16 Essential Anxiety Supplements That Are Worth Trying
In my work as a Special Education Advocate and Family Support Group facilitator, I know that herbal remedies for anxiety are often under-utilized as treatments, compared with stimulants, antidepressants, and other psychotropic medications.
Herbal remedies attract consumers because they are affordable and you won’t have to pay for a doctor visit. Because of their botanical origins, many of them have the added advantage of arousing our sense of smell with their fragrant scents.
Herbal remedies are less likely to have severe side effects than their medical counterparts, which makes them viable alternatives for children and adults with sensitivities.
Here are the best anti-anxiety herbs to try:
1. Chamomile – a Natural Sedative
Many people consume chamomile as a tea. Chamomile is also available as a pill and acts in the brain in the same way as anxiety medications like Valium.
In their initial tests, researchers determined Chamomile has noticeable anxiolytic abilities.
Through further study, researchers have concluded that it provides “meaningful antidepressant activity that occurs in addition to its previously observed anxiolytic activity.”
To date, there are no known serious adverse effects from regular doses of Chamomile. It can cause allergic reactions in some individuals. It may also interact (in a manner similar to estrogen) in persons with certain hormone conditions.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information states that there is no evidence that chamomile directly cures a condition, though it is generally accepted around the world as something that soothes tension, alleviates headache symptoms, and calms the digestive system.
Chamomile is safe for most adults and children to take. Many people also believe that chamomile is one of the best anti-anxiety herbs for dogs.
Dr. Mercola suggests drinking chamomile in tea. Migraine sufferers may prefer to grind it into a paste and apply it to the forehead and sides of the head for about 30 minutes.
HOW TO USE
You can try to take Chamomile over a period of 8-weeks, at a daily dose of 220-1110mg to reduce the effects of generalized anxiety disorders. Chamomile can be taken periodically or on an as-needed basis.
2. Ashwagandha – Fights Depression and Fatigue
Ashwagandha is an ancient herbal remedy that has been used effectively in the past and present to reduce symptoms of depression, fatigue, and a general lack of motivation. Ashwagandha has long been a component of traditional Indian medicine. In the past, practitioners of Ayurveda have used it to control stress, relieve insomnia, and ease depression symptoms.
Researchers do not yet fully understand its primary mechanism. They believe that the plant is an adaptogen compound. It can help control Cortisol levels, which reduces stress. Several studies have exhibited the plant’s positive effects.
In studies, Ashwagandha has been shown to increase serotonin in the brain and has a significant impact on the stress hormone, cortisol, as reported by NCBI. It’s far from a cure-all, but taking Ashwagandha can reduce stress by 25%.
The biggest negative factor in taking Ashwagandha is the smell. The name means “smell of horse.” Many users believe that Ashwagandha is as strong as a horse, so they overlook the foul odor.
Ashwagandha is safe to take, with very limited side-effects. Most problems come from taking too much of the supplement or mixing it with other compounds that have a synergistic effect.
HOW TO USE
You could take anxiety relief supplements containing Ashwagandha three times a day, in doses of 2,000mg. You can take lower doses to achieve some of the plant’s other benefits. Make sure to take your doses with meals.
3. Passionflower – Treats Anxiety and Insomnia
Passionflower is native to North America and has long been used by Native Americans to treat anxiety and insomnia. It had such a strong reputation as an anxiety reliever that Europeans took it back overseas, and it is now widely grown there for medicinal purposes, as well.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, passionflower works by increasing the levels of gamma-amniobutyric acid (GABA), which is a major relaxing neurotransmitter. Passionflower has milder effects than kava and valerian, although users claim that passionflower has fewer side effects.
The effects of passion flower are similar to benzodiazepines, which increase the amounts of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), a neurotransmitter that reduces stress and anxiety.
Passion flower can also address insomnia and anger with its calming effect produced in the brain. While passion flower is not likely to be strong enough for severe anxiety, it can easily help with daily, mild levels of anxiety.
Passion flower has occasionally caused drowsiness, but is safer than oxazepam, one of the leading antidepressants given for anxiety.
Passionflower is a mild anti-anxiety herb but has not been proven safe for children, pregnant women, or nursing mothers. Physicians advise that people taking blood thinners or Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI’s) should also avoid taking passionflower.
HOW TO USE
1/2 tsp (1040 mg) of this PassionFlower Extract should give you relief within an hour.
4. Lemon Balm – Safe for Kids, Pregnant Women, and Nursing Mothers
Lemon balm, also known as Melissa officinalis, has been used for centuries to treat anxiety and stress naturally. It helps with pain like headaches and digestion, which can also be symptoms of anxiety.
In a study where participants were given either 600 mg of lemon balm extracts or a placebo, those who took lemon balm had more positive moods and were calmer.
Like some of the other herbal remedies, lemon balm reduces the stress hormone, cortisol and increases the GABA neurotransmitter to alleviate symptoms of anxiety.
Lemon balm is a member of the mint family, so most children and others enjoy the pleasant mint taste with notes of lemon. Lemon balm works well with other herbs like valerian, hops, and chamomile.
Lemon balm has been used since the Middle Ages as a calming herbal remedy. If your pet has issues with anxiety, it’s also safe for animals.
HOW TO USE
Lemon balm can be taken as a tea, capsule, or extract. Often it is combined with chamomile or valerian. As a dietary supplement, you could mix 15-30 drops in water and take 1-3 times daily.
5. Lavender – Reduces Stress
“The Handbook of Essential Oils: Science, Technology, and Applications,” points to clinical trials that showed that inhaling lavender essential oil reduced stress and anxiety.
Students in Florida participated in a study that revealed that those who inhaled the scent of lavender oil before exams were less anxious.
One study in a Greek dental office found that patients were less anxious when they used lavender oil to scent the waiting room.
Dr. Josh Axe notes that lavender is considered a nervous system restorative that helps improve sleep, restlessness, irritability, panic, attacks, nervous stomach, and nervous tension. Dr. Axe calls attention to other studies that proved that lavender oil decreases anxiety, especially for patients that were about to undergo surgery or dental procedures.
Besides having a fresh, floral fragrance that appeals to most people, lavender works well for anxiety without many of the risks and side effects of anti-anxiety medications.
HOW TO USE
To benefit from lavender oil (get it from Amazon), you can:
- inhale the scent (rub a few drops on your palms and take a deep breath or add 6 – 8 drops to a room diffuser, rub 1-2 drops on your temples, or mix 10 – 15 drops with water and spray on your body, hair, pillow or pajamas)
- drink lavender herbal tea
- take a lavender bath (add 15-20 drops to your bath water)