(Columbus Underground published this article of mine on 1/3/2017 as part of their series on healthy living habits for the new year)
Once the excitement and buzz of the holidays are over, and we realize that we’re (at least!) three months from spring, it can be hard to follow through on our new year’s resolutions. Incorporating one or a few of these five herbs into your daily routine can help protect against the winter blues that keep you from feeling motivated to follow through with your goals.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
This is a delightfully summery type of mint, with a citrusy taste. It can help soothe anxiety, tension, and mild depression, and its uplifting nature can balance seasonal affective disorder. It helps with digestion as well, especially when related to stress. It’s also appropriate for children. Lemon balm is lovely steeped in hot water by itself or with other herbs. Bonus: because it’s a mint, it’s incredibly easy to grow in a pot yourself.
Rose (Rosa rugosa or Rosa damascena)
Think about how your body relaxes when you deeply inhale an especially aromatic rose. A heart-opening herb, Rose helps with anxiety and feelings of depression or grief. It can be added to a tea or infused into an incredible-smelling body oil. Make sure that you are getting your herbs from a good source, such as Boline Apothecary in Clintonville or mountainroseherbs.com, because this is not the same type of rose that you find at the florist.
Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
While it is a tasty, relaxing, tension-relieving herb for humans, this is indeed the same herb that is a stimulant for cats. However, the pet store stuff is of the lowest quality, little more than green dust. High quality catnip, also an easy-to-grow mint, tastes great in a tea and blends well with lemon balm. And, like lemon balm, it also helps stomach aches and is safe for children.
Ashwaganda (Withania somnifera)
When taken regularly, this Ayurvedic (an ancient Indian system of healing) herb can rejuvenate the body and help it recover from symptoms of stress and fatigue. It can also aid in normalizing cortisol levels and irregular sleep patterns caused by stress. While the previous herbs act directly on the nervous system, ashwaganda changes the body’s response to stress by regulating hormones. This is often taken as a tincture in a dropper bottle and can be found at health food stores.
Holy Basil/Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum)
A well-loved Ayurvedic herb, Holy Basil balances hormones, aiding the body with the effects of stress when taken regularly over time. It’s easy to grow and delightfully tasty. A good way to “take” holy basil is to grab a leaf to chew or drink it in a tea.