Phytothérapie : comment lutter naturellement contre le stress ?

Phytotherapy: how to fight stress naturally?

Jun 28, 2022

What is herbal medicine?

To explain this discipline, let's take a look at the etymology of this word. The term “phyto” comes from the ancient Greek “phyton” which means “plant” . The term “therapy” is the act of curing , treating or alleviating a disease . Phytotherapy therefore represents the discipline that allows “healing with plants” . It is more exactly a therapeutic method which will use so-called “medicinal” plants to treat illnesses. Here we will talk about herbal medicine and stress .

How to use herbal medicine?

When talking about herbal medicine, two approaches stand out. On the one hand the so-called “ancestral” herbal medicine and on the other hand the “modern” herbal medicine .

“Ancestral” herbal medicine uses plants holistically. The plant is used as a whole, or at least part of the plant (aerial part, flowers, leaves, buds, fruits, root). We then keep all the active ingredients contained in this plant (or part of a plant). Plants can be eaten dried, fresh, blended, crushed or powdered. They are then used orally in herbal tea, decoction or infusion. But also externally in poultice, inhalation, incorporation with massages, etc.

Regarding “modern” herbal medicine , plants are no longer used in a crude way, at least in food supplements. Modern herbal medicine seeks to optimize a plant preparation to extract only the active ingredients necessary for the desired treatment. Many extraction processes exist today to produce preparations of plants titrated in one or more active ingredients, without taking the plant as a whole.

Which plant for stress and anxiety?

Several plants prove to be a real asset in combating stress and anxiety.

Here are the best known (non-exhaustive list) of phytotherapy for stress:

Rhodiola ( Rhodiola rosea )

Rhodiola , also called Roseroot , is a plant of the Crassulaceae family. It is native to Siberia and traditionally used to calm stress and fight against nervous fatigue. Indeed, Rhodiola contains two beneficial active ingredients prized in herbal medicine to fight against stress and anxiety.

If you wish to consume a dietary supplement based on Rhodiola, check the titration of active ingredients for better results. Rhodiola extract standardized to 3% rosavine and 1% salidroside with a dosage of 350 mg to 700 mg can be interesting (1-4).

Griffonia ( Griffonia simplicifolia )

Griffonia , and specifically Griffonia seed, is beneficial in cases of stress and anxiety . Indeed, the seed of Griffonia contains a significant amount of 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan).

This molecule is a precursor of tryptophan and therefore of serotonin. Serotonin is a wonderful hormone involved in the sphere of well-being. It is a hormone that is often deficient in people with chronic stress or depression, which is why it is interesting to provide it through food.

There are various dietary supplements present in the market. Prefer those with a titration between 20 and 30% of 5-HTP , with a dosage between 200 and 500 mg of Griffonia extract (5).

Ginseng ( Panax ginseng )

Ginseng is also beneficial for managing stress and emotions . It is traditionally used in Chinese medicine to boost energy and vitality. It helps the body to cope with physical and intellectual fatigue, thus it prepares the body to better cope with a stressful situation.

As a dietary supplement, favor ginseng extracts titrated in gingerols and ginsenosides, with a ginseng extract dosage of around 200 to 400 mg (6-7)

Valerian ( Valeriana officinalis )

From the Caprifoliaceae family, valerian root has sedative, soothing and relaxing properties. Indeed, thanks to its active ingredients, including valerenic acid and valepotriates, it allows the body to fight against stress and anxiety .

This plant is very widely used in herbal medicine, modern and ancestral. The dosages described as effective in the scientific literature are between 100 to 750 mg .

This is demonstrated by the study by Pinheiro et al., (2015) who proved a significant improvement in anxiety after ingesting 100 mg of a valerian root extract (8-9).

Warning: Valerian is contraindicated in pregnant and breastfeeding women, in people with liver problems and in children under 12 years old.

If you are undergoing treatment for insomnia, ask your doctor for advice before consuming Valerian.

Hawthorn ( Crataegus laevigata )

Hawthorn is also used in phytotherapy against stress and anxiety . However, very few studies support these claims in humans. On the other hand, many studies support the interest of Hawthorn in cardiovascular health (10) (11) (12).

By improving cardiovascular health, this plant brings long-term benefits on stress and anxiety, helping to relieve nervous tension.

Among the studies carried out, the dosages with significant effects are between 300 and 1800 mg of Hawthorn extract.

