The Herbs of Achilles and Hercules

Natural mental health and stress solutions for MMA fighters, boxers and wrestlers.

There is a huge amount of mental control required to fight. But being in control doesn’t mean that stress is completely avoided and it can often blow up in the safe haven of family and friends. 

Anxiety and keeping on top of it

Symptoms of anxiety include feeling shaky, suddenly overemotional, stomach churning, panic attacks, etc. It is often characterised by pacing, restlessness, nervous tics or twitches. Our licensed Valerian Tincture is the same high strength preparation that used to be given out in air raid shelters in World War 2. Civilians, who had experienced bombings, were often on edge and sometimes freaked out when they heard the drone of aircraft overhead - so they would be given valerian to keep them calm. 

These days it is mainly used before performance, exams, speeches, weddings and other situations where it is needed to act quickly without drowsiness!

Valerian can also be taken 3 times a day as a tincture when you are going through a stressful time. It is non-addictive and, as it helps to stop your mind whirring, and calm any twitchiness, it is also helpful if you're having problems sleeping. Valerian won't make you feel drowsy during the day unless you are one of 1 in 1000 people who are sensitive to it. (And don't take it when on a pub-crawl as valerian accentuates the effects of alcohol.) 

If you are sensitive to Valerian, you can use Passiflora tablets. Passiflora has also been used to help people coming off drugs and alcohol, so is good for anxiety if you are also an addictive type.

Insomnia and broken nights

Our Napiers Sweet Dreams sleep remedy combines both Valerian and Passiflora mentioned along with Hops to make you drowsy and muscle relaxants Scullcap and Jamaican Dogwood. This helps to relax not just your mind but your body as well, especially if you have been very restless at night or prone to waking at 3 am and unable to get back to sleep until dawn.

Because of its high strength, we have also had pharmacists using it to help combat the insomnia and agitation that comes with methadone withdrawal - the mix of herbs being coincidentally appropriate.

For sleep you can also take a double dose of Valerian in the evenings to wind you down or take a Valerian tablet.

Stress with fatigue and poor immunity

Sometime anxiety comes in the form of stress, when you are so physically exhausted and fatigued that it takes its toll on your mind too. You may become snappy, touchy and irritable or feel that sometimes you go blank and stupidly forgetful about things that you know. In this case a plant called Rhodiola in tablet form can help. Rhodiola is an adaptogen or 'pick-me-up' licensed by the DoH for these situations.

If your immune system has become weak and you start to catch every virus going around, or seem plagued by recurrent infections, then our high strength Elixir of Echinacea is really helpful. It combines a root extract with an antimicrobial herb called Wild Indigo. Like all our herbal medicines, it is licensed and each one comes with a proper information leaflet.

Non-addictive help for low mood

SSRI antidepressants (e.g. Prozac, Citalopram) are quite controversial. They are related to drugs like ecstasy and cocaine and literally change your brain chemistry. Some of the side effects are mild and just make you feel disconnected or surreal, but some can even make you feel more psychotic or even suicidal. And they are addictive. So when you do come off them, you need to be weaned off them slowly over a period of time. As well as being non-addictive it doesn't make you feel as spaced out and disengaged as some benzodiazepines.

If you want a non-addictive alternative to Prozac to help you through times when you are really down and not coping, you should try St John's Wort. It works for most people, unless you have very severe depression, and you can stop any time, unlike SSRI antidepressants. It takes around 3 weeks to start working at its best but some people notice a lift in mood after just a few days. They are licensed and come in St John's Wort Regular Strength and St John's Wort Max Strength. I generally recommend that you take Max Strength for 3 months, then Regular Strength. And look into other coping mechanisms like tai chi, meditation, autogenic therapy or join a group of like-minded people.

If you want to talk to a qualified herbal medicine practitioner - whether in person, by phone, Skype or Google Hangout - drop us a line at

If you are taking other medication you need to check the leaflet carefully. St John's Wort competes with other drugs for absorption by the body, so it can affect other drugs being properly absorbed - even the contraceptive pill for female fighters. The only other thing to watch out for is that in a few people (1 in 1000) taking St John's Wort can make their skin light sensitive to sunlight, some get prickly heat bumps. But this goes away as soon as you stop taking it. But it is worth trying St John's Wort if your low mood is not too severe.