Ayurvedic Herbs for Stress Relief and Mental Well-being

Feelings of stress and anxiety can be overwhelming. They can rob you of the joy you hope to feel in your life. Not only do they affect your mental and emotional state, but they can also impact your physical health.

According to a 2022 survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, three-quarters of adults said they had experienced health challenges due to stress. Some of these health impacts included headache, fatigue, feelings of nervousness or anxiety and feelings of depression or sadness. If you are feeling stressed or anxious, you are not alone.

As a wholesale herb provider, we constantly look to provide businesses with herbs to help customers reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety. Many of our customers use a variety of medical principles to inform their search for herbs to include in their products. One holistic care practice that has become increasingly popular is Ayurveda.

While we can’t focus on the extensive history and practice of Ayurveda, as it spans several millennia, we want to look at some of the most well-known herbs used in this practice and see if they can help you better manage symptoms of stress and feelings of anxiety. Stay right here to learn about Ayurvedic herbs for stress relief and mental well-being.

What is Ayurvedic

WHAT IS AYURVEDA? - A BRIEF OVERVIEW

Ayurveda, the “science of life,” is an ancient Vedic philosophy that includes a system of medicine that originated in India more than four thousand years ago. It is still widely used in India. Its practices are considered an alternative or complementary medicine that combines physical, psychological and spiritual therapies. Ayurvedic medicine is based on the theory that the world is made up of five elements:

  • Space or ether
  • Water
  • Earth
  • Fire
  • Air

These elements combine to create three humors or doshas - Vata, Kapha and Pitta. Through the Ayurvedic lens, everyone has a particular ratio of these humors, which leads to different personal attributes and potential health challenges.

Once the dosha is determined, a practitioner will create a plan for the individual to restore balance to their body, spirit, mind and environment through various therapies and practices. Some of these practices include:

  • An internal purification process
  • Diet
  • Herbal therapy
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Massage therapy

The distinction of Ayurveda from other mainstream medical practices is that it looks to heal the whole individual, not the disease. So, what makes an herb Ayurvedic? Which herbs do these practitioners choose to use? Let’s take a look at what makes an herb Ayurvedic and which herbs may help you feel your best.

WHAT MAKES AN HERB AYURVEDIC?

An herb may be considered Ayurvedic if it is used in the Ayurvedic materia medica. Many Ayurvedic herbs are considered adaptogens. If you’re curious about adaptogens, check out our full blog on how they can help you normalize stress responses. In short, an adaptogen has bioactive compounds that can help your body reduce the symptoms of stress and other ailments.

Many Ayurvedic herbs accomplish the same goal. They utilize these compounds to provide mental clarity, relaxation and vitality. Let’s take a closer look at commonly used herbs in Ayurveda and how they can be integrated into your life.

FIVE ESSENTIAL AYURVEDIC HERBS FOR STRESS

Ashwagandha

AshwagandhaAshwagandha, a.k.a. winter cherry or Indian ginseng, is considered a staple in Ayurvedic healing. The herb’s long-standing use in this practice can be attributed to its native location in South Asian countries such as India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Ashwagandha appears on many Ayurvedic herbs lists and with good reason. A number of studies have shown Ashwagandha’s ability to help deter feelings of stress and anxiety. The bioactive compounds in Ashwagandha have demonstrated an ability to limit the body’s release of cortisol, the primary hormone in stress. These effects can be attributed to various alkaloids, steroidal lactones and saponins found in Ashwagandha. Additional research has shown Ashwagandha’s ability to:

  • Improve concentration
  • Improve memory
  • Improve mood
  • Aid the body in building resilience against pathogens and disease
  • Calm the mind

You can take Ashwagandha in several ways to utilize its effects, including:

  • Mixed or added to foods, such as yogurt, juice, smoothies or milk (Herbs in milk is a common way that they are taken in Ayurveda. This may also be called Ayurvedic dairy.)
  • As a powdered supplement
  • In a decoction
  • As a paste in combination with ghee or honey

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa MonnieriBacopa monnieri, a.k.a. Brahmi, is a common inclusion in Ayurveda due to its ability to enhance mental clarity and reduce feelings of anxiety. These effects come from several alkaloids showing signs of synaptic activity restoration and damaged neuron repair. Some studies revealed that Bacopa could help individuals increase cognitive function compared to individuals who did not take Bacopa. It’s best to take Bacopa monnieri as a:

  • Tea
  • Extract
  • Supplement
  • As golden milk, a mixture of milk, turmeric, honey and a pinch of black pepper

Boswellia Serrata

Boswellia SerrataBoswellia serrata, sometimes referred to as Indian frankincense or Salai and Shallaki in Hindi, is an Ayurvedic herb that can help manage symptoms of a variety of ailments, especially ones that include inflammation. These ailments may directly tie to your mental well-being and stress levels. The active compounds that inhibit inflammation-causing agents are found in the gum resin of Boswellia serrata and are known as boswellic acids.

