Herbal Support for Holiday Stress and Winter Wellness
Dec 03, 2014 01:21AM
By Lupo Passero
The holidays are here and although the celebrations can be wonderful and enjoyable, it can sometimes be a stressful ride getting there. Between planning and shopping, cooking and cleaning, keeping up with school activities, parties and events, it is easy to become overwhelmed and exhausted before the fun has even begun. There are many simple and nourishing herbal traditions to help you stay relaxed in addition to fighting off the winter blues.
Start simple. One of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to incorporate herbs into your daily life is by making a warm cup of tea. This daily ritual at any time of the day can create more ease and balance in your life. Taking the time to heat the water, prepare your favorite mug, and slowly sipping the hot liquid are all part of an ancient healing practice.
For those hectic days when you do not have the time to even make a cup of tea, herbalists will often recommend using a liquid extract such as an herbal tincture or flower essence. These herbal remedies are often stored in small glass bottles that conveniently fit into a pocket or handbag and can be used anytime when on the go.
Holy Basil: Sacred Herb of India
A popular herb for stress reduction is holy basil. Holy basil (ocimum sanctum) grows wild throughout India and is one of the country’s most highly revered and well-loved herbs. It has more than 3,000 years of recorded use in Ayurvedic medicine. Like the more well-known sweet basil herb, holy basil also has pleasant and aromatic flavor that makes for a delicious cup of tea. Herbalists and alternative health care practitioners often refer to holy basil as an adaptogen, which means that it is considered to help the body adapt to stress and to exert a normalizing effect upon bodily processes. Holy basil’s adaptogenic abilities are also believed to help strengthen the immune system and ward off germs during the winter months. Holy basil tea or tincture is a great way to start your morning as it encourages energy and is believed to help balance the chakras.
Chamomile: An oldie but goodie
A long-time favorite herbal remedy, chamomile (matricaria chamomilla) is a good choice for anyone suffering from stress or stress-related symptoms. Chamomile flowers are one of the most commonly used herbs in the Western world. This apple-scented flower has been traditionally used for insomnia, anxiety and upset stomach, among many other ailments. In Germany, the word for chamomile translates to “capable of anything.” Chamomile has the ability to relax and nourish the nervous system, as it contains essential minerals and vitamins specific for anxiety and tension, which may sometimes lead to digestive symptoms or nervous upset. Chamomile tea ensures a restful night sleep and a harmonious next day.
Flower essences and the herbal remedies mentioned above share a long history of safe and effective use as plant medicine. They both work to encourage wellness and reduce stress in the body. Herbal remedies are prepared using many plant parts, including the roots, leaves, flowers and seeds; Flower essences are prepared using only the fresh flower combined with pure water and a small amount of natural preservative. Flower essences are considered homeopathic in nature and make fantastic remedies for overcoming stress and anxiety. “Rescue” formulas are one of the best-known natural stress relief remedies. Usually comprised of a blend of five flower essences, this formula is a must-have for a peaceful holiday season for the entire family as it can be administered to children and animals as well. Flower essences are usually sold in a glass dropper bottle, but can also be found in spray and chewable forms. The common recommendation is to take doses up to four times a day or as needed for acute stress.
Both herbal remedies and flower essences can have a remarkable effect on the human body when used solely or in conjunction with one another. There are many great medicinal tea blends, tinctures and essences available at your local health food stores or herbal apothecary.
Incorporating a few of these relaxing herbal remedies into yout daily routine will encourage wellness and ensure an enjoyable holiday season.
Lupo Passero is a community herbalist and flower essence practitioner and the director of Twin Star Herbal Education and Apothecary. Passero offers workshops, classes and consultations as well as herbal journeys to Costa Rica and Southwest France. For more information, visit TwinStarHerbal.com or email [email protected]. See ad, page 42.