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Herbs for Stressful Times

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Oats (Avena sativa)


I doubt there is a person on the planet right now whose nervous system is calm and collected. Many of the changes we are experiencing we could not have fathomed only a few months ago. I have been using the analogy of waves that keep coming, as you just barely catch your breath.

Adjusting to these changes and the stress that accompanies them puts our nervous system in the position of working overtime. I have heard reports from clients, students, friends and acquaintances who are experiencing , fatigue, sleeplessness, anxiety, worry, nightmares, trouble focusing and many other indicators that stress levels are more than our organisms can handle.

While I would never make a claim that herbs are a cure all, or that they will make all of our problems go away, what I can say is that herbs can help the body to handle these issues more easily. Turning to herbal allies can quell many of these indicators, offering less anxiety, more restful sleep, help with focus, reduced fatigue etc.

It is wise to begin by nourishing the nervous system. By nourishing the body, we offer extra support and while there are herbs that can suppress the body, nourishment will provide a much better foundation from which to work from. While there is a whole category of herbs for the nervous system, called nerviness and many wonderful herbs that fall under that category, there is one herb that stands out and that herb is Oatstraw (Avena sativa)

Ingesting an infusion of this Poaceae or grass family plant daily, in my experience keeps the nervous system steady and focused. It helps to harmonize the interface between the nervous and the endocrine system, where the flight or fight hormones ie adrenaline and noradrenaline begin to cascade when the body perceives a threat. This plant is also high in calcium, which is the nutrient for the nervous system.

I have been ingesting this plant as an infusion for over two decades and feel fortunate to have this as an ally. I now grow this plant, harvest it and dry it for my own use throughout the year. Sometimes, I also have a friend or acquaintance who also grows it and shares their crop with me. This is easy to grow, harvest and dry. And if you are not able to grow it, it is also readily available for purchase.

The best way to prepare this herb for it’s tonic effect is as a long steep, nourishing herbal infusion. Here is a link to instructions for preparing an infusion.

While this is a good starting point and for many enough of a foundation. If you are interested in going futher and learning about other herbs that can help to strengthen the nervous system or that just help provide a moment of calm or a good night’s sleep consider joining me for my upcoming class on Herbs for the Nervous System on 7/30/20. I will be offering this class virtually. To find out more about this class click here. This class will include an extensive handout with information about nervines, adaptagens and much more! It will also be offered as a recording for those unable to attend in person or who see this after the fact.

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