The Power of Anti-Stress Herbs

In this article, we’re going to explore these anti-stress herbs, how they work, and why they are a popular choice for those seeking relief.

Stress and sleep

Dr. Owen Wiseman, ND

30 August 2023

Natural herbs anti-stress : how do they work?

First, let's take a closer look at passionflower, otherwise known as Passiflora incarnata. Passionflower has been used for centuries by indigenous cultures across the globe to manage anxiety and promote relaxation. With roots in South and Central America, as well as the southeastern United States, it became popular for its vibrant aesthetic.1

Today, passionflower is commonly used in botanical medicine for the same purpose. Studies have shown that passionflower works by increasing levels of a naturally occurring chemical in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This neurotransmitter is well-known for its calming effect, so as GABA levels increase, it induces a sense of calm and combats feelings of anxiety.2,3,4 More recent data examined its effect on circadian rhythms and the genes that influence our internal clocks. Extracts of the herb influence multiple neurotransmitters and enzymes like monoamine oxidase, catechol-O-methyltransferase, and glutamic acid decarboxylase.5 A study showed that folks who drank a low-dose tea reported better sleep quality than the group consuming a placebo.6

 More impressively, in a double-blind randomized controlled trial, the herb was as effective in treating generalized anxiety disorder as 30mg of oxazepam.7

I thought there was another though?

Enter lemon balm, stage right.

Also known as Melissa officinalis, lemon balm is a member of the mint family. Like passionflower, lemon balm has been used for centuries to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety. One study found that supplementing with lemon balm for just two weeks resulted in a significant reduction in anxiety symptoms. Lemon balm works by increasing levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which helps regulate mood and sleep. Lemon balm is typically consumed as a tea or supplement and is generally considered safe.

While passionflower and lemon balm are both effective at reducing stress, they are often used in combination to enhance their effects. As the first botanical oral spray in Canada, Relax Spray is a perfect example of how these herbs work in harmony, along with zinc to manage stress. The nutrient has been shown to be low in those with anxiety and when people consumed zinc, their reported anxiety fell.8

Many other popular anti-stress blends like Relax Tabs contain a mixture of passion flower, lemon balm, and valerian root (Valeriana officinalis). Valerian root works similarly to passion flower by increasing GABA levels in the brain. The main active compounds include iridoids, valerenic acid and acetoxyvalerenic acid which also act on adenosine and serotonin receptors to support mental well-being, even while you sleep!9

When combined with passionflower and lemon balm, valerian root provides a sedating quality to the product. Though, other herbs commonly used in anti-stress blends include ashwagandha, skullcap, and chamomile.

How else can you combat your stress?

  • Pet and Cuddle Animals: Interacting with animals, whether it's your own pet or a therapy animal, has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety.10 Petting animal’s releases oxytocin, a hormone that promotes feelings of relaxation and bonding. So find your furry friend and invite them in for a cuddle – you’ll both feel better for it!
  • Spend Time in Nature: Nature has a calming effect on the mind and body. Take a walk in a park, sit by a lake, or simply spend time in your backyard. Being in nature can help lower stress levels, improve mood, and increase feelings of well-being.11 You can also use apps like NatureDose to track your time outdoors.
  • Practice Self-Care: Taking care of yourself is crucial for managing stress. Set aside time each day to engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. This can include reading a book, taking a bath, listening to music, or practicing a hobby. Prioritizing self-care helps you recharge and better cope with daily stressors.

Overall, there are plenty of options available for those seeking a natural solution to their stress symptoms. Passionflower, lemon balm, and other herbs can be effective at managing feelings of overwhelm and promoting relaxation. As with any supplement or medication, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new herbal regimen. Additionally, it is essential to use high-quality, reputable sources for any supplements you take to ensure safety and efficacy.

By harnessing the soothing power of these anti-stress herbs, Canadians can embrace a holistic approach to their mental well-being, finding solace in the gentle embrace of nature's gifts.


  1. Acha, Serena, et al. "The evolutionary history of vines in a neotropical biodiversity hotspot: Phylogenomics and biogeography of a large passion flower clade (Passiflora section Decaloba)." Molecular phylogenetics and evolution164 (2021): 107260.
  2. Elsas, S-M., et al. "Passiflora incarnata L.(Passionflower) extracts elicit GABA currents in hippocampal neurons in vitro, and show anxiogenic and anticonvulsant effects in vivo, varying with extraction method." Phytomedicine12 (2010): 940-949.
  3. Appel, Kurt, et al. "Modulation of the γ‐aminobutyric acid (GABA) system by Passiflora incarnata L." Phytotherapy Research6 (2011): 838-843.
  4. Grundmann, Oliver, et al. "Anxiolytic activity of a phytochemically characterized Passiflora incarnata extract is mediated via the GABAergic system." Planta medica15 (2008): 1769-1773.
  5. Toda, Kazuya, et al. "Passionflower Extract Induces High-amplitude Rhythms without Phase Shifts in the Expression of Several Circadian Clock Genes in Vitro and in Vivo." International Journal of Biomedical Science: IJBS2 (2017): 84.
  6. Ngan, Alice, and Russell Conduit. "A double‐blind, placebo‐controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (Passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality." Phytotherapy Research8 (2011): 1153-1159.
  7. Akhondzadeh, Shahin, et al. "Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: A pilot double‐blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam." Journal of clinical pharmacy and therapeutics5 (2001): 363-367.
  8. Azargoonjahromi, Ali. "A systematic review of the association between zinc and anxiety." (2023).
  9. Shinjyo, Noriko, Guy Waddell, and Julia Green. "Valerian root in treating sleep problems and associated disorders—A systematic review and meta-analysis." Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine25 (2020): 2515690X20967323.
  10. Thelwell, Emily LR. "Paws for thought: A controlled study investigating the benefits of interacting with a house-trained dog on university students mood and anxiety." Animals10 (2019): 846.
  11. White, Mathew P., et al. "Associations between green/blue spaces and mental health across 18 countries." Scientific reports1 (2021): 8903.

A.Vogel Relax Oral Spray - Fast Acting Stress Relief and Sleep Aid 20mL

  • A.Vogel Relax Oral Spray quickly relieves feelings of nervousness, restlessness and stress. Powerful combination of Passion flower, Lemon balm and Zinc.
  • Sleep aid during times of mental stress
  • Day or night relief - Non-habit-forming
  • 100% Natural Fresh, Organic, GMO Free plants
  • Gluten and lactose-free. Vegan

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