5 Herbalists Reveal Their Go-To Natural Remedies For Stress, Poor Sleep, And More

Secrets to staying healthy naturally from the people who know best.

April 4, 2017
herbal tea

You probably know that lavender essential oil can help lull you to sleep, while the scent of citrus can perk you up. But beyond those common (and legitimately helpful) remedies, how else can you use herbs and other natural ingredients to get a boost?

If you were to do a quick Google search, you’d no doubt find countless ideas. Of course, that doesn’t mean that they’re all effective—or even safe. So how about going to the experts instead? We tapped 5 herbalists and other natural health practitioners to find out their favorite remedies, plus what you need to know before giving them a go. (Of course, always talk to your doctor before trying any new treatment or remedy.)

(See how easy it is to grow your own remedies for joint pain, heartburn, cold symptoms, and 30+ other ailments with Rodale's Grow It Heal It!)

Brandon Dimcheff/getty
Eat A Hot Breakfast

In the morning, our bodies are starting to rev up, so I like to encourage this with warm and nutrient dense foods, like baked eggs with turmeric, garlic, kale, spinach, and a little goat cheese; or a hearty oatmeal with flaxseeds, hemp seeds, and goji berries. In Chinese medicine, these foods are considered blood nourishing. So starting the day with a breakfast of warm, blood-building foods that wake up your metabolism is really the way to go! 
—Mona Dan, Lac, founder of Vie Healing

Try This: Slow Cooker Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

ginger tea
Sip Ginger Tea For Digestion, Or If You're Feeling Cold

Ginger is a fabulous warming digestive aid and circulatory stimulant.  As a circulatory stimulant, it helps warm the extremities and is a great ally for people who often feel cold.  As a digestive aid, it stimulates the absorption of nutrients, alleviates nausea, and helps reduce digestive discomfort following eating. Try ginger tea before or after meals to reduce gas, bloating, cramping, especially if you find that you have difficulty digesting fats or experience fatigue after a meal.
Brittany Wood Nickerson, author of Recipes from the Herbalists’ Kitchen

Try This: Yogi Organic Ginger Tea

Take Elderberry Syrup When You Travel

It’s not just for cold and flu season. Traveling can create stress, and individuals who are chronically stressed also tend to have compromised immune systems—so they’re more likely to get sick. For patients who always seem to be battling a cold, I recommend having 1-2 teaspoons of black elderberry syrup. It helps maintain a healthy immune response by providing a concentrated dose of antioxidants like anthocyanins and flavonoids.
—Megan Faletra, integrative registered dietician and founder of The Well Essentials

Try This: Nature’s Way Organic Sambucus Elderberry Syrup

JGI/Jamie Grill/getty
Try Ashwaghandha For Stress

This Ayurvedic herb is thought to be beneficial for easing anxiety, stress, and hormone imbalances—especially those related to thyroid and reproductive hormones. I prefer to recommend the tinctures over the tablets due to potency and absorption. (Standard dosing is listed on the label.) Typically, it takes 2-4 weeks to see the full benefits, but many people begin to feel a difference within the first week. 

Related: 9 Weird Things Your Thyroid Can Mess With

It’s not for everyone, though. Ashwaghandha can slow down the central nervous system, so it should be avoided by those who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding. And you shouldn’t consume it two weeks prior to undergoing surgery.
Dr. Jackie Romanies, DC, BS, BS

Try This: Banyan Botanicals Organic Ashwagandha Liquid Extract

peppermint oil
Ease Itching With Peppermint

Apply a dab of peppermint essential oil directly on your skin for relief from annoying bug bites. (You don’t need to use a carrier oil.) Menthol, the active compound in peppermint, provides a cooling sensation, and acts as an anti-inflammatory for bites and minor cuts. Avoid using it for kids under 5 though—it could bring down their body temperature.
Wendy Cohen, holistic dietician nutritionist

Try This: Aura Cacia Organic Peppermint Essential Oil

lemon balm tea
Reach For Lemon Balm When You Need To Relax

Lemon balm is one of my favorite remedies for overstimulation. A member of the mint family, lemon balm contains minerals that nourish the nervous system and restore function—helping to ease anxiety, restlessness, and crankiness and promote focus. It also contains strong sedative properties that help relax the central nervous system and promote deep sleep.  

Related: 10 Quick And Easy Ways To De-Stress In Under A Minute

It’s an excellent remedy for adults and children alike. For stress management, try 1-3 cups of lemon balm tea daily on its own, or sweetened with honey. Lemon balm tincture is best as a sleep aid or to relieve symptoms of acute anxiety, tension or restlessness.
—Brittany Wood Nickerson

Try This: Traditional Medicinals Organic Lemon Balm Tea