Almost everyone experiences stress and spells of anxiety. Stress can come from any event or thought (a ”stressor”) that makes you feel tense, frustrated, or angry. Anxiety is stress that continues after the stressor is gone and can be a feeling of fear, unease, and worry. The source of these symptoms is not always known. The source can be specific and personal, like family, employment or financial worries, or more general like news about the economy, terrorism or weather events.
Stress and anxiety can become a serious issue if they begin interfering with your daily life. The American Psychological Association reports that 40 percent of all adults say they lie awake at night because of stress. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States, or 18% of the population. Only about one-third of sufferers receive treatment but the cost in the US is still almost one-third of the country's $148 billion total mental health bill, according a study reported in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
There are many ways to manage stress and anxiety, including lifestyle changes like eating a balanced, healthy diet; getting enough sleep and regular exercise; meditating and deep breathing; recognizing the factors that trigger your stress.
These techniques can be used along with medical treatments for anxiety, including psychotherapy and drugs like Valium and antidepressants.
But our gardens can also offer effective treatment for stress and anxiety. For thousands of years we have prevented and treated everyday ailments with plants anyone can grow. But our power has gradually been surrendered to profit-driven health-care. Is now the time for each of us with gardens to begin growing our own ‘health revolution’?
The most credible, peer-reviewed laboratory research today continues to prove that the plants people have been using as medicine for generations are very effective cures for common maladies and support robust health. The pharmaceutical industry devotes its resources to synthesizing, engineering, and patenting the components of these plants, so that you can be dependent on its products and your health can be mined as a steady source of revenue. Meanwhile, the science shows that medicinal plants work best in their natural state, minimally processed and with all of their essential oils, vitamins, minerals, and other compounds intact and acting in concert.
We know healthy diets start with whole foods and organically grown vegetables and fruit. Is this also true for specific medical conditions, including stress and anxiety? This has been our experience, and the research backs it up. Here are the top 5 plants we grow and use in our garden when life’s challenges seem to overwhelm.