When asked what the most relaxing scent it, it's pretty instinctual to say "lavender." It's put in eye masks, soaps, spa locker rooms, oil diffusers, and its aroma ubiquitously has your body and brain saying "ahhhhh." But can it do more than just mentally transport you to a villa in Provence? According to Rachelle Robinett, acclaimed herbalist and host of Well+Good's YouTube series Plant-Based, lavender is her absolute favorite nervine for stress and anxiety—so much so that she calls it the "plant for peace."
Nervines are herbs that work more acutely, quickly, and specifically than adaptogens. The big five are lavender, chamomile, oat, passion flower, and lemon balm. Lavender shares a terpene called linalool with cannabis (yes, it's that relaxing). Linalool is largely responsible for the anti-depressant, muscle relaxing, mood lifting, and antioxidant properties of lavender.
While some plants can work to bring you "up out of the darkness and above normal," lavender is more regulating and neutral, hence its moniker, "plant for peace." Because of its balancing benefits, Robinett recommends the herb to "just about anyone experiencing any symptoms of stress or anxiety." Lavender is also great because it is extremely versatile and accessible. You can have it in the form of a tea, tincture, capsule, essential oil, and more (lavender oil bath, anyone?). Regardless of how you use it, the herb can help with fussiness, restlessness, disturbed sleep, irritability, and stress-induced gastrointestinal woes. Yes, anxiety belly (and the poops or lack thereof that come with it are real!).
Reminder: Always check with your doctor before taking any herbs, especially if you are taking mental health medication, to ensure there won’t be any negative interactions.
The best lavender tea for stress
1. Add 2 to 4 tbsp of oat, chamomile, passionflower, lemon balm, and lavender to a large mason jar or pitcher.
2. Fill the jar with hot water (it should be not quite boiling).
3. If you want to drink it right away, let steep for seven minutes, then strain, pour into a cup and enjoy.
4. If you want to drink it later, let it steep overnight (or for at least eight to 12 hours), then strain, pour into a cup, and enjoy later!
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