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5 Uplifting Herbs for Mental Wellness
By Angela Willard Cl. H
Angela Willard is a Clinical Herbalist and Co-Founder at Harmonic Arts. She’s passionate about growing herbs, herbal consulting, and sharing her love and knowledge of plants. Angela finds balance between nurturing Harmonic Arts' vision and raising a young family.
During the winter months, our mental health often needs some extra love and care. Grey skies and cold days aren’t the most conducive for feeling vital and uplifted, but luckily plant medicines can help lift our hearts and spirits.
The pillars of well-being include fresh air, movement, sunshine, nutritious food, deep rest, supportive community, and positivity. When we spend less time outdoors, lack fresh foods, don’t take time to unwind, and are isolated from our personal connections, our spirits can take a dive.
When life takes us off-center, herbs are incredible gifts that can propel our bodies back to balance and uplift our mental wellness. Choosing the right plant medicines for you is key to optimizing their effectiveness.
If you’ve got a case of the winter blues, the following herbs can lift your spirits and create a sense of enjoyment. Here are some of my favourite plant medicines to incorporate as part of a holistic mental wellness approach:
1. Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus):
Lion’s Mane has been studied for reparative effects on the nervous system. Regular use of this shaggy mushroom has shown significant antidepressant effects on patients who previously experienced signs of depression.¹ Lion’s Mane deeply nourishes the nervous system and shifts us through feelings of despair, supporting our ability to experience pleasure and positive feelings again. Because Lion’s Mane has both anti-inflammatory and neurotropic benefits, it is a practical option for fortifying the nervous system to enhance mental wellbeing.
2. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis):
Many of us are familiar with using this herb in cooking, but rosemary is so much more than a culinary herb! The major active compounds in rosemary increase neurotransmitter levels, including dopamine, serotonin, and GABA.²
When in balance, these neurotransmitters maintain feelings of peace and contentment. These compounds also protect the nervous system from stress-induced damage — all the more reason to reach for this herb beyond it’s delicious flavour.
3. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis):
Sharing a similar effect on the nervous system as Rosemary, Lemon Balm is a gentle yet effective herb to infuse a sense of mental and emotional wellness. Shown to calm anxiety and relieve depression,³ many folk herbalists will tell you that Lemon Balm calls in prayers of peace and tranquility. Soothing lemon balm is gentle enough to use on all ages. From young to old, this plant ally nourishes the soul and helps to rebuild a healthy outlook on life, one sip of tea at a time.
4. Fucus Seaweed (Fucus vesiculosus):
Fucus, also commonly known as Bladderwrack, packs a powerhouse of nutrients. Its high mineral content assists proper nerve function and communication, such as iodine.⁴ Iodine, a significant trace element present in Fucus, is rarely available in adequate amounts from land-based foods. Iodine directly nourishes the thyroid, an important gland that is greatly responsible for feelings of vitality. When the thyroid is not receiving the iodine it requires for proper function, feelings of fatigue, weakness, depression, and overall lethargy can set in; all contributing to a lowered sense of well being.
5. Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus):
Eleuthero, also known as Siberian Ginseng, contains an active compound that stimulates the release of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in moderating motivation, attention, arousal, and deep, restful sleep.⁵ In this way, Eleuthero helps us access states of peaceful alertness. Rather than overstimulating and overwhelming, this herb gently wakes us up and energizes our system, guiding us to feelings of clarity and vitality.
Our Uplifted Spirits Tincture and Elevate Elixir Blend are two of my favourite formulas to lean on for extra mental and emotional support. They feature some of the herbs noted above, along with other health-supportive ingredients to keep you on the path of wellness through the year.
If you’re in need of some extra support, I invite you to experiment with some of these herbal medicines to optimize your own mental wellbeing and infuse the spirit.
Have you worked with any of these herbs to support your mental wellness? Share with us in the comments!
- Chong, Pit Shan, Man-Lung Fung, Kah Hui Wong, and Lee Wei Lim. “Therapeutic Potential of Hericium Erinaceus for Depressive Disorder.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences 21, no. 1 (2020): 163. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21010163.
- Sasaki, Kazunori, Abdelfatteh El Omri, Shinji Kondo, Junkyu Han, and Hiroko Isoda. “Rosmarinus Officinalis Polyphenols Produce Anti-Depressant like Effect through Monoaminergic and Cholinergic Functions Modulation.” Behavioural Brain Research 238 (2013): 86–94. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2012.10.010.
- Ghazizadeh, Javid, Sanaz Hamedeyazdan, Mohammadali Torbati, Fereshteh Farajdokht, Ali Fakhari, Javad Mahmoudi, Mostafa Araj‐Khodaei, and Saeed Sadigh‐Eteghad. “Melissa Officinalis L. Hydro‐Alcoholic Extract Inhibits Anxiety and Depression through Prevention of Central Oxidative Stress and Apoptosis.” Experimental Physiology 105, no. 4 (2020): 707–20. https://doi.org/10.1113/ep088254.
- Catarino, Marcelo, Artur Silva, and Susana Cardoso. “Phycochemical Constituents and Biological Activities of Fucus Spp.” Marine Drugs 16, no. 8 (2018): 249. https://doi.org/10.3390/md16080249.
- Liu, Ko Yu, Yang-Chang Wu, I-Min Liu, Wen Chen Yu, and Juei-Tang Cheng. “Release of Acetylcholine by Syringin, an Active Principle of Eleutherococcus Senticosus, to Raise Insulin Secretion in Wistar Rats.” Neuroscience Letters 434, no. 2 (2008): 195–99. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2008.01.054.