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What is Stress? Discover 5 Remedies to Treat the Symptoms

When you understand what stress is and how it affects the mind and body, you can choose the right herbal remedy to manage the condition.

A happy man smiling widely as he raises his hands up in the air with autumn leaves around him

The majority of Americans are stressed weekly. In fact, more than three-quarters of adults say they’re stressed at least one day a week — and 15% are stressed every day. Women are more stressed than men, while Gen Xers (ages 41 to 55) are the most stressed generation. But exactly what is stress? 

Stress is the body’s natural response to challenging, surprising, or disquieting environmental factors and internal physical and emotional stimuli. Understanding stress and how to manage it effectively can help a person become more efficient and better able to complete each task they set out to do on time. On the contrary, a failure to manage stress can overwhelm a person and cause health problems, such as depression, anxiety, heart disease, and cognition problems.

The Impact of Stress on Your Body

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), chronic stress can cause qi (or, loosely translated, vital force) blockage and stagnation, particularly in the liver system. Like the heart, kidneys, lungs, and spleen systems, the liver system has several significant roles in the body, such as regulating a person’s qi and emotions and enhancing spleen digestion. An imbalance of qi in the liver can trigger anger, irritability, and signs of stress.

Signs of excess stress include pain and discomfort in the lower ribs, a feeling of something being stuck in the throat, digestion problems, headaches, and trouble sleeping. Stress can also impact a woman’s menstrual cycle and cause irregular periods. In addition, it can increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart disorders, anxiety, and depression.

That’s why it is so important to manage tension and achieve smooth-flowing qi. It ensures the healthy functioning of the different organs and systems in the body. Here are some remedies that can help to alleviate stress.

5 Herbal Remedies That Help Defeat Stress

Different flower parts displayed in wooden compartment rows and two spoons
Herbal formulations made from flower parts, such as rosebuds, are effective stress relievers.

Different systems of medicine like psychiatry, Ayurveda, and TCM can alleviate stress by helping a person achieve balance. Similarly, the use of traditional herbal remedies can help promote a better flow of liver qi.  

1. Rosebuds and mint leaves 

Rosebuds and mint leaves are particularly effective remedies for stress. The best way to consume these herbs is to soak them in freshly boiled water for approximately 5 minutes before consuming them as tea. Do this 2-3 times weekly. 

Consuming a rosebuds infusion can also promote increased blood circulation. So, pregnant women or women, during their period, should avoid using rose buds as a herbal remedy for stress.

2. Lily bulbs and lotus seeds 

top down view of herbal soup with Chinese lotus seeds, lily bulbs, and white fungus
Lily bulbs and lotus seeds can help calm your nerves. You can consume them as a delicious herbal soup.

Consuming a tea or soup recipe that uses lily bulbs can help alleviate the symptoms of stress. Lily bulbs consist of three sets of active components: alkaloids, steroidal saponins, and phenols. The combination of alkaloids and steroidal saponins, in particular, is responsible for the effective treatment of various nervous system disorders. 

Lily bulbs are abundant with essential nutrients. Combining it with lotus seeds may treat the symptoms of stress, such as irritability, restlessness, anxiety and insomnia. Before consuming, boil both herbs together for approximately 20-30 minutes.  

3. Xiao Yao San 

TCM practitioners have been prescribing a classical bland known as Xiao Yao San for centuries. Loosely translated to “free and easy wanderer” this formula is commonly used to treat mood and mental disorders. This blend, made up of ingredients like bupleurum, Chinese angelica, white peonies, peppermint, white atractylodes, and poria, can also help treat chronic stress. 

4. Turmeric  

Turmeric roots and powder displayed on a wooden table alongside an open glass container and metal spoon
Curcumin is found primarily in turmeric and is linked to multiple health benefits.

Turmeric is a medicinal root that contains curcumin, a polyphenol that has demonstrated antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic, anti-microbial, and anti-cancer activities. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of curcumin can help improve systemic markers of oxidative stress. One clinical trial found that the use of curcumin was able to promote calmness and alleviate fatigue caused by psychological stress. In addition, curcumin can reduce triglycerides levels and decrease the markers of stress, neurodegeneration, and liver injury in the body.

5. Hawthorn berries  

From a TCM perspective, people who have a yin (passive energy) excess or yang (active energy) deficiency can achieve better emotional balance, qi regulation, and tension relief by drinking a herbal concoction that contains hawthorn berries. This concoction can also improve blood circulation and promote better sleep by reducing anxiety and tension and stabilizing blood pressure. In addition, hawthorn berries are associated with decreased cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. They also have demonstrated anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor activities. 

Knowing what is stress can help you take the necessary steps to relieve the physical and mental tension. These include the use of natural medicinal remedies, which offer multiple wellness benefits. Do speak to a TCM physician who will ask about your medical history and do a physical examination in your first visit. With a proper diagnosis and better understanding of your body constitution. With a proper diagnosis and better understanding of your body constitution, the TCM physician can choose the right herbs and treatment for you.


  1. Value Penguin. Nearly 8 in 10 Americans Feel Stressed Weekly — and 1 in 7 Do Every Day[Accessed 25 October 2021]
  2. ResearchGate. 2019. Lily bulbs (Bai He), A super food and A herbal remedy. [Accessed 25 October 2021]
  3. US National Library of Medicine. 2017. Curcumin: A Review of Its’ Effects on Human Health. [Accessed 25 October 2021]
  4. US National Library of Medicine. 2012. Polyphenolic Profile and Biological Activity of Chinese Hawthorn (Crataegus pinnatifida BUNGE) Fruits. [Accessed 25 October 2021]

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