Big Pharma can only envy Mother Nature’s pharmacopeia. Unlike expensive pharmaceuticals, the herbal remedies that have calming properties—natural supplements that boost a sense of well-being, support restful sleep, promote relaxed muscle tone, and help the body cope with stress—work gently and without risk of addiction. Here are four calming herbs from nature’s pharmacy. You’ll find them in our online store, as single-herb extracts and in such formulas as Adrenal Balance, Kava Calm, Thyro Calm and Women’s Daily.
Has anyone experienced the beauty and fragrance of Provence’s lavender fields without feeling that all is right with the world? Although grown primarily for its fragrance, cosmetic applications and ornamental value in the garden, this Mediterranean native has a long history as a medicinal herb.
In recent decades, researchers have focused on lavender’s calming properties. After inhaling lavender, test subjects exhibited the brain-wave patterns associated with deep relaxation. Other research suggests that ingested lavender relaxes the constricted blood vessels causing tension headaches, calms a nervous gut and improves the mood of individuals suffering from mild stress.
2. Lemon Balm
Like lavender, lemon balm is a low-growing herb that multi-tasks. This fragrant member of the mint family has served for centuries as a food flavoring, ornamental, perfume and food for honeybees. Life in medieval Europe would have been much rougher without the lemon-balm-infused Carmelite water that masked the stench of open sewers and people who rarely bathed. Medieval herbalist also used lemon balm to calm angry visitors.
The herb’s mood-boosting powers have been the focus of much modern research. The rosmarinic acid in lemon balm supports the function of the neurotransmitter GABA. Low GABA levels figure in anxiety. Lemon balm’s support for GABA receptors may also explain its improvement of sleep quality. Its properties calm nervous stomachs.
3. California Poppy
The California poppy is a non-addictive native of North America, mainly the southwestern United States and Mexico. The official state flower of California produces a brilliant orange flower that adores sunshine so much that it closes under overcast skies. That affinity for sunshine applies nicely to this plant’s ability to beat back any dark clouds shadowing the human soul.
Native American healers have long used the herb to calm tension headaches and nervous stomachs. Modern studies show that the isoquinoline alkaloids in California poppy have a sedating effect that eases mild anxiety and promotes restful sleep.
Another herb in the Native American medicine bag is skullcap. Native herbalist used it to calm upset stomachs. In the 19th century, Anglo-American herbalists zeroed in on the low-growing plant’s application as a nervine. Modern science supports the calming properties of this herb, which gets its name from the cap-like shape of its blue flowers.
Phenolic compounds in skullcap combat mild anxiety by promoting the release of “feel-good” endorphins. The herb’s compounds relax tense muscles.