Dissolving a partnership is one of the more stressful
events that might happen to you in your lifetime. Stress
leads to a compromised immune system, and "dis- ease."
It is very important to focus on relieving stress during
these times. Herbs should rightly play a secondary role
to a lifestyle that relieves stress: proper diet which
could include gentle nutritive herbs, plenty of sleep,
and daily exercise. Personal time to sort through the
emotions and remember who YOU are as a person is
important. I would also suggest limiting the amount of
time you spend listening to those songs on the radio
that sing about love lost, or love gained.
You should become familiar with a calming herb. These
herbs work in a twofold way for relieving stress, both
physically and emotionally. Physically, they may help
with muscle cramps, soreness, and tightness, as well as
the devastating shakiness and body effects of the strong
emotions that come with the adrenaline surge of these
trying times. Emotionally they can help with fear,
anxiety, melancholy, circular thoughts that go round and
round in your head that you can't seem to get rid of,
anger, sadness, those bad days, crippling uncertainty
towards your future, the blues, emotional fragility, and
those circular thoughts that go round and round in your
head that you keep coming back to, that you can't seem
to get rid of.
Some of the calming herbs you might choose from include
Skullcap, Valerian Root, Passionflower, and Pedicularis
spp. like Parrot's Beak Betony or Elephant's Head
Betony. Skullcap is also nutritive to the nervous
system, making it an excellent everyday choice. Valerian
is strong and sure, but some body types cannot handle
this plant. It could cause anxiety and depression in
these folks, so be wary if you try it and it makes
matters worse. Passionflower is not my herb of choice.
It works well, but I prefer local bioregional herbs. The
Parrot's Beak Betony is my favorite. This gentle herb
has gotten me through the completion of two major
relationships. And it tastes good, too.
Standard dosages of these herbs in tinctures (extracts)
range from one to four droppers, as needed throughout
the day. You shouldn't feel drugged from the herbs. If
you do, you are taking too much. I have seen folks
talking loudly and quickly, with their arms moving intensely all
around them. After taking some calming herb, they begin to speak quietly and in a relaxed fashion.
Yet they say they don't feel anything. But I see the
herbs have worked. A dosage that you can't really feel
will change that adrenaline-rush, roller-coaster, raised
voice fight into a more serene, disgruntled disagreement.
These herbs shouldn't make you drowsy if you aren't
sleepy. However, if you are tired but can't sleep, the
herbs should relax you enough to fall asleep naturally.
They work well with those circular thoughts that seem to
keep coming back again and again no matter what you do,
so you can sleep. Calming herbs won't make your "ex" love
you in the way you remember, but they can help
you to forget it long enough to get some rest.
St. John's Wort, Hypericum perforatum, may be the herb
of choice for some of us undergoing these crazy life
changes. In many folks, it will help take away the
emotional highs and lows of the situation. Life will
become more even, less up and down. This herb is
currently being used for clinical unipolar depression.
Dosages of tincture range from two to four droppers, 2
to 4 times a day. It may take a few weeks to kick in,
and should be taken daily throughout the months of
Another herbal approach would include adaptogens, herbs
that help to increase your body's resistance to stress.
These herbs won't necessarily change your attitudes
about the stress, but they will change your physical
response. Painful conversations with hurtful words never
truly meant to be said will not cause your body to
tremble and your blood pressure to rise. The less of a
physical adrenaline stress response you have, the
healthier you will be, and the more able to deal with
your own unique challenges.
Adaptogens include such herbs as Ginseng, Devil's Club,
and Reishi Mushrooms. These would need to be taken every
day for a while to have the desired effect. Each of
these adaptogenic herbs is different, and it is
important that you take the correct herb for your
personal constitution, so don't run out to buy some just
yet. Check with a local Naturopath or Herbalist to find
the right herb for you, or you might end up making some
of your physical problems worse.
Lastly, don't grab the Echinacea/Goldenseal/Oregon Grape
tincture daily to boost that immune system. Save these
herbs for when you need them, when you feel
exceptionally run down and a cold coming on. Until then,
use the other herbs mentioned to reduce the stress, and
focus on lifestyle changes to boost those immunities.
It's the best way to go.
Howie Brounstein is a Botanist/Herbalist and co-founder of
Columbines and Wizardry Herbs. Active in protection of
local endangered plant species and international
conservation efforts, he teaches an in-depth
apprenticeship in ethical plant gathering and herbalism
when not talking about circular thoughts.