How to use traditional plant medicine to manage stress
We all experience stress at some point in our lives. And unfortunately for many of us, it's an ongoing issue.
When looking at how to manage stress, it's important to look at yourself as an individual. We all feel and respond to stress differently, and how we approach our stress should differ, too.
There are two distinct camps we tend to sit in with regard to how we feel stress.
On one end of the spectrum are those who feel "wired and tired". This is a very common situation in our fast-paced lives, where we feel addicted to being busy. Where being exhausted almost becomes a status symbol.
On the other side of the stress spectrum are those who feel a lack of energy, experience low mood, a lack of concentration and mental exhaustion. Rather than "wired and tired", you just feel tired.
These two different feelings of stress correspond to the two systems at play when your body responds to stress - the nervous system and the adrenals. If there is an imbalance in either function (or both), your body won't respond to stress in a normal way, especially if it is prolonged stress.
The Nervous System
The nervous system - which comprises of the brain, spinal cord, and every single nerve in your body – is the Master Control Centre for everything that your body does.
A balanced, well-functioning nervous system will respond to an acute stressor and then relax. It’s designed to protect us, by getting us ready for action when we are in danger.
When we have prolonged stress, our nervous system can become programmed to respond to non-emergency situations like an emergency. This response causes us to overreact or feel unable to cope and shut down.
Over time, this reprogramming of the nervous system can have a full body effect – changing hormone production, neurotransmitters (serotonin), digestion and even immune function. It’s so important to address chronic stress in your body, before it gets to this level.
If you experience stress in the form of low mood, feeling overwhelmed and out of energy, it could mean your stress manifests from an overwhelmed nervous system.
The Adrendal Glands
Your adrenal glands are responsible for producing a bunch of different hormones and chemicals in your body. They are also the main producer of the stress hormone cortisol. Normal cortisol levels peak during the day and subside at night. This is a normal daily cycle.
During prolonged stress, your adrenal glands can get overwhelmed or “worn out” and cortisol levels become dysregulated.
You basically have too much cortisol because your adrenal glands are producing more than is normal to get you through your daily cycle.
Over time, if you continue along this path, your adrenals will become exhausted and sort of run out. This is what you really need to avoid because it is a long road to get back to health from there.
During times of stress, if you feel anxious, worry a lot and have trouble calming your mind at night, it could mean your stress manifests from overwhelmed adrenals.
What you can do about it
The good news is that our bodies are always aiming for homeostasis (balance) and if you provide yours with the right environment, it will shift back into balance.
However, the longer you live in chronic stress, the harder it is to pull yourself out of it and the more physical symptoms of stress you will have to undo. The time is now to do something.
While there are a range of things you can do to help your body find balance again, plant medicine is very well suited for doing this.
Many medicinal plants are scientifically researched help to modulate the body's stress response, support the nervous system and provide nourishment to the adrenal glands.
Because medicinal plants are complex and contain many different phytocompounds (the active part), they can work simultaneously on multiple issues at once.
For example, certain plants will calm your mind and your digestive system, while some will support your cortisol levels and reduce inflammation. Others can modulate your immune system and help with heart palpitations.
You can start to see how they can work well together to create a complete solution, adressing both symptoms and the underlying imbalance.
Of course, you must also work to reduce the stressors in your life. Your body is designed to only handle so much.
Working with medicinal plants requires extensive technical knowledge
Medicinal plants are incredibly complex and part of their make-up includes many different phytocompounds, which are the active ingredients that we are harnessing when we take plant medicine.
Phytocompounds can be extracted from plants in a few different ways; with hot water, alcohol or oil. This is because some phytocompounds are water soluble whereas others are fat soluble (oil or alcohol is the appropriate extraction method).
Working with traditional plant medicine requires extensive knowledge!
Our founder, Sandra Clair, has been working in traditional plant medicine for over 30 years, as an apprentice and student, a health practitioner and researcher.
Her latest endeavour is a PhD at University of Canterbury (NZ) where she is researching ways to integrate centuries of empirical knowledge with today’s pharmaceutically based regulatory approach.
Sandra started Artemis 20 years ago, after moving to New Zealand from Switzerland and seeing a real lack of plant-based medicines available over the counter. She's played a key role in the growing acceptance of plant-based medicine in New Zealand, through her company, public speaking and research. Learn more about Artemis.
Our solution to help your body come back into balance
We have two traditional plant medicine remedies that are formulated to nourish and restore an overwhelmed nervous system and/or adrenals.
Our founder, Sandra Clair, created these products to help her clients who were struggling with overwhelm and exhaustion – all too common issues.
Sandra’s current PhD work on traditional plant medicine has only strengthened her belief in the effectiveness of these plants – especially when the plants are picked fresh, minimally processed and carefully combined.
These traditional medicinal teas give your body all the beneficial compounds it needs to combat stress and none of the additives it doesn’t:
Stress Relief Tea
Take 2 cups during the day to lift your energy and regulate your mood
Containing pure, St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum), this medicinal tea is like insulation for a jangled nervous system.
The nervous system and the adrenals are inextricably connected via the HPA Axis (the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis), as the brain sends signals to the adrenals to let them know what and how many hormones to excrete.
Therefore, looking after your nervous system MUST be part of your get-well strategy!
St John’s Wort is a hero herb. It helps to reinforce healthy HPA Axis function and healthy neurotransmitter production, such as serotonin - our 'happy' chemical.
Rest and Relax Tea
Take 1 cup in the evening to relax your mind and unwind
The combination of medicinal plants in Rest and Relax Tea is designed to support your adrenal glands and calm an anxious mind.
It will help to turn off your Fight or Flight System, which can keep your mind buzzing, and turn on your Rest and Digest System. This way you can sleep well and allow your body to heal and reset.
Other (non-plant medicine) stress-relieving tools
We've created a set of proven stress-reducing tools that we'd love to share with you (it's free)! Sign up to our seven day email series to get access and 'Build your Stress-Less Toolkit' and learn easy-to-implement techniques to feel calm and less stressed.
If you think you or someone you care about may be suffering from prolonged stress, anxiety, or feel mentally unwell, we strongly recommend that you seek help from a mental health professional in order to receive a proper diagnosis and support. For those in crisis, Mentalhealth.org have a list of resources where you can find additional help: https://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/get-help/in-crisis/helplines/.