6 Common Health Myths and Facts You Need to Know About

Have you ever wondered about the truth behind common health myths and facts?

"Drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day."

"Eat a low-fat diet to lose weight."

"If your mucus is green, you have a bacterial infection."

There are many common health beliefs, but which are true and which are only health myths?

Today, I'm covering common health myths and facts and lifting the veil on the truth behind each of them. So, if you want to get the real deal on your health, keep reading and discover which “old wives’ tales” are true—and which aren’t!


6 Common Health Myths and Facts

Here are some of the most common health beliefs. Let’s dive in and discuss which are health myths and which are facts.

Common health myths and facts - Dr. Pingel

1. The best way to lose weight is to eat a low-fat diet.

Myth. Despite popular belief, research has repeatedly shown that following the Mediterranean diet, which is high in fat, is the healthiest way to reach and maintain a healthy weight. And because this is commonly misunderstood, I knew it was important to include this myth in the list of common health myths and facts.

In fact, studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet features key nutritional elements that are recommended to treat certain risk factors of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. It’s even been linked to preventing diabetes—by as much as 83 percent! [1]

Additionally, other studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet was more effective than low-fat diets at lowering fasting glucose levels in diabetics and promoted greater weight loss. [23]

Common health myths and facts - Dr. Pingel

2. Honey works for a cough just as well as cough medicine.

Fact. Numerous studies have confirmed that honey is incredibly effective at relieving coughs. It’s so effective, in fact, that it deserves one of the top spots in this list of common healthy myths and facts.

According to a 2021 meta-analysis of 14 studies, honey was found to be more effective at reducing both cough frequency and severity in comparison to many other methods. [4]

And one study on 105 children with upper respiratory infections found that the children who consumed honey found as much relief as those who took honey-flavored dextromethorphan. As a result, honey was the preferred treatment by parents. [5]

I recommend taking a spoonful of manuka honey as needed or trying my homemade cough drops, which feature honey. Just remember not to give honey to children under the age of 1.

3. You need to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day to stay hydrated.

Myth. I know—it’s shocking, right? Here’s the deal: Drinking 64 ounces of water isn’t enough for most people.

Why? Because you need to drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water each day in order to stay hydrated. So unless you weight 128 pounds, 64 ounces simply isn’t enough. Take your bodyweight and divide it in half; that’s your ideal amount of daily water consumption.

4. Feed a cold; starve a fever.

Myth. When you have a fever, you don’t feel like doing much of anything. But, if at all possible, avoid this old saying. It’s so important, that no list of common health myths and facts would be complete without discussing it.

The simple fact is that in order to properly support your immune system, you need to consume nutrients as much as possible when you’re sick. The stronger your immune system is, the faster you’ll bounce back.

Depriving your body of vital nutrients can actually prolong your illness, which is the last thing you want!

5. Eating carrots can improve your vision.

Fact. Perhaps one of the most well-known of all the common health myths and facts is this tidbit about carrots and eye health. And it’s absolutely true.

Here’s why: Of all fruits and vegetables, carrots actually contain the highest amount of beta-carotene, which your body converts into the powerhouse vitamin A.

Believe it or not, vitamin A is known to help fight dry eyes and even slow the progression of macular degeneration. [678, 9] But that’s not all.

Vitamin A is so critical for proper vision and eye health that night blindness is actually one of the first signs of being deficient in vitamin A! Why is this the case? Vitamin A is a fundamental component of rhodopsin—a pigment found in the retina that’s extremely sensitive to bright light. [10]

6. If your mucus is green, you have a bacterial infection and need an antibiotic.

Myth. Despite popular belief, the color of your mucus isn’t a direct indication of infection, which is why this myth had to be dispelled in my list of common health myths and facts.

The truth is that the color of your mucus is a direct indication of how much oxidation has occurred.

This means that a bacterial infection could contain clear or while mucus while a viral infection could present with yellow or green mucus. When trying to determine the type of illness you’re facing, it’s best to go off of your other symptoms, such as whether or not a fever is present or how long your symptoms have persisted more so than the color of your mucus.

I hope this list of common health myths and facts has helped you to navigate your health journey going forward. Remember, you can't trust everything you hear, and if you ever have questions about your health, you can reach out to your physician or schedule a consultation with me.

5 Health Benefits of Being Organized At Home

If you take a moment to consider then benefits of being organized, a few obvious points come to mind, such as relieving stress, increasing productivity, and even helping you feel in control. But you may be surprised to learn that there are some health benefits of being organized as well.

