Anxiety is a natural human emotion that arises from the anticipation of a threat or danger. It can manifest in various ways, including:
Physical symptoms: racing heart, sweating, trembling, muscle tension, headaches, nausea, and fatigue.
Cognitive symptoms: excessive worrying, intrusive thoughts, difficulty concentrating, and difficulty sleeping.
Emotional symptoms: fear, irritability, nervousness, and restlessness, including generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety, panic disorder, and specific phobias.
Anxiety can be mild and occasional, or it can become severe and chronic, leading to significant distress and interference with daily life. If you’re experiencing persistent and debilitating anxiety, it’s important to seek professional help from a therapist or doctor.
Several herbs are traditionally believed to have calming and anxiety-relieving properties. Here are a few
Valerian roots (Valeriana officinalis) are known for their calming properties and have been used traditionally to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and improve sleep. It may interact with neurotransmitters in the brain, promoting a sense of relaxation. This herb has been used for centuries as a natural sleep aid and an anxiety reliever. Its root is typically consumed in tea or capsule form, and some studies suggest it may be effective for mild anxiety and insomnia.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is thought to have mood-enhancing properties and may help reduce symptoms of anxiety. It’s commonly used in herbal teas and supplements for its calming effects. This member of the mint family may help reduce anxiety and improve sleep. It can be consumed in tea or taken as a supplement. Important note: Lemon balm works better in smaller portions than if overdosing causes an invigorating effect and additional nervousness.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is the fragrant purple flower of lavender that is widely used in aromatherapy. Inhaling lavender essential oil or using it in a bath can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. Not many people know that ingesting lavender as an infusion is one of the best natural sedatives, which can also be used as a tea. It perfectly relieves tension, relieves headaches, lowers blood pressure, and also protects against pathogens!
Hops (Humulus lupulus) are well-known for their use in brewing beer, but they also have medicinal properties. The compounds in hops, particularly bitter acids, are thought to have mild sedative and anxiolytic effects, potentially assisting in calming nerves. Some studies suggest that hops may have weak oestrogenic effects. Since menopause involves a decline in oestrogen levels, this property might be beneficial for women experiencing symptoms like hot flashes and mood swings. Hops are often used to promote sleep and alleviate insomnia. Sleep disturbances are common during menopause, and the sedative nature of hops may contribute to better sleep quality.
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) has been traditionally used for mood disorders, including mild to moderate depression and anxiety. It may affect serotonin levels in the brain. This herb is used in some European countries as a treatment for depression and anxiety. However, it can interact with medications and have potential side effects, so it’s important to consult a doctor before using it.
Camomile (Chamomilla matricaria) has nervine properties that may help soothe the nervous system. Camomile tea is a popular choice for promoting relaxation and easing mild anxiety. Recognised for its calming and relaxing attributes, this daisy-like flower is also rich in anti-inflammatory components. Camomile tea is a popular way to consume it, and studies suggest it may be effective for mild anxiety and sleep problems.
Linden flowers (Tilia europaea) are known for their nervine properties, which means they have a calming effect on the nervous system. Linden is often used as a mild sedative, promoting relaxation and potentially aiding in better sleep. Linden is also believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, which could be helpful for people dealing with inflammatory symptoms.
Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) is also considered a nervine herb with relaxing properties. It’s used to calm the nervous system and may be beneficial for individuals experiencing nervous tension or anxiety.
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is believed to have mild sedative effects and is used to ease symptoms of anxiety and insomnia. It may interact with the GABA (Gamma-AminoButyric Acid) receptors in the brain, contributing to its calming effects.
Remember, anxiety is a complex condition, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Individual responses can vary, and potential interactions with medications or underlying health conditions should be considered, so it’s crucial to consult a doctor or qualified herbalist before using any herb, especially if you have any health conditions or are taking medication.
It is important to remember that addressing the underlying causes of your anxiety is essential for long-term relief. This may involve lifestyle changes, therapy, or medication.
If you’re struggling with anxiety, it’s important to seek professional help and explore various treatment options to find what works best for you.
It’s important to note that while these herbs are commonly used in traditional and alternative medicine, the scientific evidence supporting their efficacy for anxiety varies.
Herbs should, additionally, complement and not replace evidence-based treatments for anxiety, such as psychotherapy or medication, when recommended by a healthcare provider.