Stress and anxiety is a constant obstacle to our well being and mental health, but there are some naturally occurring compounds and extracts that are thought to help relax the mind and body. If you’re tired of worry and negativity getting you down and want to make an active change to your mindset, you’ve come to the right place. Here's some findings about some of these calming substances.
Lavender has been scientifically shown to ease anxiety and improve associated symptoms, resulting in an improved quality of life. Dr. Hideki Kashiwadani of Kagoshima University in Japan points out how, "In folk medicine, it has long been believed that odorous compounds derived from plant extracts can relieve anxiety." Anxiety medicines of today, like benzodiazepines, are psychoactive with many side effects, while natural remedies aren’t yet regularly prescribed.
A multitude of studies demonstrate the calming potential of linalool, the alcohol found in lavender extract. The trials showed that relaxation in mice was triggered by the olfactory signals triggered by linalool. Another study compared the effectiveness of lavender on sleep, and after two weeks, the lavender group demonstrated better sleep quality than the placebo as well as waking up refreshed.
Chamomile, Valerian, and Passionflower
Studies suggest that chamomile might be helpful in combating anxiety disorder. Additionally, review of five studies on chamomile drew the conclusion that chamomile might improve sleep quality over a 4-week period in people without insomnia. Valerian has been used since ancient times for treating things like fatigue, cramps, and headache. Today, Valerian is promoted for the ridding of insomnia and anxiety. Passionflower is also known as a supplement for anxiety, sleep and pain; research suggests that passionflower might help to reduce nonspecific anxiety and anxiety before a surgery.
An amino acid found in tea leaves, L-Theanine promotes a feeling of focused calm. Hailed for its stress relieving potential, it’s an anxiolytic, working to reduce anxiety. It’s been described as inducing a state of “wakeful relaxation” through enhancing alpha brain waves.
Researchers in one study found that doses of L-Theanine greatly improved sleep, as well as reduced resting heart rate, showing its relaxing potential. Data from EEG studies (human electroencephalogram) show it has a direct effect on the brain, significantly increasing activity in the alpha frequency band, proving that it relaxes the mind without drowsiness.
Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the body that regulates the body’s circadian rhythm, telling the brain when to wind down into bedtime. When taken as a supplement, melatonin can ease the body and mind into a restful state, even after a long, stressful day.