The Get Happy Herb Guide
MARIJUANA (Cannabis sativa)
OK, we know: It’s illegal in the United States and legal only for medicinal purposes in 14 states. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a powerful herbal medicine with long traditional usage as an anxiolytic (anti-anxiety agent). “Of all the relaxers in nature’s pharmacy, cannabis is one of the most immediate. It produces a nearly instant calming effect, and goes to work more quickly than a cup of coffee would,” Kilham says. The substance— though taboo in some circles—is wellknown to reduce tension, headaches and pain associated with conditions ranging from multiple sclerosis to cancer. “It induces a feeling of pleasure and peace in most people—even people who are in significant pain,” Kilham notes. As for access, Kilham says it’s relatively easy to find the stuff—especially if you live in one of the 14 states where marijuana is legal as a medical substance. If not, you’ll have to ask around and take your chances—or try one of the other remedies listed above.
INHALE the herb using a vaporizer or smoke it. You can also eat marijuana when it’s baked into food. Correct dosage is highly subjective, but Kilham suggests that about one-third of a gram is enough for most people.
CONTRAINDICATION: For some, marijuana can exacerbate anxiety and cause paranoia, so start with a little and tune in to how it makes you feel.
LEMON BALM (Melissa officinalis)
If you want to take the edge off without sending yourself into a sedated stupor, try lemon balm, suggests Kingsbury. “I use it for anyone who tells me they’re feeling a lack of joy—they’re not technically depressed, but just feeling down,” she says. It’s also great for those times when you’re feeling so overwhelmed you’re nearly immobilized. Because the scent of the herb adds to the healing power, this is a good one to take as a tea. “The citrus scent itself is uplifting,” says Kingsbury.
DRINK as a tea. To make it, add a handful of fresh or dried leaves to one cup of boiling water and steep five to 10 minutes. Strain and sweeten with honey, if desired. Alternatively, use lemon balm tincture: Take one to five droppers up to three times a day as needed.