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Ways to Help Cope with Stress
December is one of the busiest months of the year for many people. Preparations for Christmas and a busier time at work or school can lead to increased stress levels.
As most people know, a certain amount of stress is a good thing, helping to keep you “working “ efficiently. It is when you get too much stress, or low levels over a long period of time, that your adrenal glands can become overworked, leading to many of the symptoms of “bad stress” such as irritability, tiredness, lack of concentration, making errors and even disturbed digestion, sleep and poor skin. Although we are not able to offer a “miracle cure” to stress we can suggest herbs and supplements that have helped many people cope with these symptoms.
Calming Herbs can be useful if you find you become more angry and irritable during periods of stress. Consider trying passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) or even valerian (Valeriana officinalis), these will help you to physically relax.
Supportive herbs. During a period of stress people can find their energy levels drop, this is because stress puts more strain on the body. There are a group of herbs called adaptogens which are useful as they can help the body “adapt” to the stress it is experiencing. Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is a classic adaptogen although others such as Astragulus (Astragulus membranaceus), Ashwaganda (Withania somniferum) and Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) can also be used.
Nutritional Issues. Many people find it difficult to eat a balanced diet when stressed. If this is an issue consider taking a multivitamin for the duration of the period when you are finding it more difficult to cook. This can help reduce the risk of further issues due to poor nutrition (although if possible get your diet back toward optimum as soon as you can). The B-vitamins are one of the most important nutrients to help with stress, and oats are a useful natural source.
Sleep. In periods of stress disturbed sleep can become an issue. Herbs such as valerian may be useful taken before bed. Other techniques such as reducing activity before bed, ensuring the room is dark and clearing your mind by writing down all the things you need to remember for the next day may help.
Featured Natural Remedies – Rhodiola
Although most herbs used in the UK have a long tradition of use in Western Europe there are herbs from all round the world available. One herb that has reached us comparatively recently from Russia is Rhodiola (Rhodiola roseacea). This is a herb that is becoming increasingly popular although it is still slightly more expensive than some other alternatives.
Rhodiola has been extensively studied although most journals are in Russian. Some of the key findings include:-
Rhodiola appears to increase the body’s ability to produce Serotonin (a neurotramitter found in the brain) and also to reduce the rate of removal of serotonin. What this means is that Rhodiola can be useful in cases of low mood, poor concentration and may also be useful in some instances of mild depression (although we would not recommend self-treatment using herbs if you taking an anti-depressant without the assistance of your Doctor or Herbalist)
Some studies have shown that Rhiodiola can
help with short-term memory. Improvements in short-term memory were
seen after just a single dose. It may be a herb worth considering
for exam revision or general memory problems.
Another area where Rhodiola has been researched in is applied to exercise and energy. Rhodiola is thought to have a number of actions in this area, one of which is increasing the levels of ATP (ATP is the name of a specific molecule in the body, it is ATP that provides the energy for every cell in the body). By increasing ATP levels the body has better access to energy, helping improve recovery times and also performance in athletes.
Rhodiola is most often taken as a tablet, but is also available as a tincture or dried root
Safety and Contraindications; Not recommended during pregnancy or breast-feeding.
Herb of the Month, Limeflower
It is not often that we can recommended a herbal tea that almost everyone finds pleasant tasting. Limeflower (Tilea europea) has a light refreshing taste and is a caffeine free, relaxing drink. As well as being pleasant, limeflower has a few special properties. By its action as a peripheral vasodilator (meaning to open the blood vessels away from the torso, e.g. legs and arms) it can help lower blood pressure and also can be useful on a cold day by helping keep the fingers and toes warm.
Simply by being caffeine free limeflower avoids stimulating the adrenal (stress response) system. In addition it has a calming effect. Limeflower is not related to lemons and limes. The lime tree is also called tilea or Linden Blossom from the lime tree though, it is from a tree called Tilea or Linden Blossom. This tree is often found lining streets in Europe (it is the one which drop sticky residue on your car in Spring!).
Limeflower is most often taken as a tea, but is also available as tincture
Cautions: We always recommend seeking advice from your Doctor, Herbalist or other health professional if taking prescription medicines and thinking about self-treating with herbs, or if your condition is serious.
P.S. For an assortment of seasonal gifts why not visit www.woodlandherbs.co.uk where a range of skincare products and other gifts are available.