Top 12 Anti-Anxiety Herbs to Help You Relax Quickly
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 a dozen anti-anxiety herbs to try:
1. Chamomile is a Natural Sedative
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.
2. Ashwagandha is an Anti-Anxiety Herbal Supplement for 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. Children that suffer from agoraphobia may seek relief by taking ashwagandha.
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.
3. Passionflower is One of the Best Natural Anti-Anxiety Herbs
Passion flower 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.
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.
4. Lemon Balm is a Safe Anti-Anxiety Herb for Kids
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.
5. Lavender is the Best Anti-Anxiety Herb and Common Essential Oil
“The Handbook of Essential Oils: Science, Technology, and Applications,” points to clinical trials that showed that inhaling lavender essential oil reduced stress and anxiety.
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.
Lavender is widely used and is often the herb of first choice for consumers. 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.
6. Kava Is Well-Researched as an Anti-Anxiety Herb for Adults
Kava, also known as Kava Kava, has a long history of use in the South Pacific. It is one of the most researched herbal supplements for anxiety.
Most experts agree that kava is one of the most potent natural remedies for insomnia, anxiety symptoms and for controlling anxious thoughts. Kava is reported to be as effective as some prescription anti-anxiety drugs.
Kava is not advisable for everyone, especially for people that drink alcohol, take other medications, or have liver problems. These concerns caused some countries to ban the use of kava. The ban in the United States was lifted in 2008. According to the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, kava can be used with children but is not recommended.
Not enough studies have been performed to prove kava as an anti-anxiety herb that is safe for pregnancy, so pregnant and nursing mothers should avoid taking it to be on the safe side.
7. Arctic Root Combats Fatigue and Anxiety
Arctic root is also called golden root, rose root, western roseroot, Aaron’s rod, king’s crown, and many other names. It is a popular herb in Chinese medicine, which may be attributed to the fact that it mainly grows in cold regions like the mountains of central China and the Arctic region. Scandinavian countries also use it as a traditional medicine.
Arctic root has been proven successful for anxiety that is accompanied by fatigue. It can also be used to treat depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and memory loss.
8. Bacopa Improves Memory Loss and Decreases Anxiety
Bacopa monnieri is also known as Bacopa. It may also be referred to as Brahmi, which comes from the word, Brahman, which means “the energy of universal consciousness.”
WebMD notes that Ayurvedic medicine was introduced in India thousands of years ago as a holistic approach to medicine. Bacopa is a highly esteemed herb in Ayurvedic medicine that works to balance the body, mind, and spirit. Ayurvedic medicines work to promote good health rather than fight diseases and disorders.
Bacopa enjoys a strong reputation for reducing anxiety that is accompanied by memory loss and attention problems. It’s a slow-acting herb that stays in your system and can take 2-3 months for peak performance.
9. Gingko Biloba is a Multiple Purpose Anti-Anxiety Herb
One of Gingko Biloba’s claims to fame is that a few ginkgo trees actually survived near the site of the bombing at Hiroshima and are still alive today. Archaeologists claim to have found ginkgo fossils that date back to prehistoric times.
The Chinese have long used Ginkgo biloba leaves and seeds in medicines to reduce stress and anxiety, alleviate depression, and reduce ADHD symptoms with fewer side effects than Ritalin.
Because of its many uses, Ginkgo biloba is one of the most popular herbal remedies in the world.
10. Panax Ginseng Keeps You Alert While Keeping You Calm
The Chinese people have used panax ginseng for over 5,000 years as “the elixir of life.” Ginseng plants can be found in China, Korea, other parts of Asia, and America. It might surprise you to learn that Chinese people consider American ginseng to be the best in the world.
Dr. Michael Murray notes that ginseng relaxes you while giving you a boost of energy, without being over stimulating. In addition to helping relieve anxiety, ginseng also effectively treats depression, fatigue, stress-related disorders, and lots of other mental and physical conditions.
11. Valerian Root is a Strong Anxiety Reliever and Natural Sedative
Everyday Health affirms that valerian is best known as a sleep aid. It’s a such a strong sedative that it’s known as “nature’s Valium.” Experts believe that valerian works by increasing GABA levels in the brain.
Valerian root has relaxing qualities that also soothe muscles, relieve uterine cramps, quiets persistent coughs, and relaxes bronchial spasms.
Due to its strength, valerian is an anti-anxiety herb that isn’t recommended for children, pregnant or nursing women, or anyone that takes antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs.
12. High-Quality Green and Black Teas
The University of Maryland Medical Center affirms that green and black teas are considered the healthiest liquids on the planet because they are full of antioxidants.
In addition to reducing anxiety symptoms, green and black teas are effective for diseases such as high cholesterol, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, liver disease, weight loss, and other medical concerns.
The National Cancer Institute affirms that teas may be helpful aids in treating many forms of cancer. CBS News reported that pregnant and nursing women that take herbs pass the effects down to the baby, which can pose risks to their infants. Physicians recommend that pregnant and nursing mothers weigh the risks in taking herbs with the benefits they provide.
Did you enjoy this list of anti-anxiety herbs? Check out this video by the Mental Health Herbalist to learn a bit more about anti-anxiety herbs. Most of my clients are the parents of children, and this list gives me lots of ideas of herbs that I can share with my clients to help their children and themselves.
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