I did find a scientific reference to a human clinical trial using Withania somnifera (ashwagandha) that claims the role of this herb in reducing stress. Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension, leading to underperformance and adverse clinical conditions. Adaptogens are herbs that help in combating stress. Ayurvedic classical texts, animal studies, and clinical studies describe Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) as a safe and effective adaptogen. Ashwagandha root extract safely and effectively improves an individual’s resistance to stress and improves self-assessed quality of life. (Chandrasekhar. K, et al.)

There are multiple herbs mentioned in ancient herbal medicinal literature used in ancient times for mental disorders and reducing stress properties. These uses are extensively reported in popular herbal medicine literature on the internet. Some common herbs mentioned herein are Bacopa monnieri, ginseng, ginkgo, Pfaffia paniculata (common name Suma), Astragalus spp, Glycyrrhiza glabra, and G. uralensis, and many others. The scientific support for most of the above-listed plants is limited to animal studies or anecdotal evidence.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Center also references ashwagandha, which claims the plant possesses reducing stress properties. Mild to moderate and transient drowsiness, upper GI discomfort, loose stools adverse reaction to this herb has also been reported here. Less common effects reported are: Giddiness, drowsiness, hallucinogenic, vertigo, nasal congestion (rhinitis), cough, cold, decreased appetite, nausea, constipation, dry mouth, hyperactivity, nocturnal cramps, blurring of vision, hyperacidity, skin rash, and weight gain.

There are many herbs that have been traditionally used to reduce stress and promote relaxation. Some of the most commonly used stress-reducing herbs include:

  1. Lavender: Known for its calming scent, lavender is often used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation and reduce stress.
  2. Valerian: Valerian is an herb used for centuries to treat anxiety and insomnia. It has a calming effect on the nervous system and is often used as a natural remedy for stress.
  3. Passionflower: Passionflower has a sedative effect and is commonly used to treat anxiety and insomnia. It is thought to work by increasing levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate mood.
  4. Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine to reduce stress and improve mental clarity.
  5. Chamomile: Chamomile is an herb that has a calming effect on the body and is often used to treat insomnia and anxiety. It is also commonly used as a remedy for digestive problems, as stress can often lead to digestive issues.

It’s important to note that herbs can interact with other medications and may have side effects. Before taking any herbs for stress or anxiety, it’s always a good idea to consult a healthcare provider to ensure that it’s safe for you and determine the appropriate dosage. Most herbs have not been subjected to human clinical trials that would prove that these are efficacious and safe for use.


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