Have No Fear, Herbs Are HereOct 29, 2021 06:35AM ● By Kathleen Gould and Madalyn Johnson
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Fear is a human emotion that is triggered by a perceived threat. It is a basic survival mechanism that signals our body to respond to danger with a fight-or-flight response. And what happens to our body when it is in fight or flight? The body's sympathetic nervous system is activated and energy is moved from the core of the body out to the large muscles of the legs and arms so we can fight or flee depending on the situation. This means there is no nerve function in the core. When this goes on for a long time, we see problems with digestion, urinary and bowel function, anxiety, depression, and the list goes on.
Nature understands this, and as such, has given us a whole family of herbs called nervines to help us cope with long-term fear. Nervines tone, relax and have a strengthening effect on the nervous system. These beautiful herbs include valerian root, passion flower, chamomile, lemon balm, skullcap and oatstraw, to name a few.
There are also adaptogenic herbs, like ashwagandha and Rhodiola, that help normalize body chemistry and increase resistance to stress.
Nature also gives us spirit-strengthening herbs, like motherwort and blue lotus flower, to help us stay calm and peaceful.
And remember that the big bonus when using high-quality medicinal herbs is that they are loaded with completely absorbable vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, free-radical scavengers, and antioxidants that help keep the body running smoothly.
So how do we go about utilizing these helpful herbs on a daily basis? The opportunities are endless. Most of us think of making a tea, and that is always a good idea. Just the act of mixing, steeping and pouring that cup of tea is calming. While we are blending our herbs, we are thinking of how this is going to make us calmer and maybe lift our spirits. This simple act of hoping that these herbs will bring us peace is powerful. Sitting with a warm cup of tea, relaxing and feeling that warmth surge through our body is quite healing in itself. Maybe a nice cup of equal parts passion flower, skullcap and chamomile will bring on a needed night’s sleep. Or perhaps blending motherwort and blue lotus flower with a pinch of lemon balm will enhance your dreaming.
Many herbalists like to utilize milky oats; its botanical name is Avena sativa. Avena means “nourishing,” pointing to its powerful benefits. While all parts of the oat plant offer many health benefits, milky oats especially support the central nervous system, more focused thinking, better balanced hormones, and even an increased libido. Wow, all in one plant. Milky oats are picked fresh at the top of the season, or better known as the immature stage of the seed—the milky stage—and are usually tinctured to preserve their unique benefits and the short life of the milky stage. Milky oats blend nicely with passion flower, motherwort and ashwagandha. When you feel frazzled, milky oats might just be your best friend.
If tea isn’t your thing, bathing with herbs might be a good option. This has been done for centuries all over the world. Blend those herbs together, make a strong tea, strain and pour into your bath water, or take your dried herbs and put them in a big tea bag and let them steep in your bathtub—a perfect way to retreat, reflect on the day and refresh. The warm water releases all the healing qualities of the herbs and soothes that achy body, calms the mind, and promotes deep sleep. Breathe deeply and turn this into an aromatherapy session with some aromatic herbs (think chamomile, eucalyptus, lavender, roses). By the way, this is great for the whole family. If you have a child who just can’t relax, put them in a bath of chamomile and roses and see how this transforms them. A few nice combinations are lavender and rose (relaxing); eucalyptus, peppermint and thyme (cooling and refreshing); calendula and chamomile (especially for kiddos—great for skin issues); and roses, lavender and chamomile (calming and aromatic).
We all need a hero these days; let herbs be yours! They are affordable, available and oh so magical!
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 SWHerb.com or Store.SWHerb.com.