In the relentless hustle and bustle of our modern world, stress has become an inevitable part of our lives. From the demanding pressures of work to the weight of personal responsibilities, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the incessant demands that tug at our sleeves. According to recent surveys, approximately 50% of Singaporean feel stressed due to the rising cost of living, further highlighting the prevalence of this issue in today’s society. Fortunately, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a holistic approach to managing stress and restoring balance within the body. This article will delve deeper into how TCM understands stress and explore five powerful Chinese herbs for stress and anxiety.
Understanding Stress in TCM
From the perspective of TCM, Qi and Yin-Yang are two distinct yet fundamental principles inherent to Chinese medicine. Qi, often referred to as vital energy, represents a vital force that flows through the body, influencing overall health. On the other hand, Yin and Yang are complementary and opposing forces that exist in everything in the universe, including the human body. When you are stressed, it can cause the Qi to become stagnant or blocked along its meridian pathways. Moreover, stress can also impact the delicate balance of Yin and Yang within the body. It can result in depleting the Yin energy, giving rise to symptoms like insomnia, dryness and fatigue. At the same time, it can create an excess of Yang energy, leading to symptoms such as excess heat, hyperactivity, and inflammation.
Not only that, TCM practitioners also believe that prolonged stress can impact various organs. For instance, tension and emotions like anger can cause liver Qi stagnation, disturbing the liver’s function in your body and leading to issues such as indigestion and menstrual irregularities in women. Besides that, stress also can impact your heart, resulting in blood and Qi stagnation, potentially causing palpitations, insomnia, anxiety or restlessness. Additionally, worry and overthinking from stress can weaken your spleen, leading to fatigue, poor appetite, abdominal bloating or loose stools.
But, no need to worry as there are Chinese medicines for stress relief. Now let’s delve into each herb that is commonly used for this purpose.
Jujube is a delightful fruit native to China and is also called Chinese Date or Red Date. It is a cherished herb in TCM for its calming properties. Packed with essential nutrients and antioxidants, this Chinese fruit is able to nourish both body and mind, making it an ideal ally in the battle against stress. There is also research that shows this kind of fruit can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Jujube is often consumed dried. The dried fruits can be enjoyed as a snack, incorporated into dishes, or brewed into a relaxing tea. The dried pieces are simmered in water for a few minutes to make Jujube tea, producing a naturally sweet and soothing drink. Sipped before bedtime, this calming tea promotes relaxation and better sleep.
You might always have heard about Ginseng. This extraordinary herb is renowned far and wide, and its name resonates across cultures. It has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years and has a lot of benefits, including resisting the negative effects of stress. Ginseng is valuable for its adaptogenic properties that help the body adapt to and withstand tension. Adaptogens are natural substances that help the body adapt to stress and maintain balance during challenging situations. It is commonly found in teas, capsules and extracts, making it easily accessible and widely utilised.
Huang Qi, commonly known as Astragalus, is also often used as Chinese medicine for stress due to its adaptogenic properties. By supporting the adrenal glands and regulating stress hormone production, this natural remedy proves invaluable for addressing stress-related concerns. This valuable herb is also believed to have tonic effects on the spleen and lung meridians, which are associated with resilience and emotional stability in TCM. Huang Qi is often cooked into soups and broths for its restorative properties.
Polygala (Yuan Zhi)
Polygala, or Yuan Zhi in Chinese terms, is an important Chinese herb derived from plants mainly grown in China and areas of Asia. It is highly regarded for its potential cognitive and emotional benefits, earning it the reputation of being a “brain tonic” and a herb that supports mental well-being. Polygala contains bioactive compounds that boost dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine to improve mood and mental energy. Studies indicate Polygala reduces cortisol and alleviates anxiety without sedation. It is often used short-term in capsules or tinctures for acute stress relief and cognitive enhancement.
Bai Shao (White Peony Root)
Last but not least, Bai Shao, also known by its conventional name White Peony Root, is also one of the famous herbs known for its cortisol-regulating properties. It is highly regarded for its ability to alleviate symptoms of stress, including anxiety, headaches, and digestive issues. In TCM, it is valued for its capacity to harmonise Qi (vital energy) and blood, calming the liver. This makes it particularly effective in reducing stress-related irritability and emotional fluctuations. This quality makes it particularly effective in reducing stress-related irritability and emotional fluctuations. One of the most common ways of consumption is through herbal teas, which can also be found in alternative forms such as capsules, powders or tinctures. These alternative forms offer convenience and allow for standardised dosages, making incorporating Bai Shao into daily wellness routines easier.
Stress may seem unavoidable, but TCM reminds us that we hold the key to finding serenity within ourselves. Jujube, Ginseng, Huang Qi, Polygala and Bai Shao are five powerful herbs that can guide you back to a state of tranquillity and balance. If you are in Singapore and searching for products containing these beneficial herbs, Tong Jum Chew is a suitable option. We have been a wholesaler and distributor of TCM products since the 1980s. However, always consult with a qualified healthcare professional or TCM practitioner before incorporating new supplements into your routine.