Emotional wellbeing & herbal happiness

Emotional wellbeing & herbal happiness

Emotional wellbeing is without a doubt one of the most essential aspects of our overall health and happiness. Simply, emotional health is rooted deeply in our abilities to navigate and understand our own feelings, having an emotional intelligence which allows for us to maintain and develop supportive measures and develop compassionate resilience in the face of stress and adversity.

Emotional wellbeing is multiplicitous, multifaceted and entirely unique to the individual - it involves an awareness of your feelings, the emotional body and allowing for them to be expressed in healthy ways, allowing for ease. This doesn't mean not experiencing thoughts which are painful and challenging - rather it is the ways in which we can allow for healing in these spaces and allow for balance to manifest in the ups and the downs of this experience. The responses we choose to enact upon in our daily lives dictates a lot of our emotional health and wellbeing, and in some cases this is where our skills can be fine tuned and lovingly worked on to allow for better self compassion.



Individuals who tend to have a healthy sense of their emotional wellbeing tend to be exhibit:

  • more resilience
  • have higher levels of happiness
  • are better able to cope with stress in their daily lives

They have a generally positive outlook on life, are able to manage their emotions effectively, and have healthy relationships with others. They are also able to set boundaries, take care of themselves, and practice self-compassion. All of this is not a once size fits all and mental health is very much an ebb and flow of (e)motions, however those we are feeling emotionally well tend to experience and adopt an attitude of gratitude towards their life, feeling connected and honouring themselves and those around them.


When imbalances are present...

It can be extremely challenging to navigate though imbalances and turbulence in our emotional landscapes - it can manifest as overwhelm, anxiety, depression, and struggling to cope with everyday challenges. There may even be an experience of physical symptoms such as headaches, insomnia, or digestive issues. In these cases the mud truly feels thick and sludgy, and that's ok - in these moments the primary focus is on the ways in which to restore balance into the being and allow for self-honouring and nurturance. 

Maintaining or implementing practices which allow for supporting your emotional wellbeing are all about alignment and honouring where you are at in that given moment in time - it can also mean getting very real and honest with yourself around situations, habits and routines which may not be serving you.

Some practices can include self-love, boundary setting, mindfulness, intuitive movement and building positive relationships with those around you - it can also look like seeking professional assistance and help if needed and learning that asking or help is a beautiful thing when you need it - its the key which unlocks the door. 

Sometimes self-care and focusing on our emotional wellbeing can feel lonesome . . . 

it's a commitment to the honouring of yourself and that means putting boundaries in place and noticing how those around you can meet you or are potentially not serve your journey anymore.
This is why I quite literally refer to herbals as my 'allies', I see these beautiful medicines as friends who show up daily and allow for me to do the same for myself.

So here are some of my favourite allies to support emotional wellbeing:


1. Mucuna

All parts of the incredible Mucuna plant are used medicinally however the bean has the highest concentration of beneficial compounds. Traditionally it has been used to lower stress, reduce anxiety, improve focus, boost libido, elevate mood and most notably to treat Parkinson’s and neuro-degeneration. 

Mucuna seeds contains tryptamines, polyphenols and tannins and are thus far the only known naturally occurring sources of L-Dopa - the precursor to dopamine, an important neurotransmitter that is essential for sleep, memory, mood, mental functions, and calming the nervous system. The presence of L-Dopa makes Mucuna a vital ally for those suffering from Parkinson’s disease - nerve cells that produce dopamine in the brain slowly break down or die. People with this disease have lowered levels of dopamine, which causes abnormal brain activity. L-Dopa has been proven to cross the blood - brain barrier and undergo conversion to dopamine, therefore restoring neurotransmission. 

Mucuna doesn’t only affect dopamine, various studies also show increases in two more key neurotransmitters that affect mood: serotonin and norepinephrine - making this bean a great alternative for those suffering from lack of motivation, sex drive, and depression. 


2. Ashwagandha

This dear ally is an adaptogenic herb that has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for centuries - its first appearance is in the sacred texts: the Charaka and the Sushruta Samhitas, and can be traced back directly to Atreya Punarvasu the esteemed sage whose teachings founded the six schools of Ayurveda. 

Ashwagandha is perhaps best known for its ability to reduce stress; Cortisol, our natural stress hormone, is released from the adrenals to mobilise the “fight or flight” response to a perceived imminent danger. Cortisol naturally follows a daily rhythm, rising in the morning to help mobilise the body’s forces for our daily needs and lowering in the evening to allow the body to sleep and perform restorative measures, however the stress of modern human culture chronically activates the cortisol stress response - which can impact delicate glucose and lipid balance as well as vascular integrity, gastrointestinal membrane integrity and nervous system function. Ashwagandha has been shown to promote healthy levels of cortisol and contribute to healthy inflammatory processes, numerous tests prove that this adaptogenic herb can promote the functions of the immune, cardiovascular and nervous systems, as well as protect the brain, muscles and joints from long term degeneration. 

