This month I am going to talk about herbs for the holiday blues. To anyone who is prone to depression, the holidays can be a dangerous time. There is an expectation that you WILL enjoy the holidays can be enough by itself to cause stress and anxiety. What if you hate your job and don’t want to go to the company party? What if you dislike your family? What if you feel obliged to purchase gifts even though you may be in debt? Add these factors in, and it is enough for some people to fall apart, or worse, try to hide their blues.
My favorite herbs for working with holiday blues are all great for the nervous system: chamomile, oatstraw, and lemon balm. You can brew up a quart of tea at a time and store it in the fridge. Teas should last about 5-6 days. Use 2-3 heaping tablespoons of the dried herb for a quart of boiling water. Chamomile can taste bitter, so adding honey or a bit of apple juice may help. You can reheat teas on the stove, and drink a cup in the evening. Chamomile is great when stress hits you in the gut and your stomach hurts. It is also good for muscle tension, and in addition to drinking the tea, you can also make a stronger blend and put it in your bath. Light a few candles and, ahhhhhh! Relief.
Oatstraw is similar to chamomile and has a mild taste. It has several trace minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Lemon balm is known to help with depression, and is referred to as “the herb that gladdens the heart”. It is also a good for stress. It has the added benefit of being anti-viral, so in the winter time you have added protection from lemon balm for colds and flu.
For those who feel blue when the days are shorter, calendula is wonderful herb. It is bright yellow, in the marigold family. The tea is very bitter, so I suggest you take the tincture, but buy the dried flowers and put them in a bowl of jar where you can see them. The sunny energy of the flower is supposed to cheer people up!
If the stress of the holidays is causing insomnia, you can try catnip tea, or passion flower extract. Do a few stretches before bedtime to let go of the stress of the day. Add in vitamin B.
Another good herb for depression is black cohosh. It is best taken as an extract. It is good for arthritic pain as well. (Look for an article on this site about Black Cohosh).
Another great herb for the nervous system is hawthorn. It is mostly known as a heart herb, but the heart and nervous system are closely connected. Think about the phrase “losing heart”; it usually refers to someone giving up hope or giving in to defeat, etc. You can drink hawthorn as a tea by buying the loose berries and simmering two heaping teaspoons per 2 cups of water. You can also take hawthorn as a liquid extract, or as a solid extract, which means it is the form of a jam. Herbalist and Alchemist makes the solid extract. It tastes yummy! It is good for high blood pressure, and safe for anyone who has had a heart attack or related illnesses. So, be good to your heart, and if you do suffer from the holiday blues let someone know who can respond with care and attention.
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