Herbs for Anxiety

Here are the natural herbs for anxiety that may effectively provide relief. They may gently relax you, improve your mood, and help you sleep better.

Herbs have been used for thousands of years to relieve anxiety, sleeplessness, and stress related disorders. They might provide a safe alternative to anti-anxiety medications. Researchers have conducted several objective studies in clinical and laboratory settings in order to evaluate the effectiveness of those herbs for anxiety that have been popular in traditional medicine. Few studies conducted so far have shown statistically significant results in favor of herbal remedies for anxiety.

The results of different studies suggest that some herbs might gently relieve anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, melancholic moods, and stress related ailments. These natural herbs might work slowly and it might take up to four weeks of regular use before their full benefits become apparent. The extracts of these herbs contain naturally occurring compounds that relieve anxiety symptoms.

In general, these compounds are thought to ameliorate anxiety and insomnia by influencing neurotransmitters in our nervous system. For example, substances that increase the levels of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) have relaxing, anti-anxiety, anti-convulsive, and sedative effects. Here is the list of herbs believed to relieve anxiety and improve sleep: -

  1. Passionflower: Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is named after the passion of Christ due to its shape, which resembles a 'crown-of-thorns.' It is one of the oldest known herbs for anxiety, sleeplessness, nervousness, restlessness, and mood disorders. It is non-addictive and has a soothing, calming, and mildly sedating effect. It relieves anxiety, sleeplessness, restlessness, palpitations, and mild depression (when combined with other herbs). A study compared the efficacy of passionflower with oxazepam (a synthetic anti-anxiety medication) and found that passionflower extract is effective for the management of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Also, compared to oxezepam, passionflower extract had a low incidence of impairment of job performance. According to some researchers, the extract of passionflower may relieve anxiety and insomnia by increasing the levels of GABA in the nervous system...Read more >>

  2. Lemon Balm: Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is a herb of the mint family. It is used as a flavoring agent in ice-creams and herbal teas. It also relieves anxiety and stress. It is mildly sedative and has a calming effect. Its use to treat anxiety dates back to the middle ages. A study conducted at Northumbria University, Newcastle indicated that a combination of lemon balm and valerian attenuates laboratory induced stress. The results suggested that the combination possesses anxiolytic properties that deserve further investigation. According to some researchers, rosmarinic acid present in lemon balm extract appears to inhibit the action of GABA transaminase enzyme...Read more >>

  3. Lavender: Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) was used by ancient Greeks and Romans in fragrances and baths. They believed that it refreshes the mind and the body. Ancient folklore recommends a pillow filled with aromatic flowers of lavender to calm down a restless person who has difficulty falling asleep. Contemporary studies indicate that lavender oil is mildly sedative. It has soothing and calming effects. Studies indicate that lavender fragrance may have a beneficial effect on insomnia and depression. It may reduce state anxiety in dental patients. When taken orally, lavender oil may be an effective and well tolerated alternative to synthetic anti-anxiety medications (benzos) for relieving generalized anxiety. Aromatherapy with lavender oil increases the percentage of the slow wave, deep, restful phase of sleep. The neuronal binding of glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter, may be inhibited by linalool, an active ingredient of lavender oil...Read more >>

  4. St. John's Wort: St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is used to get rid of a melancholic mood. The ancient Greeks believed that this herb had "magical powers to ward-off evil" and they used it to treat a wide range of ailments. According to the Cochrane Collaboration, the extracts of this herb are superior to placebo in treating patients with major depression. Though it is primarily used as a remedy for mild to moderate depression, it is sometimes used to treat anxiety associated with depression, especially when it is combined with other herbs for anxiety. Hyperforin and adhyperforin, two of the many active substance found in St. John's wort, may inhibit the neuronal re-uptake of the neurotransmitters serotonin (5-HT), dopamine (DA), noradrenaline (NA), GABA and L-Glutamate. Hyperforin may specifically activate TRPC6 channels...Read more >>

  5. Wu-wei-zi: Wu-wei-zi (Schisandra chinensis or Schizandra chinesis) is used in traditional Chinese botanical medicine. This woody vine grows in the jungles of northern China and eastern Russia. It is believed to increase the body's resistance to stress, anxiety, trauma, and fatigue. It is often combined with one or more herbs for anxiety and consumed to relieve mental distress.

