25 Best Meditation Herbs For Mental Health [RANKED]
25 Best Meditation Herbs For Mental Health [RANKED]

What are the best herbs for meditation? And how can the herbs of Ayurveda help with inner peace and focus?  In this guide I will share the very best Ayurveda herbs for meditation to help you find that sweet Zen spot.

The majority of the herbs listed below come from Ayurveda [read: 9 Ayurveda practices for health]

Ayurveda is the oldest of all health systems and comes from India. The word literally translates to “Life science”.

Ayurveda teaches that body and mind are connected as one and that they both influence each other.

One of the big aspects of Ayurveda is eating a healthy palette of food. But Ayurveda goes much further than this. It teaches us to use herbs and spices for health. For instance, there are specific Ayurveda recipes for relaxation, for inner peace, and for specific health problems such as illnesses.

I personally love Ayurveda. It has taught me to transform my relationship with my body and with my food.

As a meditation teacher I am often looking for ways to improve my meditation practice. One way to improve meditation is by using specific herbs for meditation—herbs that both Ayurveda and science advocate the use of.

Let’s took at look at those herbs. [You might also like to try using CBD for meditation]

In particular I will be focusing on:

Note that some of the herbs listed do have side effects and you should check you are not allergic to any of them.

 

25 Best Meditation Herbs For Mental Health Benefits

 25: Kava

Score: *

Benefits of Kava: anxiety relief

Scientific evidence: 1/2

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Kava is a ritual tea that is popularly used in the Pacific Islands to relieve anxiety. It is said to target GABA receptors in the brain, which are the receptors that produce the sensations of anxiety.  

There is very little scientific research to substantiate the used of kava for anxiety, although one study conducted in 2018 did show some positive signs [1]

 

 

 

24: Sage   

Score: *

Benefits of sage:  mood booster

Scientific evidence: *

Sage is a very popular culinary spice and it is used in traditional Native American medicine to help reduce negative feelings and to balance the mind and body.

There is relatively little scientific evidence to substantiate sage as a herb for meditation.

 

 

 

 

23: Chamomile

Score: *1/2

Benefits of chamomile: Relaxation, abundance

Scientific evidence: *1/2

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 This is one of the best Ayurveda herbs for relaxation and inner peace. Chamomile produces a sense of calm, which can help you to get into your meditation, especially if you have been stressed. The best way to use it is in a chamomile tea. Scientifically speaking there is actually very little evidence to support the idea that chamomile helps you relax. However, it has been used since time immemorial for that very purpose (perhaps science needs to catch up).

 

 

22: Hawthorn  

Score: *1/2

Benefits of hawthorn: emotional wellbeing

Scientific evidence: *1.2

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Hawthorn is a spiritual herb used for healing the heart (both physically and emotionally). It protects and nourishes the heart and it also soothes a broken heart, emotionally speaking. It is one of the best herbs for grief and is very comforting.  

There is very little scientific evidence supporting the use of hawthorn as a herb for mental health. One test did show that hawthorn reduces oxidative stress in rats, but more research is required.

 

 

 

21: Gotu Kola

Score: **

Benefits of Gotu Kola: Stress reduction

Evidence: **

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This member of the parsley family is one of the best herbs in Ayurveda and is very highly regarded in India. Yogis actually used this herb before meditation and many believe it stimulates the crown chakra and balances brain hemispheres. What makes it one of the best herbs for meditation is that it balances the nervous system and improves neurotransmitter function while also helping with stress.

A 2012 study showed that gotu kola can have a powerful effect on stress [2], but this test was performed on rats so further research is required.

 

20: Holy Basil   

Score: **

Benefits of Holy Basil: anxiety relief, relaxation

Scientific evidence: **

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Definitely one of the best meditation herbs, Holy Basil has been used as a medicinal herb for more than 3000 years. It balances the energy systems and can hep you to relax. It is also a very important herb in Ayurveda and is called the holy plant of Vishnu. One of the best ways to take it is in Tulsi tea, which is a great tea for calmness and relaxation.

Research shows that holy basil is a good herb for generalised anxiety disorder [3].

 

19: Astragalus

Score: **

Benefits of astragalus: positivity, balance, stress reduction

Scientific evidence: **1/2

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Astragalus is a powerful spiritual herb that is said to open the heart chakra. And produce positive feelings. It is said to be one of the best herbs for stress and can create inner balance.

There is significant scientific research proving the physical health benefits of astragalus. However, comparatively little research shows the mental health benefits of astragalus.

 

18: Thyme

Score: **1/2

Benefits of thyme: improves communication, boosts mood

Scientific evidence: ***

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As a spiritual herb, thyme is best taken as a tea. It is said to improve communication by opening the throat chakra, which will help you to express yourself through words. 

