Every year, millions of prescriptions are written for anti-anxiety medications, making them some of the most commonly prescribed drugs.
But these medications don’t always work, can’t be used by everyone, and have a multitude of unacceptable side effects (including being highly addictive).
For reasons like these, more people are turning to natural remedies to control their anxiety instead.
Natural, traditional remedies have long histories of safe and effective use.
But science has shown that many of them work even better than anti-anxiety drugs.
In this review of 25 of the best natural anti-anxiety remedies, we explain how each of them works, the symptoms it treats best, and much more.
Pay close attention so that you match the best remedy for your particular situation.
Herbal Remedies for Anxiety
Plants parts — seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark, and flowers — have been used medicinally by every culture.
Archaeologists have found evidence that we’ve been using plants medicinally for at least 60,000 years!
Eighty percent of the world’s population still rely on herbal remedies as part of their primary health care.
There’s been a resurgence in the use of herbs for anxiety in recent years.
This interest has been fueled by the rising costs of prescriptions plus the awareness that anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax and Ativan have serious side effects, including being some of the most addictive substances known.
These are our favorite herbal remedies for anxiety that have been proven both safe and effective.
#1. Arctic Root (Rhodiola rosea)
Arctic root, as the name suggests, is found mainly in cold regions of the world like the Arctic and mountains of central China.
It is used in both Scandinavian and Chinese traditional medicine.
It’s a potent adaptogen, a substance that strengthens your overall resistance to both physical and emotional stress.
This makes Arctic root particularly useful for anxiety accompanied by fatigue.
Other uses for this traditional herb include depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and memory loss.
It’s been shown to work faster for depression than antidepressant medications.
One of the ways it works is by increasing the activity of major neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
If you have brain fog, trouble concentrating, depression, or low energy along with your anxiety, Arctic root an excellent herb to consider.
#2. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
Ashwagandha is one of the most important herbs in the 3,000-year-old Ayurvedic Hindu system of medicine.
Its name literally means “smell of the horse” since the root does smell a little horsey.
But don’t let that put you off since it’s also believed to bestow the strength and stamina of a horse on those who take it.
Its main use now is as a stress-relieving adaptogen.
It has a significant effect on the stress hormone cortisol, reducing it by 25%.
It is very helpful at calming anxiety of all kinds, especially agoraphobia (fear of open places).
Try ashwagandha if you feel depressed, fatigued, and lack motivation.
#3. Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri)
Bacopa monnieri, sometimes called Brahmi (from the word “Brahman” meaning “the energy of universal consciousness”), is another important adaptogenic herb in Ayurvedic medicine.
Bacopa has a long history of use for increasing longevity and enhancing brain power.
It reduces anxiety while also improving memory and attention.
This makes it an excellent choice for anyone who has anxiety with memory loss.
If you try bacopa, be patient.
It can take a while for its effect to kick in.
Expect that it will take a few months to experience full benefits.
#4. Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)
Ginkgo biloba is one of the world’s most ancient and impressive plants.
The earliest ginkgo fossils date back 270 million years.
Ginkgo trees literally grew when dinosaurs roamed the earth!
A handful of ginkgo trees were at the epicenter of the Hiroshima atomic bomb blast.
Amazingly, these trees are so hardy that they survived and are still alive today.
Ginkgo leaves have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.
Now it’s one of the most widely used herbal remedies in the world with annual sales topping $250 million.
While it’s thought of as mainly a memory enhancer, ginkgo reduces the release of stress hormone cortisol making it effective for anxiety and stress as well.
Ginkgo raises levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine which are essential for a positive mood.
#5. Ginseng (Panax ginseng)
Ginseng is one of the most ancient, popular and widely studied herbs on the planet.
The Chinese believe it to be the “elixir of life” and have used it to promote strength, stamina, and physical performance for over 5,000 years.
It is usually labeled Asian, Chinese, or Korean ginseng, depending on where it is grown.
Ginseng creates a relaxed, but alert, state.
It calms you down and boosts your energy without being over-stimulating.
It’s useful for treating stress, anxiety, fatigue, and depression.
Other reported benefits of ginseng include better energy, sleep, libido, and overall well-being.