From improved sleep to having a higher metabolic rate to supporting healthy eating, keeping your home organized provides benefits to both your mental and physical health.

Ready to learn more? Keep reading to discover all the health benefits of being organized, and get some of my very own tips to get and stay organized in your daily life!

5 Health Benefits of Being Organized

Here are five of the top benefits of being organized.

1. Relieves stress

If you’ve ever had someone stop by unexpectedly or ask to come over with limited warning, you know the stress and anxiety that can occur quite quickly if your house isn’t clean and organized. That’s why one of the best benefits of being organized is that it relieves stress.

Because chronic stress often results in adrenal fatigue, which affects many different areas within the body, getting your clutter organized can go a long way in helping to relieve not only stress and anxiety but also help prevent a myriad of other condiions.

2. Supports heart health

While Americans tend to deprioritize their heart health, heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S., accounting for 1 in 4 deaths every year. [1] Additionally, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds. [2]

Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of a heart-related event—and organizing your home tops the list! In fact, a study has shown that spending just 30 minutes cleaning and organizing can reduce your risk of heart disease by 20 percent!* [3]

Now, I believe this happened for two reasons: First, cleaning and organizing your home require movement and activity, which are known to support cardiovascular health. But also simply having an organized home can reduce stress, as we’ve discussed above, which can also help to promote heart health.


Benefits of being organized - Dr. Pingel


3. Increases productivity

According to a 2011 study, having multiple stimuli in your line of sight can cause you to become distracted and unable to focus on any given task. [4] But having a clean, organized space doesn’t present you with multiple stimuli. This is why increased productivity is one of the benefits of being organized.

When you aren’t being distracted by other objects or clutter, you can focus on what you’re trying to accomplish, whether it’s a work-related task or even something to promote your health and well-being.

Think about it: Can you exercise in your living room if you have clutter thrown about? No, you’ll be distracted and focused on how the house needs to be decluttered and cleaned. But if there’s nothing out of place in the room, you won’t have that problem and can focus on getting in a healthy workout!

4. Helps You Feel In Control

Our modern lives are busier than ever, and we juggle more than our ancestors ever thought possible. As a result, you can easily start to feel overwhelmed by it all.

But one of the benefits of being organized at home is that it gives you a feeling of being in control of your environment. But it goes beyond this.

Keeping your house organized may even help you control your appetite and cravings!

While it may be hard to believe, research has shown that when people were in a clutter-filled environment, they tended to consume about three times more calories than those whose environment was clean and organized. [5]

The researchers hypothesized that a chaotic environment can create a vulnerability to results in making unhealthy food choices.

5. Decreases Depression

Believe it or not, having a cluttered home can actually increase your likelihood of developing depression. [6] In fact, studies have shown that people who live in an area with high pollution are more likely to be depressed.

Conversely, cleaning and organizing your home requires active decision-making, patience, careful thought, and even emotional regulation, which all impact your likelihood of falling into depression.

By keeping yourself engaged and active, you’re less likely to become depressed.

Dr. Pingel’s Top Tips for Being Organized At Home

Life can get crazy sometimes, so you don’t want to let clutter lie around for very long in order to keep it in control.

Here are some tips to help keep your home organized.

1. Clean as you make the mess. I like to clean as I cook or fold and put away laundry as I pull it out of the dryer. Leaving a mess and clutter that you have to come back to is overwhelming and can also cause issues in your personal relationships. By cleaning up after yourself right away, you don’t have to circle back.

2. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Yes, it’s nice to think that you can declutter and clean your entire home in one day, but is it realistic?

When I was reorganizing my home, I chose to empty and replace/restock one cabinet at a time or plan to organize just one closet in a single weekend. Trying to do too much almost guarantees that you won’t get your items completed, which can leave you feeling lie a failure.

3. Set yourself up for health. As you’re organizing, ask yourself how this task can help to promote your overall health and well-being. When reorganizing your refrigerator, make sure to stock it with easy, nutritious foods you enjoy. When doing your closet, focus on a few outfits you can’t wait to wear again.

By focusing on the positive aspects of organizing your home, you’ll be motivated to continue, which will only benefit your health even more!

10 Science-Backed Home Remedies Everyone Should Know About

Not every health concern is a major one. Sometimes we're faced with relatively minor annoyances that we just want gone—fast! That's where my top home remedies, also known as health hacks, come into play!

