Characterized by symptoms including rapid heartbeat, troubled breathing, trembling muscles and fatigue or irritability, anxiety is a complex medical condition that often has no identified cause. While we all feel anxious from time to time, anxiety that’s persistent or interferes with your day-to-day activities may be cause for concern. If you suspect that your constant worry, insomnia or other symptoms are caused by anxiety, ask your doctor if a natural herbal remedy is appropriate for you.
Calming Yourself With Chamomile
Of all the “calming” herbs, perhaps none is more popular than chamomile. Whether taken as a tea, used in massage or diffused into the air, chamomile, and the various extracts made from it, are safe, effective ways to de-stress after a long day. A 2006 Korean study found chamomile essential oils effective at reducing anxiety in elderly women. And a 2000 study from the U.K. actually found that massage with chamomile essential oil reduced pain and anxiety during childbirth.
Attacking Anxiety with St. John’s Wort & Black Cohosh
When it comes to anxiety, menopausal women know all too well how this condition can affect normal day-to-day activities. But a 2007 review of past studies may offer help and hope to the millions of menopausal and perimenopausal women who experience anxiety as part of their transition. This study found both St. John’s wort and black cohosh supplements safe and effective at alleviating anxiety. In fact these two supplements performed so well that the study’s authors commented, “St. John’s wort and black cohosh appear to be the most useful in alleviating mood and anxiety changes during menopause.”
Kava Kava, Controversy and Anxiety
Another herbal supplement that performed extremely well in the 2007 review was kava kava. Unfortunately, kava kava is also linked to more than a few cases of liver damage. In 2002 the U.S. FDA issued a Consumer Advisory urging anyone using this herb for anxiety or any other purpose to limit the use of this herb and discuss it thoroughly with a health care professional.
Essential Oils for Anxiety & Worry
While scientific support for aromatherapy is scant, a number of essential oils have centuries-old histories of use for anxiety, worry and stress. Aromatherapy expert Salvatore Battaglia recommends bergamot, Roman chamomile, lavender, sweet marjoram, neroli, sandalwood and valerian essential oils for anxiety.
Homeopathic Remedies For Anxiety
Like aromatherapy, homeopathic remedies don’t always stand up well to scientific scrutiny but a few remedies enjoy widespread use for the management of anxiety. Some of the most popular homeopathic remedies for anxiety are aconitum, arsenicum, gelsemium, lycopodium and phosphorus.
Non-Herbal Remedies for Anxiety
A number on non-herbal remedies also appear safe and effective for many people. Therapeutic massage, support groups and acupuncture are just a few of the non-medical and non-herbal anxiety remedies seeing a rise in popularity in North America.
Talking To Your Doctor About Herbal Remedies for Anxiety
While some herbal remedies may help some anxiety sufferers better deal with their symptoms, they are not a substitute for medical intervention. Anxiety is a complex, and often misunderstood, medical condition and there is simply no one-size-fits-all approach that works for everyone.
It’s also important to note that herbal remedies are not a substitute for prescription medications. But they can interfere with them. Before you add herbal remedies like St. John’s wort, black cohosh or kava kava to your daily medication regimen, talk to a qualified medical professional.
Remember, only your doctor can diagnose your anxiety. If you have any questions about your symptoms, or would like more information about the various herbal remedies for anxiety, talk to your primary health care provider for the information that’s right for you.
Rho, K., Han, S., Kim, K., Lee, M. (2006). Effects of aromatherapy massage on anxiety and self-esteem in Korean elderly women: a pilot study.
Geller, S., Studee, L. (2007). Botanical and dietary supplements for mood and anxiety in menopausal women.
Burns, E., Blamey, C., Ersser, C., Lloyd, A., Barnetson, L. (2000). The use of aromatherapy in intrapartum midwifery practice an observational study.
Battaglia, S. (2005). The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy
Bonne, O., Shemer, Y., Gorali, Y., Katz, M., Shalev, A. (2003). A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of classical homeopathy in generalized anxiety disorder.