Anxiety and depression are disturbing and disabling conditions accompanied by long-term stress and a gradual decline in overall health. And when there is a continuous decline in health, they can lead to quite a few chronic diseases and disorders. The best way to handle these issues is by treating them from the very beginning, and this is possible under proper medical supervision.
Anxiety cannot be treated overnight and needs long-term treatment. Using medications for a long duration might have many side effects, so natural remedies for anxiety are a good alternative. Herbs are your best bet here. These are safer to consume under proper medical supervision than a long-term dose of medications and can relieve the symptoms in an instant.1
Chamomile not only reduces anxiety and restlessness but is also said to have a soothing effect on the mind, thus inducing good sleep. Studies have shown that it also reduces irritability and acts as a muscle relaxant.2 3
Chamomile is best in the form of a tea. However, it can also be taken in the capsule form but only with a doctor’s nod.
2. Asian Ginseng
Have you heard of the root extract powder Panama ginseng? Also known as Chinese or Asian ginseng, this interesting root has been used as a medicinal powder for thousands of years and as an adaptogen. This means it will help your body adapt to stress and stress-related conditions. In other words, Asian ginseng is the perfect partner you need to deal with mental stress, anxiety, and any physical stress caused by free radical damage.4
Asian ginseng is commonly taken in the form of a powder. Wash it down with a glass of water.
3. Passion Flower
The passion flower is another common herbal medicine for alleviating stress. It consists of free flavonoids, sterols, chlorogenic acid, volatile oil, and traces of alkaloids and is said to have a complex action on the central nervous system. Research also documents its sedative action on humans. It relieves tension, anxiety, restlessness, and nervousness and induces sleep.5
You can find passion flowers in the market in bulk as a herb or in the form of teas, capsules, fluid, tincture, or hydroalcoholic extracts. A natural health practitioner can give you the right dosage based on the intensity of your symptoms.
A somewhat bitter herbal drink, kava is said to contain psychoactive pyrones. It is prescribed as a common folk remedy for anxiety, insomnia, and restlessness. Studies also claim that kava has subtle psychoactive properties and relaxes muscles, calms the nerves, and creates a general feeling of well being, peace, and contentment.6
Be cautious about taking kava if you have an existing liver or kidney disease and also avoid consuming it with alcohol or other medications. Take this only under proper medical supervision. The powder obtained commercially can be blended into juices and smoothies to mask the taste before consumption. Any herbal product should be used only in the prescribed quantities.
An expensive herb used mostly in exotic cuisines, research shows that saffron is good at taming anxiety and restlessness. It also soothes the mind and promotes mental and emotional balance. Saffron extracts, when used for a period of 12 weeks, has shown to reduce anxiety and depression.7
You can add saffron to the dishes you cook or take it in the form of supplements. Check with a medical practitioner for the right dosage.
Aromatherapy is a widely known practice for treating anxiety. Research shows that certain aromatic oils like lavender have a soothing effect on those suffering from anxiety. Many recovering from anxiety disorders claim that using lavender essential oil puts them in an excellent space and acts as an excellent adjuvant to traditional therapy.8
7. Valerian Root
Valerian root is a popular herbal tranquilizer and as such can soothe anxiety. The herb exerts a regulatory effect on the autonomous nervous system and acts as a nervous system depressant and mild sedative. Its extracts are also beneficial in reducing anxiety during the day and treating sleep disturbances like insomnia.9 Besides this, it works well on dizziness, neural pain, headaches, menopausal hot flashes, and sleeplessness, all of which are common causes of significant anxiety and stress, especially in older women.10
Valerian root is available as capsules, liquid extract, essential oil, or tea and works well in combination with other relaxing herbs such as passionflower, skullcap, hops, or chamomile. But, do not use the valerian herb every day for more than 6 months since that might lead to the risk of allergic reactions like increased anxiety, restlessness, or heart palpitations.
