Herbal Solutions for Empaths & Sensitive People
As October is Emotional Wellness month, I thought it would be relevant to touch on the topic of mental health.
If you’re like me and identify as an empath, the past 20 months have been particularly difficult to manage. Although things appear to be easing back to some form of normal, the collective trauma of the pandemic has many of us feeling overwhelmed as we continue to cope with the fall-out stress in ways we haven’t felt before.
Feeling all the Feels
Empaths & HSP (Highly Sensitive People) are people who feel deeply and often absorb the energies of people or environments around them. For instance, you can be in a room with someone who is in a bad mood, and this can affect you negatively. Empathy can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, feeling too much can be exhausting if you don’t have proper boundaries and tools to help you cope, but on the other hand, it can be your superpower, making you intuitive and tuned into others.
In reality however, we are all empathic, and with covid this collective anxiety has been even more heightened for individuals. Stress, anxiety, insomnia, and a general feeling of overwhelm have manifested.
Plants as Your AlliesHerbal allies are an essential tool for empaths and in general, those suffering from anxiety. These allies in the plant world are known as Nervines and Adaptogens.
Nervines are plants that work on your nervous system to help strengthen, nourish, and restore it. Nervines act in various ways on the body but ultimately, they work to help return it to a state of rest. Some are calming or pain relieving, while others are energizing and stimulating. Most however, are tonics providing support for the entire system and can be taken safely daily.
Here are a few of my favourites:
- Milky Oats: are among the best nerve tonic for those who are overworked, stressed or anxious. Oats provide energy by increasing overall health and vitality.
- Skullcap: this versatile herb is recommended to be taken over long periods of time to help restore balance to the nervous system. It helps with symptoms of insomnia, stress and nervous exhaustion.
- Chamomile Flower: this delicate little flower is powerful medicine. It is safe for children and aids in calming the entire nervous system along with helping with sleep and calming a nervous stomach.
Other wonderful nervines include: passion flower, lavender flower, lemon balm and st. john's wort.
How to Incorporate Nervines into your Daily Routine
Nervine herbs can be taken internally in tea or tincture form. Personally, I like my nervines in tea form as I find the ritual of making tea soothing in and of itself.
Here is one of my favourite nervous system tea recipes.
Nerve Tonic Formula:
- 3 parts lemon balm
- 1 part chamomile
- 1 part milky oats
- 1 part skullcap
- ½ part rose flowers
- ½ part lavender flowers
Directions: Combine herbs in a mason jar. Prepare as an infusion, steeping 1 tsp/cup for up to 15 minutes. Drink 1 – 3 cups daily.
Adaptogens are having a moment in the wellness world and have become a herbal classification that people are hearing about more and more. Like nervines, Adaptogens work to restore, balance, and strengthen the entire body as a whole. They help the body deal with stress as it occurs, and are great equalizers, bringing the body back to its most calm and optimal state. They can be both relaxing or stimulating, helping improve focus, maintain a healthy immune system, or provide support for sluggish systems in the body.
Here are a few of my favorites:
- Ashwagandha: an ancient ayurvedic herb, ashwagandha increases the overall ability to adapt to and resist stress. It is both energizing and soothing.
- American Ginseng: is a balancing tonic for the entire body. It restores energy for those fatigued from being overwhelmed and can be used for general debilitation.
- Schisandra: helps raise the body’s ability to resist all kinds of stress.
Other wonderful adaptogens include: reishi, tulsi, eleuthro, rhodiola
How to Incorporate Adaptogenics Into Your Daily RoutineAdaptogens can now be found in many different forms at your local health food store or even grocery store. You can find them in tinctures, powders, and ready to use tea blends. As many adaptogens are roots, I like them in tincture form or powder form added to my smoothie. My general go-to ready made formula is from St. Francis Herbs which you can find here.
Note: these herbs are not meant to be a replacement for good stress management and therapeutic support, but they are excellent at supporting our ability to take care of our emotional wellness and to add to our tool kit of taking care of ourselves on our human journey.