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7 Herbs for Anxiety: Treat Stress with Nature-Made Tonics

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Are you feeling anxious about minor problems? You’re not alone. Anxiety disorder is a recognized mental illness that affects an estimated 40 million Americans, or 18 percent of the national population.

Anxiety is caused by a number of risk factors such as external events, genetics and brain chemistry. The last point is especially noteworthy because brain chemistry is dependent on lifestyle factors, and therefore, within our control. Instead of resorting to medication, we encourage people to give herbs for anxiety a try. Natural treatments have far fewer risks of side effects and dependency.

START TODAY: How to Reduce Anxiety the Natural Way

1. Lavender

You can’t mention anti-anxiety herbs without mentioning lavender. Its use has long been documented in alternative and folk medicine. Its fragrance makes it a favored compound in aromatherapy. In fact, you can reap the benefits by consuming lavender tea or even just by burning some lavender incense or oil for the aroma.

In one study, lavender’s efficacy for treating anxiety was comparable to leading pharmaceutical anxiety drugs, such as lorazepam. Unlike the drug, lavender users did not experience undesirable sedative effects.

2. Ashwagandha

This is one of the lesser-known herbs for depression, though its beneficial properties are just as well documented. The herb is a main staple in traditional Indian medicine. Western science is just starting to catch up and verify this compound’s many benefits. In fact, we have talked about ashwagandha in past posts due to its role in natural testosterone production and enhancing libido.

It also happens to be one of the most potent calming herbs known to man. In a double-blind study1, subjects administered ashwagandha scored an average 72 percent lower on the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale compared to a placebo. In addition, the same group also scored 44 percent lower on the Perceived Stress Scale.

3. Passionflower

Native Americans used the passionflower herb for treating a range of ailments such as liver problems, boils, external wounds and insomnia. It was later used by European settlers for treating agitation and restlessness. This is when it became known for its anti-anxiety effects. Studies2 suggest the passionflower, formerly known as P. incarnata, may boost the brain’s release of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This compound slows brainwave activity, inducing a state of relaxation.

Another study3 showed that passionflower supplementation effectively calmed the nerves of patients about to undergo surgery. The findings suggest the herb may be a potent alternative to sedation.

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Try these seven powerful stress-lowering techniques. 

4. St. John’s Wort

This strangely-named herb is another powerful anxiety reducer. Its origins are deeply rooted in Europe and especially Germany. Aside from anxiety, users also swear by its effects for treating mild depression, mood swings and seasonal affective disorder.

Studies4 show St. John’s Wort was effective for treating mild and moderate bouts of depression. Subjects also experienced few instances of remission.

Its exact mechanisms are unclear, but the herb is rich in a chemical compound called hypericin. Researchers suspect this or other compounds may function as a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, giving it properties similar to that of Prozac. In other words, it increases the availability of brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.

5. Rhodiola Rosea

This medicinal plant is found in Siberia and other arctic regions. Its root is a highly sought-after compound for its potency in treating stress, depression and fatigue. Studies5 show the Rhodiola root aids in the release of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Subjects in clinical trials also reported less anxiety, stress, confusion and anger.

MORE: How to Lower Cortisol Naturally

Rhodiola is classified as an adaptogen herb, meaning it helps the body manage normal bodily rhythms even when faced with stressful situations. Not only is it one of the most favored herbs for anxiety, but it’s also the second-most consumed adaptogen herb, next to Asian Panax.

6. Ginkgo Biloba

This is one of the herbs for anxiety commonly sold as a supplement. It is popular for alleviating an array of physical ailments such as blood disorders, cardiovascular disease and macular degeneration. It also happens to be popular as a mood enhancer.

The ginkgo tree, by the way, happens to be one of the oldest tree species in the world. It can also live to around 1,000 years, with some ginkgo trees in China estimated to be around 2,500 years of age.

Anyways, what is Ginkgo Biloba’s role in anxiety treatment? One study6 suggests the herb may be useful for reducing anxiety and stabilizing mood in elderly patients experiencing Alzheimer’s or cognitive decline. The same study also suggests the herb warrants further research as a possible anti-dementia drug.

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Products like Cortigon have clinically-proven dosages of Ginkgo Biloba and other nutrients known to naturally reduce stress hormones.

7. Kava

This is another one of the herbs for depression that is somewhat obscure despite having plenty of scientific literature behind it. The plant has Polynesian origins and was also extensively used for ceremonial purposes.

Studies7 show kava compared favorably to mainstream anti-anxiety medications, particularly those in the benzodiazepines class. It also fared better in trials than a placebo for reducing non-psychotic anxiety states.

Unlike most other herbs, the kava root does have some side effects users need to be aware of. Evidence suggests kava may be toxic for the liver if you’re currently on medication. Speak with a doctor if you’re on any prescribed or over-the-counter meds.

Herbal Supplements for Anxiety

Some of these herbs are difficult to find in their natural forms. Most are not available at your local North American supermarket or are available in processed and diluted forms. This is why many people turn to supplements, which is no different than the herbs themselves provided the ingredients are all-natural.

MORE: Is Stress the True Cause of All Disease?

If you’re looking for a calm supplement, then we suggest Cortigon, which contains natural and proven compounds for battling the blues. There are dozens of herbal supplements for anxiety on the market. Whatever you choose, just stick to our golden rule: go for all-natural ingredients with no (or minimal) inactive excipients.

Herbs for Anxiety Provide Natural Relief

Calming herbs show promise in their ability to soothe the nerves. Give any of these natural medicines a try if you’re prone to feelings associated with dread, sadness or the blues. Even in the midst of undesirable life events, it’s not natural to feel down and anxious all the time. Natural herbs may provide reprieve without the side effects associated with anti-anxiety medications.

Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults. Indian J Psychol Med. 2012;34(3):255-262. [PMC]
Akhondzadeh S, Naghavi H, Vazirian M, Shayeganpour A, Rashidi H, Khani M. Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2001;26(5):363-367. [PubMed]
Movafegh A, Alizadeh R, Hajimohamadi F, Esfehani F, Nejatfar M. Preoperative oral Passiflora incarnata reduces anxiety in ambulatory surgery patients: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Anesth Analg. 2008;106(6):1728-1732. [PubMed]
Apaydin E, Maher A, Shanman R, et al. A systematic review of St. John’s wort for major depressive disorder. Syst Rev. 2016;5(1):148. [PMC]
Cropley M, Banks A, Boyle J. The Effects of Rhodiola rosea L. Extract on Anxiety, Stress, Cognition and Other Mood Symptoms. Phytother Res. 2015;29(12):1934-1939. [PubMed]
Woelk H, Arnoldt K, Kieser M, Hoerr R. Ginkgo biloba special extract EGb 761 in generalized anxiety disorder and adjustment disorder with anxious mood: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Psychiatr Res. 2007;41(6):472-480. [PubMed]
Savage K, Stough C, Byrne G, et al. Kava for the treatment of generalised anxiety disorder (K-GAD): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials. 2015;16:493. [PMC]

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Christopher Walker

Christopher Walker is a co-founder of UMZU and creator of the Thermo Diet. He is the first person to get a Duke Neuroscience degree in 3 years. After naturally solving his own health complications with a brain tumor as a teenager, he has devoted his life to creating all-natural products and education to help men, women, children and pets to improve their own health naturally using science-backed research.
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