Got the hiccups? There's a sweet fix for that. Cold sores? Stop them in their tracks with a citrus application. Have a headache that won't go away? You don't have to hit the medicine cabinet in search of OTC pain relievers when you have this minty home remedy!

Want to get my top health hacks that I use at home and recommend to my patients? You’re in the right place! These home remedies work so well that you'll become the go-to person in your family and circle of friends for advice on minor health annoyances in no time.

So, let’s not delay any longer and dive right into my top home remedies for everyday minor health problems.


Home remedies - Dr. Pingel


Dr. Pingel’s Top 10 Home Remedies for Common Health Concerns

Here are my top 10 home remedies for minor health problems. Take a look and you may be surprised to learn how effective these health hacks actually are!

1. Avocado for stress and anxiety

Let’s start with one of my favorite and lesser known of the home remedies in this list: eating avocado to help manage stress and anxiety.

As you know, I believe chronic stress is the root of many of our major health concerns today. But you may be surprised to learn that avocado is a great natural source of B vitamins, which are known to help combat both stress and anxiety.

So, how do B vitamins fight stress? According to a 2010 study on 215 healthy men, B vitamins helped decrease their stress levels. [1] Meanwhile, a 2014 study showed that consuming B vitamins helped reduce workplace stress by 20 percent! [2]

So, whenever you find yourself feeling a little stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed, consider that your body may be low in B vitamins and reach for an avocado to help give yourself some much-needed relief.

2. Peppermint oil for headaches

One of my favorite natural remedies is to diffuse peppermint oil to help relieve headaches.

How effective is it? One study revealed that applying diluted peppermint oil topically was as effective as acetaminophen, a common over-the-counter pain reliever, in relieving headache pain. Plus, it was substantially more effective in relieving headache pain than a placebo. [3]

If you have sensitive skin, try diffusing a few drops of peppermint oil first. You can also apply it with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil.

3. Valerian root for insomnia

I love to use valerian root for a variety of home remedies, but there’s no question that one of its top benefits is that it promotes restful sleep.

According to one study, taking valerian extract can decrease the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep and also promotes longer sleep. [4] This occurs because valerian contains both valepotriates, which have natural sedative properties, and sesquiterpenes, which contain calming properties.

Additionally, a double-blind study found that these components in valerian not only improved sleep for 89 percent of participants but also supported “perfect sleep” in 44 percent of those studied. [5]

So, if you struggle to fall asleep at night, consider consuming valerian in tea or capsule form. You can also use this herb in an alcohol-free tincture or extract at bedtime, like I do. Just make sure to speak with your physician first, especially if you’re currently taking other medications.

4. Cayenne pepper for pain

We can’t discuss home remedies without offering an alternative for pain management. Fortunately, capsaicin, a compound found in cayenne peppers, is an all-natural pain reliever due to its ability to increase blood flow in your body.

Most of the research for capsaicin to treat headaches has been done with people who suffer from cluster headaches. When it’s applied to the inside of your nose, it can prevent these debilitating headaches. [67]

That said, it’s also commonly provided in creams to help relieve pain due to arthritis and muscle sprains.

5. Apple cider vinegar for kidney stones

Now, let’s talk about one of my absolute favorite home remedies: taking apple cider vinegar for kidney stones.

So, how does it work? Studies have shown that daily consumption of vinegar reduced kidney stone recurrence—specifically for those who have calcium oxalate stones.

According to a 2019 study, this effect is largely due to the major bioactive component in vinegar, which is known as acetic acid. This acid is believed to break down and even help dissolve kidney stones to the point that they’re easier to pass. [8]

It’s worth noting, though, that apple cider vinegar is known to make your urine more alkaline, so if your stones are due to magnesium ammonium phosphate, you may want to avoid drinking too much.

6. Lavender and tea tree oils for head lice

Believe it or not, using a combination of lavender oil and melaleuca oil (commonly known as tea tree oil) was found to be an effective treatment against head lice, which is why this made my list of top ten home remedies.

In a 2011 study, researchers found that participants who used an Australian head lice treatment product containing lavender and melaleuca oils (NeutraLice Natural Lotion®) showed a 44.4 percent success rate (live head lice eggs killed). [9]

Want to make your own shampoo? Check out this recipe, which offers different versions for different types of hair.

7, Coconut oil for dry, itchy skin

When it comes to home remedies, we have to include coconut oil. Not only is it a great fat source that you can consume to support your overall health, but it’s also a fantastic option for topical use to fight dry, itchy skin.