You may want to try American ginseng, a distinct species (Panax quinquefolius), that is widely regarded as the best ginseng in the world — even by the Chinese!
#6. Kava (Piper methysticum)
Kava (or kava) is a medicinal plant that originates in the South Pacific and is one of the most potent natural remedies for anxiety known.
People throughout this region make a traditional kava tea that’s valued for its ability to induce a state of relaxation and mental clarity.
Numerous studies consistently find kava effective at treating anxiety.
It’s been found to work as well as prescription medications for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) by increasing the level of the brain chemical GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid).
GABA is a relaxing neurotransmitter that calms the mind and puts the brakes on brain activity when needed.
#7. Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata)
Passionflower is the only herbal remedy on this list native to North America.
This beautiful flowering vine was used traditionally by Native Americans to treat anxiety and insomnia.
It was brought back to Europe and is now widely grown and used medicinally there too.
Studies have found it to be as good for treating generalized anxiety disorder as the prescription sedative Serax (oxazepam).
It’s believed to work by increasing brain levels of GABA.
#8. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Valerian has been called “nature’s Valium” and is mainly used to relieve anxiety, stress, and insomnia.
It’s documented use in Europe goes back more than 2,000 years — its properties were first described by Hippocrates.
It’s another one of the several herbs on this list thought to work by increasing GABA levels in the brain.
It is generally considered safe but unlike some of the other herbs for anxiety, valerian can definitely make you drowsy, so use it just before bedtime.
Vitamins for Anxiety
While it’s important for general health and mental well-being to meet all your basic vitamin needs, there are a few vitamins you should pay particular attention to if you have anxiety.
Being low in certain vitamins can exacerbate anxiety symptoms, and the right supplements can help.
#9. B Complex Vitamins
B complex vitamins are sometimes referred to as “happy vitamins” or “anti-stress vitamins” since they can elevate your mood and increase your tolerance to stress.
Anxiety, depression, fatigue, and poor concentration are signs of B vitamin deficiency.
B vitamins are needed to provide energy to brain cells and to create neurotransmitters.
B vitamins can address imbalances of GABA, serotonin, dopamine, and epinephrine that contribute to anxiety.
A word of caution: some people report getting too “energized” by taking B vitamin supplements and find it makes them more anxious.
Inositol was formerly known as vitamin B8 until it was discovered that the body could make its own.
Now it’s categorized as a pseudovitamin.
Inositol is found in high concentrations in the brain where it facilitates communication between brain cells.
It has been proven useful for all kinds of anxiety including panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
One study found it worked as well as Luvox (fluvoxamine), a popular antidepressant, for treating panic disorder but without any side effects.
#11. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is called the “sunshine vitamin” since your skin creates it when exposed to the sun.
Between spending time indoors and wearing sunscreen when we are outside, vitamin D deficiency affects 75% of us.
Vitamin D can help with anxiety and depression associated with fibromyalgia.
Low vitamin D may, in part, be responsible for the anxiety and depression people experience from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Other Supplements for Anxiety
Not all natural remedies for anxiety fall neatly into the herb or vitamin categories.
There are natural substances like amino acids, minerals, and other nutrients with anti-anxiety properties as well.
Here are some notable supplements in this “best of the rest” category.
Magnesium deficiency is rampant — it’s estimated that 75% of us don’t get enough.
And this deficiency is a major contributor to anxiety.
Magnesium dials down the release of stress hormones and acts as a filter to prevent them from entering the brain.
There are many forms of magnesium supplements but the best for anxiety is magnesium l-threonate.
You may be familiar with taurine as an ingredient found in energy drinks.
Taurine is an amino acid found in high concentrations in the brain, where it acts very much like the neurotransmitter GABA.
Taurine activates GABA receptors and stimulates the release and formation of GABA.
If you are looking for a remedy for low-GABA related symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, and an overstimulated mind, taurine is an excellent substitute for GABA supplements which don’t work well for everyone.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that’s an essential building block of the mood-elevating brain chemical serotonin.
Tryptophan is readily found in protein-rich foods but due to a biological quirk, very little dietary tryptophan is available for serotonin synthesis in the brain — only about 1%. For this reason, taking supplemental tryptophan works better for raising serotonin than relying on food.
