Earlier this summer when my anxiety reached an absolute peak — as, well, it logically should’ve — a trusted friend recommended I use herbal remedies to cope. Strangely enough, I had never really considered herbs or plant-based medicine strictly for anxiety, though rubbing balms and creams on achy joints and sore muscles has been a staple post-yoga for months. Even when I do tune into my body, another habit I struggle with as someone whose coping mechanism is frequently dissociation, considering ways to actually help boost my mental health always comes in dead last on my to-do list. I’m probably not alone there, but sometimes I get down on myself for that, too.
Depression is an all-too-familiar experience for me, a dense fog I’m accustomed to welcoming into my brain on occasion, but the relentless thrum of anxious thoughts — that’s a relatively new one for me, a 2020 special. Suddenly, the appeal of soothing my nervous system itself seemed much more beneficial than ever, and a beautifully quaint gummy flower cleverly designed to deliver the dose of relief was even more welcome. More painless than a tincture (and without the strange, slight encounter with alcohol, for those who are sober or otherwise avoiding) and incredibly cute, HRBLS soon became my go-to end of the evening treat. Created by the clinical herbalist Rachelle Robinett as part of her holistic health practice, these plant-based herbal remedy chews are, as she styles it “tastier than a tincture, more portable than tea, prettier than a pill.”
If I’d spent the day obsessing over people I think hate me, mistakes I made four to seven years ago, or the unrelenting bummer of this long, lonely year, then this little purple flower would help my mind exit that cycle of intrusive, unhelpful thoughts. HRBLS are part of Robinett’s offerings from Supernatural, a plant-based wellness company, cafe and apothecary in Brooklyn. And though she also offers many other tools and processes, HRBLS gummies have taken on a life of their own — and with good reason.
The short list of ingredients on these little, doll-like flowers includes: honey, apple, lavender, tarragon, ashwagandha, oat seeds and skullcap as the main players, there’s no secret ingredient or hidden layer to the HRBLS magic. It’s simply a tiny dose of plant goodness intended to be a gentle reminder to care for yourself and let go of negativity. And for me, the aesthetic alone was enough of a nudge to refocus on being sweet to myself.
With notes of anise, purple pansies, berry and a tiny hint of herbaceous greens, the thumbprint-sized gummies are easy to take one two at a time, but potent enough to ward off snacking — it’s clear this isn’t just a candy. With a kooky seventies font and a convenient metal tin, which will soon replace my old Altoid boxes as reusable storage containers for earrings and trinkets, HRBLS separates itself from weed and CBD culture with intentional aesthetic touches and an air of mindfulness that sometimes evades that segment.
Certainly not a stand-in for the therapy, journaling, and the interpersonal support I use to help soothe and confront my anxious thoughts on a more long-term basis, HRBLS are a quick-hit of easy, fast relief for the days when facing my fears feels impossible and even laying flat in bed is exhausting. Instead of numbing me out, these gummies helped me center and ground myself, walking my mind back away from the cliffs-edge ultimatums, and finding the inner reassurance that this too, shall pass.
At $30 a tin for eighteen to twenty gummies, the price point of a little over a dollar a pop is more than reasonable, even for those among us who are struggling financially or unemployed. And certainly, supporting the herbalists and holistic healers around us who have routinely turned to plants to help empower and heal their communities is not a bad way to spend a few dollars during this time.