A Guide to Relaxing Herbs
Today many people are turning to older herbal remedies not only to treat various conditions and illnesses, but they are looking for relaxing herbs as well. Herbs have been used for many centuries for relaxation from stress and anxiety, as sedatives and for treatments and conditions, such as depression, panic attacks, and nervousness. Many relaxing herbs are mood enhancers, giving people a feeling of well being.
Let’s take a look at a number of relaxing herbs and their benefits. Most are used both by themselves or in combination with other herbs.
St. John’s wort is one of the most famous herbal remedies and it was named after John the Baptist. The plant itself has yellow flowers and is said to bloom the end of June, around the same time as the feast day of St. John the Baptist. The plant is also known as hypericum, based on its Latin name of Hypericum perforatum. St. John’s wort has a calming effect on users and is most often taken for the treatment of depression, insomnia and pain.
Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata) is one of the relaxing herbs said to have a calming effect, much like the drug, benzodiazepine. The plant has been used since ancient times to help treat insomnia, nervousness and anxiety. Users swear by its effectiveness but so far in clinical trials there is very little evidence that it is successful in relieving these conditions. Additionally, it is said to be helpful for alcohol withdrawal, attention deficit disorder, pain, gastrointestinal problems, symptoms of menopause, and other conditions related to aging. Always talk to your doctor before using passion flower or other relaxing herbs to treat these types of disorders.
Valerian root is from the valerian plant, which is native to Europe and Asia but has been introduced into North America. The plant has pink and white scented flowers but the roots are the part of the plant used for herbal remedies. Valerian is a sedative, and is most often used for insomnia, stress, depression, nervousness and mood swings. Valerian has a calming effect, although you need to have taken it for some time before the benefits start to kick in. Valerian is used to transition down from benzodiazepines. So far, research studies have had conflicting results.
Lemon balm is one of the most relaxing herbs. People take it to relieve tension and anxiety, help with insomnia, and just to give them an overall sense of wellness. It can also help to improve memory problems, attention span and concentration. Lemon balm is in the mint family and is considered one of the safest herbs when it comes to side effects.
Chamomile is also popular among relaxing herbs. Chamomile flowers smell like apples and look like daisies. Chamomile is considered to be a very safe herb, as it has been around for a very long time and has been used by both young and old. Chamomile is exceptionally good for sleeplessness and helps to calm nervousness and anxiety. It is also believed to be beneficial in treating gastrointestinal problems.
Kava is used around the world for relaxation, anxiety and insomnia. It’s the root of the kava plant which is used to make beverages, teas, extracts, and most recently, capsules. The shrub itself is native to the South Pacific and has been used for thousands of years. Kava consists of active chemicals named kava lactones, which seem to affect the body’s neurotransmitters. It does this in somewhat the same way as alcohol. Like alcohol, kava can have reactions with certain medications, and the FDA put out a warning about kava’s possible ill effects on the liver in 2002. These are rare and have not been reported in scientific studies. Because Kava has a sedative effect, it should not be taken with other herbs or medicines which cause drowsiness.
Relaxing herbs have many of the same effects and side effects as common medications. Don’t think that because these beverages and supplements come from herbs that they are completely safe under all conditions. Most relaxing herbs have a chemical within them which has the same type of effects you would have if you were to take valium or other prescription drugs. If you are searching for a good way to relax, check out some of these herbs. Be careful to follow the recommended doses on the packages and tell your doctor about any herbs you are using.