The Get Happy Herb Guide
Need a pick-me-up? Reach for one of these natural mood lifters.
STINGING NETTLE (Urtica dioica)
Stinging nettle made its rep as an anti-allergy herb. But it’s also a terrific energizer for women, says Susun Weed, master herbalist and author of the Wise Woman Herbal book series (Ash Tree Publishing). “If you touch the wild stinging nettle plant, you will feel a shock—and that electricity and energy is available to us when we drink nettle infusion,” says Weed. The benefits, she explains, are nearly endless: Nettle restores and rebuilds the adrenal glands, tonifies the kidneys, rebuilds the pancreas and stabilizes blood sugar. Plus, it’s a terrific source for basic nutrients. “One quart of nettle infusion contains about 1,000 milligrams of calcium, in addition to lavish amounts of vitamins A, B, D, E and K,” says Weed.
DRINK as an infusion for best results. To make it, add 1 ounce of dried nettle leaf to a quart jar and fill to the brim with boiling water. Screw on the lid and let the mixture steep for four hours. Strain, squeezing the herb to extract any liquid, and drink throughout the day, hot or cold.
GOTU KOLA (Centella asiatica)
Let’s face it: It’s hard to be happy when you can’t think straight. According to Sheila Kingsbury, N.D., R.H., chairwoman of the Botanical Medicine Department at Bastyr University in Seattle, the solution for inner muddle is gotu kola. “It’s terrific for mood because it improves the flow of oxygen to the brain, making you feel awake and stimulated without feeling wired.” It’s also a go-to herb for stress, helping to regulate adrenal hormones and keep blood sugar in check, Kingsbury says. “I use it for anyone who is down because they’ve been overworked or under too much stress for too long,” she explains. It’s a great choice for hormone-induced funkiness, too. Kingsbury frequently recommends it to girls and boys who are having a rocky go of adolescence. (Note: Despite having kola in the name, the herb contains no caffeine.)
TAKE one teaspoon of the herb in glycerite form three times a day. Take for at least four weeks for best results—or continue indefinitely.