Herbs to the rescue in stressful times

     World politics, bad weather and relationship problems can all cause stress and disturb sleep. Stressful times call for stress-reducing herbs and there are many that can come to the rescue.

     Herbs can be mixed together and used to fill a small pillow that can be tucked under your regular pillow with a soothing sleep-promoting fragrance. English lavender, Lavandula angustifolia, promotes relaxation, relieves irritability and feelings of exhaustion. 

      Lavender can be mixed with German chamomile. Chamomile reduces muscle tension and spasms and slightly depresses the central nervous system to help ease feelings of anxiousness. Add lemon balm with its aromatic lemony scent for a slight hypotensive action that also acts as a mild sedative. Bee keepers used to rub lemon balm leaves on their hives to calm the bees. 

      Adding an equal amount of fragrant rose petals can be relaxing and can make the heart feel cheerful. Hops flowers (strobiles) have mild sedative properties and can be crushed easily. 

     Holy basil, ocimum sanctum, is another herb that can be added to this blend. It is considered a tonic for the nervous system and lifts the spirit, improves mood and promotes relaxation. It is a calming nervine herb that alleviates stress. 

     All of these herbs can be purchased from an herb supplier or you can grow them easily in your garden.

     Use equal parts of your chosen herbs, blend them well and stuff a decorative 5×5-inch pillow or you can use this blend as a tea. Use one teaspoon to one cup of boiling water and steep for 10 minutes. Sweeten with honey or maple syrup. Enjoy this hot cup of herbal tea on a wintry day and it may melt your stress away.

      Another way to use herbs to reduce stress is by making a tincture—an alcoholic extract of these plants. Use 10 grams of chamomile, 10 grams of lemon balm and 10 grams of skullcap in a mason jar. Top with 150 ml of brandy or vodka. Make sure the herbs are covered and steep for two weeks. Stir every day and then strain. Take one teaspoon up to three times a day to help reduce stress.  

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