The main active substances in ashwagandha root are a variety of steroids with ergostane skeletons (also called “withanolides”) withaferin A & withasomnine being superb examples, as well as alkaloids and saponins. Withanolides have been extensively studied for their antibiotic and antioxidant effect. Sedative effects have also been ascribed to the alkaloids and in vivo studies have shown significant adaptogenic activity. 


3. Sceletium
The name Sceletium is derived from the Latin sceletus – this refers to the prominent leaf veins which remain present as the skeleton-like structure of the leaves dry. The name tortusosum translates into ‘twisted’ or ‘tortuoise’.

Sceletium tortuosum has been used as an indigenous sacred medicine by South African hunter-gatherers, the Khoikhoi, since times immemorial as a mood enhancing ally. The first written accounts of the use of the plant was by Jan van Riebeeck in 1662, however it became well known to colonisers of the Cape and had begun being cultivated in England from 1732 -  the Latin binomial was officially published by Carl von Linnaeus in 1753.

Generally speaking Sceletium is an incredible mood ally – it aids in elevating mood, decreasing symptoms of anxiety and aids in the management of stress and tension. Due to it being non-addictive chemically speaking, it has been used to treat depression particularly with those who have gone through rehabilitation. It has been topic of scientific inquiry for doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists alike for its abilities in healing and enhancing the body and mind collectively – namely emphasising its action not only as an antidepressant and anxiolytic, but also as an antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Taken daily, in smaller doses, it can aid in relieving anxieties relating to stressful stimuli which may be triggering cortisol production – here acting as a nervine tonic by supporting nervous system health and resilience. It can also be used as an ‘in-situ’ treatment – where one may find themselves in a highly triggering circumstance and is need of support either before, during or after the event.



4. St John's wort

St John's Wort owes its name to the time which the beautiful yellow flowers bloom in the Northern hemisphere - being around the summer solstice and St John's day (which is on the 24th of June). Its’ history of use dates back to a famous Roman military doctor named Paracelsus, who used it as early as the 1st century AD, however it was additionally used as a magical potion in the middle ages for protection against evil diseases, demons and dark entities. Prior to its use in the roman military it was used for many reasons as a tonic medicine, however in contemporary and modern times the main focus rests in its use as an antidepressant and anti-anxiety medicine.  Through its interaction with our neurotransmitters, primarily serotonin it has shown phenomenal results in decreasing levels of anxiety and depression. It is additionally a great antiviral medication and shows results in treating eczema and inflamed skin conditions. 

5. Rhodiola

(coming soon - be ready)

Rhodiola is an exceptionally complex plant prized for its ability to endure the toughest of conditions. The Ancient Greeks, Vikings, Siberians, Mongolians, and Chinese were all taken with the medicinal properties of ths extrodinary herb.

Rhodiola's natural home is in Siberia and the Tian Shan mountain range in northwestern China, where it has been used as a medicine for thousands of years. The roots of this plant gained popularity in antiquity, quickly passing from siberians to the hands of the vikings who used the herb to maintain their stamina in battle and stay healthy during their cold, northern winters. 

Rhodiola root is traditionally used to increase physical endurance, work productivity, longevity, resistance to high altitude sickness, and to treat fatigue, depression, anemia, impotence, gastrointestinal ailments, infections, and nervous system disorders.

Scientists have thus far isolated over 140 constituents from the roots and rhizome of this hardy herb but by far the most powerful group of compounds which have not been found in any other plants are the “rosavins” - each of these has been studied, and each make a significant contribution to the plant’s unrivalled adaptogenic abilities. Rhodiola also contains the agent salidroside, and protective antioxidants which inhibit cellular deterioration. Various studies on isolated organs, tissues, cells and enzymes in the body have revealed that Rhodiola exhibits exceptional adaptogenic benefits including, neuroprotective, cardioprotective, anti-fatigue, nootropic, and life life-span increasing effects

Rhodiola has also been found to increasing the sensitivity of various neurons in the brain and nervous system, including the two neuro- transmitters serotonin and dopamine. This directly increases focus, memory, pleasure, and overall mood — various studies have proven this herbs ability to also help repair damaged neurons in the hippocampus, a region of the brain considered to be the centre for emotion, memory and autonomic nervous system regulation.


6. Lions mane 


Variants of this mushroom grow all around the world;

In Japan, it was drunk as a tea in the imperial palaces & consumed with lavish meals - calling it Yamabushitake.

