If you’re one of the millions of people suffering from anxiety, you may be looking for natural ways deal with it. Here are 7 Herbs for Anxiety that help support your health. The best part is that many of these herbs can be grown in your home garden!
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a combination of thoughts and physical responses to a harmful situation. Anxiety is a healthy response that is good when there is an actual source of danger, like a lion chasing you. However, when you live in a constant state of fear, this can harm your overall health and cause you to develop an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety symptoms include heart racing, inability to think, possible anger, sweating, a knot in your stomach, feeling out of control, etc.
What Causes Anxiety?
Anxiety can be caused by trauma, incorrect or unhelpful thinking, a chemical imbalance, or a combination of the three.
What Does Anxiety Look Like?
Anxiety can appear in so many different ways in our lives. However, social anxiety, generalized anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other forms of anxiety have a common theme.
It can also be a combination of intrusive thoughts that you have a hard time figuring out where they come from.
Anxiety can keep you from pursuing relationships, finding joy in your everyday life, and taking that job you have always wanted. Anxiety is based on fear and worry, and it does not always seem like something we are choosing to do or feel.
Thankfully there are herbs for anxiety that are multipurpose and can work naturally to calm your body and mind.
Herbs for Anxiety
Lemon Balm is an herb that is a part of the mint family, and it is known for its anxiolytic benefits.
A research study using a Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS) was used to evaluate the levels of depression and anxiety experienced by the participants. The study gave participants 300mg of Lemon Balm with a natural sweetener (to hide the taste to avoid throwing off the participants), and they had reduced anxiety within an hour. Working memory was also increased compared to the placebo. (Scholey et al., 2014)
Lavender is a purple flower that is often used as an essential oil. It has been used to improve anxiety and depression because of its ability to suppress our excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate NDMA-receptor and the serotonin transporter SERT. Antidepressant drugs work similarly in inhibiting SERT to allow the body to increase the available serotonin in the body.
The difference between serotonin and dopamine when dealing with anxiety and depression is that serotonin is our “happy” neurotransmitter, and dopamine is our “pleasure and motivation” neurotransmitter. This is important when understanding how different natural remedies can help you support your mental health.
Saffron is a spice derived from the beautiful purple flower Crocus sativus. Saffron is known for its antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties, reducing brain inflammation, therefore, reducing anxiety symptoms.
Saffron also increases serotonin and GABA, similar to a natural benzodiazepine. Safranal, a part of saffron, creates anxiolytic effects in the body, similar to diazepam. 50mg of saffron showed a significant decrease in depression and anxiety in participants measured with Beck’s Depression and Anxiety scales. (Midaoui et al., 2022)
Skullcap is the common name of an herb called Scutellaria lateriflora. It is proven to decrease anxiety and improve overall mood without causing study participants to become tired from supplementing with 350mg worth. (Brock et al., 2014)
Rhodiola Rosacea is an adaptogenic herb; adaptogens work by creating balance in your body. For example, if you are low on energy, they help improve your stamina and help reduce your anxiety if you are overly stimulated.
400mg per day for two weeks has significantly reduced anxiety, stress, anger, and depression. (Cropley et al., 2015)
6. St. John’s Wort
Saint John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is an herb typically taken for depression, but it can also be beneficial for anxiety. When an individual suffers from anxiety or depression, their serotonin and dopamine levels are low, and Saint John’s Wort increases serotonin and dopamine activity in the brain. (Sarris et al., 2011)
It also decreases the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate to help relax your nervous system.
Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin) is the pink silk tree native to Asia. It has been shown to decrease insomnia which is correlated with anxiety. Mimosa increased sleep duration and sleep delay. Mimosa reduces stress by the use of 5-HT1A receptor agonists, which help lower blood pressure and slow down your heart rate, which are both symptoms relating to anxiety. (Sarris et al., 2011)
Depression and anxiety go hand-in-hand many times, and focusing on improving one can help improve the other. These herbs for anxiety mentioned above are great ways to improve your mental health with fewer side effects.
You can even grow many of them in your garden or buy them locally as a fresh herb. If not, most of them are also found in tinctures or capsules at your local health food store.
Brock, C., Whitehouse, J., Tewfik, I., & Towell, T. (2014). American Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora): a randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled crossover study of its effects on mood in healthy volunteers. Phytotherapy research : PTR, 28(5), 692–698. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.5044
Cropley, M., Banks, A. P., & Boyle, J. (2015). The Effects of Rhodiola rosea L. Extract on Anxiety, Stress, Cognition and Other Mood Symptoms. Phytotherapy research : PTR, 29(12), 1934–1939. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.5486
El Midaoui, A., Ghzaiel, I., Vervandier-Fasseur, D., Ksila, M., Zarrouk, A., Nury, T., Khallouki, F., El Hessni, A., Ibrahimi, S. O., Latruffe, N., Couture, R., Kharoubi, O., Brahmi, F., Hammami, S., Masmoudi-Kouki, O., Hammami, M., Ghrairi, T., Vejux, A., & Lizard, G. (2022). Saffron (Crocus sativus L.): A Source of Nutrients for Health and for the Treatment of Neuropsychiatric and Age-Related Diseases. Nutrients, 14(3), 597. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14030597
Sarris, J., Panossian, A., Schweitzer, I., Stough, C., & Scholey, A. (2011). Herbal Medicine for depression, anxiety and insomnia: A review of Psychopharmacology and clinical evidence. European Neuropsychopharmacology, 21(12), 841–860. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.euroneuro.2011.04.002
Scholey, A., Gibbs, A., Neale, C., Perry, N., Ossoukhova, A., Bilog, V., Kras, M., Scholz, C., Sass, M., & Buchwald-Werner, S. (2014). Anti-stress effects of lemon balm-containing foods. Nutrients, 6(11), 4805–4821. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu6114805