The days are lengthening and the Earth is alive with spring green popping up everywhere and summer is not far behind! Yet for many students spring means that the end of the school year is at hand. Springtime often finds my daughters’ lives filled to brimming. Filled with performances to take part in, papers to finish writing, projects to complete, and preparations for those final exams looming right on the horizon. As a junior in high school my oldest is also looking at colleges, taking the SAT, and starting to really think about her future. All of this in addition to the normal daily life activities of a teenager can easily lead to overwhelm, overload, and stress!
Happily there are wonderful herbal allies to turn to during life moments such as these. Herbs with useful nervine properties are perfect to invite into these busy times to ease the worries of the day and ultimately invite a restful, restorative sleep.
Over the years as an herbal parent, I have discovered a few tips and tricks that work well for my children. There are numerous nervine herbs that are used to provide support to the nervous system. Here I will share a few that have worked well for my family.
Herbs such as German chamomile (Matricaria recutita), linden (Tilia spp.), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), catnip (Nepeta cataria), and lavender (Lavandula spp.) are considered calming and soothing making them a wonderful addition to teas and baths before bed.
For an after school pick-me-up look to gently refreshing herbs. Mints, for example peppermint (Mentha × piperita) & spearmint (Mentha spicata), are more enlivening while rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), as a circulatory stimulant, is thought to refresh the brain (McIntyre, 1996). We also like holy basil (Ocimum sanctum, O. gratissimum) which has both nervine and adaptogen properties.
By far my favorite way to use herbs with my kids is by providing a simple cup of tea. A steaming warm cup of a delicious brew invites a moment of calm and reflection. It is a moment to stop and inhale the fragrance of plants and to be at peace even amid a whirlwind of activity.
Our Favorite Relaxing Tea Blend
This blend is cooling and soothing after a long day. It is made with herbs that are used by herbalists to calm the mind and encourage rest. This recipe makes enough tea for 1 big mug of tea. You can double or triple to make larger amounts and serve the tea to your whole family.
3 teaspoons linden leaf and flower
2 teaspoons lemon balm leaf
2 teaspoons spearmint or peppermint leaf
Pinch of lavender blossoms
12 ounces of boiling hot water
Blend the herbs together and place in a heatproof vessel just as a teapot or canning jar, or place in a tea bag that can infuse directly in your cup.
Pour the boiling hot water over the herbs and, if possible place a cover over the tea while it steeps. This helps to retain the volatile oils from the herbs in your tea cup.
Let steep for 15 to 20 minutes before straining and sipping!
When using herbs with children, in particular young children, it is especially important to be mindful of safety! For more on using herbs with kids including how to determine the proper amount of an herbal preparation to give younger children visit here.
Other tips and tricks for kids that need a little support:
Adding a drop of two of rescue remedy to their water bottle before school or even rub a drop or two of this gentle flower essence combination on your child’s skin.
Dilute a 2 to 4 of drops of a child friendly lavender essential oil https://www.planttherapy.com/organic-lavender-essential-oil-sweet-floral-scent-plant-therapy in an ounce or two carrier such as almond or apricot kernel oil and use this a nice addition to a shoulder rub or foot rub before bed. Learn more about how to dilute essential oils safely for children here. https://blog.planttherapy.com/blog/2018/09/11/how-to-dilute-essential-oils-a-comprehensive-guide/
Make a strong chamomile tea and add to the bathtub for a relaxing soak. To do this simply steep 1 ounce of chamomile in a half gallon of boiling hot water for at least 30 minutes. Strain the flowers out and add the liquid to the bathwater, Encourage your kiddo to climb in and rest. If you child doesn’t care for baths, a foot soak in chamomile tea is a lovely alternative!
Of course it is important to help kids learn to manage stress in productive ways beyond herbal support. Writing in a journal or drawing, playing music, blowing of steam with friends, and getting fresh air and exercise are all great ways for teenagers to decompress. Providing well-balanced meals at regular intervals will help to balance blood sugar and provide nutrients needed for a solid foundation of physical health as well.
When very small children are feeling emotional or stressed, I like to work with them in hands on ways. Provide art materials and encourage your child to express their emotions on paper, offer freshly made playdough for squeezing, or make other art projects together. One of my favorites is this craft - Meditation Friends for a special spin on mind bottles.
Wishing you and your family a happy transition from the rigors of the school year to the peace of summer!
Bove, Mary. (n.d.). Stress and Cortisol in Kids and Teens Botanical Options for Support. Retrieved on 04/20/2019 from https://www.gaiaherbs.com/uploads/White_Paper_-_Stress_and_Cortisol_in_Kids_and_Teens-1371565363.pdf
Keville, Kathy and Green, Mindy. (1995). Aromatherapy, A Complete Guide to the Healing Art. California: The Crossing Press.
McIntyre, Anne. (1996). Flower power. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, Inc.
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Information is for educational purposes only. Please do your own research regarding herbs to determine what is safe and best for your needs. Consult with a qualified herbalist or other health care professional as needed.