T’is the season to be merry, but that’s easier said than done. In truth, the holiday season can be one of the most stressful times of the year, whether it’s because of family commitments, added financial stress, or something else.
The problem with too much stress is that it causes our cortisol levels to shoot upwards. Cortisol is a hormone responsible for many functions such as promoting healing, controlling blood pressure, and preventing brain fog, but when cortisol levels are out of control, it works against you.
Fortunately, there are several herbs that can help reduce cortisol levels and lower your stress. You can find them below.
This herb commonly grows in India, the Middle East, and some parts of Africa. It’s traditionally used to calm chronic stress, with research backing up its stress-reducing abilities.
This adaptogenic root is commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine to boost the immune system and guard against stress. Modern research is starting to support these claims, with a 2005 animal study finding that the astragalus root can decrease stress hormones and reduce inflammation in piglets.
Perfect for brewing teas, chamomile is rich with antioxidants that help with colds. Studies have also found that chamomile tea can improve sleep quality and relieve depression in postpartum women. In addition, chamomile essential oil can also have stress-reducing benefits when used in aromatherapy diffusers.
If you aren’t familiar with cordyceps, they are an adaptogenic medicinal mushroom. A recent human study found that cordyceps can reduce cortisol and help you recover from stress faster.
There are many strains of ginseng, but the panel variant is known to have the highest concentrations of the therapeutic compound that can improve calmness.
Also known as tulsi, holy basil has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine as an anti-aging treatment. In 2015, a human study found that holy basil can improve reaction times, reduce the error rate, and decrease cortisol compared to a placebo.
A study from 2016 found inhaling lavender can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression in postpartum women. While enjoying lavender through aromatherapy is one option, you can also take it orally as a tea or absorb it through the skin using lavender oil.
This herb has been found to reduce stress by playing on your GABA receptors, which are the primary neurotransmitter responsible for calming overactive brain activity.
A 2007 study found Rhodiola Rosea can decrease cortisol while increasing energy and mental performance in patients with burnout syndrome and stress-related fatigue.