Post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a psychiatric condition that often arises after an individual witnesses or is involved in a life-threatening event such as a disaster, rape or violent assault.
Common characteristics of someone who has PTSD include re-experiencing the trauma, avoidance behaviors, negative changes in mood and brain function, and hyper-arousal (it should be noted that post-traumatic stress manifests somewhat differently in young children).
Certain herbs are known for their ability to relieve stress, anxiety and other feelings, which may be covered under the scope of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms. Below are top 10:
Hop or Humulus lupulus is a of flowering plant. The Hop is dioecious, i.e. male and female flowers are on separate plants. The male flowers are in loose bunches or panicles, 3 to 5 inches long. The female flowers are in leafy cone-like catkins, called strobiles. When fully developed, the strobiles are about 1 1/4 inch long, oblong in shape and rounded, consisting of a number of overlapping, yellowish-green bracts, attached to a separate axis. If these leafy organs are removed, the axis will be seen to be hairy and to have a little zigzag course. Each of the bracts enfolds at the base a small fruit (achene), both fruit and bract being sprinkled with yellow translucent glands, which appear as a granular substance. Much of the value of Hops depends on the abundance of this powdery substance, which contains 10 per cent of Lupulin, the bitter principle to which Hops owe much of their tonic properties. Hops have tonic, nervine, diuretic and anodyne properties. Their volatile oil produces sedative and soporific effects, and the Lupamaric acid or bitter principle is stomachic and tonic. For this reason Hops improve the appetite and promote sleep. It eases stress, nervousness and restlessness. It’s useful for the treatment of anxiety disorders, insomnia and pain. Hops is anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory and has sedative properties, making it an excellent herb for muscle spasms.
Green tea (Camellia sinensis) strengthens the immune system helping those suffering from PTSD to resist acute illnesses and long-term disease states. Standardized extract, 250 to 500 mg daily,is idle for antioxidant and immune effects. Use caffeine-free products. You may also prepare teas from the leaf of this herb.
Bacopa (Bacopa monniera). This herb is believed to be effective in raising the mental status of patients with depression. It helps raise the mental setup of a person and enhances better performance, skills, and brain capabilities. It improves intellect, consciousness, and mental activity. The herb also calms the mind and promotes relaxation. A standardized extract of 50 to 100 mg, 3 times a day, for symptoms of stress and anxiety. Bacopa can increase secretions in the GI tract, lungs, and bladder, and potentially increase the likelihood of ulcers or blockages in one of these systems.
Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm): This herb is used for sleep problems, insomnia, nervousness, and stomach problems. The drug may produce drowsiness in some patients and, if the condition continues to persist with stomach problems and nervousness, the patients should seek immediate medical advice.
Been proved to preserve vision: Blueberry extract, high in compounds called anthocyanosides, has been found in clinical studies to slow down visual loss. They can prevent or delay all age related ocular problems like macular degeneration, cataract, myopia and hypermetropia, dryness and infections, particularly those pertaining to retina, due to their anti-oxidant properties. Blue Berries contain a special group of anti oxidants called Carotenoids (lutein, zeaxanthin etc.), Flavonoids (like rutin, resveritrol, quercetin etc.), in addition to others such as vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin A, selenium, zinc and phosphorus, which are very beneficial and essential for the ocular health. Data reported in a study published in the Archives of Ophthalmology indicates that eating 3 or more servings of fruit per day may lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), the primary cause of vision loss in older adults, by 36%, compared to persons who consume less than 1.5 servings of fruit daily.
Rhodiola: Anxiety and hypervigilance are among the most pronounced symptoms of PTSD and ones that rhodiola offers considerable hope for improving. In a study conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles, a small group of people with generalized anxiety disorder were given 340 mg of rhodiola rosea extract daily over the course of 10 weeks. At the end of the study, researchers found significant improvement in the participants’ anxiety symptoms. Rhodiola can also help with the depression and other emotional issues many PTSD suffers face. Researchers at the Armenian State Medical University’s Department of Neurology conducted a study on 89 people with mild to moderate depression. For six weeks participates received either 340 mg or 680 mg of rhodiola root extract or a placebo. Those taking the rhodiola rosea received significant relief from depression, emotional instability, insomnia and physical complaints related to low mood such as headaches and stomachaches. Those on the placebo saw no changes.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis): The active constituents in Valerian appear to be valerenic acid and valerenal. These compounds have sedative (calming and relaxing) effects because they interact with the neurotransmitter GABA. As mentioned previously, GABA seems to produce an upbeat mood, positive self-image, sense of calm/contentment, and sound sleep. Valerian allows GABA to exert its effects on the nervous system for a longer period of time before being broken down. In addition, valerenic acid and valerenal have central myorelaxant effects (muscle relaxant), and anticonvulsant properties (reduces muscle spasms). Valerian has demonstrated mixed results in research studies. Clinical trials have supported its use as a sedative and a sleep aid. However, the only well-designed study in humans failed to demonstrate that Valerian was more effective for treating anxiety than a placebo (a non-active substance) or the prescription anti-anxiety medication diazepam. Based on these research findings and historical uses of the herb, Valerian is recommended for people who get nervous or have trouble falling asleep because of thoughts running through their head.
Kava (Piper methisticum): A study submitted by spiritualityhealth.com, supports what Pacific islanders have known for thousands of years-kava, the root of a tropical pepper plant, can help reduce symptoms of anxiety. According to the study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, kava may offer a natural and less addictive alternative to prescription medications for the skyrocketing number of people who suffer from anxiety-some 57.7 million American adults, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It’s suspected that kava may give you that warm glow by increasing gamma-amniobutyric acid, or GABA, a brain chemical that suppresses nerve impulses. Having low levels of GABA is associated with anxiety.
Stinging Nettle: This herb is widely used in the natural treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, as it can regulate the adrenal gland to reduce the production of adrenaline. This is the hormone that is released during stressful or anxiety-inducing situations, and for those suffering from PTSD, the gland can be overactive, resulting in unnecessary flight-or-flight sensations that exacerbate the condition.
Green Tea: Although Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental disorder, it can have significant effects on the body, including the immune system and hormonal balance. Green tea is an important immune system booster, and also has soothing qualities that can reduce nervous distress and mental anxiety. Adding green tea extract or regular cups of tea to your diet is an effective way to reduce the symptoms of PTSD.
There are many more remedies and herbs that are effective in the treatment of PTSD, and this list is by no means exhaustive. If you suspect you’re suffering from PTSD consult your natural health practitioner.