10 Herbal Remedies for Anxiety That The Doctor Won't Tell You About

Let’s be honest, prescription medication is seldom what we would wish for as a first choice when dealing with mental health problems. When we’re talking about anxiety quite often the first strike option of the GP is to prescribe powerful SSRIs, which are usually used to treat depression and carry with them the risk of serious side effects. While these may well be suitable in many cases, it would also be useful to try some natural remedies prior to starting a cycle of medication. Herbal treatments are non-addictive and do not alter personality.

herbal remedies for anxiety

Do not mix these herbs while taking any prescription medication without consulting your doctor. Some of these herbs might be allergenic, so it’s good practice to check before you administer a full dose.

1. Valerian Root
Primarily used as a sleep aid, valerian root is a powerful sedative- in herbal terms at least. However, these sedative properties are also effective at reducing muscle tension and relaxing the mind. Valerian root has been used medicinally since at least as far back as ancient Greece and The Roman Empire, if not before.

2. Motherwort
As the name might suggest, Motherwort has been used for generations as a relief for uterine infections, pregnancy related stress, and anxiety. This herb is also useful to treat menstrual cramping and instils a sense of calmness without drowsiness. Now common the world over thanks to its medicinal properties, Motherwort grows commonly in urban areas. Check vacant fields for Motherwort’s three pointed bell-shaped leaves.

3. Hops
This essential ingredient of beers and ales is also a plant with a long medical history. It can be used to fight indigestion, nervousness, insomnia and stress. Thanks to the prevalence of beer brewing, hops are both easy to come by and relatively cheap the world over.

4. Chamomile
Chamomile is a natural sedative that you may be aware of already. Chamomile tea can be used to calm both mental and physical nervousness, although it is neither recommended as a long term solution nor for pregnant women as it can cause uterine contractions leading to miscarriage. This amazing herb is also being used in various forms as an anti-inflammatory, anticancer, anticoagulant and antimicrobial agent! Pretty amazing that one plant can be used so widely.

5. Skullcap
As well as anxiety relief, skullcap has anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties. Unlike valerian root, this herb is not for the use of pregnant women, and can be toxic in high doses, so it’s important only to use as directed.

6. Passionflower
Passionflower combats agitation, headaches, mood swings, and hot flashes from low to moderate anxiety by reducing muscle tension and insomnia. Passionflower came into the world’s herbal knowledge from the Native Americans, who have used this plant medicine for centuries. Not to be used if you are taking MAOIs for any reason.

7. Kava
Similar to passionflower in most respects, except this herb is for more severe anxiety. Unlike most of the herbs on this list that deal with the physical symptoms of anxiety, Kava has been shown to calm anxious thoughts as well. Unfortunately, it has also been linked to a few health scares, so consult your doctor. Kava should not be mixed with alcohol or other medicines. Kava is common throughout South East Asia and Australasia, where the bark is ground and then mixed with water for consumption.

8. Cannabis
Particular strains of cannabis that are high in cannabidiol (CBD) have been shown in medical trials to reduce significantly the effects of anxiety. As the cannabis that is grown for recreational use has been bred to raise the level of THC (the psychoactive affecting part), CBD enhance cannabis has only recently shown an increase in popularity thanks to the demands from the medical marijuana community. CBD has also been shown to be effective in the treatment of schizophrenia and depression.

9. Catnip
This relative of mint isn’t just useful for getting your cats high. Great for relieving stress and muscle tension in humans, catnip also helps to stimulate the appetite, which is commonly inhibited by anxiety. As a typical plant in most parts of the world, it should be possible to find some growing wild to brew catnip tea. Catnip has also been smoked in a cigarette, but this is probably not very good for you and shows negligible effects on anxiety.

10. Salvia Elegans
Commonly known as pineapple sage, this plant has been used extensively in Mexican traditional medicine for both anxiety and lowering of blood pressure. It is only native to pine forests in Mexico and Guatemala, but preliminary studies show a potential use for a herbal antidepressant and as an antihypertension agent.

The key thing to remember before administering any of these herbal remedies is that they are not wonder cures. You also must take action with your lifestyle. Having a serious look at your diet, day to day stress and even how you breathe are all essential parts of a holistic anxiety treatment. We do not live in isolation from our bodies or our anxieties, so it would be foolish to treat one without treating the other.

In summary, most of the pharmaceuticals that are prescribed by doctors are at some point derived from plants. Human science being what it is, we have often looked to make the chemical replacement for natural remedies powerful in the extreme. This reasoning has led to unforeseen and undesirable side effects with many of our modern medicines. If we can treat an ailment in a gentler way, with fewer side effects for the same long term result, I believe that is a goal to be aimed at. Not wishing to spread discord between you and your doctor, I, of course, recommend you take their advice on board with the utmost seriousness. Happy herbing!

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