In fact, researchers conducted a study to test the effects of using coconut oil topically and found that those who used this oil on their legs twice daily for two weeks experienced significantly increased levels of skin hydration, which is known to reduce itching. [10]

When you’re purchasing coconut oil, make sure to get unrefined virgin coconut oil for the purest form. Apply as needed for improved moisture and reduced itchiness.

8. Honey for hiccups and coughs

Did you know that using honey is a great natural remedy for both hiccups and coughs?

Here’s how it works: The vagus nerve controls the parasympathetic nervous system, and one of its functions is to control actions in the digestive tract. Honey soothes the vagus nerve, breaking the continuity of the hiccup reflex, thus making them stop.

Additionally, honey is known to help relieve coughs. In fact, 2021 meta-analysis of 14 studies, confirmed that honey was found to be more effective at reducing both cough frequency and severity in comparison to many other methods. [11]

I recommend taking a spoonful of manuka honey as needed. Just make sure not to give honey to children under the age of 1.

9. Oil of oregano for sore throats

As I’ve mentioned before, oil of oregano is a fantastic supplement to take anytime you’re suffering from a sore throat.

Many sore throats are caused by postnasal drip, which is often the result of a viral or bacterial infection upper respiratory infection. And a 2011 study revealed that participants with an upper respiratory infection who used a throat spray containing oregano oil combined with other essential oils experienced decreased symptoms within 20 minutes of using the spray. [12]

You can find herbal sprays containing oregano oil or oil of oregano capsules in your local health food and supplement stores. Use as directed on the label.

10. Witch hazel for cold sores

Finally, witch hazel is a multipurpose use for a variety of home remedies. But I want to focus on one troublesome nuisance: cold sores!

Studies have shown that witch hazel helps to soothe inflammation and even fight the virus that prevents cold sores. It works by helping to dry out cold sores and even inhibits the activity of the virus that causes them! [13]

Simply soak a cotton ball in witch hazel and apply to your cold sore a few times daily until it’s dried out.


Key Takeaways

The 5 Health Benefits of Taking a Vacation

We're so used to being on the go and fulfilling our commitments that we often forget to or are scared to take a break. But the truth is that there are many health benefits of taking a vacation.

From better sleep to more energy and even increased productivity, taking a summer vacation is just what this doctor is ordering!

Not convinced? Keep reading to learn all about the top health benefits of taking a vacation. I'll also provide some tips on what types of vacations may provide you with the most benefits. Let’s get right to it!

The Top 5 Health Benefits of Taking a Vacation

Here’s a surprising statistic for you: When polled by AARP Travel, 73 of people surveyed reported experiencing at least one major health benefit from going on vacation! [1]

So, aside from taking a break from the daily grind, what health benefits can your realistically expect? Here are some of the top health benefits of taking a vacation.


Health benefits of taking a vacation - Dr. Pingel


1. Reduced levels of stress

In terms of the top health benefits of taking a vacation, reduced stress levels is probably the least surprising, right? After all, taking a break from your daily demands alone is enough to help melt away some of the stress in your life.

In fact, according to a survey, 40 percent of workers classifying their jobs as “very or extremely stressful.” [2]

So, how effective is it for your stress levels? According to a 2018 study, taking a single short-term vacation resulted in large, immediate positive effects on perceived stress levels, strain, and well-being. [3]

Additionally, the effects were so strong that the stress-relief benefits were still detected 45 days after the vacation was over!

2. Improved mental health

Given the effects it has on stress, it makes sense that another major health benefit of taking a vacation is improved mental health.

Interestingly, research has shown that the greater the work load someone has, the longer their vacation should be. Additionally, researchers found that the most effective vacations for mental health require vacation time being allocated throughout the year to allow for multiple getaways, providing multiple opportunities for recovery. [4]

Even more interesting? A 2019 study revealed that for every 10 days of paid vacation, the odds of depression in women dropped by 29 percent. And the benefits for mothers were even greater, with the odds of depression dropping by 38 percent for women with two or more children! [5]

3. More energy

According to the AARP Travel survey, 50 percent of baby boomers reported having more energy as one of the major health benefits of taking a vacation.

Here’s why: When you’re mentally focusing on work or the daily demands of your life, it’s draining. Whether you realize it or not, this impacts your nervous system and puts a lot of stress on your adrenal glands, which can make you feel fatigued and exhausted.

Simply getting away and detaching from your everyday demands can go a long way in helping you to emerge refreshed and energized.

