Stress is a part of everyday life. At times, however, it can be overwhelming. Anxiety is a medical condition that is the result of stress. While conventional medicine uses a pharmaceutical approach to controlling symptoms of anxiety, there are natural herbs available for anxiety control, which also have a calming effect.
Chamomile is a sweet, flowering herb in the chrysanthemum family. The bouquet is reminiscent of clusters of tiny daisies. It is very hardy, and can easily be grown indoors or outdoors.
Both varieties, German and Roman chamomile, are used by herbalists to treat stress, anxiety and as a sleep aid.
Chamomile is naturally antispasmodic, meaning it helps relax the muscles, and mildly sedative.
Studies support chamomile in even large doses to promote relaxation and sleep. It can be made into a tea, herbal infusion, or found in capsule and tincture forms.
To make it into an herbal tea, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2 to 4 grams of the dried herb. Cover and steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Enjoy a cup of chamomile tea 3 or 4 times per day to calm the nerves and relax the mind.
Like chamomile, lavender makes a pleasant tasting herbal tea. It is a perennial plant with small clusters of fragrant purple blossoms. The flowers and leaves are used as an herbal remedy and in aromatherapy.
Herbalists have used lavender for centuries to ease anxiety, and treat insomnia. Additionally, these claims have been validated by scientific studies. It has been shown not only to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality, but appears to enhance overall mood as well.
There are several ways to use lavender. Fresh blossoms can be added to baths to release healing, relaxing vapors. Dried flowers can be added to pillows and satchels and placed near the head at night to promote sleep.
Lavender essential oil can also be used in massage oils to alleviate anxiety. Or it can be consumed in herbal tea or tincture form. Taken internally, herbalists recommend drinking a cup of lavender tea 2 to 3 times per day.
3. KAVA KAVA
Kava kava is a Polynesian plant used for ceremonial purposes. It has powerful relaxing and sedative effects, and is consumed socially in the Pacific Island much the same as an alcoholic beverage. It is believed to improve mood and create an overall sense of well-being.
Several scientific studies have shown kava to be effective in alleviating symptoms of anxiety. One study also showed it helps improve mood and mental function.
In the United States and Europe kava kava is most commonly found in capsule or tincture form. To treat anxiety, take 150 to 300 mg, 1 to 3 times per day as needed.
Use with caution if you are currently taking other medications as it may impair liver function. Also, do not take kava kava for more than 3 consecutive months.
4. VALERIAN ROOT
Valerian root is a folk remedy that has been used since at least the 17th century for anxiety and insomnia. It is very popular in Europe, and has even been promoted by Germany’s Commission E (the German counter-part to the US FDA).
Scientific studies support its use for both anxiety and insomnia. Valerian is naturally sedative and anti-spasmodic, although it may take a few weeks before you fully notice the effects of the herb.
However, it is not a very pleasant tasting herb and has a strong odor. It is typically taken in capsule or tablet form for this reason. Herbalists recommend taking 200 mg, 3 to 4 times per day to treat anxiety.
5. LEMON BALM
Lemon balm, also known as Melissa, is a common herb in the mint family. It can be used for a variety of purposes, such as to reduce stress and anxiety, promote sleep, improve appetite, and ease pain and discomfort.
Scientists have discovered that when lemon balm is combined with other herbs like valerian and chamomile, it has powerful effects. It is used mostly as a sleep aid and to treat anxiety.
Like chamomile and lavender it is generally taken as an herbal tea. For stress and anxiety, take one cup up to four times per day.
Although many of these natural herbs for anxiety control are generally recognized as safe by the US FDA, it is important to talk to your health care provider before using herbs for medicinal purposes.
Never discontinue prescription medication without consulting your medical doctor first. Herbs and other natural therapies are meant to be used in conjunction with, and not in place of traditional care.
1. University of Maryland Medical Center: Alternative Medicine Index – http://www.umm.edu/altmed/
2. Botanicals Generally Recognized as Safe – http://www.ars-grin.gov/duke/syllabus/gras.htm