Holistic Stress Management

by Irene LewisThorne

The lash of a whip or a passionate kiss...


Stress can manifest as both positive and challenging experiences. Stress can be temporary, chronic or inescapable. It is not actually stress itself but the way that we perceive stress that influences our body’s response. When we are living in stress mode a cascade of neurons fire messages to different organs who are ready to respond. The Blood is taken from our vital organs and sent to our muscles readying us for action. Our muscles get tense, our pupils dilate, and our breathing becomes shallow and rapid. Our vital organs (brain, kidneys, and liver) due to decreased flow of blood become deprived of oxygen, sugars, vitamins and other substances that aid and repair damaged tissue leaving us susceptible to illness and depression. Some conditions linked to stress are CFS, slow to heal, depressed immune system, asthma, angina, allergies, auto immune, cancer, irritable bowel, low libido and headaches.


What can we do?


BREATHE. Deep, slow breathes are very helpful to alleviate a stressful time.

DRINK ½ your weight in ounces of water each day.


Adrenal Tonics and Adaptagens: These herbs help our body’s response to stress. They increase the bodies overall immune function by a wide range of actions rather than a specific action. They also restore balance to our bodies systems by putting a burden on none. These herbs have proven to be remarkably effective in preventing a variety of stress related ailments. They also are known to increase stamina and athletic performance. Examples include: Eleuthro root, Ashwaganda, Shizandra, Reishi, Gotu Kola, Rehmannia, Nettles, Holy Basil, Rhodiola, and Licorice Root.


Nerve Tonics: Herbs that feed, tone, rebuild and strengthen the nervous system are called nerve tonics. These herbs are high in many vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, B vitamins and protein. Some examples include: Oats, Nettles, Gotu Kola, Horsetail, Red Raspberry leaf, Skullcap, Valerian, Lemon balm, Linden, and Seaweeds.


Nerve Sedatives: These herbs directly relax and soothe the nervous system and muscle tissue, they can ease pain and encourage sleep. Examples include: Chamomile, California poppy, Passion flower, St. Johns Wort, Catnip, Valerian, Hops, Lemon balm, Skullcap, Cramp bark, Kava Kava, Blue vervain, Lobelia, and Black Cohosh.


Nerve Demulcents: Highly nutritional herbs that soothe irritated and inflamed nerve endings and act as a demulcent with their gel like consistency. Examples include Oats, Barley, Flax, Marshmallow, Slippery Elm (endangered) and Seaweeds.


Digestive Herbs: Bitters promote the secretions of our digestive juices so that when we take in food the nutrients and wastes are properly separated and distributed. Examples include: Milk Thistle, Gentian, Dandelion, Burdock Root, Yellow Dock, Artichoke leaf, Oregon Grape, and Chamomile.


Carminatives: These herbs help dispel gas and bloating: Fennel Seed, Cardamom, Sweet cicely, Peppermint, Ginger Root, and Chamomile

Intestinal Flora can be enhanced with fermented foods like Miso, Tempeh, Sauerkraut, Kefir and probiotics like acidophilus


Antioxidants: Theses help protect our bodies from forming free radicals. Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with unpaired electrons that cause damage to our cells impairing our immune system. Examples of plants high in antioxidants include: Milk thistle, Gingko, Vitamins A, C, E and gamma lineic acid found in the oils of Evening Primrose, Borage and Black currents, Also Flavinoid rich foods that are orange, red and purple


Circulatory Herbs: These herbs promote circulation in a variety of ways, Gingko, Rosemary, Hawthorne, Linden Flowers, Cayenne and Gotu Kola


Essential Oils: By working with our limbic brain or soothing our muscles topically, essential oils are valuable helpers. 

Calming: Jasmine, Ylang Ylang, Lavender, Clary Sage, Chamomile, Rose, Marjoram, Neroli, and Rose geranium

Stimulating: Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Basil, Black Pepper, Birch, and Cinnamon

Mind Clearing: Orange, Lime, Grapefruit, Lemon, Holy Basil, Pine

Grounding: Cedarwood, Vetiver, Ginger, Sandalwood, Rock Rose, Holy Basil, Pine, Spruce