So, what does science say?

Thyme contains an active substance called carvacrol. In one scientific study in 2013, carvacrol was shown to affect neuron activity and boost mood [4]. This test was conducted on thyme essential oil.

 

 

 

17: Lemongrass

Score: **

Benefits of Lemongrass: Good herb for anxiety

Evidence: ***

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Lemongrass is a spiritual herb that helps with procrastination—suggesting I should personally use it before writing these blog posts, but I digress… Lemongrass tea is said to improve productivity and give you a sense of clarity. It also improves focus.

So, does it actually work?

Some scientific evidence does suggest that Lemongrass aromatherapy helps reduce the symptoms of anxiety [5]. There is little scientific research on the effects of lemon tea.

 

 

 

 

16: Hibiscus

Score: **

Benefits of hibiscus: good herb for depression.

Scientific evidence: ***

Hibiscus tea is said to help us accept our sensitive sides and brings you closer to your loved ones.  It has been used for centuries to treat mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. And it is said to calm the nervous system.

Scientific evidence [6] shows that hibiscus does appear to have a positive impact on depression. Effects on anxiety have yet to be proven.

 

 

15: Danshen

Score: ***

Benefits of danshen: relaxation, relieves anger

Scientific evidence: **

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Danshen is a good herb for meditation because it balances energy and can alleviate anger and aggression. It has the added benefits of being good for blood pressure. It is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat atherosclerosis.

There is substantial scientific research into the physical health benefits of danshen but comparatively little research on the mental health benefits of danshen. As such it is hard to substantiate it as a good herb before meditation, but offers lots of other benefits anyway.

   

 

14: Fennel [for inner peace]

Score: ***

Benefits of fennel: Stress, depression, reduces negativity

Scientific evidence: ***

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Fennel is a good herb for depression, stress and negative emotions, and can help you to regain inner peace in hard times. Fennel tea, which is made from tea, can also reduce food cravings.  There are fennel herbs and fennel teas. Limited research shows that fennel tea does indeed help with depression and negative emotions [7]

 

 

 

 

 

13: Brahmi 

Score: ***

Benefits of Brahmi: calmness, concentration

Scientific evidence: ***1/2

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Brahmi (named after Hindu god Brahma, who create

d the universe out of his thoughts), Brahmi is unquestionably one of the best herbs for meditation. In the classic Ayurveda book, “The Yoga Of Herbs”, brahmi is said to give knowledge of the Supreme Reality. It has numerous other mental health benefits too. It produces calmness and inner peace and improves concentration, making it one of the best herbs before exams.

A study in 2001 showed that brahmi has numerous benefits for mental health and improves cognitive function [8]. A subsequent study showed that Brahmi also helps with anxiety [9].

 

 

12: Rosemary

Score: *** ½

Benefits of rosemary: concentration, positivity

Scientific evidence: ***

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Rosemary has long been used as a herb for healing. And it can have a powerful effect on the mind. At least that’s what spiritual wisdom says. It is said that rosemary creates positive thoughts and improves concentration. Another benefit of rosemary is that is helps open the third eye chakra to unlock your insight and intuition.

So, what does science say?

Research shows that inhaling rosemary essential oil hemp improves concentration and thinking [9] and will slow down Alzheimer’s [10]. Comparatively little research has been done on rosemary tea.

 

 

 

11: Nettle tea

Score: ***1/2

Benefits of nettle tea: stress reduction.

Evidence: ***

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This spiritual herb is one of the best herbs for energy when you feel sluggish and drained. It is incredibly nutritious and offers many physical health benefits (the entire stinging nettle plant is antioxidant and antimicrobial) [11]. And, as Ayurveda teaches us, body and mind are really the same thing. Although there is not enough evidence to substantiate the mental health benefits of nettles, the sheer power of this herb for physical health makes clear it is a good choice.  

 

 

 

10:  Ginger  

Score: ***1/2

Benefits of ginger: Mood enhancer, reduces stress

Scientific evidence: ****

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Ginger tea is a great reliever of frustration and anger. It helps us to let go of negative emotions such as jealousy. And it can bring a sense of inner balance. You know, basically how you feel when you meditate.

This is arguably one of the best meditation herbs because it can enhance specific moods. However, some evidence suggests that ginger may heighten both positive and negative emotions [12].

Ginger is also a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, meaning it has a positive effect on stress.

 

 

9: Elder

Score: ****

Benefits of elder: stress reduction, improves mood, improves cognitive performance

Scientific evidence: ****1/2

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Elder is available either as elderberry or as elderflower and is known to be a powerful antiviral. But is it a good meditation herb? 

