8 Effective Herbal Supplements for Anxiety

Many of us are familiar with feelings of anxiety and panic attacks. This helps.

In the UK alone, there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety recorded in 2013, with women twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders than men. There may be a natural remedy to the rescue.

Chest tightness, sweating and an overwhelming feeling of losing control. We’re all familiar with the feelings of anxiety and panic attacks. I’m no different. I’m well aware of how overwhelming and scary anxiety can feel, not only mentally but physically. The actual symptoms can range from very short to lengthy and ongoing. It’s completely different for each individual. I found that little things would set me off, such as leaving the house or meeting friends.

According to the American Psychological Association, anxiety is identified by worried thoughts, feelings of tension, and physical changes such as increased blood pressure. I’m not sure which are worse, the physical or the psychological symptoms. Whether you experience mild symptoms or have full-blown panic attacks, it’s important to find a method of coping that works for you.

Constantly living with tension and distress can be detrimental to your quality of life. The need for effective natural supplements to ease anxiety symptoms is greater than ever. As well as helping with anxiety, many remedies have other positive benefits. I’ve compiled a list of eight effective supplements below. These could help to reel in your anxiety and get your life back.

Valerian Root. Valerian is commonly used as a sleep aid for insomnia, which can often be caused by anxiety. As well as aiding in a restful night’s sleep, valerian root is a natural remedy for anxiety. Mostly taken in pill form due to its questionable smell, valerian root encourages relaxation. One small study has shown that patients with generalised anxiety disorder found valerian root significantly reduced a measure of anxiety, compared to a placebo. Valerian has been used for centuries and dates back to Greek and Roman times as a natural anxiety remedy.

Kava Kava. A well-known anxiety remedy, kava kava promotes relaxation. Today, it’s most frequently consumed in pill form. Some key benefits of kava root are muscle relaxation and improved cognitive ability. Its use as an anxiety treatment has been reviewed in multiple studies and found to be an effective and safe treatment. The natural supplement could interact negatively with alcohol—but if you’re looking to improve your anxiety, it’s probably best to avoid alcohol altogether.

Ashwagandha. A bit of a mouthful, the herbal medicine translates to “smell of horse." Traditionally used to treat anxiety, aging, and low energy, the adaptogenic herb has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine. Adaptogens are a class of healing plants that help balance, protect, and restore the body. Holy basil and liquorice root are also classed as adaptogens. Ashwagandha helps balance the hormones that contribute to anxiety as well as helping to induce relaxation and aid sleep. A number of studies support the effectiveness of the herb as a natural anxiety remedy. In 2012, a study found that patients diagnosed with anxiety disorder showed significantly lower anxiety and 28% lower levels of serum cortisol when taking Ashwagandha as opposed to a placebo.

Rhodiola. The bright yellow-green plant is also known as golden root or roseroot. Rhodiola is an adaptogen herb and is the second-most-consumed in traditional medicine. As an adaptogen herb, it can have a direct effect on your stress levels and ability to control and manage stress. The herb has been shown to have beneficial qualities in the relief of anxiety symptoms. Rhodiola encourages calmness and relaxation as well as being a natural stress reducer.

Lavender. Widely used in aromatherapy, the plant’s essential oil is said to promote relaxation, something any anxiety-sufferer strives for. Lavender is available in pill form and alone as an essential oil. Several studies have tested its effect on anxiety symptoms. In a 2005 study published in Physiology & Behaviour, 200 people found that breathing in lavender while awaiting dental treatment both improved mood and lessened anxiety. Lavender has also been known to help encourage sleep, which can be massively affected by anxiety. Placing a pot of lavender in your bedroom, or perhaps using a lavender pillow spray, may help you nod off and improve your sleep quality.

Passionflower. This beautiful flower is used as a natural medicine for anxiety sufferers. Passionflower has calming effects on those feeling restless and anxious. It’s known to cause sleepiness for some, so it’s best to take before bed after a busy day. Originally native to Peru, Passionflower has spread throughout the world. Some studies suggest the flower may help relieve anxiety and aid sleep, but more research is required to properly assess all the potential uses of passionflower, according to the National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Some species of the flower may even help with treating stomach problems.

Chamomile. Chamomile is a gentle, effective and natural way to treat anxiety. If you’re not a fan of tea, it’s also available in pill form. It’s also been known to ease digestion issues and encourage sleep, helping many insomnia sufferers. In a 2009 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, chamomile capsules seemed to have a calming effect on patients' anxiety symptoms.

Lemon Balm. Most commonly found in capsule form, lemon balm is also an extract. It can be taken alone or added to herbal tea. This natural anxiety remedy has been used since at least the Middle Ages to relieve symptoms and encourage relaxation. Lemon balm may also be helpful in treating digestive issues and headaches. Known for its calming and soothing properties, several studies have found that lemon balm not only helps to relieve anxiety, but can also improve mood and reduce stress.

Remember: Every individual is different so the way your body may interact with natural remedies can differ.