Herbs & Homeopathy for Anxiety, Insomnia, Stress, etc.

The following is a list of various herbal and homeopathic remedies for the major side-effects of separation and divorce: depression, anxiety, insomnia, stress, and repetitive thoughts. Naturally, it is also useful for the same emotions, whatever their source.


I recommend buying herbs as tinctures, rather than capsules.  Exceptions are: if you’re traveling and want something less fragile, or you are avoiding alcohol.  Some tinctures are alcohol-free, but, once opened, they must be refrigerated.

[My notes are quite abbreviated, so if you want more information on any particular herb or remedy please search the web, and always err on the side of caution.  Start with the smallest amount and see how you react to that.]


Calms Forte

This homeopathic combination formula has been around for a century and is a great relaxant and sleep inducer.  Start with one pill fifteen minutes before you retire.  You may take two if one isn’t enough, but do not take more than two.  If you do, you may find yourself feeling sleepy the next day.


This ancient herb is a central nervous system depressant, just like Valium, Librium, Xanax, alcohol and ether.  If using the tincture, read the directions and start with a lower dose.  Sometimes, the label will say something like, “Take 5-50 drops.”  Usually, one dropper full, about 25 drops, is a good place to start; but, if you weigh very little, or are sensitive start with less.  Mix the herb with about an ounce of water.

Valerian is often added to stress reducing herbal combination remedies.  Just be careful when taking it not to operate heavy machinery, as it may slow down your coordination and reaction times.

Melissa  (Lemon Balm)

This herb is a calmative and can really stop repetitive thoughts.  Take it fifteen minutes before bedtime, or if you wake in the middle of the night and find yourself unable to shut off your mind.  It can also be used during the day, but not if you’re going to drive.


As simple as this may sound it’s quite effective: put a few drops of essential oil of lavender on a tissue and place it about six inches from your pillow. Lavender will put you to sleep in no time. Men should not use lavender as it is a hormone disrupter and can activate estrogen receptors. (Ditto for Tea Tree oil.)


The easiest thing is to make chamomile tea.  If one tea bag isn’t doing the trick, try making a stronger brew with two.

Rescue Remedy

This is a Bach combination remedy made from the essences of five different flowers.
Rock Rose – for terror and panic
Impatiens – for irritation and impatience
Clematis – for inattentiveness and to counteract faintness
Star of Bethlehem – for shock
Cherry Plum – for irrational thoughts and lack of self control

Rescue Remedy is remarkable.  It’s safe, gentle, but strong enough to take the edge off what you’re feeling, whether it’s anger, anxiety, panic, or shock.

They sell something called Rescue Sleep but Rescue Remedy is just as good at half the price.

If you are avoiding alcohol try the pastilles.  They come in two flavors in a handy little tin.

Rescue remedy is also great for children and pets.

The Bach Original Flower Remedies are a complete system of 38 flower remedies that can help us rediscover the positive side of ourselves. To find out more, please visitwww.bachremedies.co.uk .

Hot Milk With Saffron and Nutmeg

Heat up any milk you like, cow’s, almond, rice, chocolate, etc… and add:

a few grinds of nutmeg, if available, or a pinch of ground nutmeg


a mixture of ground saffron with a tiny bit of sugar (You can grind about 1 TBSP of saffron threads with 1 tsp. sugar in a coffee grinder. Keep this in a small jar and use a pinch for each cup of milk.)

This really works to soothe your nervous system, relax you, and promote a great night’s sleep.


Rock Rose

This Bach Flower Essence is a miracle worker for panic and panic attacks.  It only comes in tincture form, so you can’t use it if you’re avoiding alcohol.  Just put two drop in your mouth and situate them under your tongue.  This way, the medicine goes directly into your bloodstream. You can also add two drops to a glass of water and sip it.  Either way, you should feel more centered within about 15 seconds.


Probiotics, substances that increase the good bacteria in your gut, make you feel more emotionally balanced. I suggest Kefir, rather than yogurt. Both are excellent and probiotic, but Kefir (a yogurt-like drink), has 10-12 different strains of probiotics, while yogurt has only a few. This data is from Current Opinion in Pharmacology, December 2012 and refers to both anxiety and depression.