Since time immemorial elder has been revered by spiritualists. The elder tree is often referred to as the “Elder Mother”. As a meditation herb it helps to open the heart chakra to unlock your intuition. 

So what does science say?

A study [13] found that 544 mg of elderberry extract improved performance and mood markers. It has also been proven to work as an antioxidant [14] meaning it will help with stress. And significant scientific research has shown many other health benefits. As such, this is definitely one of the best herbs for meditation.

 

 

 

8: Ashwaganada

Score: ****

Benefits of ashwaganda: reduces stress, relieves anxiety

Scientific evidence: *** ½

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Ashwaganda is one of the best herbs in Ayurveda and is used to relieve stress and reduce fatigue.  

A study in 2012 showed that taking ashwagandha root extract has a significant effect on stress levels. [15]

A second study in 204 showed that ashwaganada helps relieve anxiety and stress [16].

 

7: Rose

Score: ****

Benefits of rose: relaxation, sleep, pain reduction.

Scientific evidence: ****

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Rose is one of my personal best meditation herbs because it opens the heart chakra and boosts compassion and love. Spiritually speaking, it is said that drinking Rose tea makes us more aware of the way we speak and improves our concentration. 

Rose is a powerful antioxidant and can lift your mood and relieve stress [17].  Rose aromatherapy can also improve sleep and can even relieve pain. [18]

 

6: Peppermint

Score:****

Benefits of peppermint: Relaxation, creativity

Evidence: ****

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I am actually sitting here drinking a cup of peppermint tea (with fresh peppermint leaves in it) while writing this. So I’m personally hoping it works…

Peppermint is a powerful herb for meditation because is balances the solar-plexus chakra and sacral chakra. Plus it boosts creativity and is relaxing. That’ why spiritual-science says. What about plain old science-science…?

 There is good scientific evidence supporting the use of peppermint for anxiety and stress, especially for peppermint aromatherapy [7]

 

 

5: Korean Ginseng

Score: ****

Benefits of ginseng: stress reduction, reduces fatigue

Evidence: ****

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Ginseng has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine for reducing stress and improving overall health. As a spiritual herb it is used to awaken the body, to heal and restore. It is one of the best herbs for stress, and so is a definitely one of the best herbs for meditation.

 A 2013 study showed that ginseng can have a very positive effect on stress by helping the body handle the effects of stress [19]. Another study showed the ginseng also reduces fatigue [20].

 

 

 

 

4: Saffron

Score: ****1/2

Benefits of saffron: good herb for depression

Scientific evidence: ****

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Saffron is the most expensive herb in the world. But only a small amount of it is needed to get the benefits. And one of the best ways to take it is with saffron tea. This spiritual herb helps unlock you inner wisdom and connects you with the divine.

So what does science say?

Research shows that saffron helps to reduce feelings of depression and in fact is as powerful as antidepressants [21]. Combining saffron with curcumin has been shown to have a powerful effect on major depression [22]

 

   

 

3: Turmeric  

Score: ****1/2

Benefits of turmeric: antidepressant, antioxidant, stress relief

Scientific evidence: ****

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Given the amount of attention that Turmeric has been getting recently, you might wonder if it is a miracle herb (and it pretty much does appear to be just that).

The benefits of turmeric are incredibly numerous and varied. What makes it one of the best herbs for meditation, however, is turmeric’s mental health effects. Among them is the fact that turmeric helps reduce anxiety [20] and fights anxiety [21]. Plus, it tastes great in curries.

 

 

2: Lavender

Score: *****

Benefits of Lavendar: Good herb for relaxation, anxiety, and stress.

Scientific evidence: ****

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Probably the first thing you think of in terms of a herb for meditation is this one, lavender. Your grandma probably had it by the bath to help her relax. And we’ve all seen the lavender soaps and teas in the market.

Lavender is a herb that relaxed the mind and quiets the ego. It is one of my personal favorite herbs for meditation because it helps unlock the third eye.  Drinking lavender tea before meditation can help unlock your intuition.

Scientific evidence [22] shows that lavender aromatherapy reduces cortisol levels and improves relaxation response in health people, making it one of the best herbs for meditation.

 

 

 

 

1: Passionflower

Score: *****

Benefits of passionflower: improves sleep, reduces anxiety, improves mood.

Scientific evidence: *****

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Passionflower calms the mind and helps promote relaxation when feeling anxious or agitated. It also increases levels of serotonin, which helps to improve mood. Is has been used for many year to help promote better sleep.

Scientific research confirms that passionflower does improve sleep quality [23] and a second study shoed that passionflower has a significant positive effect on generalised anxiety disorder [24]. The numerous mental health benefits of passionflower make it one of the very best herbs for meditation.

 

Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a meditation teacher, author and journalist based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential.

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