Herbs can play a fundamental role in any stress management program. When used
within the context of a program that addresses a range of factors, herbs can facilitate a dramatic change in the quality of life experienced by
anyone under stress. In the first chapter of this course we discussed `Therapeutic Ecology' as a model to describe the relationship between
herbal medicine and other healing modalities. Please read that section again to expand upon the brief recap below.
Holistic medicine reminds us to focus on an individuals unique situation and not simply treat a diagnosed disease syndrome.
In the context of this therapeutic ecology, it may be that one person diagnosed with a stress related problem might recuperate best when
treated with dietary advice, herbs and massage whilst for another it could be tranquilizers and psychoanalysis. Practitioners will often have
their firmly held opinions of the pros and cons concerning one approach or another, but the patient is always more
important than their doctors belief system.
A well balanced stress management program will address the various aspects
discussed in that model. Herbal remedies will only fulfill some aspects, but they are vital.
In the sections that follow, attention is focused on the herbal aspects of such a program, but please do not forget
nutrition, relaxation and all the other factors that the competent practitioner must address. To this end
different herbal parameters can be identified based upon the degree of stress in an individuals life. Always remember individual variability's
in response, as outlined above.
- Medicine; used here to mean
anything which is taken for healing purposes, including Medical Herbalism, Homeopathy, Naturopathy and drug based Allopathic Medicine. All
have in common use of some `form' level medicine that is taken into the body to achieve the therapeutic goal. Herbs act primarily on
this level, as metabolic agents.
- Body work; including all approaches that do something with or to the physical body. Structural
factors are focused on as either causation or contribution to illness. This includes the manipulative therapies such as Osteopathy,
Chiropractic and the varieties of Massage, as well as Surgery. Personal life style will contribute exercise, dance or any expression of bodily
vitality. Relaxation techniques are invaluable. Herbs will help in an indirect way, for example the anti-spasmodics used as muscle relaxants
- Emotions & mind; emotions embracing a whole array of psychological techniques, so important for identifying and treating
emotional and mental factors in both health and disease. All the branches of psychotherapy are relevant, but especially the more holistically
orientated approaches of Humanistic and Transpersonal psychology. A conscious and free flowing emotional life is fundamental to
achieving any inner harmony.
- Spirituality; there are meditative and prayer based techniques where the person aligns
their being with higher spirit, or those where a practitioner works with the energy body of a patient. Some openness to spirituality is
vital, and it might take the form of the upliftment of a sunset, being touched by poetry or art, belief in a religion or simply a dogma free joy in
The most convenient way of approach stress related problems is based on intensity of the
persons problems combined with the duration of the situation. Thus, considered in sequence below, there is:
- Daily mild
- Long standing severe stress
- Short term severe stress