“Plants Have Enough Spirit To Transform Our Limited Vision.”
I’ve said it before, the right herb can be a great sidekick on the way to overcoming anxiety and dealing with other emotional problems. Below you’ll find a list of herbs that I myself experimented with and find to be some of the best herbs for anxiety, as well as some important facts to consider for each.
- Kava: Very good for treating anxiety when a guided plan is in place, but keep in mind that reports indicate the possibility of damage to the liver, even when kava is used for a short period. Hence, the FDA has issued warning on use of kava-containing dietary supplements. The toxicity of kava is still a subject of research, so use in moderation and consult your doctor and naturopath before using kava-containing products.
- Valerian: Some studies have shown valerian to have an alleviating effect on stress and anxiety, which makes it one of the best herbs for anxiety. It’s safe to take valerian for anxiety, but in small doses. Also, studies are still on about the safety of the herb when used for a long period. It is advisable to use it for only a few weeks at one go, unless approved by a physician for longer period use. Side effects of valerian are dizziness, headaches, and drowsiness.
- Passion flower: Different studies indicate that passion flower can be as beneficial for easing anxiety as benzodiazepine drugs prescribed for treating anxiety. The studies also found that side effects such as daytime drowsiness were lesser with passion flower than benzodiazepines. It is safe to use passion flower for anxiety when taken with the right directions. Side effects include dizziness, drowsiness, and confusion.
- Chamomile: There is not much data on effects of chamomile but I can confidently say it’s my #1 go-to for calming nerves and enhancing quality sleep (More In This Video). Some studies show that it is quite safe to use and that it is effective in alleviation of anxiety symptoms. However, when it is used with blood-thinning medications, the risk of bleeding is increased. Individuals with increased sensitivity to the chamomile plant family may suffer from allergic reactions after using it. Other members of this plant family are marigold, ragweed, chrysanthemum, and daisies but chamomile is definitely one of the best herbs for anxiety available today.
- Lemon balm: Lemon balm is typically available in combination with other kinds of herbs. Some limited research on lemon balm shows that it can help ease certain anxiety symptoms like excitability and nervousness. A 2004 study found that it decreased stress and enhanced alertness and calmness when taken in a higher dose, and that even with a low dosage, it helped people solve math problems faster. Tolerance for lemon balm is good and it can be safely used for a short period of time. Side effects include pain in abdomen and nausea.
- Lavender: Some limited and preliminary investigation has shown that lavender aromatherapy or oral use of lavender can help decrease anxiety. Oral intake of lavender can however result in headaches, increased appetite, and constipation. It can also enhance the sedative impact of other drugs and supplements and trigger low blood pressure. However, I love and will always love using lavender as an essential oil in my diffuser, and gives me a massively calming effect through the day.
- Ashwagandha: The anxiety-easing effects of this herb are almost similar to the calming effects of lorazepam medication. Studies have shown that anxiety sufferers who took the full-spectrum, high-concentration extract of ashwagandha experience substantial improvement in their anxiety levels. They even showed significant reduction in the levels of cortisol stress hormone. This herb does not cause any extreme side effects.
As mentioned earlier, these herbs work very well with a proper CBT based program for anxiety. Finding the herb that works best for you might take some time and experimentation, but in the end it seems nature has truly provided us all we need to overcome anxiety and get to a better place in our lives.