Author: Patricia Bratianu, RN PhD RH-AHG
Several herbs are beneficial in the prevention and relief of anxiety. I recommend using herbs in a variety of ways to promote calmness. It is helpful to use herbs consistently as the relaxant effects of some herbs have a cumulative effect. In addition, having an herbal remedy available for times when you do feel anxious is essential. Let’s look at some of the herbal aids for anxiety.
Lemon balm is often promoted as an antidepressant herb. Antidepressant herbs have relaxant effects, which is why they are beneficial for the relief of anxiety. Lemon balm‘s uplifting and calming actions have been employed for centuries. It relieves palpitations that result from anxiety, calms a nervous stomach and helps to relieve migraines that are triggered by stress. Lemon balm also makes a delicious tea. To make lemon balm tea, add 1 teaspoon of dried lemon balm leaf or 1 tablespoon of fresh leaf to 1 cup of boiling water. Cover and let the tea infuse for twenty minutes. Strain out the herbs and drink the tea.
Another herb that is considered an antidepressant that relieves anxiety is St. John's wort. It is one of the most scientifically researched herbs in the world. Multiple studies show that St. John's wort effectively relieves mild to moderate depression. People who suffer from anxiety often experience depression. St. John's wort works best when taken for an extended period of time. Do not take St. John's wort if you are taking certain pharmaceutical drugs including some antidepressants. Check with your health care provider if you have questions.
Lavender has been used since ancient times to relieve anxiety. I recommend consuming it as an herbal remedy and inhaling the essential oil when stressed. The essential oil may also be added to bathwater for a soothing soak. Lavender, when taken internally, calms nervous stomachs, which often occur during periods of anxiety.
Passionflower is a very effective remedy for anxiety. It soothes nervous tension and has sedative, antispasmodic effects as well. Passionflower is excellent for relieving headaches, even migraines that are triggered by stress. Passionflower contains substances called indoles. Serotonin and tryptophan are comprised of indoles, and are important to the regulation of moods and relaxation.
Oats produce calming substances and contain calcium and B vitamins which nourish and calm the nervous system. You may not think of a bowl of oatmeal as an herbal treatment for anxiety, but it can be beneficial.
Evening primrose oil, black current seed oil and borage seed oil are also useful in the treatment of anxiety. They contain substances which nourish and soothe the nervous system.
Herbs are very effective tools to implement in the treatment of anxiety. They are generally well tolerated. People utilizing herbs generally experience fewer side effects, if any, when compared to people who use pharmaceuticals. The herbs are gentle but effective when used consistently.