Herbal Remedies for Anxiety
Updated: May 24
Miracle in the Garden
A fast growing interest is to treat common ailments and minor ailments resourcefully with herbs from nature’s efficient garden. Global research has and is being done for discovering which herbs have healing components and how to use them best.
For at least 60,000 years, humans have been collecting herbal information using this knowledge for medicinal treatment in their civilizations. Ancient Egypt acquired knowledge from the Middle East importing herbs, dried spices, and fragrant oils. Ancient Greece gained power by utilizing knowledge from the Middle East and Egypt.
Today’s Herbal Medicine
Today’s use of herbs as medicine, united with a fascination and enchantment for fragrant and culinary herbs, are part of a universal renaissance in herb culture and usage. Simultaneously, we are becoming more aware of the connections between mind, body, and sprit, being recognized in the holistic medicine arena as worthy of esteem in its own truth.
Gentle Anxiety Treatment Using Nature’s Herbs
Retaining some of the beliefs of the Greeks, being that diet, environment and mental states all play a role in a person’s well-being, we are now taking a parallel holistic method to healthcare. With diet, lifestyle, and herbal remedies based upon the value of all aspects of our systems, we are beginning to realize that poor health must be eliminated for healing to follow.
Returning the body to a balanced state of being is fundamental in an herbalist’s treatment choices.
Brahmi [Bacopa monnieri Scrophulaceae]—other common names: Bacopa, water hyssop thyme-leaved gratiola—is a tropical herb believed to improve brain and memory functions. Anxiety, as we know, is of the brain.
Brahmi is an exceptional nerve tonic being noteworthy in reducing anxiety levels observed in some clinical studies. This confirms its use for nervous exhaustion and anxiety.
Gotu kola [centella asiatica syn. Hydrocotyle asiatica Apiaceae]—other common names: Asiatic pennywort, Arthritis herb—is reputed to be an effective nerve tonic on your nerve and brain cells which can in turn reduce anxiety and improve memory.
Hops [Humulus lupulus Moraceae]—was brewed in ancient Egypt as a type of beer. It was eaten like asparagus in the spring. You can grow hops vines sprawling along a fence, pole, or teepee trellis, reaching 33 feet in a season. The heavily scented essential oil is thought to be responsible for the plant’s relaxing properties.
Hops has a gentle stimulating effect for slow digestion because of its bitter compounds and is useful for gastrointestinal problems, particularly when intensified by stress and tension.
Hops, having sedative properties, can be used for a relaxing bath. Hops have a long history of being a sleep inducer and have been used for treating sleep disorders and insomnia. It is also helpful in treating restlessness and anxiety.
CAUTION: Allergic symptoms might occur from contacting hops and could include dermatitis and respiratory symptoms. If you suffer from depression, do not take hops without consulting a physician. Never use hops if you have a hormone-sensitive tumor or take anti-estrogenic medications.
Valerian [Valeriana officinalis]: a clinically proven herbal sedative for helping those suffering from insomnia to fall asleep quicker and to wake up less during the night. Compared to pharmaceutical sedatives, there are seldom any side effects with no drowsiness or trouble waking up in the mornings. It works best if taken nightly for several weeks as opposed to taking for an evening or two.
CAUTION: If valerian makes your insomnia worse, or you experience vivid dreams, stop using and try an alternative herb.
Sage [Salvia officinalis]—the leaves have a beneficial effect on the mind improving concentration, memory, and mood. Recent trials indicate it may have a helpful effect on symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Lemon Balm [Melissa officinalis Lamiaceae]—other common names: common balm, bee balm, Melissa, sweet balm—with leaves resembling mint leaves, they are used as a fresh lemon fragrance. The leaves have a mild sedative and mood-enhancing effect used for sleep disorders, restlessness, depression, and anxiety.
In clinical trials, people reported a sense of calmness and improvement with in their overall mood with just one dose. It is also used for gastrointestinal tract afflictions including spasms, nausea, and flatulence, especially if they symptoms brought on by tension and stress.
Oats [Avena sativa]—When you feel the pressure of too much to do in too little time, oats might help you cope. Oatmeal cereal is made from these oats. The leaves, stems, and other green parts, sometimes called oat straw, are used to aid in the restoration of a depleted or debilitated nervous system and support you when coping with nervous exhaustion and stress.
Herbalists regard this herb as gentle and reliable and the anxious and extremely frail can safely consume this herb.
Korean ginseng [Panax ginseng]—improves functioning when under stress and is the most highly valued of all Chinese herbs for helping the mind and body cope with stress.
Having been subject to many documented clinical trials, it has been shown to improve alertness, mood, relaxation, and performance.
The anxious and extremely frail cannot consume Korean ginseng.
St. John’s wort [Hypericum perforatum]—this herbal antidepressant can uplift your mood and calm nerves when things become demanding and challenging to deal with.
Proven by clinical research, the antidepressant properties of St. John’s wort exhibits a degree of effectiveness comparable to pharmaceutical antidepressants, and is safer to use. The way the herb works is similar to some of the pharmaceutical drugs.
Lavender [Lavandula angustifolia]—long used as aromatherapy for relieving stress. The fragrance of lavender has long been known for its ability to relax your mind and body, and there are scientific studies supporting this established tradition.
Studies additionally indicate that inhaling lavender reduces the body’s making of cortisol, the stress hormone.
Astragalus [Astragalus membranaceus]—other common name: milk vetch, native to parts of China and Mongolia, is an energy tonic with immune system support and one of the most essential energy tonics in long-established Chinese medicine.
It is useful for feeling tired and run-down, because it aids the immune system, and to help the body fight off flu and colds.
CAUTION: Resistance enhancing astragalus might reduce the side effects of some immune-suppressive cancer treatments. It might interact with chemotherapy. Use only under the care of a physician.
Passionflower [Passiflora incarnate]—used for sleep when sleeplessness is accompanied by anxiety or nervousness, and is ideal for those with an emotional component for insomnia. Herbalists prescribe passionflower with another relaxing herb, valerian.
CAUTION: If you take anticoagulant medication, do not use passionflower except under medical supervision.
Chamomile [Chamaemelum nobile syn. Anthemis nobilis and Matricaria recutita Asteraceae]—Chamomile flowers and leaves make a wonderful tea having a mild sedative effect on the nervous system. Its relaxing properties extend to the stomach when it’s upset offering soothing relief.
For a relaxing night’s sleep, combine the essential oils of chamomile and lavender in an oil burner.
Note: every effort has been made to have this information be accurate and current. Pharmacological and medical knowledge changes constantly. Readers are advised to consult with a qualified medical doctor for individual advice. Herbs, even though natural, can have side effects. If used irresponsibly, they can be toxic.
Warning: If you are pregnant or nursing, do not use any of the herbs listed in this article unless prescribed by a physician.