4. Increased productivity

It’s hard to believe that being away from your job and taking a break from work can actually make you a more productive worker, but that’s exactly the case!

According to Mark Rosekind of Alertness Solutions, taking a vacation can increase work-related performance by an astonishing 80 percent. Moreover, the reaction times of returning workers increased by 40 percent! [6]

Why is this the case? When you take a break and get away from your usual schedule, you tend to take it easier on yourself and rest more. And when you’re well rested, you’re more focused and productive!

5. Better sleep

Have you ever noticed that you tend to sleep better while on vacation?

Here’s why: When we’re on vacation, we tend to spend our time doing things we enjoy, which naturally pulls us away from depending on caffeine to get through the day. Additionally, you spend more of your day doing leisurely activities and enjoying your time.

That’s important because when you’re constantly in “go” mode, your adrenal glands pump out cortisol, which negatively impacts your sleep. But going at a slower pace and feeling less stress allows you to slowly wind down at the end of the day and rest better.


The 5 Best Types of Vacations for Your Health

Now that you know the top health benefits of taking a vacation, let’s discuss the best types of vacations to take for your health.

Think back to your last vacation. Was it quiet and relaxing? Fun and adventurous? Did you experience new things? Or did it cause more stress than it was worth?

If the latter, take a look at my top recommendations for vacations that will help you relax and provide some much-deserved health perks! I’ve included options for different lifestyles, so take a look at the list and determine what your schedule allows for and make it happen.

1. An escape to the shore

If you’re close to the beach or can schedule a trip to the shore, digging your toes in some sand and listening to the waves can be a relaxing vacation to help you recharge.

Interestingly, studies have shown that the closer you live to the beach, the healthier you tend to be. [7] And while we can’t all live near or on the beach, we can tap into those benefits while there!

2. A reprieve in nature

Spending time in nature is a great way to tap into the health benefits of taking a vacation.

In fact, a 2015 study revealed that people who walked through a “green space,” meaning a natural setting (such as park or nature trail), experienced lower frustration, engagement, and arousal. They also experienced higher states of meditation. [8]

Consider renting a cabin in the mountains or going camping for a weekend. You may be surprised to discover just how much better you’ll feel.

3. A weekend break from technology

I know what you’re thinking—taking a two-day break from technology isn’t a vacation. But isn’t it?

If you really think about it, it’s the expectation of constantly being available that’s so exhausting.

While it may be overwhelming to consider taking a weekend and truly disconnecting, you aren’t alone. Just click here to get my three-step digital detox plan!

4. A weekend local getaway

Can’t break away from your phone? No problem—step outside your house for the weekend and you’ll naturally gravitate away from it a little more.

Live near a city? Plan a weekend full of city-based adventures such as visiting museums, taking the kids to different parks or amusements, trying new restaurants, etc.

Live in a more rural area? Check out options for boating, horseback riding, or even check in to a bed and breakfast close by and get recommendations for fun activities there!

5. A staycation

Finally, if your budget or schedule is too tight to venture out, plan a staycation but restrict yourself from all work (both job-based and house-based!) completely.

Instead, focus on spending time with your family by cooking together, playing games, or watching movies. If you live alone, finally dive into that book you’ve been wanting to read or start watching that Netflix show you’ve been wanting to binge.

Whatever you do—just make sure you feel relaxed while doing it. After all, you can’t tap into the health benefits of taking a vacation if you’re feeling stressed or trying to mark things off your to-do list.

“Why Am I Always Tired?” The Top 4 Reasons You Feel Run Down

Recently, I realized I get one question on a very regular basis: "Why am I always tired?"

The truth of the matter is there are a few reasons why you may feel exhausted regularly.

From a lack of restful sleep to taking on the mental load in your family, I'm breaking down the top offenders that make you chronically tired and discussing what you can do about them so that you can return to feeling restored and energized.

Let’s dive in!


Why am I always tired - Dr. Pingel

“Why Am I Always Tired?” The 4 Reasons Why You’re Always Tired

Are you constantly wondering, “Why am I always tired?” If so, check out these common causes of exhaustion and overwhelm.


Why am I always tired - Dr. Pingel

1. You’re not getting enough sleep.

This first reason probably isn’t so surprising. If you’ve ever asked anyone, “Why am I always tired?” you’ve most likely been met with the following question in return: “How much sleep are you getting?”

Sleep is absolutely critical for your health because that’s when your body goes into repair mode and your immune system gets stronger.

Most healthy adults require at least seven hours of sleep each night. And when this minimum isn’t met, it can lead to lower immunity and greater likelihood of getting sick.

According to a study on 153 people who came into contact with rhinovirus, participants who slept less than seven hours at night were 2.94 times more likely to develop a cold compared to those who slept eight hours or more. [1]

Additionally, lower quality sleep was 5.5 times more likely to result in developing a cold than high-quality sleep.

If you need some tips for getting a solid night of restful sleep, check out this article on how to beat insomnia.


Why am I always tired - Dr. Pingel

2. You take on all the mental load.

“Why am I always tired?” Well, if you’re someone who’s in demand—at home, at work, in your social circles, you may be taking on more than your fair share of the mental load.

Managing the invisible labor required to run a family, household, relationships, or business often leads to exhaustion and even burnout.

In fact, approximately 50 percent of all caregivers report not having any personal time for themselves. So what do you do?

Start by carving out a few minutes for yourself each day to focus only on yourself. You can do yoga, meditate, or simply turn on some loud music and dance in your kitchen—whatever helps you clear your mind.

And if you have trouble focusing on yourself and turning off the part of your brain that always thinks of the never-ending to-do list for others, remember this: Much like with the procedure for oxygen masks on a plane, you can’t take care of others until you take care of yourself.

After all, a few minutes for yourself each day isn’t really that much—especially when you deserve so much more.


Why am I always tired - Dr. Pingel

3. Your cortisol is too high.

If you wake up exhausted and find yourself wondering why you feel tired all the time, high cortisol levels may be to blame.

High cortisol levels interfere with your ability to sleep, which can leave you feeling groggy during the day.

When you’re constantly under stress, your cortisol levels can remain high, resulting in a myriad of health concerns ranging from inflammation to weight gain, anxiety, depression, diabetes, heart disease, non-restorative sleep, and more.

The best way to lower your cortisol levels is to follow a plan that supports proper adrenal health. This includes eating a nutritious diet, taking adrenal-supporting supplements, focus on the mind-body connection (like I discussed above in regards to creating some much needed “you time”), and get moving.

Need more help getting started? Check out my book, Total Health Turnaround, where I lay out exactly what you need to do.


Why am I always tired - Dr. Pingel

4. You have a hidden nutritional deficiency. 

Deficiencies in vitamin B12 (which promotes energy) or vitamins C or B6 (which help promote healthy sleeping habits) often leave you feeling tired and run down. So, if you’re regularly asking yourself, “Why am I always tired?” you may want to consider a hidden B vitamin deficiency.

To get a little more detailed, vitamin B3 helps to produce serotonin, which promotes feelings of well-being and happiness, and also helps to promote restful sleep. Meanwhile, vitamin B6 is a cofactor for manufacturing the neurotransmitters GABA, serotonin, and dopamine.

Finally, vitamin 12 is known to help reset your circadian rhythm, thereby improving your sleep and normalizing your cortisol levels.

Foods rich in these B vitamins include mushrooms, tofu, bananas, pistachios, spirulina, nutritional yeast, brown rice, green peas, avocados, and sweet potatoes.


Key Takeaways

7 Natural Herbs For Anxiety & Stress

Life gets busy and overwhelming, but I have a tip to help you get through even the hardest days: Consider growing your own herbs for anxiety and stress relief!

That's right—there are certain herbs known to help relieve stress and anxiety, and they can be grown in your own garden or back yard to help you save money and have access to them as needed.

Want to learn more? Keep reading to discover all you need to know about these herbs for anxiety and stress, including growing them at home.


7 Top Herbs for Anxiety and Stress

Here are my top recommended herbs for anxiety and stress.

1. Ashwagandha

What it is:

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an adaptogenic herb, meaning it improves your body’s ability to handle stress, and it’s one of the most commonly used medicinal herbs in Ayurvedic medicine, used for millennia for its many health benefits. [1]

How it works:

The root and leaves of ashwagandha are most commonly used for therapeutic purposes. The root smells like a horse (“ashwa”), and is traditionally believed that someone who consumes it will “have the power of a horse.”

Ashwagandha roots contain anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, anti-stress, and antioxidant properties, meaning it’s commonly used for insomnia, certain age-related issues, anxiety, joint inflammation, ulcers, skin blemishes, immune-system related disorders, and more.

It also appears to positively influence the endocrine, cardiopulmonary, and central nervous systems. [2] Ashwagandha leaves have a bitter taste and are often used to treat fevers and painful swollen areas.

Why it’s one of the top herbs for anxiety and stress:

Your adrenal glands release cortisol (the “stress hormone) during times of stress. And studies have shown that ashwagandha can aid in lowering cortisol.

According to a 2012 study, 64 people with a history of chronic stress were divided into two groups; one group was given ashwagandha root supplements and the other was given a placebo.

At the end of the study, researchers found that the group taking the supplement has substantially lower levels of cortisol than the placebo group.

Overall, the group taking ashwagandha reported a 69 percent reduction in anxiety (as well as insomnia), compared to an 11 percent reduction in the placebo group. [3]

How to grow it:

Fortunately, ashwagandha is fairly easy to grow and requires pretty minimal care. In fact, it’s known to be resistant to droughts!

Simply plant the seed in soil that’s at least 70 degrees F, and in about two weeks or so, you’ll see the beginnings of your plant. From there, it thrives best in temperature between 70 and 90 degrees.

You can choose to move the plant indoors for the winter or simply harvest the roots before your first frost.

How to use it:

You can easily use the dried roots in teas, tinctures, or mixed in honey.

2. Chamomile

What it is:

One of the most ancient medicinal herbs on record, chamomile comes in two varieties: German Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita) and Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile). [4]

How it works:

Chamomile is a flowering plant, and it’s the dried flowers that are often used for therapeutic purposes.

Research has shown that these flowers are rich in both flavonoids and terpenoids, which give chamomile its health benefits.

Conditions and ailments commonly treated by chamomile include everything from allergies and inflammation to wounds, digestive issues, and pain.

Why it’s one of the top herbs for anxiety and stress:

Chamomile is known to help relieve anxiety and even promote better sleep as a result.

According to one animal study, German chamomile extract was revealed to significantly inhibit brain activity related to generalized anxiety disorder. [5]

Meanwhile, several studies have also noted that chamomile also contains sedative effects, largely believed to be due to the apigenin found in chamomile. Apigenin is a flavonoid known to bind to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain. [6]

How to grow it:

Chamomile is a beautiful flowering herb resembling a daisy, so you can plant it anywhere for an aesthetically pleasing plant.

Regardless of whether you choose Roman or German chamomile, the process for growing them is very similar.

It’s easier to grow chamomile from an existing plant, but you can also grow it from seeds. Plant it in the spring in cool, dry soil that’s partially shaded.

Like ashwagandha, chamomile is drought resistant and is usually not prone to pests.

How to use it:

The essential oils of chamomile are used quite commonly in aromatherapy, but in terms of using your home-grown plant, use the dried petals of chamomile in hot tea.

3. Lavender

What it is:

Lavender (Lavandula) is an herb native to the Mediterranean that is popular in many herb gardens due to their fragrant leaves and vibrant purple flowers. It includes over 30 different species. [7]

How it works:

Lavender’s main constituents include linalool, linalyl acetate, 1,8-cineole B-ocimene, terpinen-4-ol, and camphor. [8]

As a result, it’s known to contain anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antiseptic, and anxiolytic properties. [9]

Why it’s one of the top herbs for anxiety and stress:

Studies have shown that lavender can help relieve stress and anxiety, particularly in those struggling with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

This is because lavender helps calm the central nervous system and, as a result, it can help to relieve anxiety, stress, and depression.

Some studies have shown that lavender oil is comparable or even more effective than prescription anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines and antidepressants known as SSRIs. [10, 11]

How to grow it:

Fortunately, lavender is another easy plant to grow. Use an existing plant and place it in well-drained soil and in full sunlight. Water it consistently until it’s well-established and prune it each spring.

How to use it:

To use fresh lavender, consider adding it to your teas, coffees, cocktails, or even on your salads.

You can also place the dried bulbs in open jars around your house for a pleasing aroma or place a few dried petals in your pillowcase to help promote restful sleep.

4. Valerian

What it is:

Valerian is an herb found all over the world, and its root and extract are often used in medicines and supplements to help promote relaxation and fight anxiety.

How it works:

Valerian is known to contain sedative effects. This is due to its ability to bind GABA receptors in the brain and slow the removal of GABA from the body, resulting in a feeling of calm and relaxation.

This occurs because valerian contains both valepotriates, which have natural sedative properties, and sesquiterpenes, which contain calming properties.

Why it’s one of the top herbs for anxiety and stress:

Studies have shown that valerian can be incredibly effective and reducing anxiety levels.

According to a 2010 animal study, animals who were administered valerian extract exhibited a significant reduction in anxious behaviors. [12]

Additionally, it’s important to note that low GABA levels are linked to anxiety. And due to how valerian benefits your GABA levels, it naturally combats anxiety.

How to grow it:

Another easy plant, valerian seeds can be planted in the grown once all chances for frost have disappeared. Alternatively, you can begin growing it in a pot inside and transfer it once the weather is appropriate.

While it can grow in shaded or full-sun areas, it does need to be watered regularly.

Harvest the roots in the fall before the plant dies in the winter. But don’t worry—it will come back in the spring!

How to use it:

My favorite way to use valerian root is to include the dried root powder in a cup of tea before bedtime.

5. Lemon Balm

What it is:

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is an herb whose leaves provide a soft lemon aroma. But you may be surprised to learn that lemon balm is actually a member of the mint family!

It’s often used today as a flavoring agent in foods and beverages, but it was traditionally used to aid in treating poor digestion and sleep along with serving as an analgesic agent and tonic. [13]

How it works:

Research has shown that lemon balm contains significant anti-microbial and sedative properties and acts as an anti-spasmodic.

Additionally, it contains a high amount of antioxidants due to being rich in flavonoids, rosmaric acid, gallic acid, phenolic contents. [14]

Why it’s one of the top herbs for anxiety and stress:

Research has shown that lemon balm can help promote calmness by inhibiting certain brain chemicals, which can produce anxiolytic effects. [15]

Additionally, a 2014 study found that when lemon balm was added into foods, it was associated with improvements in both mood and cognitive performance. [16]

How to grow it:

Lemon balm is easy to grow if planted in late spring—once frosts are over. Plant plants or seeds in full sun areas in well-drained soil for best results.

How to use it:

Dried lemon balm leaves are great in teas, while fresh lemon balm leaves are delicious as a salad garnish. You can also use them to flavor soups or sauces.

6. Astragalus

What it is:

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) is an herb that’s been commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for hundreds of years for its therapeutic properties. As a synergistic herb, astragalus is one of the best supplements for stress is best used in conjunction with glycyrrhiza, ginseng, schisandra, and ashwagandha.

How it works:

Astragalus contains more than 100 compounds, including flavonoids, saponins, polysaccharides, and amino acids. Researchers believe it’s these compounds that provide the many health benefits of astragalus.

In fact, astragalus is commonly used for many conditions and health concerns, such as stress, fatigue, viral infections, fibromyalgia, edema, blood disorders, certain cancers, and diarrhea.

Why it’s one of the top herbs for anxiety and stress:

Astragalus is one of my favorite herbs for anxiety and stress.

According to a 2009 animal study, using astragalus significantly reduced stress-induced learning and memory deficits in lab animals. Specifically, the astragalus improved the animals’ special learning and memory and also reduced their stress-induced anxiety.

As a result, the researchers surmised that astragalus shows potential as a treatment to help recover from behavioral or mental impairments caused by stressed. [17]

How to grow it:

While you can plant the seeds directly in your garden, you may find it easier to get the plant to germinate by beginning it indoors in the later part of winter and then transferring it outdoors in the late spring.

Make sure to plant it in a partially shaded area in sandy, well-drained soil. Water it regularly

How to use it:

The root of astragalus is ground and easily used in teas, soups, and extracts.

7. Passionflower

What it is:

Passionflower is also known as passiflora (Passiflora incarnata). It’s a climbing vine featuring purple and white flowers. It’s native to the Southeastern U.S. along with Central and South America.

How it works:

Similar to valerian, passionflower seems to boost the GABA in your brain, which is known to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety.

Why it’s one of the top herbs for anxiety and stress:

Passionflower has a long history of use in Europe as a traditional remedy for sleep and anxiety. [18] And both human and animal studies have demonstrated that its extracts can help to induce sleep. [1920]

Additionally, studies have shown that consuming passionflower significantly reduced anxiety in surgery patients when compared to a placebo. [21]

How to grow it:

It’s best to grow passionflower in full sun in well-drained soil. You can begin with seeds or stems from an established plant.

Make sure to fertilize the plant in the spring and repeat every six weeks until fall; water regularly.

How to use it:

You can steep dried passionflower in water to make a relaxing tea. You can also use the whole flower as a garnish for desserts or in salads.


Herbs for anxiety - Dr. Pingel

Looking for even more tips on ways you can help combat anxiety and stress? Check out my book, Total Health Turnaround, which features, tips, tricks, more herbs and natural supplements for anxiety, and a meal plan designed to manage your body’s stress response.