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Can’t Get You Out of My Head
by Howie Brounstein
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 transition.
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.