Teas to Fight Stress (3:42)
In the Asian mountain regions of Asia, teas have been used for millennia to help with relaxation, in rituals (like spiritual and religious ceremonies), for nourishment and as healing medicine.
In most cases of anxiety today, modern medicine will look to prescription medications to help people cope. According to a report in the 2010 Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, people who use anti-anxiety medication have a 36% increased mortality risk. That means people using these drugs are almost 40% more likely to die than people who do not use them (1). While these drugs can be lifesaving in urgent situations, in most cases, there are natural alternatives.
The following teas are all wonderful for helping your body process stress, relax, and heal from the depletion that can occur as a result of long-term stressors.
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) was first grown and used by Native Americans in the Southern United States, like so many of our plant medicines. Passionflower has the flavone chrysin, which has wonderful anti-anxiety benefits and, in part, can work similarly to the pharmaceutical Xanax (Alprazolam) (2,3).
Two studies totaling almost 200 people showed no difference between the efficacy of common anxiety medications and passionflower, but showed that the herb may cause less drowsiness (4).
How to Dose Passionflower
Passionflower tea can be made by infusing 1 tablespoon of dried herbs in 1 cup boiling water. Let the mixture steep for about 10 minutes. Drink the tea near bedtime to induce restful sleep. More typically, we have patients use two droppers-full (about 50 drops) of tincture in warm water as a tea before bed. For people who are very anxious, they can take 25 drops as needed, and they may find it a reasonable substitute for Xanax and other anti-anxiety medications.
Passionflower is generally safe and has not been found to adversely interact with other sedative drugs. To be on the safe side, it should not be combined with alcoholic beverages or prescription sedatives.
Passionflower should not be used by pregnant or lactating women, or for children under 6 months old because there have not been any studies in these groups of people (5).
Who Should Use Passionflower?
In our practice, we find passionflower works best for people with anxiety who also have a lot of thoughts swirling in their head and experience a lot of circular thinking or obsessive thoughts.
The latin name passiflora incarnata translates as “passion made real.” As such, it can be a wonderful herbal reminder for people who have not found what they want to do in life and are anxious as a result. We find this herb can be helpful for young people in their 20’s looking for their calling in life.
An herbal medicine grown in Africa, the Mediterranean and India, ashwanganda (Withania somnifera) is an adaptogen. This class of herb helps the body fight stress by reducing the production of stress hormones that result in the fight-or-flight response. This adaptogenic quality can help the body relax and help the body stay strong. It also is a potent antioxidant as well.
This Indian herbal ashwaganda contains a chemical called ashwagandholine alkaloid which has a mild relaxant, tranquilizer like-effect on the central nervous system (6). In some studies of rats who took ashwanganda, their adrenal organs did not become over-sized with stress, something that commonly happens in rats and humans who are too stressed out (7).
How to Dose Ashwaganda
It is delicious to take before bed! We have patients mix about 1 cup of boiling milk (cow, almond, rice, soy or oat milk) with a half-teaspoon of the powdered herb or the dried leaves. Let the mixture steep for about 15 minutes and cool. Strain and then drink. Ashwanganda is known to be quite safe in the short term of a few weeks. No long-term studies are known.
Who Should Use Ashwaganda?
Ashwanganda is best for people who are nervous and exhausted after having undergone a lot of physical and emotional stressors. It’s also excellent at bedtime for people who have insomnia. It can be used as an immune stimulant in patients with low white blood cell counts, so people who recently have undergone the stress of radiation or chemotherapy would do well drinking the tea during the day to rejuvenate their body (8).