The Māori - say their ancestors have consumed a coral shaped fungus in the genus hericium since they arrived on the land, calling it Pekepekekiore.

In North America, this mushroom was a common sight in Native Americans’ medicine bags, the healers used it as a styptic, applied as a dried powder to cuts & scratches to stop bleeding. 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Lions Mane is prescribed for stomach disorders, ulcers, & gastrointestinal ailments. It has also traditionally been used to fortify the spleen, nourish the gut & fight cancer. Ancient healers utilized this mushroom for treating the lower abdominal area, however the neurological benefits this mushroom is so often praised for, turns out to be a relatively new discovery. 

Of particular pharmacological interest are two classes of terpenoid compounds thus far known to occur only in Hericium spp: these are hericenones (C–H) & erinacines (A–I)- a, Erinarols (A–J) have also been isolated. Hericenones & erinacines isolated from Lions Mane have demonstrated unmatched neuroprotective properties among mushrooms. 

Lion’s Mane has a high potential as a preventative against neurodegeneration & has beneficial effects on brain health. The bioactive compounds diterpenoids erinacine A, B, & C were shown to stimulate the synthesis of nerve growth factor (NGF), which is involved in organizing the function of neurons in the central nervous system & brain. These are the neurons that degenerate during the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. It also improves cognitive deficits that were induced by amyloid peptide (which leads to learning & memory decline) showing that Lions Mane plays an important role in combating dementia & other diseases related to aging in the brain. They have been proven to promote development of cerebellar cells and demonstrate a regulatory effect on the process of myelin genesis & enhance the myelination process. 

They have been found to increase memory, understanding, communication, sharpness, concentration as well as in treating stress & anxiety. 




Know that wherever you are in your mental health and emotional wellbeing journey you are held and you are supported 
Please take any and all measures you need to take care of you 

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1. Mucuna
- Sahelian, R. (2013). Mucuna Pruriens benefit for mood, libido, and depression. Retrieved from https://www.raysahelian.com/mucunapruriens.html
- Shukla, K. K., Mahdi, A. A., Ahmad, M. K., Shankhwar, S. N., Rajender, S., & Jaiswar, S. P. (2010). Mucuna pruriens improves male fertility by its action on the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal axis. Fertility and Sterility, 94(6), 1934-1939.
2. Ashwagandha
- Chandrasekhar, K., Kapoor, J., & Anishetty, S. (2012). A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of Ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 34(3), 255-262.
- Singh, N., Bhalla, M., de Jager, P., & Gilca, M. (2011). An overview on ashwagandha: A Rasayana (rejuvenator) of Ayurveda. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, 8(5S), 208-213.
3. Sceletium
- Smith, M. T., & Crouch, N. R. (2012). Sceletium: A review update. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 144(4), 578-591.
- Terburg, D., Syal, S., Rosenberger, L. A., Heany, S., Phillips, N., Gericke, N., & Stein, D. J. (2013). Acute effects of Sceletium tortuosum (Zembrin), a dual 5-HT reuptake and PDE4 inhibitor, in the human amygdala and its connection to the hypothalamus. Neuropsychopharmacology, 38(13), 2708-2716.
4. St John's wort
- Linde, K., Berner, M. M., & Kriston, L. (2008). St John's wort for major depression. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 4, CD000448.
- Müller, W. E., Singer, A., Wonnemann, M., & Hafner, U. (1998). Hyperforin represents the neurotransmitter reuptake inhibiting constituent of Hypericum extract. Pharmacopsychiatry, 31(Suppl 1), 16-21.
5. Rhodiola
- Cropley, M., Banks, A. P., Boyle, J., & Gannon, K. (2015). The effects of Rhodiola rosea L. extract on anxiety, stress, cognition and other mood symptoms. Phytotherapy Research, 29(12), 1934-1939.
- Hung, S. K., Perry, R., & Ernst, E. (2011). The effectiveness and efficacy of Rhodiola rosea L.: A systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Phytomedicine, 18(4), 235-244.
6. Lion's mane
  • Mori, K., Obara, Y., Hirota, M., Azumi, Y., Kinugasa, S., & Inatomi, S. (2018). Nerve growth factor-inducing activity of Hericium erinaceus in 1321N1 human astrocytoma cells. Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin, 41(10), 1554-1562.
  • Phan, C. W., Wong, W. L., David, P., Naidu, M., & Sabaratnam, V. (2015). Therapeutic potential of culinary-medicinal mushrooms for the management of neurodegenerative diseases: diversity, metabolite, and mechanism. Critical Reviews in Biotechnology, 35(3), 355-368.