EASTERN HERBS FOR WESTERN PROBLEMS
Naturally Improve Sleep, Stress & More
Modern problems require modern solutions, right? Well, not always. In the modern west, we’re dealing with problems our ancestors could never have imagined. But we can still use some of the same remedies they would have had available to help us with things like stress, sleep, and even hangovers!
So if you’re sick of popping pills and relying on pharmaceuticals to solve your problems, try some of these ancient Eastern herbs to help with your modern western conundrums.
The Best Herbs To Help Relieve Stress
Being stressed out isn’t unique to the western world. But westerners certainly report more stress than those in the east. A 2019 Gallup poll found that the US ranks fourth in the world for the most stressed out population! So while we’re pros at being stressed, it might be time to take a page out of eastern medicine’s book when it comes to chilling out. Here are some eastern herbs that help you ease the stress on both your body and mind.
Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb that’s well-known for its stress-relieving properties. As an adaptogen, Ashwagandha helps the body deal with the physical effects of stress, like inflammation and high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol levels can go down by as much as 30% just by taking Ashwagandha!
And studies have found that it also affects the brain by decreasing feelings of anxiety. Based on animal research, scientists think this is because Ashwagndha blocks the stress pathways to our brains. So whether you’re looking for a way to tackle your feelings of anxiety and the effects of stress on your body, Ashwagandha is the way to go.
Tulsi, sometimes called Holy Basil, is another Ayurvedic stress-busting herb. In India, Tulsi is connected to the Hindu god Vishnu. It is a basil, but also a serious adaptogen which is quite balancing. While you could top your pizza with it, this Basil packs a serious health punch. It’s used to treat everything from diarrhea and nausea to bronchitis and bug bites!
When it comes to reducing stress, Tulsi is an all-star. It can help with all sorts of stress–physical, emotional, and chemical. When it comes to physical stress from working out, Tulsi can boost your metabolism, decrease muscle damage, and jack up your stamina. As for emotional stress, researchers have found that taking Tulsi can have an effect on sleep, forgetfulness, and feelings of anxiety. One study even found that Tulsi works just as well as prescription anxiety meds!
Unfortunately, we’re not talking about the fun and fruity brunch beverage here, although those can definitely relieve some stress! The Mimosa we’re talking about is a flowering tree, also known as Albizia julibrissin. Not only do the beautiful pink Mimosa flowers smell amazing, but they’re also a potent Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) antidote for stress.
It’s name in Chinese means happy tree and it helps our bodies process the physical impacts of stress so we don’t get sick. It’s loaded with anti-inflammatory properties and is chock-full of antioxidants. Animal studies have revealed that Mimosa drastically reduces feelings of stress and can improve sociability, so it’s great for those with social anxiety. And as a bonus, a study done on rats in Mexico discovered that Mimosa even has antidepressant effects that are comparable to prescription meds.
Can You Cure Insomnia With Herbs?
Almost exactly one third of the adult population has insomnia, whether they know it or not. But sleep problems can be tough to diagnose and even harder to fix. There are lifestyle changes you can make like working out more, ditching caffeine after 3 pm, and avoiding screen time before bed. When that’s not enough, pharmaceutical options are available, but they can have major side effects and end up making you feel groggier than you did before! Luckily, there are some all-natural herbal options to help you drift off to dreamland.
The root of the Valerian herb is one of the most commonly used sleep-promoting herbal supplements in the world. Studies have found that it boosts sleep quality in both menopausal and postmenopausal women and may be able to decrease the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep, known as sleep latency. The root should be tinctured fresh or it can have the opposite effect.on someone who is robust and who habitually overthinks stuff.
Valerian root’s powers come from its ability to regulate gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in our brains. By stopping GABA from breaking down in our brains, Valerian increases feelings of relaxation. When our bodies and brains are calm, it’s much easier to fall asleep.
Magnolia bark, known by its scientific name Magnolia officinalis, is one of the most potent natural sleep supplements around. That’s why you want to start with the lowest dose, see how your body reacts, and then go up from there. And it’s generally a bad idea to take it during the day or before you drive your car–that’s how powerful this stuff is!
What gives Magnolia bark it’s sleep-inducing powers? Scientists have found two polyphenols, honokiol and magnolol, that help the body fall asleep and stay asleep. Magnolia bark can lower sleep latency and boost the amount of time spent in REM sleep (the deepest kind of sleep). And like Valerian root, Magnolia bark regulates our brains’ GABA levels, promoting relaxation and helping us drift off to sleep.
Help A Hangover With These Herbs
Once you’re past your early 20s, you realize that a bagel and an iced coffee won’t actually cure your hangover. Luckily, there are herbs that can ease the painful symptoms left over from your wild night and even some that can help your body detox more effectively so you feel better sooner.
Remember how when you were a kid with an upset stomach you would drink a little ginger ale to feel better? Well, that’s because ginger is full of the gingerol oil which soothes nausea, indigestion, and even period cramps! It’s also got anti-inflammatory properties to help lower the amount of cytokines in your blood that make you more likely to be tired, achey, and irritable when you’re hungover. Ginger might not help your body recover quicker, but it will certainly make you feel better while you digest the alcohol.
Chlorella is an algae and up-and-coming superfood. Thanks to high levels of chlorophyll, protein, Vitamin B12, iron, and antioxidants, this green algae is a super-powered hangover helper. It’s known for its detoxifying abilities, making the body better at removing heavy metals and other toxins from the blood. A Japanese study found that taking Chlorella before you start drinking alcohol can drastically reduce the chances of a hangover by lowering levels of ethanol concentrations in the blood. So before you hit the bars, make sure to mix some Chlorella into your smoothie and you’ll feel much better the next day.