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How to Use Herbs to Keep Calm and Stay Strong

Apr 30, 2020 12:00PM ● By Kathleen Gould and Madalyn Johnson

Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)

We don’t need to tell you that we are experiencing unusual and, yes, fearful times on the planet right now. Many people are flocking to herb shops and health food stores across the country looking for help and guidance to curb that fear, anxiety and depression, and rightfully so, because there are amazing herbs that do exactly that.

Fear is not necessarily a bad thing, however, as it helps keep us focused and moving forward, as well as aids us to find courage and keeps us strong! Anxiety and depression, on the other hand, can be debilitating and make us feel vulnerable, helpless and insecure. It affects our overall health by decreasing our immune system, and constricts our blood vessels and shortens our breath.

In this article, we will look at herbs that help transform that anxiety and depression, and help us find our courage and strength. There are so many herbs to choose from depending on the person and symptoms, so let’s look at a few and help you determine which one(s) is best for you.

The first herb that comes to mind is motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca). The botanical name means lionhearted and is used when you need the heart of a lion—when you need to be strong and calm. This herb is very bitter, so a tincture (extract) is usually preferable. You can take about half a dropperful every 10 minutes or so to calm and settle anxiety.

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
If you are feeling like you are right at the edge, reach for St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) tincture. This beautiful herb nourishes and strengthens the nerves and quickly helps relieve anxiety and depression. You can try a dropperful one to four times a day or even several times within an hour to calm an anxiety/panic attack. This works well with motherwort for anxiety/panic.

Nervine herbs help nourish and strengthen the nervous system and are usually rich in calcium to help steady the nerves. Try the following tea blend and see how you feel after a cup or two:

3 oz oat straw (Avena sativa) – decreases anxiety, depression and insomnia.

2 oz lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) – relaxing calmative to help decrease insomnia, depression and nervousness.

1 oz nettle leaf (Urtica dioica) – strengthens adrenals to help decrease anxiety.

1 oz skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) – powerful nervine and calmative for anxiety and emotional upsets.

½ oz passion flower (Passiflora incarnata) – nervine and mild sedative for anxiety and depression.

1 oz slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) – soothing demulcent.

To make: Mix all herbs together and store in a glass jar. Use 1 teaspoon or tablespoon herb blend to each 8 oz water, depending on the severity of feelings. Put water and herbs in a pot, cover and bring to a simmer. Turn off the stove and let steep overnight. Strain and store in the refrigerator. Drink two to four cups daily.


Another plant to help calm nerves is the very popular hemp plant, where we get our CBD (cannabidiol) oil from. CBD targets receptors throughout your nervous system, providing a calming remedy for a nervous and anxious mind. Traditional medicines to treat anxiety have been SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), only available with a prescription, and may come with a long list of side effects. CBD oil might be a nice alternative to help manage your angst, without those harsh, and sometimes long-lasting, after effects.

CBD is user friendly. You can find it in sublingual liquid form, capsules, lozenges, topicals, gummies, and even bath bombs (don’t laugh until you try it!). Strength can range from 10 milligrams (mg) up to 3,000 mg, even 5,000 mg. And like any other plant medicine, know your source. CBD should be full-spectrum, non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) and organic.

CBD has been on the forefront of medicinal talk for years now for good reason. It works for most people. Finding a good-quality product and the proper dose are key, so talk with a trusted friend or health professional to help you get just the right product and dose for you! It might just be the answer that you are looking for during these trying times.

Once again, plants come to our rescue with a wide range of available remedies to keep you calm, strong and able to enjoy each day, “herbally”!

Madalyn Johnson (le ) and Kathleen Gould (right)

Kathleen Gould, registered herbalist, and Madalyn Johnson are proprietors of SW Herb Shop and Gathering Place. Gould has been an herbalist for 30-plus years and has extensive experience in herbal medicine. For more information, call 480-694-9931, or visit or

*photo credits: Syechin Anna Khomulo Domnitsky