Herbal Happiness: A guide to natural herbal remedies for the anxious, stressed and worn-out mum.

This post was one of the few published under my own name, for a New Zealand based website mainlymamas.com

An honest note from the author:

What is that saying; a builder’s house is never finished? Well as I write this, dear readers, I know that I need to take heed of my own word as an herbalist, a wellness writer and a mum; for I can also allow myself to spiral into the depths where panic and stress take a hold.

It is somewhat liberating to admit it. To let open the floodgates and accept the impending torrent, for fighting only prolongs the inevitable. As a mum, the best mum I can be, I feel that I am the glue that holds the family together. What happens when that glue becomes tatty, tacky and tired? Can it be lovingly primed, pressed and patted back to its former glory?

I actually love what I am about to present to you. This is a kind of working project that has been a month in the writing and several months in the making. As I use my knowledge through years of study and from my own personal experiences, I want to apply it to my current real life situation. Because sometimes the theory of such botanical reactions that occur within our bodies are simply not enough to break through a wall of depression. And other times, to learn that knowledge can be the final step that helps inspire further effects for others.

To break it down simply, I will look at some common and not so common concoctions that can be used as a means to ease anxiety; to put a damper on those unyielding feelings of panic, shame and disorientation that can stop you from letting the real you shine as a mum and as a woman.

Can it really be as easy as a simple cup of tea to become a less stressed, more productive and happier mum? I honestly do think so.

A Good Night’s Sleep.

Critical for you to maintain your immunity levels, energy levels, memory and to even live longer, sleep is most likely the first element that needs to be looked at when trying to repair a person’s shattered essence.

I know personally during the times I am the most sleep-deprived I do not feel exhausted at all. On the contrary, a whizzed-up mind doesn’t allow for a peaceful slumber and you can lie awake for hours unable to constructively use such precious hours of rest time for healing and recuperation.

I’m not big on brands and hardly ever recommend pre-packaged products, preferring to suggest that people hand select their own herbs – either from a store or wild from the land – and mix them to specifically suit their personal tastes and needs.

However Yogi Tea Sweet Dreams had me slurring my words and nodding off after a half cup. A bit of a running joke in the household after several nights was that I would always make a second cup and just leave it on the counter to go to bed. A tasty mix of rooibos, honey bush, valerian root, lavender, thyme and fennel, it is caffeine free and safe to use whilst breastfeeding babies over 6 months. Valerian root is deemed safe but there is simply not enough research for me to comfortably suggest the use of it whilst breastfeeding a newborn. Feel free to consult a medical professional for their advice combined with your own judgment.

For those sensitive to any of those herbs listed above, chamomile is a safe and effective choice to use due to the abundant presence of the compound, apigenin. Apigenin is a muscle relaxant and can reduce anxiety in low doses, whilst promoting mild sedation in higher doses.

Rooibos has moved its way into my life slowly over the past few years, gradually replacing my love affair with a hearty English Breakfast. This caffeine free alternative has amazing health benefits, boosting bone health which is very important for us women as we age, promoting healthy circulation and reducing inflammation which can lead heart complications among many other claims.

A South African brand Skimmelberg that I chanced upon at an expo has produced an organic baby rooibos tea. Safe for babies to drink from 6 months onwards, mums can enjoy a cup too, combining the healing properties of rooibos with the relaxation effects of chamomile to create a smooth tea to be enjoyed at any time of the day or night.

Relief from anxiety and stress

The way in which we drink tea can do a lot for our emotional wellbeing. I took note during some tough days that I would always choose a caffeinated black tea over more preferable herbal options and drink it with such vigor and disregard as if the tea itself had caused me some offence.

By making an effort to create an atmosphere of peace around my morning bevvy, even if only the first mouthful gets consumed during those hectic moments, I noticed that I set myself up for a more positive experience.

Lemon Balm has always been a go-to herb for me during times of stress. I even enjoy making a juice from the herb after steeping the herbs in distilled water overnight, then adding honey and lemon for a pick-me-up and calm-me-down lemonade. For those who present with cold sores during periods of stress, Lemon Balm is known to treat these as well.

It may very well be the presence of rosmarinic acid in combination with other more specialized compounds that make Lemon Balm as effective as it is. There is certainly quite a bit of scientific research being conducted on the matter with plenty of promising results on show.

Other herbs that contain rosmarinic acid include basil, holy basil, rosemary, sage and thyme. These culinary herbs can all attest to relieving symptoms of stress and anxiety. Effects can be seen with small doses, such as in cooking or by drinking a tea which are safe options for pregnant and breastfeeding mums who do not want to self-medicate, however as always, I would consult your midwife or doctor as each body can react differently.

Those looking for a more direct approach in using herbs can consult a herbalist to concoct tinctures, extracts or pills for you to take as a herbal remedy.

The powers in plants are immense. By becoming more in tune with the ebb and flow of the natural world that is available to you, these powers can ready you for positive changes that are waiting to happen in your life.

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