Probiotics Supplements:

I would suggest Nature’s Bounty Probiotic 10. Start with a capsule once a day every few days. If you don’t experience any digestive issues, work up to one capsule every other day. It’s also good to eat fermented foods like yogurt, Kefir, real sauerkraut, etc. There is mounting evidence of probiotics being helpful in lessening anxiety and depression.

Warm fluids and foods

Ayurvedic doctors suggest eating warm foods and drinking warm liquids as a way to calm the nervous system. Even plain hot water works to calm your parasympathetic nervous system. Add a little lemon and honey, or your favorite tea to make it that much more delicious.

Bach remedies: Mimulus, Aspen, Rock Rose

These are liquids you take directly under the tongue or added to a water bottle. Just 2-3 drops is enough.

Mimulus helps with known fears like spiders, crowds, etc.

Aspen for unexplainable fears, night terrors, and night sweats with anxiety of unknown origin.

Rock Rose is best for sudden bad news, trauma, and panic.


More gentle than Kava, passionflower quells anxiety.  You can use it two to three times a day when in the throes of anxiety, or just take it once in the morning to keep anxiety at bay. Try 25 drops of the tincture in a little water.  This is very safe and won’t stress your liver.


A great relaxer, but stronger than Passionflower.  Anecdotally, I have found that men seem to like it more than women do.  Try a smaller amount, at first, to see what effect that has.  You can always take more.  Do not use this daily for more than six months, as it can be challenging to the liver if you use it long-term.

Holy Basil
See below under STRESS.


Use the essential oil by putting a few drops on a tissue and breathing in the scent.  Also, wonderful anytime you are in pain or expect to be (like before some procedure at the dentist). Men should not use lavender as it is a hormone disrupter and can activate estrogen receptors. (Ditto for Tea Tree oil.)

Rescue Remedy

See above listing under insomnia.

Researchers recently found that increasing one’s magnesium level reduced anxiety. In addition to supplements, you might also eat more dark chocolate as it is a magnesium powerhouse.


Fresh or dried without added sugar. Either one has a compound called linolool that instantly lowers stress.


Rhodiola Rosea

This herb has been shown to energize people, help with depression, memory,  and (sometimes) lessen anxiety.

Sublingual Vitamin B12

Get a really good brand and start with half a dose. This is a critical supplement for vegans.

Royal Jelly, bee pollen, bee propolis, and honey.

All three will make you more alert and peppier.  Royal jelly is the most expensive of the bunch, but people find it helps immensely.  This is what the worker bees feed the Queen bee, and she’s quite a dynamo.   You might want to experiment with honey and see if a teaspoon in the morning and evening isn’t enough of a boost.  The added benefit of using honey,  but only if it’s from bees within 50 miles of your home, is that it acts as an ersatz vaccination to help with seasonal allergies.  I know it sounds ridiculously simple and easy, but it really works.


Another easily available herb.  You can use a Tic Tac mint, or peppermint tea, or even as aromatherapy by putting some essential peppermint oil on a tissue and breathing it in.  Peppermint has been shown to increase concentration and alertness.


St. John’s Wort

The first “drug” of choice by psychiatrists in Germany when someone is moderately depressed.  As always, I suggest the tincture, but the capsules work well, too.  You may need to take this a week or two before you see results.


This nutritional supplement has been shown to help depression and it’s safer than St. John’s Wort.

Fish Oil

There is mounting evidence that a diet high in fish oils is a great mood elevator.  You can eat more fatty fish, like wild salmon, tuna, herring, or sardines; or, take a supplement.

Vitamin D

Fifteen minutes of sun a day would be just perfect, but you may not be able to attain that.  You can safely take 800-1200 IUs of Vitamin D3 (please be sure the bottle actually says D3 on the front or back) daily.

Gotu Kola

Used to combat mental fatigue and depression.  Gotu Kola also improves alertness and aids concentration by making one less sensitive to distractions.


Often used for heart health, this herb an be helpful for broken hearts, mild depression, and anxiety.


Converts the amino acid tryptophan into serotonin and melatonin.  Used for depression, insomnia, panic attacks, and anxiety. Some people find taking 35-50 mg. three times a day more effective than taking 100 mg once a day.  Do not mix this with any other medications or alcohol. There is a long list of contraindications, so check with your pharmacist or doctor before trying this supplement.


Chew ice chips.

Buy Ginger Extreme candies, which are very strong. and use as needed. The least expensive place online to find these is Vitacost. Here’s a link:



Herbalist David Winston, recommends a combination of two herbal tinctures: lemon balm and St. John’s wort.



