Struggling with anxiety is no easy feat and it can feel like you’re always on the hunt for something – anything – that will provide some relief and support. While traditional medications, such as beta-blockers and SSRIs, can provide an effective form of relief, they often come with many unwanted side effects. The use of herbs for healing dates back thousands of years and when it comes to anxiety relief, various studies have found them to provide positive outcomes with fewer side effects than prescription medication. In this article, we will discuss the best types of herbs for anxiety and what you can expect from each of them.
Top Herbs for Anxiety Relief
With over 422,000 plant species containing medicinal properties, it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to using herbs for your own personal healing. To help you start harnessing the benefits of using herbs for anxiety relief without the added stress that can come from the research process, we have created this comprehensive list of the most effective herbs to use for easing anxiety.
One of the most popular herbs used to induce relaxation and calmness is a flowering herb called chamomile. There are two types of chamomile used for anxiety: German chamomile and Roman chamomile, which are commonly enjoyed as tea. However, chamomile can also be used as an extract, in a tablet or in skin cream, all of which can be the perfect antidote for effectively reducing anxiety symptoms.
Something to take note of is that you may experience an allergic reaction if you typically have reactions to ragweed, chrysanthemums, daisies or marigold.
Like chamomile, lavender is a highly-recommended herb for anxiety due to its calming and relaxing properties and the many different ways it can be used. It can be used with food or as a drink, diffused, inhaled or applied to the skin. You can also enjoy lavender in tea form or as an essential oil, as a room spray, oral supplements or in bud form, with each option showing promising results for treating anxiety. Various research has confirmed lavender can produce a calming effect without sedation, and others have found that taking lavender oil orally can be an efficient mood stabilizer and may even help in treating neurological disorders due to the anxiolytic and neuroprotective properties. Using lavender before bed can also help with sleep anxiety and sleep disorders, such as insomnia.
A popular herb commonly used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine is ashwaganda. It’s an incredibly versatile and effective herb that can help manage stress, anxiety, sleep disorders and so much more. This is due to its ability to reduce cortisol levels (your stress hormone) while also balancing out other hormones and neurotransmitters affected by stress. It’s also an adaptogen herb, meaning it will also help the body adapt to stress and regulate a person’s stress response, making it a top herbal treatment for anxiety disorders.
Commonly called kava for short, kava kava is a promising herb native to the Pacific Islands that studies have found to be an effective form of natural anxiety relief. People taking kava experienced a significant reduction in anxiety than the placebo. You can take kava kava in capsules or as an herbal tincture, both of which can be found online or at your local health food store.
There have been promising results for using passion flower to treat anxiety and insomnia. Studies have even found passion flower to have comparable results to oxazepam (a prescription pyschoactive medication used to treat anxiety), without the side effects commonly associated with the drug. However, it can cause dizziness and drowsiness, so you’ll want to avoid taking this herbal supplement during the day or when operating heavy machinery. Instead, use it at night (approximately 45 drops of passionflower extract) to help ease sleep-related anxiety.
Reishi or adaptogen mushrooms is highly recognized as being an elite herb for the typical person suffering from chronic stress and/or anxiety, as it effectively helps the body adapt to everyday stress by gently regulating the way the body responds to stressors. These types of medicinal mushrooms also contain over 400 bioactive compounds that can also help boost immune function, enhance mental clarity, promote vitality and provide a plethora of additional therapeutic benefits.
This lemony herb, nicknamed “the gladdening herb” has been used for over 2000 years and is highly recognized for having the ability to brighten the spirit. Lemon balm can be an effective form of treatment for several anxiety symptoms, including nervousness and excitability, which can help in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Lemon balm also offers mild sedation which can help with nighttime anxiety, insomnia and other sleep-related disorders. It’s also shown to be an excellent mood stabilizer and can even improve cognitive function.
Various studies have reported that people who have taken valerian as an herbal supplement reported experiencing less anxiety and stress. As such, valerian is a popular herb used to treat anxiety, depression and sleep problems at the root source. It can be enjoyed as a tea, tablet or tincture but should not be used by pregnant or nursing women. It can cause drowsiness and dizziness as well, which is why it helps with sleep related anxiety and disorders, so be sure to only use it at night or when you aren’t operating heavy machinery.
Tulsi, or what is commonly known as Holy Basil, has been used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years and is quickly becoming popular in Western society as well. It’s an adaptogen herb, meaning it helps the body manage, adapt and respond to stress, making it an amazing herb for the treatment of anxiety.
Cannabidiol may be a controversial herb but it’s an effective one, nonetheless. Commonly referred to as CBD for short, cannabidiol is an active ingredient found in cannabis and it has shown to have a calming effect on the central nervous system. It does not contain THC, so you will not experience any high associated with cannabis. Instead, you will experience a sense of relaxation that can provide you with natural relief from anxiety and sleep disorders. CBD is also used to treat a vast array of other physical and mental health conditions, including inflammation, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, pain, and so on and so forth.
Sprinkle some spice into your day with turmeric and experience sufficient anxiety and depression relief. Turmeric contains phytochemicals and curcumin that have powerful anti-inflammatory effects and that have also been found to help calm a chronically activated stress response. You can get these benefits by adding the powdered herb into your meals and beverages, or by taking a curcumin extract.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort is among the top, most researched (and promoted) herbs for treating a variety of mood and mental health disorders, including depression, ADHD, somatic symptom disorder, OCD, anxiety, and many more. Research has found that this plant can help boost dopamine levels (your happy hormone), GABA, serotonin (your ‘feel good’ hormone), and noradrenaline. It can improve your mood while simultaneously reducing emotional distress and anxiety.
A popular herb known as the golden root, Rhodiola is recognized as one of the most crucial adaptogens for mental health. This one single herb has a strong effect against mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression, and can also help treat mental health symptoms by boosting your mood and mental capacity and increasing energy, stamina and strength.
Herbal supplements can be an effective form of natural relief for a variety of mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression. You can enjoy them in a tea or as a tincture, as a lather from a balm or lotion, in an essential oil diffuser, roller or spray, or in a capsule, making it easy to captivate the therapeutic benefits anytime you need the extra boost of relief.