  6. Valerian: Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is one of the oldest known herbs for anxiety and insomnia. Its properties were described by Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician. Galen, the ancient Roman physician, prescribed it for insomnia. A study indicates that it has a potential to be used as an alternative to a class of synthetic anti-anxiety medications called benzodiazepines, in treating sleep disorders, anxiety, stress and restlessness. Valerian appears to act through gamma-aminobutyric acidergic (GABA-ergic) mechanisms to reduce anxiety and produce sedative effects. It might improve sleep quality without producing side effects. A combination of valerian and hops might relieve insomnia...Read more >>

  7. Kava Kava: Kava Kava (Piper methysticum) is a shrub. In Pacific Islands and some parts of Australia, the roots this shrub have been used for centuries to prepare a non-addictive, ceremonial drink that relaxes people and makes them more sociable without disrupting their mental clarity. A study by Cochrane Collaboration reveals that it is more effective than placebo in relieving anxiety. Other randomized clinical trials have successfully replicated its anxiolytic effects. Unlike an alcoholic drink, Kava appears to overcome social anxiety without affecting other cognitive functions such as judgment.

    Although Kava appears to be more promising than other herbs for anxiety, so far there have been about 50 reports of liver damage in people taking dietary supplements containing Kava Kava extract. However it is not clear if Kava was the actual cause of the liver damage, or if fungal contaminants of kava, alcohol, or other pharmaceuticals consumed by the subjects were responsible for it...Read more >>

  8. SkullCap: SkullCap (Scutellaria lateriflora) is a North American herb. It has been used for more than two centuries as a natural remedy for anxiety, nervous tension, and convulsions. It acts as a mild sedative, relaxant, and sleep promoter.

  9. Chamomile: Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is a flowering herb used to make herbal teas. There are two types of Chamomile – "German chamomile" (Matricaria recutita) and "Roman chamomile" (Chamaemelum nobile). Both of these herbs for anxiety have been used for thousands of years. The ancient Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians used them to treat a wide range of disorders including anxiety, stress and insomnia. While few scientific studies have been carried out on humans, studies conducted on animals indicate that German chamomile has mild sedative properties. In low doses it relieves anxiety, whereas in higher doses it promotes sleep. A controlled clinical trial of chamomile extract for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) suggested that it may have modest anxiolytic activity in patients suffering from mild to moderate GAD...Read more >>

  10. Common Hops: The flower cones of Common Hops (Humulus lupulus) are used to impart a pleasantly bitter flavor to beer. It is believed that King George III and Abraham Lincoln used pillows filled with hops to get rid of sleeplessness. We now know that common hops contain a natural phytochemical called "2-methyl-3-buten-2-ol", which has relaxing, anti-anxiety, and sedative properties when inhaled or ingested. The results of a study suggest that a combination of valerian and hops improves sleep in insomniacs. The improvements in sleep are positively correlated with an improved quality of life...Read more >>
Some herbal supplements for anxiety contain extracts of one or more herbs for anxiety listed above. Apart from herbs used to treat anxiety, they may also contain certain minerals and vitamins e.g. calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, etc. These supplements are usually available online or over-the-counter in most countries including the United States. There are many other miscellaneous herbs for anxiety that are popular in alternative and home remedies for anxiety, but the results of studies aimed to determine the effectiveness of these herbs are inconclusive at present.

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Disclaimer: The information present on this website is not a substitute for expert medical advice. For the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of any illness, please consult a doctor. The owner of this website is not liable for any adverse consequences, whatsoever...Read more >>

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