8 Kinds of Herbs for Mental Health

 

 

Lavender

Mental health herbs are herbs that help reduce emotional distress, nourish and strengthen the body’s ability to adapt to stress.  In many ways most herbs could be described as mental health herbs as they tend to heal the body which in turn heals the mind.  But in this article I want to focus on a number of herbs that have traditionally been associated with improving mental health.  There are 8 main categories of herbs that help improve mental health.

 

These categories are

1- Nutritives

2- Adaptogens

3- Gentle relaxing nervines

4- Strong relaxing nervines

5- Stimulating nervines

6- Anti-spasmodics

7- Analgesics

8- Entheogens

 

Nutritives:

These are herbs that are most similar to food as they tend to have minimal potential for side effects and tend to be vitamin and mineral rich and are generally consumed as food or as tea.   They can be taken regularly as part of daily meals.  They include:

 

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Chard

Leafy Greens

maitake

shitake

seaweed

nettles

red clover

oatstraw

alfalfa

raspberry leaf

astragalus

 

Adaptogens:

These are herbs that help a body to adapt more easily to stress and globally strengthen the body’s immune, nervous and endocrine system.   They are often wonderful for helping people become stronger, more vital and more able to withstand the pressures of the modern world.  Each one of these herbs has special properties and affinities and one needs to be more careful in picking and choosing which adaptogen is more appropriate than another.   They also tend to be used for shorter periods of time.   These herbs include:

 

Cordyceps

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Devil’s Club

Ginseng

Burdock

Eleuthero

Asian Ginseng

Devil’s Club

Ashwaghanda

Astragalus

Holy Basil

Rhodiola

Licorice

Reishi

He Shou Wu

 

 

 

 

Gentle Relaxing Nervines:

These are herbs that gently relax the body and mind, helping a person to unwind from stress and anxiety.  They can generally be used by most people and have a minimal side effect profile.   These herbs are wonderful for helping moderate cases of anxiety and depression.  They include:

 

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California Poppy

Catnip

Chamomile

Lemon Balm

Linden

Scullcap

Betony

C. Poppy

Hawthorn

Lavender

Peppermint

Rose

Wild Lettuce

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strong Relaxing Nervines:

These herbs carry a little more oomph and tend to be more sedating and hypnotic.  They also carry a wider side effect profile and should be taken only intermittently as they can be too strong on the body if taken for lengthy periods.  They also tend to interact with psychiatric drugs in a poor way and should generally be avoided when taking meds.  They are often used for acute conditions of anxiety, panic and insomnia.

 

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kava kava

 

 

Black cohosh

Crampbark

Hops

Motherwort

Jamaican Dogwood

Passionflower

Valerian

Kava

St. John’s Wort

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stimulating Nervines:

These are  herbs that tend to be uplifting and strong acting, and are the most popular plants that we consume everyday.  Though they effectively stimulate people, they come with the cost of depleting our essential energy and leave us feeling tired, drained and more exhausted when we use them frequently.  Just like a charge card, they offer us something but it comes with interest when the payment is due.

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Coffee

 

Coffee

Tea

Mate

Kola Nut

 

 

Antispasmodics:

These are herbs that help relax the body when it is tense, wound up and tight.  People who are feeling stressed out and have muscle rigidity, clenched teeth and a tight stomach would do well to take antispasmodic herb.  Some of these are strong acting and do not interact well with psychiatric medications.

 

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Mugwort

 

Black Cohosh

Blue Cohosh

Catnip

Crampbark

Kava

Motherwort

Mugwort

Sage

Scullcap

Vervain

 

Analgesics:  

 

These are herbs that reduce pain and often have a relaxing effect on the body as well.  Pain often impacts our mental health and can make us feel more anxious and depressed.  Some of these herbs are gentle in effect and others should be used only occasionally.

 

Arnica

Birch bark

Cannabis

Cayenne

Devil’s Claw

Jamaican dogwood

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White Willow

Kava

Lemon Balm

Rosemary

Willow Bark

Meadowsweet

Mint

wintergreen

Ginger syrup

turmeric

feverfew

clove

 

 

Entheogens:

Literally meaning to generate the God within, these plants have long been known to produce extremely powerful effects that induce hallucinations (thus halucinogens) and wild somatic and metaphysical experiences.  Used appropriately, entheogens have the ability to help people to grow spiritually, have a wider understanding of their own challenges and potential in life, and to create a greater bond with the natural world.  They also can be easily abused and must be taken with the utmost care.  Because of their powerful and overwhelming nature, they should also be avoided by many people.  Only think about using these sacred plants after very careful consideration.

 

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Banisteriopsis caapi (key plant to make Ayahuasca)

 

 

Ayahuasca

Mescaline-  San Pedro/Peyote

Psylocibe

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion:

 

There are numerous plants that can help improve mental health.  This is but a small portion of them.  Getting to know some of these allies can help reduce stress, pain and anxiety as well as strengthen and nourish you towards greater health and well being.

 

 

 

 

Jon and Ava cooking

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This article written by Jon Keyes, LPC.  For more articles like this, please go to   Hearthsidehealing.com.

You can also find me at the Facebook group Herbs for Mental Health.

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Comments

  1. I find Chamomile to have a very analgesic effect, including toothaches. Though, I would recommend taken it after dinner due to its relaxing effect, or by those who are at home getting over a sickness, since it is amazing for inducing sleepiness, which the body needs in the healing process. Chamomile is an herb that is greatly underestimated.

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