Whether or not members of your family were spawned by Satan, are mildly annoying or are an absolute joy to be around, there's nothing like the stress of the holidays to amplify their little quirks that just might make you feel like the only gift you hope Santa brings this year is The Return of Your Sanity. But you can hedge off the potential freak-outs by taking responsibility for your chill level by upping your intake of these six therapeutic and naturally calming herbs.
Herbs can be effectively taken as a tincture (I highly recommend everything by the amazing herbalists at Herb Pharm) or as a tea (Traditional Medicinals is the best quality organic pharmacoepial herbs on the planet). You can also work with essential oils where applicable; calming scents such as clary sage and lavender make a wonderful addition to your chillax herbal regimen.
1. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is an extremely safe and effective herb that can impart calmness, improve mood and mental function. If you take thyroid medication, check with your doctor about taking lemon balm. Best methods: Tincture, essential oil.
2. Passionflower (Passiflora) has been used by a number of cultures for millennia for its ability to calm. It's an effective treatment for insomnia that won't leave you feeling groggy. Passionflower has a mild amount of MAO inhibitors, which are found in a number of antidepressants. Best methods: Tincture, tea.
3. Ashwagandha is widely used in India and ayurvedic medicine. It can streamline GABA production in the brain, helping to calm the mind and promote sleep. It can also boost immunity—which can be compromised by stress. Best method: Tincture.
4. California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is related to the poppies used for opium and heroin production, but it is considered a sub-opiate, making it more mild than its cousin. It's still an effective calming agent used to treat anxiety, insomnia, ADD and ADHD. Best method: Tincture.
5. Kava-Kava (Piper methysticum) is a popular root used throughout Polynesia for its intense calming and mildly euphoric effects. It can produce vivid dreams and very restful sleep. Do not mix with alcohol and consult with your physician if you are taking any prescription medications before using. Best methods: Tea or tincure.
6. Hops (Humulus lupulus) is a main ingredient in beer (which is an appropriate method for destressing, too!), but it's also a powerful treatment for anxiety, restlessness and insomnia. Best method (besides beer): Tincture.
Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger