8 Botanicals for Stress and Calming Support

Nov 18, 2021Categories, Nutrition

Wait, are we already talking about 2022? Where did 2021 go and why do I feel like I still have so much I would like to accomplish before we get to 2022?

Feeling overwhelmed or stressed may not be new to many of us, especially in today’s climate of uncertainty, living through a time of historical stress. 

As a nation and globe, we have experienced not only a pandemic but topics of climate change, political disagreements, natural disasters, global supply challenges…and our personal experiences. As we navigate our everyday lives, there may be a question of unrest. How do we handle these times and moments?

This is a very serious issue today and I won’t be able to go over all the reasons why mental health awareness is at an all-time high but here are just some sources to keep you informed and may help with understanding:

Is there an immediate fix for our issue(s)? NO, absolutely not. But what we do know is how these botanical and natural resources can be utilized as a way to support our mind and energy levels throughout the day. Maybe that is through a pick-me-up in the afternoon to continue to seize the day, calming the mind to support focus at work, or relaxing before settling down for a good night’s sleep.

Top Botanicals Consumers Associate to Support Stress

Mental health & performance are at the top of consumers’ minds, and there are several botanicals supporting focus, stress, and relaxation. Here are some of the most common and believable1 botanicals for consumers, whether it be traditional uses or scientifically backed:

  • Chamomile: Chamomile flower has been used for centuries for its relaxing and digestive support and thought to hold anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic properties 5. Its most popular traditional use is an infusion of dry flowers into hot water – about 1 million cups a day are consumed throughout the world 6. Scientists have investigated chamomile’s impact on anxiety in clinical studies2, and attributed its properties to a benzodiazepine-like hypnotic activity3-4.
  • Valerian: Valerenic acids from the root have been extensively researched for their ability to reduce stress & support sleep, through mechanisms including GABA reuptake inhibition7. Clinical studies have supported the efficacy of valerian in inducing sedation8-11 and therefore in aiding sleep
  • Ashwagandha: Within the traditional medicine of India (Ayurveda) one of its more popular plants is Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), and is considered to be a potent adaptogen and anti-stress agent 12
  • Green tea: Famous all over the world for being a secret of wellness, green tea is a non fermented tea that is extraordinarily rich in polyphenols13, particularly catechins. This remarkable polyphenol content provides relatively strong antioxidant properties, which has been researched for various mechanism thought to be beneficial in reducing oxidative stress.14-16.
  • Yerba mate: Yerba mate leaves contain naturally occurring caffeine, which has been proven in humans to decrease fatigue17, increase vigilance and psychomotor performance18-20 and enhance parameters related to brain activity21.
  • Lemon balm: Lemon balm has been traditionally used in herbal medicine to help promote sleep during periods of restlessness or insomnia due to mental stress. Traditional findings are supported by specific studies showing lemon balms’ ability to eliminate symptoms of insomnia and anxiety.22
  • American Ginseng: traditional use of knowledge; for deficiency of qi and yin, dysphoria and tiredness, to help relieve restlessness and/or nervousness with clinical outcomes; in calmness, attention and memory improvements and better mood. 23-27
  • Lavender: Lavender has been recognized for its aromatic and calming properties and studied to better understand how it can support mood related to anxiety, stress and cognitive performance. 28-29

Health and wellness needs surrounding stress and relaxation I think can be a no brainer (pun intended) for any one of us looking for support but feel it is important to not only understand if it scientifically and traditionally has been shown to have an effect supporting the body’s mind, mood or energy levels but just as important to know how recognizable those botanicals are for the everyday consumer when thinking of building a journey for your products. 

Please reach out to learn more about how botanicals can fit into your product lines and if you are interested in understanding more about these consumer insights or how Givaudan can help, please contact NOAM.Marketing@Givaudan.com

If you feel overwhelmed by stress, it is important to seek advice from a health professional right away. The information contained in this blog represents Givaudan’s confidential information and current thought-leadership on these matters as they pertain to Givaudan’s products. This page is intended to provide business-to-business information. It is not for communication to end consumers. 

The information provided and its uses must be checked for compliance under appropriate local regulations. There is currently no harmonized legal definition for the naturalness of food ingredients. Any communication to end consumers must be done according to the appropriate local regulations/guidances.


