Money, family relations, friends, love, or even deciding on what to eat can induce anxious feelings. Between your pre-existing anxiety and all that is going on the world, it seems like you can’t swim to the surface to take some much needed breaths. How can you fight back and overcome? Many health experts and psychologists explain that turning to herbs may be more beneficial than anxiety medications.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America claims that anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness in the United States. Affecting over 40 million adults, anxiety ranges from minor symptoms to severe issues, impairing your ability to carry out everyday tasks. When you’re anxious, it’s easy to tell yourself to relax, but it’s harder to put words into action. Instead of getting caught up in prescription medication and over-the-counter drugs, turn to herbs to fight stress and anxiety. Not only are they extremely effective, but they rarely have side effects (always check to see if you are allergic to herbs prior to use). Consider using the herbs below to calm the mind and relieve anxiety.
There is historical evidence that Native Americans used passionflower for medicinal purposes. As settlers moved across America, they continued using it to help treat restlessness and hysteria. In recent years, scientific studies found that passionflower works to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, and agitation. Researchers believe that passionflower works to increase gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. This chemical works to reduce the activity of certain brain cells, helping you feel more relaxed. The Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics published a study that proved passionflower to be as effective at treating anxiety symptoms as a prescription anti-anxiety medication known as oxazepam.
Native to the islands in the Pacific Ocean, kava kava is a bush that many Pacific Islanders brew into a ceremonial beverage. It has muscle-relaxing properties, but it also works to reduce stress levels. Many researchers believe that kava kava’s sedative and hypnotic properties contribute to its ability to reduce anxiety. The traditional beverage has a numbing effect on the mouth, but teas and extracts don’t have that same effect. If you regularly experience anxiety symptoms, drink kava kava tea or take the extract three to four times per week. Note that you should not use kava kava if you have liver problems, and avoid overconsumption of kava kava because it can damage the liver.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb, meaning it can affect hormones or systems in the body that regulate stress response. Historically, Ayurvedic medicine used ashwagandha to help calm the mind, reduce stress, and relieve anxious feelings. An eight-week study in 2019 involved 58 patients experiencing stress. Each person received one of three treatments randomly. The three treatments were ashwagandha in varying doses (250mg or 600mg) and a placebo. Participants who took the 600mg dose dramatically reduced stress levels, but the people who took the 250mg dose experienced minimal to no reduction in stress.
The heavenly chamomile herb has myriad medicinal properties. Many cultures have used chamomile to help reduce muscle spasms, get rid of insomnia, reduce ulcers, treat insomnia, and remedy gastrointestinal disorders. Several studies found that chamomile exhibits sedative properties, which help induce sleep. Apigenin, a flavonoid in chamomile, is responsible for the sleep-inducing abilities. When apigenin binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain, some sort of hypnotic activity occurs. One study found that anxiety patients who took chamomile for eight weeks experienced a reduction in anxiety symptoms.
Tulsi (Holy Basil)
This herb is popular in Indian medicinal practices. While most people are familiar with tulsi’s antioxidant properties and its ability to regulate blood sugar, it has calming properties that are beneficial for anxiety patients. Drinking a cup of tulsi tea every morning can not only help reduce stress levels, but it also works to boost immune function.