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Herbs for stress and anxiety

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Life can be a stressful place at the best of times, but this being the worst of times, the problem is even more acute.

Ciara O Meara
Ciara O'Meara is a practicing Medical Herbalist. Ciara completed an Honors Science degree in University College Dublin in 1997 followed by an MSc in Medical Genetics at Aberdeen University. She spent a number of years working in the field of academic research in areas such as The Human Genome Project at Oxford University, UK, and on Cancer research at Cancer Research UK.
It was during this time that she took up a yoga practice and further cultivated an interest in natural medicine. She also completed a four year honours degree in Herbal Medicine at Westminster University in London. This University has a long established centre for excellence in the training of medical herbalists and encompasses a walk in training clinic in the heart of London.
Ciara O' Meara has clinics in Thurles, Co. Tipperary and Rathangan, Co. Kildare.

For further information and contact details please see her website:
For information on the professional body of medical herbalist in Ireland (The Irish Institute of Medical Herbalists) please see

What are the side effects of stress?
. Insomnia
. Indigestion
. Tiredness
. IBS symptoms
. High blood pressure
. Menstrual irregularities
. Thyroid problems
. Lowered immunity

Q: What makes it worse?
. Poor diet, lack of sleep, lack of exercise

Q: How can we help ourselves?
. Diet
. Herbs
. Lifestyle: include exercise, meditation, and yoga.

High blood pressure - Hawthorn Berries
Hawthorn Berries are useful for high blood pressure. High blood pressure can be part of the body's reaction to stress. Hawthorn berry strengthens the heart muscle without raising the blood pressure. It also has a relaxing effect on the central nervous system and is useful in preventing cardiovascular illness.
(Note: Anyone taking prescribed medications for heart conditions should seek professional advice before taking herbal medicines)
In what form can we take this in?
It can be taken as a tea or a tincture
To make a tincture:
. 200 g of the fresh berries in 600ml of vodka or whiskey (whiskey is better)
. Leave in a dark cool area for 10-14 days, shake daily
. Strain through a muslin cloth
. label and store
. take 5mls morning and evening
General anxiety

Valerian is useful for generalised anxiety and insomnia.
Long term stress can in some people lead to insomnia and anxiety. Valerian is very useful for those who have such sleep problems. As well as this it relaxes any tension in the stomach and can also be useful in relieving tense muscles in the body.
Best taken at least 2 hours before bed to help with insomnia.
This can be taken in tablet or tincture form available in your local health food store

Siberian Ginseng?

Siberian Ginseng (also known as Eleutherococcus senticosus) is useful for fatigue and lowered immune response. It is a much used herb in the treatment of stress and fatigue. It can improve mental and physical stamina. It is widely used in Russia where it has been widely used by athletes to improve stamina and performance. It is known as an adaptogen, this means it raises the body's own ability to deal with stresses.
Caution should be exercised in patients with a history of heart complications and speak to your local medical herbalist. At normal dosage Siberian ginseng is a very safe herb.

Q: How is this taken?
It can be taken as a tincture or capsule.
Increasing stamina, both mentally and physically

Rhodiola is regarded as both a tonic and a stimulant. It belongs to a category of herbs known as 'adapt gens' these are herbs which help the body to increase its resistance to the effects of stress.
Research has shown that Rhodiola can improve mental and physical performance. Consistently proven to increase exercise capacity in healthy athletes'. Increases intellectual performance improving memory and concentration.
This herbs can be taken in capsule or tincture form.

Lime Flower?
Lime Flower is useful for anxiety, insomnia
This is a very gentle relaxing herb. It is wonderful when taken as a tea, and is very tasty. It is used for nervous tension and is particularly useful where this combines with high blood pressure. As it is a relaxing remedy it can be useful to drink as a tea in the evenings if you have trouble sleeping.
It is a very child friendly remedy and can be mixed with apple juice as a drink. It can be used to promote a fever in children especially where irritability and insomnia combine.
To prepare infuse 1-3 teabags in a mug of boiling water for 10-15 minutes. Drink throughout the day or evening.
When extra demands are being put on the body

Bee Pollen
Bee Pollen is useful as a general nutritive supplement in times of extra demand on the body.
This is an excellent nutritive and tonic supplement and is considered a super food. Pollen contains 21of the 23 known amino acids, many of the B vitamins, Vitamin A and numerous minerals.
It also contains powerful anti-oxidants, which are said to help with stress induced premature aging. It is useful for building up the immune system and helping the body to cope with the added demand for nutrients during the cold winter months.
Bee pollen is widely available in health stores; it can be taken sprinkled on cereals in smoothies or juices.
Note: if there are any allergies to Bee products avoid.

Epsom Salt
For those who want to ease away the tension in a nice warm relaxing bath.

Epsom Salts is useful for tense muscles, before bed, and to help with sleeplessness.
Epsom Salts contain magnesium sulphate which is absorbed through the skin, in a bath; it draws toxins from the body, sedates the nervous system, reduces swelling, and relaxes muscles. Add a couple of drops of essential oil of lavender or clary sage for extra relaxation.
Note: Avoid if you have known high blood pressure condition