Herbs for Stress Relief:
A nourishing answer for holiday stress
by Kimberly Gallagher
Well everyone, I have a confession for you…
As exciting as this time in our lives has been for me with John finishing acupuncture school and the release of our new herbal board game, I have also found my self on edge.
Change, even positive change can lead to a feeling of stress in my life. My level of nervousness reached a point where I was finding it difficult to get to sleep and to sleep peacefully through the night.
After a couple of nights of very little sleep, I began to take valerian tincture before going to bed, and when I would wake in the night, but still I wasn’t sleeping. It became clear, that I needed to look for a new solution for myself.
Well, I found something that has really worked, and I felt inspired to share it with you, since I know that not being able to sleep is a common issue people face.
Also, I know that as wonderful and fun as the holiday season can be, it also takes us out of our routines and has us surrounded by people we don’t often interact with.
Sometimes those family gatherings can be stressful.
Do you know what I’m talking about?
Do you ever find yourself lying awake at night?
Well, here’s what’s been working for me lately…Kimberly’s simple secret to using herbs for stress for the holidays...
First, I returned to a trusted herbal ally, oatstraw. I began making oatstraw infusions for myself on a daily basis.
To do this, take one ounce of dried oatstraw and place it in a quart jar.
Fill the jar with boiling water and cap it.
Let it sit for at least four hours and then strain it and drink it warm, cold or at room temperature.
Susun Weed talked all about these nourishing herbal infusions at the teleconference John did with her last week. (listen here)
Oatstaw (Avena sativa) is an herb that will nourish and tonify your nervous system. I find that when I drink an oatstraw infusion on a daily basis it smoothes out the rough edges of my life, leaving me feeling more relaxed and calm.
This is a mild herb, high in minerals (esp. calcium), that is truly beneficial as a daily nourishing tea.
Secondly, several friends recommended Skullcap (Scutellaria spp.) as an herb that calms the nerves and helps promote sound sleep.
In Opening our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs, Gail Faith Edwards describes skullcap as “one of nature’s finest nervous system tonics.”
I started taking skullcap tincture – one dropper 3 times a day – at breakfast, lunch, and right before bedtime, and it worked beautifully.
Since turning to these two herbs for help, I have felt much calmer and have been sleeping peacefully for several weeks.
As a busy mom of two little ones, I can’t tell you how critical that is for me.
I know that it must be equally critical for you in your life.
In her book, Edwards cautions that too much skullcap has made her feel “jittery, giddy, and confused,” and she recommends a dose of 3-10 drops of tincture once or twice a day. So, you may want to start with a smaller dose and find what works for you and your body.
You can also make a skullcap infusion using the same method as described for oatstraw above. This can make a calming before bed beverage. I’ve tried skullcap infusion with a little milk as a warm, bedtime tea and found it to be a tasty, calming bedtime treat.
I’ve chosen to follow this routine for the past few weeks, since I know that this is a transition time for me and that my nerves are tense.
Once Wildcraft! gets out in the mail and some of the tension eases, I will stop taking the skullcap, but will probably continue to include oatstraw as a regular ingredient in my daily herbal infusion for a few more weeks.
If not sleeping was a chronic problem for me, I would choose a different approach, but for short-term stressful periods in my life, I am excited to have discovered this simple remedy. I feel empowered knowing how to use herbs for stress in a way that is nourishing as well.
Wishing you a restful holiday season, filled with joy!
An Herbal Adventure Game
A cooperative board game that teaches edible & medicinal
Wildcraft! includes a 20x20 inch game board, instructions,
4 player pieces, 52 plant cards, 52 trouble cards, 25
cooperative cards, and a spinner. It also comes with a
downloadable story to enhance the story of the game.