Anxiety is a common psychiatric disorder where a person often fears being in social situations. Treatments like antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs can lead to side effects such as agitation, irritability, aggressiveness, and more anxiety.
As a result, patients may turn to alternative treatment, including herbal remedies for generalized anxiety disorder. Herbal remedies for anxiety often include Roman chamomile, valerian, passionflower, and bacopa, just to name a few.
Anxiety attacks sometimes occur due to intense pressure or constant worry that interferes with everyday life, such as obligations at work or home.
You may have an anxiety disorder when feelings of anxiety last longer than six months. Common anxiety disorders include phobias, panic disorders, and generalized anxiety disorder.
In this article we will take a deeper look at the herbs for anxiety, and learn why you should use them in your treatment. Let’s get started…
Best Herbal Remedies for Anxiety
What herbal remedies are good for anxiety? There are certain herbs with phytochemicals that help treat anxiety symptoms, such as panic attacks, insomnia, tiredness, or chest pains. Herbal remedies for anxiety often come in extract, capsule, tincture, or tea form.
The following are nine of the best herbal remedies for anxiety:
1. Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)
Chamomile can come from Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) or German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) species. It is one of the better herbs for promoting relaxation and fighting stress.
Chamomile’s mild sedative effects help calm the nerves and reduce anxiety since its vapors travel directly to the olfactory receptors of the brain.
In one eight-week study, chamomile had significantly reduced anxiety symptoms in mild to moderate generalized anxiety disorder patients.
The average dose is 350 mg to 500 mg daily.
2. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Valerian contains sedative compounds that help the herb treat insomnia, stress, and anxiety. Research shows that valerian root increases the amount of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain.
GABA is known to calm anxiety and regulate nerve cells in a similar way as anti-anxiety drugs, diazepam (“Valium”) and alprazolam (“Xanax”). The valerenol and valerenic acid in valerian root extract are known to have anti-anxiety properties.
The average dose is about 500 mg daily.
3. Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)
Passionflower has long been helpful for anxiety. Passionflower increases GABA, and this makes you feel more relaxed and lowers activity of certain brain cells that may cause anxiety.
Research found that passionflower was just as effective as mainstream anti-anxiety drugs midazolam, oxazepam, and sertraline. In a study published in the Iranian Journal of Psychiatry in 2016, passionflower was found to complement sertraline—aka “Zoloft”—in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder.
The average dose is about 500 mg per day.
4. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon balm has a mild sedative effect, and it is often used to treat insomnia and anxiety. In one 2004 study, researchers found that lemon balm extracts created more calmness and alertness among participants than a placebo did.
However, the right dose is important since too much lemon balm can increase anxiety. About 500 mg is the average dose of lemon balm supplementation daily.
5. Kava Kava (Piper methysticum)
Kava kava, or kava root, is often used to treat insomnia, and calm stress, restlessness, and anxiety. A study published in the journal PLOS One in 2016 found that kava kava targets GABA receptors that manage anxiety symptoms.
A systematic review of 22 double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized trials determined that kava extract may be an effective treatment for anxiety.
The average dose of kava kava is about 250 mg daily, and it should only be used for up to four weeks at a time.
6. St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
St. John’s wort is a well-known herb for depression, but it is also useful for insomnia, tiredness, and anxiety. A systematic review of St. John’s wort shows that this herb is well suited for depression-related anxiety.
The average dosage of St. John’s wort is about 300 mg daily. However, you should not take it with anti-anxiety drugs; hence it is best to consult your doctor before adding St. John’s wort to your treatment plan.
7. Rhodiola (Rhodiola Rosea)
Rhodiola has been used to reduce stress and calm nerves for hundreds of years. As a popular adaptogenic herb, rhodiola is able to improve brain function, fight depression, and reduce anxiety.
A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2008 found that rhodiola significantly improved generalized anxiety disorder symptoms.
The average dosage of rhodiola is about 500 mg daily.
8. Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri)
Bacopa is also called brahmi. It is known to treat a wide range of mind-related health problems, including depression and anxiety, and it has fewer side effects than psychotropic drugs.
The positive effects of bacopa on the nervous system have been attributed to the neurotransmitters serotonin, acetylcholine, and GABA.
A 2013 study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research also found that bacopa can decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol. High amounts of cortisol are known to worsen anxiety symptoms.
You can take an average of 500 mg of bacopa daily.
9. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Ashwagandha is an important herbal remedy in Ayurvedic medicine that is often used to relieve stress and anxiety. A study published in the journal PLOS One in 2009 found that ashwagandha is comparable to common drugs used for depression and anxiety, such as imipramine and lorazepam.
That being said, ashwagandha had minimal adverse effects, whereas the drugs may cause insomnia, drowsiness, increased appetite, and more. A 2014 systematic review also concluded that ashwagandha significantly improved anxiety and stress better than the placebo.
Up to 900 mg daily of ashwagandha is the average dose in supplement form.
Final Thoughts on Herbal Remedies for Anxiety
Anxiety is the body’s natural response during stressful situations. Herbal medicine is often used to combat feelings of anxiety or stress.
In this article we mentioned several helpful herbal remedies for anxiety, including chamomile, valerian, passionflower, lemon balm, kava kava, St. John’s wort, rhodiola, bacopa, and ashwagandha.
Many herbal supplements will contain a combination of these herbs for anxiety. As a result, the herb may work better when combined than alone.
That being said, it is best to always follow the directions on the label closely. Also, consult your doctor before trying a new herbal treatment. They will be able to discuss potential side effects and interactions with medications or other supplements.
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