Tryptophan has been found useful for reducing general anxiety, social anxiety disorder, and panic attacks.
#15. Fish Oil
Omega-3 essential fatty acids are an integral structural component of brain cell membranes and nerve cells.
And healthy brain cells are your first line of defense against anxiety, depression and other mood disorders.
The most popular omega-3 supplements are in the form of fish oil.
Your intestines house over 500 different species of bacteria.
These bacteria are referred to collectively as your intestinal flora, microbiome, or microbiota and they have a profound impact on your brain and mood.
They are responsible for making over 30 neurotransmitters including mood-elevating serotonin and relaxing GABA.
Practicing neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter reveals in his book Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain — for Life how a dysfunctional microbiome can be the root cause of anxiety, depression, and other brain-related disorders.
Research shows that as little as 30 days of probiotic supplementation can diminish anxiety and stress-related depression.
Relaxing Teas for Anxiety
Before humans figured out how to stuff herbs into capsules or isolate active ingredients from plants, they were often consumed as teas.
Most of the plants and herbs below are also available in the form of supplements.
But there are some good reasons to consider using them in the form of tea instead.
Unlike swallowing pills, sipping tea is enjoyable and the ritual of making tea can be relaxing.
#17. Chamomile Tea (Matricaria recutita or Chamaemelum nobile)
Chamomile tea has long been used to treat insomnia, stress, and anxiety.
You may recognize it as a main relaxing ingredient in the highly popular Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Tea.
Chamomile is particularly useful for those who suffer from depression along with anxiety.
Chamomile is so safe it can be given to children.
There are many species of chamomile.
The two most popular are Matricaria recutita (common names German or wild chamomile) and Chamaemelum nobile (common names Roman or English chamomile).
All species of chamomile belong to the same plant family (Asteraceae) as the highly allergenic ragweed.
If you are one of the millions of people allergic to ragweed, you might want to avoid chamomile since there’s a chance of allergic cross-reactivity.
#18. Lemon Balm Tea (Melissa officinalis)
Lemon balm has been used as a calming herb since the Middle Ages.
Since it’s a member of the mint family, it has a pleasant minty taste with a hint of lemon.
It reduces the stress hormone cortisol while increasing the relaxing neurotransmitter GABA.
It’s good for treating insomnia and improving memory.
It works synergistically with other herbs for anxiety-like valerian, hops, and chamomile.
#19. Green Tea (Camellia sinensis)
It might be a surprise to see green tea on this list since it contains a small amount of caffeine (25 mg per cup).
But, in fact, green tea is more calming than stimulating.
Its caffeine is offset by two unique anti-anxiety compounds, l-theanine, and EGCG.
L-theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid that has a relaxing, but not sedating, effect.
#20. Gotu Kola Tea (Centella asiatica)
Gotu kola’s health benefits are legendary.
It is an important natural remedy in Chinese, Indonesian, and Indian Ayurvedic medicine.
Traditionally it was used to treat disorders of the mind including anxiety, mental fatigue, depression, memory loss, and insomnia.
Its Chinese name means “fountain of youth.”
Unfortunately, the name Gotu kola sounds like it contains caffeine (as in cola drinks) but it doesn’t.
Ironically, it is a natural relaxant.
In studies, Gotu kola increased calmness, contentedness, and alertness by 100% and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression by 50%.
It can lower symptoms of anxiety and stress in persons with generalized anxiety disorder.
#21. Holy Basil Tea (Ocimum sanctum)
Holy basil (or tulsi) is yet another herb used in the Ayurvedic healing tradition.
It’s one of the most revered plants in India as its name attests — Tulsi means “the incomparable one.”
It is thought to bestow upon its users a long and healthy life.
Holy basil alleviates stress and anxiety by decreasing levels of the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine.
It provides significant relief to those with generalized anxiety disorder.
It can also help with other brain-related disorders such as depression, memory loss, insomnia, and migraine headaches.
Holy basil can be consumed either as a supplement or as a tea known as tulsi tea.
Homeopathic Remedies for Anxiety
The 200-year-old healing practice of homeopathy has millions of followers worldwide.
