Herbs for a Blue Christmas


I am a total sucker for the holidays. I love dressing up, putting peppermint on (and in) everything, and even the corny songs. Like ones I should be ashamed of, but I’m not. *NSYNC anyone?

And, at the same time, not all that glitters is gold. There is a shadow side to this joyful season, it can bring up feelings of loneliness, inadequacy, family trauma, and as a culture we indulge in an incredible amount of mindless consumerism. Which is why one of my New Year goals is to consume less, and create more.

Don’t get me wrong, gifts are one of my favorite ways to show love. There are few things as satisfying as giving (and getting) a gift that means something. Which is why I prefer gifting travel experiences, something homemade, or handmade.

While we can’t always control the vibes surrounding the season, good or bad, we can support ourselves with herbs. That’s why we lean on our plant friends to support the nervous system and reduce anxiety during the holidays. Whether your in-laws are driving you mad, travel has got your teeth grinding, or you're just simply feeling a little blue, there are plenty of plant remedies that can help.

N E R V E  H E R B S

o a t s
ways to use | fresh oat tincture | oat straw tea | bath | oxymel
One of the most nutritious nerve herbs (full of calcium, magnesium, silica, and more), and it's incredibly hydrating. When harvested at it's peak, squeezed oats tops ooze a hydrating nerve restoring liquid. This can be tinctured fresh for use, or dried and stored to use later. This nerve food is perfect for when your hormones are feeling out of whack and leaving you ultra moody, or you're just feeling a bit melancholy. I am loving my sweet and spicy ACV + honey oxymel made by Root Rise Potions, made on her Northern Californian farm and available for custom order.

s k u l l c a p
ways to use | skullcap hot cocoa + cayenne | tea | tincture
If you've got social anxiety or just need to wind down, skullcap will be your savior. Skip the pre-party wine ritual, and have a cup of skullcap tea instead. Known as a "trophorestorative" in herbalism, skullcap doesn't just calm you down acutely, it also helps to restore nervous system function. I use it before hosting a party or when I have to give a big speech.

c h a m o m i l e
ways to use | chamomile lavender latte | hot toddy | foot bath
If you're feeling frazzled or have a nervous stomach, this herbs can do wonders. There's a big misconception that chamomile is merely used as a sleep aid, but this herb can be used all day long to prevent irritability and tension without leaving you drowsy. The bitter components of chamomile will also help you digest all the hearty holiday meals.

l e m o n   b a l m
ways to use | lemon balm + mint tea | infused white wine | tincture
Known as the "bringer of gladness" this herb will bring joyful energy around when you need it most. When I am feeling tightness in my shoulders, stomach, or just generally feeling the pains of stress, I turn to lemon balm. The bright sunny energy of this plant will bring you sunshine, even in the depths of winter.

l a v e n d e r
ways to use | lavender cocktails | honey latte | essential oil
Commuting through holiday traffic? I highly recommend investing in lavender essential oil and a car diffuser. Take a sniff of lavender e.o. when you're feeling frustrated and discouraged. The aroma of lavender will help you to untangle the stress and anger that can pop up from tough conversations or negative self talk, from my own personal experience.

k a v a
ways to use | kava rooibos chai | hot cocoa | spiced coconut milk infusion
This sacred plant is used in ceremony in the pacific islands, and is a staple for those with chronic pain and everyday anxiety. Feeling good and not groggy while using this plant is totally dependent on dose, and don't be alarmed by it's tongue numbing tingle. If you're looking to curb the blues during the day, take a supplement that has a lower/calculated dose. If you're looking to open up your heart and wind down without drinking, try a creating a tasty recipe that infuses the powdered root into a fatty liquid overnight or decocts it (best for proper extraction). This root is known to be fairly strong, so use it with respect. It has some contraindications for those who have liver issues, so best to avoid if that is your experience, or if you are having a long night of drinking.

c b d
ways to use | spray | tincture | infused herbal latte | brownies
The CBD craze is here, and for good reason. This cannabis extract seems to help with everything under the sun. The cannabinoid receptors are located all throughout the body, and were actually identified through the study of the cannabis plant. If you want whole body relaxation, without a whole body high, this extract is for you. I use Care By Design spray almost everyday, as it is easy to use on the go. When I am traveling I used hemp based CBD tincture by Omica, which also has lavender and California poppy, for an extra "hit" of relaxation. You can use a dropper-full in your herbal lattes for some extra umph

Healing PlantsSarah Kate