Three studied uses of Boswellia against inflammation include:

  • Osteoarthritis - In one study on the effects of Boswellia on osteoarthritis, researchers found that Boswellia helped reduce pain over four weeks.
  • Asthma - Boswellia can help reduce the inflammation in the airways that makes breathing difficult. Participants with mild to severe asthma were placed in a randomized trial with an inhaler plus an oral formulation of Boswellia extract versus those with an inhaler alone. Those who used the Boswellia extract needed their inhalers about half as often as those without the supplement.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease - There has been debate about the effectiveness of Boswellia for inflammation in the bowels. A small study showed Boswellia as an effective way to treat chronic colitis. However, another investigation on Boswellia’s use for Crohn’s disease showed no effect.

If you plan to take Boswellia, you must take it as an extract or supplement, as the resin is not water-soluble.

Cardamom

CardamomCardamom is known for the pungent, slightly sweet flavor it adds to Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. This member of the ginger family has been lauded in Ayurvedic cooking for its ability to help with many ailments and imbalances. Cardamom is a tasty carminative that is beneficial to the digestive system.

Cardamom can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes but is best taken as a tea.

Tulsi Leaf

Tulsi LeafTulsi leaf (Holy basil) is considered by some to be the most sacred plant in India. It is known for its various pharmacological actions, making it the perfect plant to wrap up our list of Ayurvedic herbs. Research on this plant’s high concentration of phenolic compounds and antioxidant properties has connected the herb to several excellent benefits for the body and mind. Some of these benefits include:

  • Protection from toxins in the organs and tissues, especially from industrial pollutants and heavy metals
  • Reduced physical stress, allowing for prolonged physical exertion
  • Lower mental stress, showing enhanced memory and cognitive function
  • It is an adaptogen that counters the detrimental effects of stress
  • It has an affinity for the respiratory system and can be used to help the lungs do their job

Tulsi leaf can be taken as a capsule, tea or added as a spice to various dishes.

Now that we’ve looked at some popular Ayurvedic herbs, let’s discuss a few notes to consider before taking them and if they could benefit your herbal business strategy.

CRUCIAL NOTES WITH AYURVEDIC HERBS

If you’re trying to decide if Ayurvedic herbs are right for you, a few things to consider include:

  • Herbs are only one part of Ayurveda. While we love to talk about how herbs can help you feel better, they are only one part of the strategy to help you feel better. Mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation are also essential to reducing stress and anxiety.
  • Ayurvedic herbs are not FDA-regulated. While there is evidence of Ayurvedic herbs’ effectiveness in helping you relieve stress and feelings of anxiety, they are not regulated by the FDA.
  • Some Ayurvedic herbs may counteract medications. Talk with your primary care provider if you are currently taking medication. While some Ayurvedic herbs complement prescribed medication, others may counteract your medicine’s effects or cause other problems.
  • High-quality herbs are essential for the best results. Responsible sourcing and packaging are just a few ways you can tell that you’re getting herbs from an excellent store.

If you’re looking at using Ayurvedic herbs, it’s also a good idea to talk with an herbalist or practitioner to make sure that you understand the potential reactions that an herb may have and the proper dosage information.

After taking a quick look at some precautions for Ayurvedic herbs, should you market products as Ayurvedic?

CAN AYURVEDIC HERBS BENEFIT YOUR BUSINESS?

One market analysis of Ayurvedic products estimates that Ayurvedic products will grow by 12 percent from 2022-2028. India takes up eighty percent of this market share, followed by several countries in the Middle East.

While the lion’s share of Ayurvedic product consumption is seen in Asia, there is a growing awareness and interest in the herbal and diet components of Ayurveda in Western countries. Approximately 240,000 American adults use some form of Ayurvedic medicine. Even if you don’t market your products as Ayurvedic, it’s a great idea to continue learning about Ayurveda to become a resource for potential customers.

WHERE CAN I FIND EXCELLENT AYURVEDIC HERBS?

Check out our Ayurvedic herbs page to help meet your customer’s needs. It has a list of our most popular herbs in this category and can help spark new ideas for tea blends, recipes and products. If you have any questions about our herbs, please visit our customer service page to learn more.