The World Health Organization states that homeopathy is the second most widely used medical system in the world.
#22. Argentum Nitricum: For Chronic or General Anxiety
Argentum nitricum is an excellent all-purpose remedy for chronic anxiety or generalized anxiety disorder.
It is derived from the mineral silver nitrate.
This is an appropriate remedy if you are a constant worrier who’s always thinking about the ways things could possibly go wrong.
Argentum is also good for anticipatory anxiety such as that experienced before public speaking or taking an exam.
It’s also recommended if you suffer from anxiety brought on by a phobia such as claustrophobia or fear of heights.
If your life is driven by “what ifs,” Argentum might be the ideal remedy for you.
#23. Aconitum Napellus: For Sudden Anxiety and Panic Attacks
A top remedy for acute anxiety is Aconitum napellus.
Aconitum is a beautiful but poisonous flowering plant found throughout temperate parts of the world that goes by the common names of monkshood or wolf’s bane.
It is one of the oldest homeopathic remedies and also goes by the name Aconite.
It’s specifically helpful if your anxiety symptoms are acute and come out of the blue with no obvious trigger.
Aconitum is recommended for anyone who experiences panic attacks.
It’s appropriate if you are plagued with an unreasonable fear of dying.
Dr. Vikas Sharma is a fourth generation homeopathic physician who specializes in autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.
For anxiety attacks, he recommends taking a low-potency dose (30c) every few minutes until your feelings of panic have subsided.
#24. Homeopathic Anxiety Remedies Worthy of “Honorable Mention”
Aconitum and Argentum can provide relief for the majority of people with anxiety.
But if neither of these is a good match for your set of symptoms, or you have tried them without success, here are some other notable homeopathic remedies to keep in mind.
Pick one that most closely matches your set of symptoms:
- Arsenicum album — for those deeply worried about their health
- Calcarea carbonica — for feeling overwhelmed by illness or obligations
- Gelsemium — for performance anxiety, stage fright or fear of going to the doctor or dentist
- Ignatia Amara — for profound loss, or for sensitive persons who are anxious due to loss or disappointment
- Kali phosphoricum — for those easily startled, with a sense of dread and inability to cope
- Lycopodium — for anxiety caused by too many responsibilities and fear of failure
- Natrum muriaticum — for anxiety in social situations, or for insomnia caused by anxiety that gets worse at night
- Phosphorous — for anxiety brought on by lack of confidence
- Pulsatilla — for anxiety caused by hormonal changes or emotional neediness
- Silica — for stress brought on by perfectionism
Essential Oils For Anxiety
Aromatherapy is a healing system based on the use of essential oils — concentrated, fragrant extracts taken from the roots, leaves, seeds, or flowers of medicinal plants.
Essential oils been used for over 6,000 years in Egypt, Greece, China, India and the Roman Empire and are frequently mentioned in the Bible.
They may sound like a lightweight, rather than serious, remedies for anxiety, but their use is recommended by such prestigious organizations as the Mayo Clinic and the National Cancer Institute.
The US National Library of Medicine, a database of scientific research, lists thousands of research studies performed on essential oils.
It’s not completely understood how essential oils work, but they seem to work by tapping into the powerful relationship between our sense of smell and the brain.
Scent receptors in the nose send chemical messages by way of the olfactory nerve to the limbic system, a primitive area of the brain that deals with basic emotions (like anger and fear) and memories.
While herbs used for anxiety are usually taken internally, essential oils are used externally to reduce stress and heal emotional issues.
Essential oils are usually inhaled or diluted and massaged into your skin.
#25. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
If you are new to aromatherapy, you can’t go wrong starting with lavender essential oil.
Lavender is the most studied and the most widely used essential oil.
It is the most versatile of essential oils, a veritable “Swiss army knife” of aromatherapy remedies.
Besides its calming, relaxing, and anti-stress qualities, lavender has been proven to do everything from healing burns to improving concentration.
One study found that compared to prescription tranquilizers, oral lavender oil capsules worked just as well to relieve generalized anxiety disorder but without the side effects and risk of addiction.
Lavender isn’t the only essential oil for anxiety.
Article from https://bebrainfit.com/natural-remedies-anxiety/