In this article we will discuss the use of herbs for anxiety and how these herbs work well for your body without the side effects of prescription medication. First, we need to talk about what is Anxiety?
The definition of anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. It is a system in our body that helps us to deal with real danger or to perform at our best.
When you experience anxiety, your body’s “ fight-flight-freeze ” response is triggered. This response prepares your body to defend itself. Anxiety is not dangerous.
Despite the fact anxiety may feel uncomfortable, it is not dangerous or harmful to you. Remember, all the emotions you feel when you are anxious are there to safeguard you from danger, not hurt you.
There are three parts to anxiety: (1) physical symptoms (how our body reacts), (2) thoughts (what we say in our mind) and (3) behaviors (what we do, or our actions). Learning to recognize these signs of anxiety can help you to be less afraid of it.
Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. You might feel anxious when faced with a problem at your job, before taking a exam, or before making an important decision. Anxiety is a common and normal experience, and it can be managed well.
Anxiety becomes problem when your body reacts as if there is danger when there is actually no real danger. Once you are able to understand and recognize anxiety, you will be better prepared in learning how to manage anxiety.
Majority of people who suffer from anxiety are lacking key nutritional ingredients in their diet, which sends their brain chemistry off balance.
With the increase of nutrient-deficient food on the market today, anxiety is on the rise.
More people than ever are taking antidepressants, and natural options that work are needed more than ever. Herbs have been used to treat anxiety for centuries.
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A handful of herbs have been recognized as effective in calming the anxious nerves of both men and women. Several herbal remedies have been studied as a treatment for anxiety.
For those seeking alternative treatments, I have listed 12 of these herbal options that may be worth a try.
Herbs For Anxiety :
Valerian- The root of this plant is a great remedy for anxiety. It contains a compound called valepotriate which acts as a sedative and has demonstrated through testing not to have a sedative effect. Clinical study of valerian root has revealed its usefulness as a treatment for anxiety.
In World War II it was used by English soldiers to minimize the stress of air raids, and has also been mentioned as being an effective treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Rhodiola (Rhodiola Rosea ) is adaptogenic herb , meaning that it acts in non-specific ways to increase resistance to stress. It increases energy, stamina and endurance which is often depleted after extended amounts of time dealing with anxiety.
A study published in 2007 in the Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, showed that patients with mild-to-moderate depression who took a rhodiola extract reported fewer symptoms of depression.
Ashwagandha – has shown effectiveness in reducing stress hormones, promoting intellect and memory, protecting against neuronal injury in Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s. Usage of ashwagandha was shown to be a good protector against stress.
Several studies, including one published in the journal Phytomedicine back in 2000, have found that ashwagandha works as well as, or better than, antidepressant drugs at relieving anxiety and treating depression symptoms.
Ashwagandha naturally prevents stress-induced free radical damage without causing harmful side effects.
Ginkgo Biloba – For centuries, ginkgo biloba has been widely used to treat a wide range of mental conditions including dementia, depression, Lyme disorders, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Some women who experience anxiety after menopause may find that taking hormones to ease menopause symptoms can help improve their mood, said Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of the North American Menopause Society and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville.
In a study conducted to test the effectiveness of ginkgo biloba, it was found that the herb is indeed capable of reducing one’s level of stress and anxiety.
It works by increasing blood supply, reducing blood viscosity, boosting neurotransmitters, and reducing harmful free radicals. Ginkgo extract can also reduce symptoms of anxiety and stress by lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Maca (Lepidium meyenii) – has been traditionally used in Peru to treat depression in men and women and to stimulate libido. In a 2008 study published in the journal Menopause, researchers found that maca helps reduce anxiety and depression symptoms in women with menopause.
Spend Time Outside. During the summer months, it is particularly enjoyable to spend time outside. This is great because spending time in the sun will allow us to soak up all the benefits of its warm rays. The UV rays created by the sun are wonderful in helping us to regulate our internal clock. Sunlight increases our production of melanin, a hormone that helps improve our mood and sleep. We recommend that you take a break in your busy day and go for a little walk in the sun, if possible.
Kava (Piper methysticum ) – this herb has been used for centuries to decrease anxiety and bring about a feeling of tranquility. It not only relieves stress, but is also an effective joint pain reliever, muscle relaxer and mild sedative.
Kava is known for having sedative effects without causing cognitive impairment. Research have shown that Kava is a very fast acting stress reliever.
Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata) – Studies show that passionflower may have the potential to be used successfully as a treatment for anxiety– the plant’s active components have been found to increase GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) in the brain, creating a sense of calm.
It is a very strong and effective calming herb. It’s very popular with people who suffer from anxiety disorders. It helps treat insomnia and calms down a chattering mind. It possesses mild sedative properties and is a great tension reliever.
Chamomile – First used by the Ancient Egyptians, chamomile is perhaps the most well-known of all “calming” herbs for it’s calming influence on the mind. Results from clinical trials indicate that chamomile helps to reduce symptoms of general anxiety disorder.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that anxiety symptoms were significantly reduced in patients treated with chamomile.
Use of chamomile has been associated with promoting restful sleep. People with a history of sensitivity to ragweed should take extra care before drinking chamomile tea or using products that contain chamomile.
Try chamomile the next time you are feeling really anxious.
Ginseng – This herb is better known for its adaptogenic properties which enhance the body’s physical resistance against wear and tear caused by emotional and physical stress. It has very powerful anti-anxiety properties.
It works by improving the workings of the body’s hormones that lead to relaxation. Being an adaptogen, it can also stimulate you so you are less tired and more focused.
Acupuncture can help beat dental anxiety
Please note that ginseng is often used as an energy booster and so it may not be suitable for all people. Consult a professional.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) – This powerful herb is regarded as capable of promoting a deep sense of calmness, relaxation and even sleep. Lavender is also effective at reducing one’s level of anxiety .
It works by balancing the hormones and stimulating the body’s immune system. For centuries, lavender has been widely used to treat anxiety.
Catnip – Coming from the mint family, catnip is a powerful herb capable of treating various symptoms of anxiety. For people with severe anxiety, catnip makes an effective relief. It reduces stress, eases muscle tension, improve appetite and eliminate headache that is triggered by insomnia.
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Today, catnip is recognized as a powerful herb that is capable of stimulating the nervous system, and treating physiological imbalance and other symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The plant is capable of rejuvenating nerve activities, stimulating the brain and relaxing the nerves which result to reduced anxiety and stress.
Skullcap – is used as a mild sedative and is helpful to calm your mind and protect you against nervous exhaustion, as it strengthens the nervous system. Besides treating anxiety, Skullcap has been used for spasms, tremors and restlessness leg syndrome.
General Guidelines for Using Herbs for Anxiety:
Avoiding mixing herbs with prescription medications or alcohol without consulting a doctor.
Never abuse herbal remedies (take more than recommended).
Do not use herbal remedies for an extended period without talking to a doctor.
Check to make sure you are not allergic to an herb before you use it.
Always combine herbal supplements with healthy lifestyle choices.
These are just some of the healthy herbs for anxiety you can take. There are many others. Healing with herbs is one of greatest and most natural way to stay calm and healthy. Herbs and natural remedies are simply a great way to treat your anxiety and your anxiety symptoms.