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Stress is a relatively new concept. While it’s a popular subject, it’s not exactly well-defined. Even the person who is often cited as the founder of the stress theory, endocrinologist Hans Selye, pointed out, “Everyone knows what stress is and nobody knows what it is.” The term itself has origins in physics and engineering: stress is a force that produces strain on the physical body.

What is Stress?

What we do know is the body responds differently to chronic and acute stress. Selye observed that when people experience on-going stress a pattern emerges: the stressor takes people off guard, the body and mind attempt to resist change in order to maintain balance, and we end up exhausted by the effort.

Stress happens for many different reasons: physical, psychological, emotional, and environmental stressors can make any of us feel and look tired, lose or gain weight, lose interest in work and leisure activities, and make us prefer lying down over standing up.

What Herbs are Good for Stress?

People are different, and stressors are different, even if how stress feels in the body is extremely similar. That’s why we have multiple herbs for stress management and not just one herb. We should expect that we may need a whole team of herbs to help us resist and recover from stress.

Many people hear stress and immediately think of adaptogens. Yes, it’s true that adaptogens are especially helpful for non-specific stress, but they are not the only stress herbs and there are lots of other herbs that can help us manage stress. Herbs that support the nervous system, promote immune health, nourish the cardiovascular system, or stimulate the lymphatic system are all great candidates for stress support. Especially if you have an idea of where the stress is coming from and how it feels in your body. Integrating a body literacy practice into your day-to-day can help you identify and manage stress before it takes root. \

When experiencing stress, it’s important to sneak in moments of pleasure, which is why we prioritize stuff that tastes good when we’re feeling stressed out. Tinctures and beverages that we can enjoy not only help with compliance (herbs can’t do anything in your body if you don’t put them there), but the simple act of taking time to enjoy ourselves is a good contradiction to stress, which often comes in the wake of an experience in which we feel out of control. A very small way to take control is to make time in the day to enjoy the flavors of healing herbs.

Rose-Colored Glasses and GT’s ALIVE Root Beer are two of our favorite tools for managing stress: they taste good, they feel good, and they help to nourish our bodies and boost our moods during moments of stress. Rose-Colored Glasses and ALIVE Root Beer include some of our favorite herbs for stress, some adaptogens, some not. Get to know them!

1. Rose

Rose is a cooling nervine that offers support in times of grief. Rose is a very gentle cardiotonic. When combined with hawthorn - like it is in Rose-Colored Glasses - it’s skilled at moving stuck patterns of sadness or recurring dips in mood. Rose is calming to the nervous system, strengthening to the heart, and also mildly stimulating to the brain to help us think during times of stress.

2. Holy Basil

Holy Basil is a mild adaptogen for fatigue that helps clear mental fog and improve memory. It increases cerebral circulation to improve cognitive function. As a gentle stimulant it improves immune activity, and also helps to support digestion. If your stress bloats your digestive system and clouds your thinking, holy basil could be a match for you.

3. Oat Tops

Oat tops are the young, milky tops of the oat plant. They are fantastic food for the nervous system, especially for people who burn the candle at both ends. If stress makes you overly sensitive to sounds and smells, or you find yourself reacting uncharacteristically to small setbacks, oat tops can help restore your emotional foundation

4. Hawthorn

Hawthorn is a strengthening nervine that nourishes the heart. Hawthorn restores strength where stress has depleted. It is deeply calming, when stress sends you into a tizzy and you feel untethered, distracted, and unable to settle down, hawthorn will gently steady and soothe

5. Reishi

Reishi is a calming adaptogen that normalizes, strengthens, and calms the immune system. It calms the nervous system and helps the body rest. A well-known and beloved herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine, this mushroom has thousands of years of traditional use under its belt.

6. Turkey Tail

Turkey Tail is a beautiful mushroom that looks like a - you guessed it - turkey tail growing on decaying hardwood logs. Turkey Tail is a well-documented immunomodulator, meaning that it responds to either stimulate or suppress the immune system. Stress can often make different parts of our body under work or over work, turkey tail helps the immune system get back to balance.

7. Chaga

 Chaga is an adaptogenic mushroom with a deep, earthy, and smoky flavor. Chaga is traditionally used to stimulate the immune system and balance energy. Also known for sharpening the mind, Chaga may reduce fatigue in the early-morning or, really, anytime.

Stress comes in lots of different forms, so as herbalists we turn to formulas to help the body and mind respond to stress through many different systems and organs in the body. None of us want to feel alone when dealing with stressors. And we’re not. Let a team of plants both keep you company and help you recover from stress.

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