American skullcap is popular in traditional medicine for its positive effects on anxiety and insomnia. It enhances the mood and reduces anxiety with a minimal loss of energy or cognition. The herb is also widely used in the treatment of cancer, inflammation, and viral infections.11
Always look for organic sources of this herb as impure skullcap products may be contaminated with liver-toxic herbs like germander.12
9. St John’s Wort
St. John’s wort is widely used for treating physical issues like burns, bruises, and swelling. But it’s also effective at relieving anxiety and mild-to-moderate depression. It inhibits chemical neurotransmitters like serotonin, noradrenaline, and dopamine whose imbalance can cause anxiety. No other antidepressant is found to have as broad an inhibitory profile as this herb.13
That said, higher doses of St. John’s wort can induce phototoxicity, a chemically induced irritation to light. Gastrointestinal symptoms, allergic reactions, and fatigue are some of the other noted minor side effects of long-term use of St. John’s wart.14
Be it aromatherapy or herbal supplements, it is always advisable to try such therapies under medical supervision. Self-medication might have side effects and if there are any noticeable symptoms, ensure you get timely help.
|↑1||Kessler RC, Soukup J, Davis RB, Foster DF, Wilkey SA,Van Rompay MI, et al. The use of complementary and alternative therapies to treat anxiety and depression in the United States. Am J Psychiatry 2001;158:289-94.|
|↑2||Della Loggia, R., R. Carle, S. Sosa, and A. Tubaro. “Evaluation of the anti-inflammatory activity of chamomile preparations.” Planta medica 56, no. 06 (1990): 657-658.|
|↑3||Ross, Stephanie Maxine. “Chamomile: a spoonful of medicine.” Holistic nursing practice 22, no. 1 (2008): 56-57.|
|↑4||P. Cherniack, N. Cherniack, Alternative Medicine for the Elderly, Springer Science & Business Media, 2013.|
|↑5||Gerald P Krueger, Howard M Leaman, Gene Bergoffen, Daniel C Murray, Racquel Pickett, Effects of Psychoactive Chemicals on Commercial Driver Health and Performance: Stimulants, Hypnotics, Nutritional, and Other Supplements, Transportation Research Board, 2011.|
|↑6||Bilia, Anna Rita, Sandra Gallori, and Franco F. Vincieri. “Kava-kava and anxiety: growing knowledge about the efficacy and safety.” Life sciences 70, no. 22 (2002): 2581-2597.|
|↑7||Mazidi, Mohsen, Maryam Shemshian, Seyed Hadi Mousavi, Abdolreza Norouzy, Tayebe Kermani, Toktam Moghiman, Akram Sadeghi, Naghme Mokhber, Majid Ghayour-Mobarhan, and Gordon AA Ferns. “A double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial of Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) in the treatment of anxiety and depression.” Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine 13, no. 2 (2016): 195-199.|
|↑8||Woelk, H., and S. Schläfke. “A multi-center, double-blind, randomized study of the Lavender oil preparation Silexan in comparison to Lorazepam for generalized anxiety disorder.” Phytomedicine 17, no. 2 (2010): 94-99.|
|↑9||Imbalance, Anxiety. “Nutrients and botanicals for treatment of stress: adrenal fatigue, neurotransmitter imbalance, anxiety, and restless sleep.” Alternative Medicine Review 14, no. 2 (2009): 114-140.|
|↑10||Mirabi, Parvaneh, and Faraz Mojab. “The effects of valerian root on hot flashes in menopausal women.” Iranian journal of pharmaceutical research: IJPR 12, no. 1 (2013): 217.|
|↑11||Brock, Christine. “American skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora L): a study of its effects on mood in healthy volunteers.” Ph.D. diss., University of Westminster, 2012.|
|↑12||Hyman, From Dr. “Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Valerian.”|
|↑13||Müller, Walter E. “Current St. John’s wort research from mode of action to clinical efficacy.” Pharmacological Research 47, no. 2 (2003): 101-109.|
|↑14||De Smet, P. A., and Willem A. Nolen. “St John’s wort as an antidepressant.” BMJ: British Medical Journal 313, no. 7052 (1996): 241.|