HERBAL STRESS RELIEF
Most of the supplements and herbal remedies I recommend are available on my customized online holistic apothecary. Find the best supplements that have gone through my thorough screening process there. Look in the category for mental/emotional well-being or search them individually. My online dispensary is a convenient way for you to purchase my hand-picked, professional-grade, whole food supplements and other natural health products. Ordering is simple, and the products will be shipped directly to your home or work within a few days.
Herbs are mentioned last, as they can be used as supportive to your personal growth and self mastery efforts and, except for nourishing tonics, are for short term use only. For best results, they should not be relied upon alone, used without the above mentioned techniques. Inner peace and happiness are an inside job.
Drink Red Raspberry leaf, Skullcap, Motherwort, Chamomile, Lemon balm and/or Lavender tea to relax you. Peppermint or Spearmint tea will lift your spirits. You can make a lovely calming infusion, which is more effective than the ready made teas, by mixing a pinch of each dried herb: chamomile, lavender and lemon balm. Add to 1 cup boiling water, steep covered in a glass mason jar for 15-20 minutes, strain, add lemon, fresh mint or honey to taste, and drink.
Nettle and Dandelion are common herbs recommended in pregnancy to take as a nourishing tonic, but they are also wonderful for regulating blood sugar, supporting the adrenals, improving nutrient intake and building iron levels. In turn, this can balance your emotions, lessen mood swings and irritability.
To make an infusion:
Soak a handful of each dried herb in 1 quart of boiling water for 3-4 hours.
Strain in a mason glass canning jar.
Add lemon or lime juice, fresh mint or honey to taste.
Drink 1-3 cups per day.
Nettle and Dandelion can also be taken as a tincture, 1 dropperful each 3-4 times daily.
Oatstraw works best to nourish and calm the nervous system when taken over time. You can add a generous pinch of the dried herb to the infusion above. Or, take 1 dropperful of the tincture of fresh creamy milky oat tops in its most potent form 1-2 times daily.
Motherwort is great for occasional use after the first trimester, to help restore emotional balance when feeling stressed, restless, irritable, or overwhelmed. Take 1/2 -1 dropperful of the tincture. Repeated if needed every 15-30 minutes for 3 hours or up to 2-3 times daily for 2-3 days.
Skullcap has a similar effect as Motherwort, but more helpful to calm, and can be used regularly. Take ½ – 1 dropperful of tincture a few times per day. Both Skullcap and Motherwort are helpful to have on hand in labor as well as postpartum.
Passionflower is a great herb to take when feeling cranky, short tempered, anxious or experiencing frequent changes of mood. Try ½-1 dropperful of the tincture or 2 capsules of standardized extract up to 3 times per day as needed.
Reishi Mushroom is an excellent natural remedy for stress and anxiety. It is calming and also helps with sleep. Take 1-2 capsules up to three times daily.
Valerian can be taken on occasion, especially if you can not fall asleep at night because of feeling stressed or anxious. Take 2 capsules of standardized extract or one dropperful of the tincture in juice to help with taste.
CBD from hemp oil. This is the new rage, as it is gently calming, relieves anxiety and helps with sleep without the potential risks of the THC component of cannabis on the developing fetus. Results from anecdotal evidence and preliminary research, although sparse (as is common with most natural remedies in pregnancy), are promising. Make sure it is absolutely pure, and from a reputable source who can recommend proper dosing or from pharmacies licensed to dispense it. It is usually taken as several drops under the tongue.
Bach Flower Rescue Remedy can be used in temporary stressful situations, 4-6 drops every 10-15 minutes for a few hours. Repeat as needed. There are many flower essences effective and safe for specific transient emotional symptoms on an energetic level, developed by physician Dr. Bach. If you are interested in exploring this modality, get yourself a wonderful reference and a a starter kit for you to use now and beyond for your growing family.
Homeopathic remedies are wonderfully safe and effective for relieving emotional stresses and imbalances. You can consult a classical homeopath, or refer to books like Homeopathy For Pregnancy, Birth and Your Baby’s First Year by Miranda Castro.
Dr. Aviva Romm advises in “The Natural Pregnancy Book” taking a small dose of American Ginseng, Schisandra Berries and Eleuthero, 1/2 tsp each alone or total in combination 2 times per day to nourish your adrenals especially if you are overtired, burned out, overworked or overstressed. I would say it is best to avoid them in the first trimester. See her recent more comprehensive blog on remedies to support your adrenals in stressed modern times.
St. John’s Wort can help relieve mild to moderate depression. Take it if you are not pregnant (although if you are expecting, it may be a safer alternative than the common antidepressant prescription medications, to take in consultation with your provider). Dr. Andrew Weil advises 300 mg three times per day of an extract standardized to 0.3 % hypericin. Allow at least 2 months for the full effect, and minimize sun exposure if you develop a photosensitivity reaction.
SAMe is another natural remedy for mild to moderate depression and/or anxiety. Dr. Andrew Weil recommends the butanedisulfonate form, in enteric coated capsules or tablets, 400–1600 mg. per day on an empty stomach.
If not pregnant, lavender Oil can be taken one capsule before sleep for the occasional bout of insomnia or anxiety. You can try Blue Vervain, 1/2 to one dropperful 1-3 x daily. Also take Rhodiola – as a tonic herb for mild depression, anxiety and stress, 100-200 mg twice daily. Choose an extract standardized to 2-3% rosavins and 0.8-1% salidrosides. This usually improves anxiety and sleep, but needs to be taken more regularly. Obviously stop it if it is too stimulating and worsens insomnia. You can also try Ashwagandha, if you feel overstressed and burned out. Dissolve 1-2 tsp of the powder in your smoothie, tea or warm milk for 5-10 minutes 2-3 times per day. Or, take 2-3 dropperfuls of the tincture twice daily and before sleep, or 2-5 grams of the capsules daily in divided doses. One of my favorite remedies for calming anxiety and inner stress related insomnia is Kava Kava. You can take a few drops up to a dropperfuls of the tincture or 150 -450 mg of the encapsulated liquid capsules before bed for occasional short term use only. Do not use if you are taking any substance including alcohol or medications that affect the liver, or you have any liver issues. This is one of my favorite herbs for anxiety and/or insomnia from inner stress and is usually well tolerated and very effective.
Dr. Aviva Romm is an excellent resource for herbs and natural remedies for depression and anxiety, and if you are struggling with psychological symptoms, integrative holistic psychiatrist Dr. Kelly Brogan’s online course and associated resources are a must.
Contact your provider if these suggestions do not help and your negative emotions are persistent and becoming too frequent or strong to cope with, especially if you:
Have a history of depression or anxiety needing prescription medication
Are having trouble functioning
Are eating or sleeping too much or too little
Have frightening thoughts
Experience severe oscillation of moods between wild elation and despair
Feel at risk for harming yourself or others
Such severe symptoms require psychiatric evaluation and often medication to prevent or treat a more serious illness. However, try to avoid mind-altering drugs and medications (such as sedatives, tranquilizers, sleeping pills, antihistamines and steroids) unless absolutely and medically necessary.
Do not take any herb or medication before discussing it with your provider, as many are not safe for use in pregnancy. Do not take any prescription anti-anxiety or anti-depressant drug unless you are really suffering and none of these suggestions help, and you are closely supervised by your psychiatrist.