Ask The Herb Lady

With Cathy Schram

What is there for stress & sleep?

Q: I heard that Ashwagandha is good for helping to relieve stress. What exactly is it?

A: Ashwagandha is an Indian herb, which is known as the ìginsengî of Ayurvedic medicine. Supplementing with ashwagandha over time can improve the body’s response to daily stress. Think of it as a ìstress-tabî to help you cope with day to day activities, which include environmental, physical and mental changes. It also increases immunity to colds and infections. Many people feel that their energy levels greatly improve while taking ashwagandha. It also has analgesic, or pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties. This herb may lower blood sugar levels so use with caution if you are diabetic.

Q: I take Valerian Root to help me sleep. Is it safe to take long term?

A: I believe that valerian root is extremely safe and is a great choice for a sleep aid. This is not an herb that can become habit-forming or addictive. However, I always encourage my customers to take breaks from a particular supplement so your body does not get used to it and you can eliminate any excess. You may want to try passion flower or skullcap during the breaks to help you sleep and relax. Valerian is also helpful with anxiety because it increases a neurotransmitter called GABA, which helps regulate nerve cells and produces a calming effect. Drugs like Xanax and Valium work the same way but are much stronger. The smell of valerian may not be good, but the benefits are.

This herb information is for health education purposes only. It is not intended to replace the services of licensed health practitioners. Consult with a physician for any condition that requires professional care.

Do you have questions about herbs or vitamins? Send them to Cathy Schram, CNHP and Certified Herbalist. Write to: Herbs & More, 16021 Manchester Rd., Ellisville, MO 63011. www.morethanherbsonline.com.