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Nature has your back: Herbs to help with anxiety, mental health, insomnia and chilling the f*ck out.

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Posted

And no I'm not going to talk about marijuana. At least not today. 

I'm a student and a teacher of herbal medicine so I thought I would share with you what I've learnt. Hopefully they can help you the same way they've helped me. It's also good practice for me in helping to get the message across. 

Firstly a little bit about why I find the world of medicinal herbs so interesting and appealing. Part of the driving force behind me coming off gaming to is reconnect with nature, to come out of a world of the artificial and back to the natural world. I believe the intelligence of nature gave us these herbs because it knew how much mankind would love to get itself into knots. We have so many allies in the natural world and today I would like to share some with you.

*WARNING* Some herbs can have really powerful effects, especially if you're an at risk group (young children, elderly, pregnancy, recovering addicts, pre-existing conditions etc.) or on any medication. If any of these apply to you always seek advice from a medical professional before taking any of these herbs. If you're in good health, 95% of people will be okay with these herbs, but as good practice for myself and others, I always give this warning. This post is just advice, not a medical diagnosis. Do not treat it as such. *WARNING* 

So I'm going to start with just 3 simple herbs - Going from the mildest to stronger. If people are interested  I can share many more but I believe it's always important to start small. I recommend just taking these in a tea when you want a good nights sleep or when your repetitive thought patterns are just a little bit too prominent. I would also advice against adding honey or sugar, as that can lead to increasing your anxiety levels rather than decreasing them.

German Chamomile (Matricaria Chamomilla) 

German-chamomile-Photos.jpg

Almost everyone knows this little flower. The ancient Egyptians used to dedicate this herb to their gods. It's sold in a variety of places and is very easy to come by. It's also safe for the elderly and young children. It has a mild calming effect and is also good for relieving stomach cramps. A great cure for recovering from a bad nightmare too. When making tea of this, try to keep the steam trapped as the volatile oil (the active ingredient) is believed to escape with high temperatures. 

Lemon balm (Melissa Officinalis)

melissa-officinalis.jpg

Easy to recognise with its lemony smell and square stem. This plant grows with great vigor and is very easy to cultivate, even in shady spots. Again it's commercially quite popular and is easy to find around town. A great herb to take when you're feeling overwhelmed with stress, having trouble sleeping or experiencing a general nervous disposition. It also has positive effect on digestion (there's a link between anxiety and stomach problems) and is known where I study in Canada to prove a good help for the Winter blues (seasonal affective disorder.) 

Valerian (Valeriana Officinalis)

 valeriana_officinalis_nmk_25.jpg

Where the last two herbs are both quite mild in their sedative effects, Valerian is one of the most potent in the herb world. Think of it as a herbal sleeping pill. I've been taught that it can become addictive, so only ever take this for a maximum of 2 weeks before taking a break. The root is the most commonly used part, although the flowers do have medicinal properties too. One cup of tea is enough to make people drowsy so don't take this during a work break or anything similar, otherwise you risk falling asleep on the job. It also has powerful anti-spasmodic properties (reducing muscle spasms) so it's a great pain reliever for gut/menstrual cramps and for relieving anxiety induced tremors (something I get from time to time.) This one you can buy online or in herbal medicine shops, I doubt you would find this anywhere else. 

I hope you enjoyed this post! Any questions feel free to ask ^_^

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Posted

What do you think of Rhodiola? It's one of the few herbs that I have actually felt something from in the past.

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I've not heard of this one before - There's so many to learn ^_^ What kind of effects did you experience?

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I like this thread.

So what do I need to watch out for if I want to collect some of these herbs in a densely populated location? Are they impotent and poisenous when growing too close to a city? What about dog - urine and stuff? Acidic grounds, car emissions, etc.

I'd love to go out into a nearby forest and just pick this stuff up on the go, but I don't know anything and I'd probably harm myself if I'm unaware.

 

I've been using teas occasionally when running into problems, but I've always purchased ready-to-use products. Maybe you could make a post about the basics, how to prepare these herbs for use (dry them, chop them) and how to make a tea out of them - with pictures. Make the subject more tangible for us to get our hands dirty. It's probably been done before - but what hasn't! And a good exercise for ya studies...

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Posted

It's on my to do list to make a herbal medicine hand out sheet - I'll do a first draft and when it's ready I'll post it up here. It'll answer some of your questions and those it doesn't I'll answer afterwards ^_^ 

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Posted

Are they impotent and poisenous when growing too close to a city?

So things to watch out for in an urban environment.

Don't pick:

1) by old industrial land - Contamination of heavy metals is a problem.

2) By busy main roads - Same as above. 

3) From your neighbour's garden, unless you ask first (or it's late at night and you have ninja skills.)

 

Harvesting herbs is pretty simple. The best time to do it is 24 hours after rain on a dry day. That way you don't have to worry about dog pee or anything of the like (the rain washes them better than you ever could) and the herbs shouldn't be wet when you pick them. Just tie them up with string (not too big a bunch) like the image.

 

 Image result for drying herbs

Keep your drying herbs out of the sun, in a cool dark place. To make a tea just put 1-2 teaspoons of the dried herb and add hot (not boiling) water. Leave them for 5-15 minutes and enjoy! If you're interested, get yourself a Peterson Field Guide. Yes you have to learn a few botanical terms (what's a lobed leaf look like etc.) but I was surprised at how quick I could identify plants.

51Gy5BtY8HL._SX307_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

I'm still working on my handout but I'll put it up when I'm ready ^_^

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Posted

I've not heard of this one before - There's so many to learn ^_^ What kind of effects did you experience?

Helped with mild depression. Slightly more energy and endurance during workouts.

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