If you’re thinking about taking a duvet day this winter, what you really need is a healing herb pick-me-up to power you through your commute or your work from home day.
Top London nutritionist Cassandra Barns is on hand to recommend four of the best healing herbs to banish low mood and winter woes.
1. Holy Basil (Tulsi)
This leafy plant is known for its therapeutic power and has a particular affinity for the brain and mood. “Holy Basil is said to stimulate circulation to the brain to improve concentration and help clear brain fog,” says Cassandra. “It also has a calming effect on the nerves and acts as an adaptogen – a herb that helps us cope with and adapt to stress.”
Cassandra explains: “These different actions can combine well to help lift our mood, particularly when stress or anxiety are involved. Holy basil makes a great herbal tea and also comes in capsule form for a more concentrated dose.”
Try Simply Pure’s Organic Holy Basil Capsules (Amazon).
There’s a reason why people drink chamomile tea at night – it’s perfect for relaxing the body and aiding a deep sleep. “Chamomile is an amazing ‘nervine’ – a herb that calms the nerves,” says Cassandra. “It can also help relieve digestive cramps and spasms that accompany stress or anxiety. If your priority is to get more calm in your life, soothe frayed nerves and sleep better, then chamomile could be a great choice for you.
“Drink it as a herbal tea before bed, but also throughout the day to help calm you down – it shouldn’t make you feel tired.”
Try TeaPigs Chamomile Herbal Tea Bags (Amazon).
3. Matcha green tea
“If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, turning to coffee for a boost may do more harm than good,” says Cassandra. She explains that high doses of caffeine and other stimulating substances in your coffee can cause your body to make more stress hormones, increasing the draining effects of stress on your mind and body.
“Instead, try matcha green tea,” she advises. “Green tea contains a small amount of caffeine to give you an energy lift, but also contains theanine, which can have a relaxing effect on the mind, reduce anxiety and help with focus and concentration. Matcha green tea in particular is said to contain a high percentage of calming theanine.”
Pukka also sell a Supreme Matcha Green (Amazon).
The western world is beginning to wake up to the healing powers of ashwagandha, one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic healing. “Like holy basil, ashwagandha is considered an adaptogen, helping to balance the effects of stress on our body and mind,” says Cassandra.
“It’s known for its calming, anti-anxiety effects, but also for helping to restore energy and vitality. It can be good for libido, too, which often suffers when we’re feeling miserable!”
You can whizz ashwagandha in powdered form into your smoothie or drop a tincture in your tea. The easiest way to get your dose is in capsule form, so try Pukka’s Wholistic Ashwagandha (Amazon).
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