Stress: a bother and a detriment. No one can escape its grasp; things happen that put immense pressure on us, making us push ourselves harder to do things faster. Our brains chug along as best as they can, but they can only do so much before burnout strikes. Yoga, walks, meditation and venting are some of the best ways to reduce stress, but there are also herbs called adaptogens that can help to relax your mental state and even lower your body’s cortisol levels. Many of them can be found in vitamin shops as a supplement. Here are five adaptogens that are proven to relieve your stress.
Ashwagandha is a doozy of an herb with an array of health and mental benefits. This herb originates from India, and people have been using it to lower blood sugar, relieve pain and inflammation, lower cortisol levels and reduce stress. In fact, according to a study conducted by Chandrasekhar on ashwagandha and stress, “The treatment group that was given the high-concentration, full-spectrum ashwagandha root extract exhibited a significant reduction in scores on all the stress-assessment scales on day 60.” Ashwagandha extract can be ingested in capsule form as an herbal supplement.
Valerian root has frequently been used to treat menopause symptoms and sleep disorders like insomnia, but it can also help you relax and reduce stress. According to Healthline, “Valerian contains a number of compounds that may help promote calmness by reducing GABA breakdown, improving stress response and maintaining adequate levels of mood-stabilizing brain chemicals.” The herb acts as a sedative, relaxing the brain and nervous system and reducing stress–-especially nighttime stress that prevents you from sleeping. Valerian root can be taken in capsule form or tea form.
You might think that lemon balm is a cream or perhaps an ointment, but it’s actually an herb that is used to treat digestive issues, relieve pain and boost mood. However, many people use it to reduce stress. Like valerian root, lemon balm acts as a sedative for the brain and the nervous system. According to a study led by Andrew Scholey about lemon balm and its anti-stress effects in food, “Using a similar paradigm to the current study, we found increased calmness following one dose of lemon balm and while there were no cognitive costs associated with that dose, there were also no cognitive benefits.” Lemon balm can be ingested in tea, in food or in capsule form as a supplement.
Ginseng is another herb that has a ton of health benefits, promoting well-being, boosting mood, lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels, helping your immune system, reducing stress and more. It’s no wonder why people in Asia and America have been using this herb to treat ailments for centuries. According to a study conducted by Seungyeop Lee about ginseng and stress reduction, “Ginseng shows superior regulation of stress, as compared with that shown by other adaptogens.” The herb alleviates stress by regulating what’s called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA)—which is the central stress response system—reducing a person’s stress response levels. Ginseng can be eaten raw or cooked, or it can be used as an herbal supplement in capsule form.
Cacao may surprise you by being on this list. This herb is a component of chocolate, cocoa and cocoa butter, but it also has its health benefits. In fact, raw cacao can help improve your mood, has a multitude of antioxidants, sharpens your cognition, and helps you de-stress. According to Spaexperience, “Raw cacao also contains serotonin (which improves the mood and decreases stress), anandamide (a “bliss” chemical that produces a feeling of euphoria), and theobromine (a mild stimulant sometimes used to treat depression).” This “superfood” can be eaten in its powder form, its nib form or its butter form.