Ah yes, winter… how I love and dread you at the very same time.

To start this out on a positive note, let’s be clear that I (now) love winter simply because it exists. I used to only like seasons that served me in terms of how I wanted to spend my time; lounge in the sun, BBQ with friends, spend warm nights in the backyard. However, after a recent string of events that helped me see the big picture in life, I’ve learned to love all seasons purely because of the uniqueness they allow nature to express — not because my needs are involved. I’ve begun to appreciate even the coldest and darkest times of year, because I can truly see this time for what it is… a death before a rebirth, or a chance to go within and deeply rejuvenate as we rest and reflect.

Unfortunately, despite nature signaling us to sloooow down, this is often the busiest and most stressful time of year due to the holidays. We don’t exactly get ample opportunity for the rest our bodies crave. Couple that with sudden and intense darkness at 5pm that feels like it happened overnight, and we have a recipe for seasonal mood lulls that can make a massive impact on how we move through the world.

Seasonal blues are no joke. I’m someone who is affected year after year, and once I became an herbalist, winter lows were one of the first hurdles I tackled with plant medicine. After trying countless combinations of herbs to support and uplift my outlook, I’d love to share the formula I created that has made the biggest impact on my darker days. If the herbs resonate with you, perhaps give it a try as well and see if it makes a difference in how well you adjust and acclimate to the colder months.

My Mood Juice Formula

There’s nothing more comforting than knowing you have a tool for the difficult days in your arsenal, which is why I created Mood Juice. I needed something I could not only lean on in the colder months when my winter blues began to creep in, but a blend I could turn to at any time of year when the going gets tough and I need a mood lift to start my day off right.

Rather than acting as a “magic bullet,” this formula is designed to calm and strengthen the nervous system so that you may see life and your current hurdles from an uplifted perspective, on a more level plane. When you’re feeling grounded, warm, and balanced, the hard times don’t feel quite as hard because there’s that feeling of comfort and reassurance within your nervous system. These herbs give us the special gift of awakening that feeling of hope and motivation within you that feels just out of reach when the outside world is so cold and silent. During a time when we need to dig deep and cultivate our own joy and beauty rather than seeing it so easily all around us, the plants within this formula help the brain shift gears and perspectives, thinking and seeing the way forward from a calmer, more centered place.

Herbs within this blend include:

  • St. John’s Wort – A “trophorestorative” nervine, meaning an herb that helps to restore nervous system equilibrium over time, especially after a difficult period. In traditional herbalism, this plant is said to “bring light into darkness in the mind” thanks to its bright yellow flowers that give us clues about its unique offerings. St. John’s Wort also happens to bloom on the summer solstice, bringing new life and light that energizes, nourishes and reinvigorates the nervous system. In my own garden, I harvest my St. John’s Wort flowers all summer long, dry and save them for when I need their medicine most in the form of winter mood lifting teas and tinctures. I truly believe that this herb stores and holds for us the energy of joyous sunlight, giving us a taste and reminder with every dose that the brighter days will come again. Taking St. John’s Wort in the winter, to me, is like taking in little bits of sun that I’ve saved to hold me over until summer finally returns. In the lens of modern science, there have been hundreds of randomized controlled studies on St. John’s Wort with many supporting its positive effect on mood thanks to its ability to support neurotransmitter health. You can probably guess this herb is one of my favorites, as she has gotten me through many difficult Decembers and beyond.
  • Tulsi – Holy Basil, also known as Tulsi, is traditionally used in Ayurveda for low spirits, brain fog, and nervousness. It’s my absolute favorite herb for motivation when I’m feeling stuck and stagnant. Tulsi is an adaptogen and nootropic that helps the body adapt to stress and promotes energy and endurance, and although it contains no caffeine or other stimulants, it is thought of as lending an invigorating effect that can help with energy and drive. In fact, I always like to suggest this herb to those who are feeling under-motivated due to cannabis use (even if it helps them in other ways; this herb can help balance the effects). In Ayurveda, this herb is considered ‘Sattvic’ in nature, which helps increase calm clarity of the mind, harmony in the spirit, and overall spiritual illumination. Notably, Tulsi supports the heart chakra, which can bring about clarity around our true nature and soul purpose.
  • Lemon Balm – Lemon balm is used to soothe “sympathetic excess” of the nervous system, where the HPA axis is in overdrive and we feel wired but tired, wound too tightly and depleted. Lemon Balm supports health GABA levels, a calming neurotransmitter, and has been traditionally combined with St. John’s Wort by many herbalists before me as the ultimate mood lifting duo. For some reason, these two just work better together, helping us make much greater strides than taking either herb alone.
  • Skullcap – This one I added a bit later in the formulation game, and I found that it rounded out the blend so well – especially in terms of support for socializing! It can be so difficult to freely and happily socialize when you’re not feeling like yourself and going through a hard time internally. I’ve relied on skullcap time and time again to help loosen tension before social gatherings, and with the holidays approaching, this is such a wonderful herb to bring into your toolkit in order to feel brighter and more at ease around those you love. Skullcap gives Mood Juice its ability to help you relax without the knock-you-out effect.
  • Kava Root – Kava is perhaps the most powerful and unique herb within this blend, offering a soft place to land for us both mentally and physically. Kava is revered for its ability to relieve occasional muscle tension, making this the perfect addition to help soothe and relax physical manifestations of stressful, tense states that can pop up during the winter months.
  • Motherwort – As the name suggests, motherwort has a calming energy like a big hug from mom. It is classified as a nervine herb, and is helpful for worries that feel “pent up” in the body. 

Mood Juice has truly been the most invaluable tool I’ve ever used to get me through the long east coast winters, and I hope that it helps you just as much. You can find this formula here in my online apothecary, along with several other mood lifting favorites here to help you through the tough times! Sending all my sunshine, until we meet the warmer days again. x

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