  1. Givaudan Proprietary Functional Study, 2020
  2. Amsterdam, J. D., Li, Y., Soeller, I., Rockwell, K., Mao, J. J., & Shults, J. (2009). A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral Matricaria recutita (chamomile) extract therapy of generalized anxiety disorder. Journal of clinical psychopharmacology, 29(4), 378-382.
  3. Gyllenhaal C, Merritt SL, Peterson SD, Block KI, Gochenour T. Efficacy and safety of herbal stimulants and sedatives in sleep disorders. Sleep Med Rev. 2000 Jun;4(3):229-251.
  4. Shinomiya, Kazuaki, et al. “Hypnotic activities of chamomile and passiflora extracts in sleep-disturbed rats.” Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 28.5 (2005): 808-810.
  5. Weiss, R.F., In: Herbal medicine. Arcanum AB, editor. Beaconsfield, UK, Beaconsfield publishers, 1988, 22-28
  6. Srivastava JK, Shankar E, Gupta S. Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future. Mol Med Rep. 2010 Nov 1;3(6):895-901.
  7. Abourashed EA, Koetter U, Brattström A. In vitro binding experiments with a Valerian, hops and their fixed combination extract (Ze91019) to selected central nervous system receptors. Phytomedicine. 2004 Nov;11(7-8):633-8. 
  8. Taavoni S, Ekbatani N, Kashaniyan M, Haghani H. Effect of valerian on sleep quality in postmenopausal women: a randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. Menopause. 2011 Sep;18(9):951-5.
  9. Sun J. Morning/evening menopausal formula relieves menopausal symptoms: a pilot study. J Altern Complement Med. 2003 Jun;9(3):403-9.
  10. Donath F, Quispe S, Diefenbach K, Maurer A, Fietze I, Roots I. Critical evaluation of the effect of valerian extract on sleep structure and sleep quality. Pharmacopsychiatry. 2000 Mar;33(2):47-53.
  11. Trevena, L. ACP journal club 2004, 141 (1), A14.
  12. Mishra LC, Singh BB, Dagenais S. Scientific basis for the therapeutic use of Withania somnifera (ashwagandha): a review. Altern Med Rev. 2000 Aug;5(4):334-46. PMID: 10956379.
  13. Jówko E, Sacharuk J, Balasińska B, Ostaszewski P, Charmas M, Charmas R. Green tea extract supplementation gives protection against exercise-induced oxidative damage in healthy men. Nutr Res. 2011 Nov;31(11):813-21. 
  14. Panza, Vilma Simões Pereira, et al. “Consumption of green tea favorably affects oxidative stress markers in weight-trained men.” Nutrition 24.5 (2008): 433-442.
  15. Ashraf M. Emara & Hoda El-Bahrawy (2008) Green Tea Attenuates Benzene-Induced Oxidative Stress in Pump Workers, Journal of Immunotoxicology, 5:1, 69-80,
  16. Ossoukhova A, Owen L, Savage K, Meyer M, Ibarra A, Roller M, Pipingas A, Wesnes K, Scholey A. Improved working memory performance following administration of a single dose of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius L.) to healthy middle-age adults. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2015 Mar;30(2):108-22. 
  17. Glade MJ. Caffeine-Not just a stimulant. Nutrition. 2010 Oct;26(10):932-8.
  18. Rees K, Allen D, Lader M. The influences of age and caffeine on psychomotor and cognitive function. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1999 Jul;145(2):181-8. 
  19. Yu, G., et al. “A comparison of the central nervous system effects of caffeine and theophylline in elderly subjects.” British journal of clinical pharmacology 32.3 (1991): 341-345.
  20. Doherty M, Smith P, Hughes M, Davison R. Caffeine lowers perceptual response and increases power output during high-intensity cycling. J Sports Sci. 2004 Jul;22(7):637-43. doi: 10.1080/02640410310001655741. PMID: 15370494.
  21. Bruce, M., Scott, N., Lader, M., & Marks, V. (1986). The psychopharmacological and electrophysiological effects of single doses of caffeine in healthy human subjects. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 22(1), 81-87.
  22. Cases J, Ibarra A, Feuillère N, Roller M, Sukkar SG. Pilot trial of Melissa officinalis L. leaf extract in the treatment of volunteers suffering from mild-to-moderate anxiety disorders and sleep disturbances. Med J Nutrition Metab. 2011;4(3):211-218. doi:10.1007/s12349-010-0045-4
  23. Ossoukhova, A., Owen, L., Savage, K., Meyer, M., Ibarra, A., Roller, M., … & Scholey, A. (2015). Improved working memory performance following administration of a single dose of American ginseng (Panax quinquefo-lius L.) to healthy middle‐age adults. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 30(2), 108-122.
  24. Scholey, A., Ossoukhova, A., Owen, L., Ibarra, A., Pipingas, A., He, K., … & Stough, C. (2010). Effects of American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) on neurocognitive function: an acute, randomised, double-blind, place-bo-controlled, crossover study. Psychopharmacology, 212(3), 345-356.
  25. Shin, K., Guo, H., Cha, Y., Ban, Y. H., Seo, D. W., Choi, Y., … & Kim, Y. B. (2016). Cereboost™, an American ginseng extract, improves cognitive function via up-regulation of choline acetyltransferase expression and neu-roprotection. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, 78, 53-58.
  26. White, D. J., Camfield, D. A., Ossoukhova, A., Savage, K., Le Cozannet, R., Fança‐Berthon, P., & Scholey, A. (2020). Effects of Panax quinquefolius (American ginseng) on the steady state visually evoked potential during cognitive performance. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 35(6), 1-6.
  27. Bell, L., Whyte, A., Duysburgh, C. et al. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial investigating the acute and chronic benefits of American Ginseng (Cereboost®) on mood and cognition in healthy young adults, including in vitro investigation of gut microbiota changes as a possible mechanism of action. Eur J Nutr (2021). 
  28. Moss M, Cook J, Wesnes K, Duckett P. Aromas of rosemary and lavender essential oils differentially affect cognition and mood in healthy adults. Int J Neurosci. 2003 Jan;113(1):15-38.
  29. Koulivand PH, Khaleghi Ghadiri M, Gorji A. Lavender and the nervous system. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:681304. doi:10.1155/2013/681304



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