Passionflower ( Passiflora incarnata )

In Passionflower , it is the aerial parts that are used for its sedative, antispasmodic properties and also in certain cases of neurological pathologies. The active ingredients found are mainly benzoflavones and vitexin.

Studies show that Passionflower reduces anxiety by decreasing the general activity of the organism, and allows to prolong and improve sleep .

Some indications on the virtues of passionflower

Indeed, the study by Dimpfel et al. (13) carried out in 2016, demonstrated that a daily consumption of 425 mg of a hydroalcoholic extract of Passionflower helped to reduce anxiety significantly (study carried out on 40 healthy subjects).

Regarding the study by Lee et al. (14) this demonstrated the benefit of consuming passionflower in cases of stress-related insomnia . The dosages mentioned here relate to a plant preparation and not a fresh plant. Indeed, 200 mg of hydroalcoholic extract of Rhodiola root is not equivalent to 200 mg of fresh Rhodiola root .

Moreover, it is a simple indication compared to what can frequently be encountered on the market of food supplements. One extract is not always equivalent to another. It will differ depending on the part of the plant used (leaves, flowers, root, etc.), the solvent chosen for the extraction of the preparation (30 to 90% ethanol, methanol, etc.) and the support used to stabilize the extract (maltodextrin, acacia fibre, etc.). It is important to check the extraction quality of the plants used in a food supplement (sometimes indicated by the company) or any other indication concerning the extract (origin, specificity of the extract, plant from organic farming, etc.).

Be careful to follow the instructions according to each food supplement. In herbal medicine against stress, you should not, under any circumstances, go for a higher dosage if you consider that it is weakly dosed.

Stick to the recommended dosages!

Phytotherapy, stress: What is the best natural anti-stress?

There is no single solution that solves all stress and anxiety problems. The plants mentioned above can greatly help in certain situations of stress, anxiety, insomnia or mood disorders. The effects will however vary greatly according to each individual and especially according to the dosage and the quality of the preparation of the extract used as a food supplement.

Which plant to relieve anxiety?

We essentially talked about herbal medicine in food supplements. It is also possible to carry out a cure yourself in herbal medicine.

Here is a recipe for a consumption of Valerian root in decoction:

  • Put 10g of dried valerian root in a saucepan (you can get it very easily in a herbalist).
  • Add a volume of 500 ml of water then bring to the boil.
  • Then leave to rest for 10 minutes. Then consume.

You can drink a cup (250ml) every night for a month for a relaxing action.

Phytotherapy and stress: Herbal tea recipe for anxiety attacks

You can also prepare a passionflower tea to help calm your anxiety attacks (the effects are increased over time).

For this, you need to infuse in 10 minutes of boiling water, 5 g of dried passionflower (also easily present in herbalism).

Consume 3 to 4 cups a day at any time of the day.

Prefer the consumption of tea or infusion at least 30 minutes away from meals.

Respect this time so as not to disturb the assimilation of the nutrients present in your meal. Theine greatly limits the absorption of iron.

What natural medicine for anxiety?

Most medications prescribed to treat anxiety disorders are benzodiazepine- based. They are part of the so-called psychotropic drugs.

This means that their risks of addiction are very high during prolonged treatment. We are talking about prolonged treatment of about 4 weeks to 3 months depending on the person and the prescribed dose. You can opt for herbal medicine instead of this type of treatment, but you should not add the two.

Ask your doctor for advice if you are already on antidepressant treatment, or if the use of herbal medicine does not give you significant effects after 6 weeks of treatment.

Some herbal food supplements can be found in pharmacies. Consult your pharmacist !

The Naturveda Laboratory has developed Herba Mig , an anti-stress and anxiety treatment, the fruit of long years of research with INSERM. It is a dietary supplement that contributes to the proper functioning of the nervous system.

herbal oils for stress relief

There is a palette of essential oils with relaxing properties. Hemp oil is very popular for its sedative and relaxing properties. True lavender, neroli, white sandalwood, bergamot and patchouli essential oils have calming and soothing properties.

Essential oils in flasks on white background with small leaves

Find our essential oils against stress and anxiety.

How to use oils to calm stress?

You can use them as a home fragrance using specific diffusers. Similarly, you can use them as a massage support (which helps to relax even more).

However, be careful when using essential oils directly in contact with the skin. These are very concentrated forms that can irritate the skin and mucous membranes.

