Herbs for Stress Relief

The Ultimate Guide to Using Herbs for Stress Relief

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Herbs have long been used to treat stress and anxiety. But unknown to many alternative wellness enthusiasts, medicinal plants affect the body in different ways. 

So, it’s imperative to research each herb carefully before adding it to your wellness routine. Pay particular attention to the plant’s documented health benefits and any potential adverse reactions. 

Here’s a beginner’s guide to using herbs for stress relief.

1. Find Anxiolytic Herbs

The first step to incorporating medicinal herbs into your lifestyle is understanding what they can treat. This allows you to narrow down the list of specific plants commonly recommended for your medical condition. In this case, you’ll need to research anxiolytic herbs. 

Fortunately, there are multiple options to choose from. Noteworthy mentions include;


Mitragyna speciosa, or kratom, is a tropical evergreen tree native to the lush forests of Southeast Asia, whose extracts possess immense healing properties. 

While commonly used for pain mitigation, kratom may also relieve stress and anxiety. A recent review confirmed that the herb might treat various anxiety symptoms, particularly mood swings. 

Another exciting thing about kratom is that there are plenty of subspecies to choose from. 

Red Horn kratom is one of the most commonly administered kratom strains for stress and anxiety. This strain can mellow you down without triggering sedation, making it suitable for fighting stress and mental fog. 


For centuries, cannabis has been a special favorite for recreational users. But that was long before modern research proved that the plant may also provide numerous health benefits. 

Like kratom, cannabis exists in several subspecies, notably hemp and marijuana. 

Hemp has received the most credit for its medicinal properties. The plant is so effective that many regulators continue to legalize hemp-derived products while criminalizing marijuana-based ones. 


Both anecdotal research and clinical trials have proven that passionflower may combat stress and anxiety. One study found that the herb could relieve some of anxiety’s most worrisome symptoms, such as irritability and nervousness. 

Note that passion flower is most effective if used alongside other anxiolytic herbs. The plant is also best used sparingly, as an overdose may cause drowsiness and confusion.


Kava is a potent antidepressant that’s generally reliable for short-term usage. The herb treats anxiety without altering your mental state. Just remember to use it moderately. 

Certain reports have linked excess kava consumption with liver toxicity, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warnings on consuming dietary supplements formulated with this herb. 

However, subsequent research has since cast aspersions on these earlier reports, indicating that kava isn’t as black as painted. 


Discussing anxiolytic herbs without mentioning the good, old lavender is difficult. The plant is effective against different anxiety causes and complications, including depression and insomnia. 

A 2019 study found that consuming lavender oil could treat anxiety by addressing the root causes. Multiple findings have shown that the herb might be as potent as the conventional antidepressant drug lorazepam. 

The following are other common anxiolytic herbs:

  • Ashwagandha
  • Chamomile
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Valerian
  • Lemon balm


2. Understand How the Plant Works

Different herbs affect the body in diverse ways. Understanding how a plant interacts with your system can help to predict its potential health benefits and side effects. 

For instance, kratom affects a series of opioid receptors in the brain. The plant contains alkaloids, such as mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine, which bind partially to opioid receptors. Stress relief is one of the benefits of such interactions. 

Other herbs may follow entirely different pathways. 

One way to gauge an herb’s potential for adverse effects is to understand the location of receptors it impacts. Plants that affect receptors in the central nervous system (CNS) are more likely to trigger negative reactions than those that interact with peripheral receptors. 

3. Pick the Right Delivery Method

There are multiple ways to consume anxiolytic herbs. Popular delivery methods include;

  • Smoking dried leaves or buds
  • Vaping e-juices formulated with specific herbs
  • Inhaling aromatherapy oils
  • Administering herbal tinctures sublingually (from beneath the tongue)
  • Consuming edibles infused with certain herbs
  • Applying topicals enriched with specific herbal extracts

How you administer an herbal extract may affect its overall efficacy. 

Edibles require 1 – 3 hours to kick in, but their effects can last for days. You might consider this delivery method if you suffer from chronic anxiety disorders that require ongoing management. 

Smoking and vaping herbal extracts produce near-instant benefits but short-lasting effects. The same is true for inhaling aromatherapy oils or administering herbal tinctures sublingually. These delivery methods are ideal when you’re seeking instant relief from conditions like social anxiety and panic disorder. 

Lastly, you might consider topicals if you’re averse to a plant’s potential mind-altering effects. As you’re applying the herb externally, there are almost ZERO risks of psychosis. 

It’s also worth noting that the safety of most herbs depends on the delivery method. A case in point is lavender, generally effective when applied topically or in aromatherapy oils. Oral lavender consumption has been linked to constipation, headaches, and upset stomach. 

Pick the Right Delivery Method

4. Moderate Your Doses

Most anxiolytic herbs are safe and effective at relatively low doses. So, if you want to maximize these plants’ healing benefits, it’s best to consume them moderately. 

Perhaps the key emphasis here should be determining how much of a medicinal herb to consume. Those include

  • Age
  • Body size and weight
  • Metabolic rate
  • Sensitivity or tolerance to an herb
  • Experience levels (whether you’re a new or seasoned user)
  • Potency of herbal compounds in products containing these substances
  • Severity of your anxiety condition

If you’re new to any herb, the general rule is, to begin with lower doses and space your initial serving portions at least two days apart. This allows you to acclimatize to the plant without experiencing adverse effects. 

You’ll also realize that most herbs have consensus dosages based on what many users find effective. Feel free to take cues from these recommendations while considering the above-highlighted factors.

Some herbs are either outright illegal or heavily regulated in certain jurisdictions. 

For instance, kratom is legal in Canada but either banned or regulated in 22 U.S. states. 

On the other hand, cannabis is legal in Canada for both medical and recreational use. 

In the United States, only hemp-derived products containing a maximum tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of 0.3% are legal for medicinal use. THC is the most psychoactive chemical in weed.

Check If It’s Legal

Final Word

While effective against stress and anxiety, natural herbs are known to interact with certain medications. Such interactions can be positive or adverse. It’s important to consult your healthcare provider before incorporating herbs into your wellness regimen. That’s especially true if you’re already on a prescription for conventional antidepressants.

Also Read: The Benefits of Journaling for Mental Health: From Stress to Strength



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