traditional western herbal and ayurvedic medicine for its tonic and strengthening properties (among many others). Withania has a high iron content which can counteract anaemia.  It restores vitality in those suffering from overwork and nervous exhaustion and with its sedative nature, it can reduce blood pressure and lower the heart rate.  Research has shown that the Withanolides (which are similar to the body’s own steroid hormones), are anti-inflammatory and actually inhibit the growth of cancer cells.  Withania is also helpful in chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, assists recovery from chronic illness and is used as a cancer preventative.

These are just three herbs that can reduce the effects of physical and emotional stress, anxiety and more during your Christmas Break.

Trudy Kither is a registered naturopath. See naturestemple.net