One Of The Most Effective Ways To Relieve Stress Now


If, at any point throughout the course of your lifetime, you’ve dealt with small to large bouts of stress, are currently dealing with it at some level, feel like you deal with stress well, or have all but completely burnt out because of it, there is an extremely effective support you need right now. It’s not caffeine, it’s not some sort of natural stimulant, and it goes well beyond the unrealistic thought (for most) of escaping life and whisking yourself away to a tropical island for a month of stress free, self care solitude. Rather, one of the most effective ways to relieve stress now is simply about giving your body what it needs in order to ‘put on its breaks’, allowing it to ‘take a breath’ and begin recuperating its ability to keep you healthy; even if it means doing so while still trying to manoeuvre amongst life’s ongoing battles with stress.


Calming plants to the rescue


We know that it’s impossible for an empty gas tank to fuel your car. No matter how hard you push the gas pedal, your car will not start. Not only will it not start, it will eventually sit, rust, breakdown, and never be road worthy again. Like they say, it’s much easier (and cheaper!) to properly maintain a car then it is to have it break down and have to rebuild it from scratch.


The same thing can be said for your health when it comes to the effects of stress on your well being. 


Using the empty gas tank example, it doesn’t matter how well the spark plug works, without gas, your car just won’t start. Using this analogy when talking about stress, it doesn’t matter what you try to spark your health or energy with (coffee, energy drinks, sugar, or whatever), if the gas tank is empty (in this case, your adrenal system is the gas tank and the nutrients and compounds your body needs is the gas), you will never give your body the opportunity to get going. 


So what happens when you push, and push…and push, but your body just won’t listen? Well, for one, your internal engine continually undergoes further stress, and eventually breaks down for good. 


For those who feel that stress does not exist, are handling it with ease, or are currently living a relaxed, easy going, simple life, you too are suffering from the effects of past or present stress, ‘in silence’, is how it would be termed. So although you may be healthy, robust, and strong, it’s the subtle, less noticeable, accumulative  impacts of stress on your health that ultimately catch up at some point down the road. 


So how do you replenish, rebuild and refuel in the face of stress? Plants with calming properties will always do the job.


Calmatives, otherwise globally known as nervine relaxants, are plants that, when consumed, elicit a calming, restorative, recuperative effect on the chemistry of the body. When the body can’t handle any more stress, or is in a chronically stressed state (let’s face it, that’s almost everyone on the planet at some point in time), it doesn’t need to be pushed more, but rather needs to calmed, toned down, and allowed to rest and recover. It’s similar to being in a situation where you feel over stimulated yet can’t get out. Examples of this include watching TV at night while extremely tired but feel extremely restless and can’t sit still, being exposed to an extremely loud noise (ie a fire alarm) while trying to concentrate, study or read a book, or trying to sleep while your neighbour plays loud music and parties all night long. In situations like these, no matter what you do, your body just won’t settle. Rather than providing more stimuli to try and deal with the already overwhelming stimulus at hand, a calmative will allow your stress system to become less reactive while providing it the nutrition and support it needs to recuperate to a healthy state. 


Bear in mind, that calmatives and nervine relaxants aren’t sedatives. Although sedatives in herbal medicine do exist, even the strongest types don’t possess the sedative profile that a pharmaceutical drug would. True drug sedatives suppress the stress response and sedate normal functioning, whereas a herbal calmative, sedative or nervine relaxant modulates the stress response without turning off or blocking normal healthy function. These types of herbal medicines provide aid to a failing stress system while simultaneously giving it what it needs to rebuild. In the end, you are still able to adaptively function, not feel fatigued, tired, or groggy, and begin to feel the positive effects of resting your body while simultaneously refiling the ‘tank’.


Herbs such as catnip, ashwagandha, chamomile, lemon balm, skullcap, passionflower, and oat seed are a few examples of calmative, nervine relaxant and restorative herbs. Unfortunately, simply picking and choosing any at random, although helpful in the slightest and most basic way, won’t give your body what it really needs. Herbal medicine and its application to stress needs to be precise, as each herb offers very specific and unique physiological activities on the body and is very individual to each and every case. I’ve seen many people self prescribe, yet barely reach the beginnings of a calmatives supportive, restorative and replenishing potential. Worse yet, most who attempt to take a herb to improve stress, end up overstimulating their system, putting him/herself further back than when they started. It’s only through the proper combination, dose, form, and approach that you will untimely recover from stress and begin to live and feel extensively better than you could ever have imagined. 


Dr Jeremy Hayman, ND helps patients at Cornerstone Naturopathic Inc. feel better, live better, and achieve optimal wellness and health. Years of patient care coupled with dedication to personal life balance has helped Dr Jeremy employ the adage that “your approach to health should be simple”.