A homeopathic flu remedy that works amazingly well.  (If you go to oscillo.com you can get a coupon.)

Oscillococcinum has been shown in clinical trials to help reduce the severity and shorten the duration of flu symptoms.  It works best when taken early.

Oscillococcinum works rapidly, with 63 percent of patients showing “complete resolution” or “clear improvement” at 48 hours. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, the recovery rate within 48 hours of treatment was significantly greater in the group that received the active drug than in the placebo group.

Unlike other flu medicines, Oscillococcinum does not cause side effects, such as drowsiness, and has no known or reported drug interactions. Oscillococcinum is regulated as a drug by the FDA and can be purchased at pharmacies, natural food stores and supermarkets.


Try a stomach enzyme formula with papain and bromelain.  Different brands add other ingredients, like peppermint or lactobacillus, or ginger.  A simple, less expensive, way to go is to get chewable papaya from any Walgreens.  Even this formula has the papain and bromelain.

Duke University has been doing research on how a lower carbohydrate diet can also help with GERD. You may want to check it out and experiment.


Adding turmeric to your food may decrease inflammation.  Yogis find this very helpful in keeping themselves flexible and pain-free.


Jamaican Style Ginger Ale, not too sweet, and pickled ginger (the one served with sushi, preferably not the dyed pink variety) can be very helpful in relieving migraines.  There’s also GelStat Migraine that combines feverfew and ginger.


Hyland’s Nerve Tonic
A blend of five  different phosphate salts, this homeopathic remedy was developed in the 19th century by Dr. Schuessler. The tablets dissolve almost instantly, and usually take effect in 10-15 minutes with no negative side effects. Calms the nervous system.  A good alternative to Rescue Remedy (see above).

Holy Basil, also known as Tulsi
A calming, balancing, and uplifting herb from India. As with all herbs, if you want to calibrate your dose more carefully, use the tincture; otherwise, the capsules are a portable, good choice. There is also Tulsi tea for a milder effect.


Some of the best things you can do for your digestive system, assuming you already exercise and eat a balanced diet heavy on the fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, are:

Eat Kefir. Kefir is a yogurt-like product with the consistency of a smoothie. It has ten probiotics, as opposed to the typical three or four in yogurt. Probiotics are good for your gut as well as your immune system.

Add two tablespoons ground flax seeds to your kefir, oatmeal, or cereal.

Eat a few fennel seeds after each meal. This is one of the ingredients in the mix you find in most Indian restaurants, and it can be purchased online.

If you are middle-aged, or older, you might want to try a stomach enzyme formula; or, just chew some Papaya enzyme tablets, which usually also contain bromelain, an enzyme from pineapple.

Peppermint tea can also be an effective stomach soother.


Stress can easily lead to aches and pains.

The simplest way of finding immediate relief is to send your breath to that painful area. Focusing on bringing the breath to an area of tension will help it release.

If your back is sore, lie down on the floor, on your back, with a rolled up towel (about 4″ in diameter) under your knees. Be still for 20 minutes and focus on breathing from your diaphragm. This will relax all the muscles around your spine. (To assist you in breathing diaphragmatically, put one hand on your chest and one on your abdomen. The one on your chest should stay relatively still, while the one on your abdomen will move up and down a little. In time, this will become your default way of breathing and help you stay calm.)

Traumeel or Arnica cream or gel are very useful topical products for pain relief, though they should not be used on any area where you have a cut or scrape.

Arnica Montana 12c or 30C is a homeopathic remedy that can greatly ameliorate any muscle pain. It’s also an excellent remedy to take before and after surgery to speed healing and aid in pain relief.


Add Turmeric to your diet. It’s easy, inexpensive, and helps reduce inflammation, helps digestion, and arthritis. All you need is a quarter teaspoonful. Just add it to: salad dressings, red sauces, any grains (even oatmeal), smoothies, juices, etc. Here’s a link to a short article on turmeric’s benefits: http://body-mind-planet.com/2014/02/05/why-i-a-use-turmeric-and-you-should-too/

Copyright Nicole S. Urdang

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Nicole Urdang

Nicole S. Urdang, M.S., NCC, DHM is a Holistic Psychotherapist in Buffalo, NY. She holds a New York state license in mental health counseling and a doctorate in homeopathic medicine from the British Institute of Homeopathy.