Re­duce your stress DIY RECIPES

Create re­lax­ing teas, calm­ing bath salts and ther­a­peu­tic mas­sage oils to help lift your mood and calm your nerves.

Herbs & Superfoods - - Herbs For Sleep & Stress -

Re­lax­ing Herbal Tea

Her­bal­ist Richard Whe­lan’s re­lax­ing tea will take the edge off a stress­ful day. Use it daily to reap the full ef­fects.

In­gre­di­ents • 25g skull­cap • 25g lemon balm • 25g chamomile • 15g passionflower • 10g laven­der flower

These in­gre­di­ents make 100g of dried herb; enough for a few weeks of daily use. They are given to show the pro­por­tions, so you can make ac­cord­ing to your pref­er­ence.

For a more pro­nounced ef­fect, you can add 2-3 heaped tea­spoons to one large cup of boil­ing water. Cover the cup for a good 10 min­utes, then strain and drink.

Add honey if de­sired.

Witha­nia drink

This tra­di­tional recipe al­lows you to get a pow­er­ful ef­fect from witha­nia quickly. The drink nour­ishes and sup­ports the ner­vous sys­tem, al­low­ing for a calm­ing ef­fect.

For one person, take 1 heaped dessert­spoon of cut or pow­dered witha­nia root and put into a small saucepan.

Add a lit­tle over half a cup of milk. Add about the same amount of water so you end up hav­ing about 1½ cups of liq­uid in the pot.

Add about 1 tea­spoon raw sugar, but be pre­pared to ex­per­i­ment with the amount. Sugar af­fects the taste, but more im­por­tantly, it also helps the body ab­sorb witha­nia.

Sprin­kle in a lit­tle black pep­per (pep­per helps blend ev­ery­thing to­gether).

Bring this mix­ture to just about boil­ing point and stir for about 5 min­utes.

You should have about one large cup­ful. Strain into a cup and drink.

Calm­ing chamomile and lemon balm bath

The skin read­ily ab­sorbs the heal­ing prop­er­ties of herbs in a ther­a­peu­tic bath. Throw a hand­ful of laven­der, chamomile flow­ers and Ep­som salt into your bath water to help you de­stress. If you do not wish to have your herbs float­ing around you, place them in a muslin bag, or even a pair of old panty­hose.

Laven­der mas­sage oil

Laven­der has a nat­u­ral re­lax­ing scent, so it’s an ideal in­gre­di­ent in mas­sage oils.

Fill a 1-litre glass jar three-quar­ters full with fresh laven­der flow­ers (half full for dried petals). Be­fore plac­ing in the jar, al­low freshly picked flow­ers to dry for 12 hours af­ter pick­ing to re­move most of the mois­ture. Too much mois­ture will cause the oil to go ran­cid. Fill the jar with sweet al­mond oil (or olive oil), stop­ping about 3cm from the top. Stir, screw the lid on tightly, then place the jar in a warm spot for 4-6 weeks. Gen­tly shake once a day. Strain, pour the in­fused oil into a glass bot­tle and store in a cool, dark cup­board.

Sleep-in­duc­ing bath soak

For in­som­nia and ner­vous fa­tigue, add 5 drops of sweet mar­jo­ram es­sen­tial oil and 2 of sweet orange es­sen­tial oil to your bath. Or place 1 drop of each oil on a tis­sue and in­hale.

Beat-the-blues mas­sage oil

To al­le­vi­ate de­pres­sion and aid sleep, add 2 drops each of the fol­low­ing es­sen­tial oils to 30ml of sweet al­mond oil: ben­zoin, jas­mine, laven­der, neroli, pe­tit­grain, rose, rose­wood, ve­tiver and ylang ylang. Use it as an up­lift­ing mas­sage oil. Or try it as bath oil, or put a few drops in a dif­fuser to in­hale.

Re­lax­ation mas­sage oil

To calm the nerves, add 5 drops of laven­der and 3 drops of san­dal­wood to 30ml of sweet al­mond oil. You can also sub­sti­tute man­darin or rose oil for the san­dal­wood if you pre­fer.

Calm­ing tinc­ture

Try this tinc­ture for when nerves are shot. Place two parts St John’s wort, one part skull­cap, one part moth­er­wort and one part lemon balm in a glass jar. Cover with vodka and seal the jar with a tight-fit­ting lid. Place in a brightly lit spot (not di­rect sun­light) and let the herbs soak for eight weeks. Turn and gen­tly shake the jar once a day. Strain the herbs from the liq­uid and pour into a clean glass jar. Store in a cool, dark place.

Slow a racing heart

Anx­ious, hot or flushed? Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a racing heart? Moth­er­wort ( Leonu­rus car­diaca) might be the an­swer. This seda­tive and car­diac tonic is used by herbal­ists for the treat­ment of a racing heart caused by ner­vous dis­or­ders and anx­i­ety at­tacks. It’s of­ten used for menopausal women who are hot and anx­ious, and have heart pal­pi­ta­tions. Moth­er­wort can be used as a tea, though bear in mind that its leaves are bit­ter.

To make a tea, pour a cup of freshly boiled water over 1-2 tea­spoons dried herb. Steep for 10-15 min­utes. Drink up to two cups per day. You can add honey, spices or an­other, sweeter, herb to dis­guise the bit­ter­ness.

To make a tinc­ture, pick the leaves and flow­er­ing tops in sum­mer and coarsely chop. Pack a jar with the fresh ma­te­rial then top with vodka. Pro­ceed as for the Calm­ing Tinc­ture above. Moth­er­wort should not be used by women with heavy men­strual bleed­ing, or preg­nant women.

Gotu kola

Gotu kola ( Cen­tella asi­at­ica) is an im­por­tant herb in Ayurvedic medicine. It’s val­ued for re­vi­tal­is­ing nerve and brain cells, pro­mot­ing calm­ness and clar­ity, and help­ing re­verse a lack of con­cen­tra­tion. The leaves con­tain a cock­tail of vi­ta­mins and min­er­als, in­clud­ing vi­ta­mins A,B, C, D and K as well as cal­cium, chromium, mag­ne­sium, se­le­nium, man­ganese, phos­pho­rus, zinc, po­tas­sium and sil­ica.

To ben­e­fit from this herb’s nu­tri­ents and ther­a­peu­tic prop­er­ties, eat two to three leaves of about 3cm in di­am­e­ter a day.

While some texts rec­om­mend tak­ing it at night to pro­mote a rest­ful sleep, it’s best eaten in the morn­ing or for lunch mixed in with your food; oth­er­wise you may ex­pe­ri­ence a burst of en­ergy that keeps you awake.

Avoid if preg­nant or breast­feed­ing.

SAD for­mula

Suf­fer­ing from sea­sonal af­fec­tive dis­or­der? Make a tinc­ture, as per the Calm­ing Tinc­ture, us­ing one part St John’s wort and one part lemon balm.

Calm­ing bath salts

These fra­grant bath salts not only soothe aches and pains, they help ease ten­sion and re­lax mus­cles.

In­gre­di­ents • 1 ta­ble­spoon sweet al­mond oil • 10 drops chamomile es­sen­tial oil • 5 drops laven­der es­sen­tial oil • 3 drops tea tree oil • 1 drop lemon or man­darin oil • 3 cups Ep­som salts.

Mix the sweet al­mond oil and es­sen­tial oils to­gether. Com­bine with the Ep­som salts and store in a glass con­tainer. Add ½ to 1 cup to a warm bath.

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