If in doubt, test a small amount over several days. But you can also dilute the essential oil, with a cream for example, to reduce the concentration and minimize the risk of irritation.

We advise you to test several oils to find the one that suits you best, to reduce your stress and anxiety, and thus maintain your well-being!

Stress herbal medicine bibliographical references:

  1. Darbinyan V, Aslanyan G, Amroyan E, Gabrielyan E, Malmstrom C, Panossian A. Clinical trial of Rhodiola rosea L. extract SHR-5 in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. North J Psychiatry 2007;61:343 - 348.
  2. Olsson EM, von Scheele B, Panossian AG. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the standardized extract shr-5 from the roots of Rhodiola rosea in the treatment of subjects with stress-related fatigue . PlantaMed . 2009 Feb;75(2):10
  3. Cropley M, Banks AP, Boyle J. The Effects of Rhodiola rosea L. Extract on Anxiety, Stress, Cognition and Other Mood Symptoms . Phytother Res . 2015 Dec;29(12):1934-9
  4. Marie Bangratz, Samira Ait Abdellah, Aurélie Berlin, Claude Blondeau, Angèle Guilbot, Michel Dubourdeaux, Patrick Lemoine. A preliminary assessment of a combination of rhodiola and saffron in the management of mild–moderate depression . Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment 2018:14 1821–1829.
  5. Schruers K, van Diest R, Overbeek T, Griez E. Acute L-5-hydroxytryptophan administration inhibits carbon dioxideinduced panic in panic disorder patients. Psychiatry Res . 2002 Dec 30;113(3):237-43.
  6. Kennedy D, Reay J, Scholey A. Effects of 8 weeks administration of Korean Panax ginseng extract on the mood and cognitive performance of healthy individuals . J Ginseng Res . 2007;31(1):34–43.
  7. Reay JL, Scholey AB, Kennedy DO. Panax ginseng (G115) improves aspects of working memory performance and subjective ratings of calmness in healthy young adults . Hum Psychopharmacol. 2010 Aug;25(6):462-71.
  8. Pinheiro ML, Alcântara CE, de Moraes M, de Andrade ED. Valeriana officinalis L. for conscious sedation of patients submitted to impacted lower third molar surgery: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled split-mouth study . J Pharm Bioallied Sci . 2014;6(2):109–114.
  9. Hyo Young Jung, Dae Young Yoo, Sung Min Nam, Jong Whi Kim, Jung Hoon Choi, Miyoung Yoo, Sanghee Lee, Yeo Sung Yoon, and In Koo Hwang. Valerenic Acid Protects Against Physical and Psychological Stress by Reducing the Turnover of Serotonin and Norepinephrine in Mouse Hippocampus-Amygdala Region . JOURNAL OF MEDICINAL FOOD J Med Food 18(12) 2015, 1333–1339.
  10. Holubarsch CJ, Colucci WS, Meinertz T, Gaus W, Tendera M; Survival and Prognosis: Investigation of Crataegus Extract WS 1442 in CHF (SPICE) trial study group. The efficacy and safety of Crataegus extract WS 1442 in patients with heart failure: the SPICE trial . Eur J Heart Fail. 2008 Dec;10(12):1255-63.
  11. Zick SM, Vautaw BM, Gillespie B, Aaronson KD.Hawthorn Extract Randomized Blinded Chronic Heart Failure (HERB CHF) trial . Eur J Heart Fail . 2009 Oct;11(10):990-9.
  12. Walker AF, Marakis G, Morris AP, Robinson PA. Promising hypotensive effect of hawthorn extract: a randomized double-blind pilot study of mild, essential hypertension. Phytother Res . 2002 Feb;16(1):48-54.
  13. Dimpfel W, Dipah GNC, Suliman S. Proof of Effectiveness of PASCOFLAIR® in Subjects Suffering from Examination Anxiety Using Quantitative EEG in Combination with Eye-Tracking (EnkephaloVision). A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo Controlled, 2-Armed, Phase IV Study in Parallel Design. Pharmacology & Pharmacy . 2016 Oct;7:424-442.
  14. Lee J, Jung HY, Lee SI, Choi JH, Kim SG. Effects of Passiflora incarnata Linnaeus on polysomnographic sleep parameters in subjects with insomnia disorder: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled study . International Clinical Psychopharmacology . 2019 Jan;35:29-35.

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