Plant Help for Exam Stress

It’s that time of year again: sleepless nights; feelings of panic; tension and headaches reach a peak – that’s just us parents. Breda knows just how to get us all through this stressful time. 

When suddenly, uncharacteristically, teenagers suddenly leap into action cleaning bedrooms, washing clothes, showering frequently and taking an active interest in regular exercise regimes you know there are exams in the air.  In extreme cases, some may offer to iron clothes, cut grass or wash the car BUT ALL IN AN EFFORT TO AVOID STUDYING!  Most of us have been there ourselves, so we recognise the signs of distraction activities.  

Cultivating ambition has its costs, and pressures have increased in recent years as competition for university places heightens and fraught parents juggle finances to pay for reluctant offspring’s education. Joking apart, it can be a difficult time of year for the whole family.

Most of us will survive this silly season and slide into summer frazzled and worn but ready for renewal.  However some individuals can find the pressures of the exams lead to real mental or physical stress symptoms that endure after the exams are over. 

Natural help during exam times

Plants can provide gentle solutions to help with most symptoms of stress.  Qualified Medical Herbalists take a holistic approach to health, helping guide students through lifestyle and diet improvements as well as providing economical herbal solutions, where required, to support bodies and minds over this time. 


A tasty flask of Peppermint or Melissa and Limeflowers herbal tea will help the student stay alert, focussed and relaxed enough to sit at a desk without the unwanted side effects of a caffeine charge.  Herbal teas provide additional vitamins and minerals as well as healthy antioxidants to counteract long hours at a computer screen.  Relaxing teas with Chamomile, Passiflora or Wild Lettuce can aid sleep at bedtime resulting in more productive waking hours. 


Study Oil BlendAromatherapy (plant) oils like peppermint, rosemary or basil can be used to help keep the brain alert – use a few drops in a saucer of water on a radiator or warm window in the study room.  Napiers Study Oil Blend is a good blend for concentration. Relaxing oils like lavender or chamomile can be added to the bath to help with a good night’s rest – or ask your local practitioner to provide you with a personal mix.


Long hours sitting and using computers can result in aching muscles, particularly neck, shoulders or arms which will be eased by a massage.  Young people respond very well to massage and recognise the benefits that it brings. There are qualified practitioners in many places these days. Children under 16 will need to be accompanied by a parent.  If in doubt, mothers, book yourself one ahead  to test  the service – no point in offspring having all the fun!  Some practitioners will give parents guidance on gentle shoulder and back massage techniques that they can do on their kids and provide ready blended oils to use at home. Napiers Relaxing Oil Blend can be helpful here.


As workloads in examination years mount up endurance is tested.  Occasionally a simple ‘tired all the time’ dips into longer-term exhaustion not overcome by rest.  Herbal tonics can work wonders in safely helping to restore flat batteries and maintain stamina during lengthy periods of strenuous exercise or study.  Russian cosmonauts successfully used Siberian Ginseng during their space flights to reduce their sensitivity to stress and improve stamina this is an option.  Gotu Kola can improve mental performance while Ashwaganda a relaxing adaptive tonic reduces anxiety and assists sleep, many other herbs are useful in strengthening the immune system.


On exam day Rescue Remedy, Motherwort or Passiflora tincture or herbal teas like Melissa and Limeflowers can be used to reduce last minute nerves. 

Of course all of these recommendations are also applicable to long suffering teachers, parents and even exam invigilators who guide students through this critical time in their lives. 

Plants are food and medicine by degree.  Consulting an herbal specialist can be a cost effective way of reducing stress making the exam process smoother and aiding recovery times. 


Breda Sneddon is a qualified Medical Herbalist practising in Linlithgow, telephone 07905 742695

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