Annually observed in May in the United States since 1949, Mental Health Awareness Month aims to reach as many people as possible through community events, screenings, and media. There are currently 450 million people worldwide living with some form of mental illness, and two-thirds of people with mental illness refuse to seek treatment. The mission of Mental Health Awareness Month is to provide support, resources, and treatment options for those who may not search for help on their own.
Roughly 18 percent of the American adult population (around 40 million people) is currently living with an anxiety disorder. Anxiety can be a rare visitor for some, while others experience consistent anxiety, making it difficult for them to catch their breath and organize their thoughts. While breathing techniques, exercise, and maintaining a healthy diet filled with nutrient-dense foods can help improve anxiety, there are non-habit forming herbal options that have been proven to be effective.
Everyone with anxiety deserves to feel good, right? Take the extra time to invest in your mental and physical well being by getting a massage, correcting chemical imbalances via acupuncture, or doing a digital detox. That last tip is probably the most important, due to the fact that the percentage of people with anxiety has dramatically increase since the dawn of smartphones, tablets, and any other device that delivers and overwhelming amount of uncontrollable information 24 hours a day. Take a break from screens!
For those who want to avoid prescription medication for anxiety, sleep, or depression, consider experimenting with the following three herbs to relieve anxiety.
Several clinical studies have shown that valerian root may be an effective herbal remedy for people with insomnia and anxiety. The people in these studies reported reduced anxiety and stress levels, and they had an easier time falling asleep. Additionally, the amount of time they remained asleep increased. If taken in excess, valerian root may cause dizziness, headaches, or drowsiness, but these reports are based on people who took more than 150mg of valerian root extract a day.
Commonly consumed as a ceremonial drink in the Pacific Islands (Fiji, American Samoa, and Hawaii), kava root, also known as kava kava, has been praised for its calming effects on the body. Kava kava has been used by native cultures to help reduce headache pain, anxiety, improve sleep, and protect the kidneys. Working to slow the release of hormones into the bloodstream, kava kava helps to keep you calm. It does have a more sedative effect than valerian root, which is beneficial if your anxiety makes it difficult to fall asleep. Note that overconsumption of kava kava may damage the liver, so avoid this herb if you have liver problems.
This exotic vine flower is quite striking with its alien-like purple and yellow center. People have used passionflower for its various healing properties, the most notable of which is that it helps to calm anxiety. Passionflower may increase levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that works to regulate mood. Several studies have shown that passionflower has anti-anxiety properties, and it may even be a healthy alternative to anti-anxiety medication.