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Whether it’s a job interview, a presentation, a public performance or some other triggering event, anxiety can seem like an inescapable part of our lives. But if anxiousness feels like your natural state these days, you may be looking for natural remedies to deal with the mental and physical symptoms of anxiety.
Severe or chronic anxiety that gets in the way of your ability to function is a common sign of an anxiety disorder — a mental health condition often treated with prescription medication and therapy. However, it’s also possible to address your anxiety with natural methods, either by themselves or (ideally) as part of a larger treatment plan.
Here’s the thing: Sorting the pseudoscience from what really works is hard and time-consuming. That’s why we looked through the systematic reviews and controlled trial data on a long list of potential “natural” treatments to tell you what might work.
Below, we’ll share the best herbal remedies for anxiety, along with lifestyle changes and habits that you can use to control your symptoms.
We’ll also suggest a few proven alternatives to the natural route you might want to look into if anxiety is taking over your life.
First, some bad news: Anxiety disorders can’t be treated or cured by a few homeopathic supplements or a journaling habit.
While evidence suggests these things can help, anxiety disorders can’t be cured at all. Experts from places like the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) and NIH (National Institutes of Health) generally agree that therapy, medication and major habit overhauls are the best way to treat anxiety.
Chances are, if your anxiety is really bad, you may have already sought help from a healthcare professional for anxious feelings, panic attacks and other issues that come from a life with this mental health condition.
But if you’re looking for options beyond therapist couches and pills, there are certainly some at-home remedies for anxiety you might want to consider, including herbal and lifestyle treatments.
We’ll break down the most promising treatments below.
While they may not be quite as effective as prescription anxiety medications or antidepressants, several herbs and natural supplements have calming and sleep-promoting properties that make them ideal for anxiety relief.
Here are six of the most promising herbal remedies:
Valerian root. Valerian is a flowering plant native to Europe and Asia, and its root is a common herbal supplement ingredient used for sleep issues and anxiety. Although research on valerian root and anxiety is mixed, a review of 60 studies found that it can promote relaxation and sleep — something difficult for people with anxiety, insomnia or, in particular, sleep anxiety.
Chamomile. Chamomile is an herb extracted from the Asteraceae plant family of daisy-like plants. Chamomile tea promotes calmness, relaxation, drowsiness and deep, refreshing sleep. In a randomized clinical trial, researchers treated people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) using chamomile. They found that it contributed to a reduction in the severity of their anxiety symptoms and a larger reduction in blood pressure. Chamomile is available as a supplement in products like our sleep gummy vitamins.
CBD. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a popular cannabinoid — a type of naturally-occurring chemical found in the cannabis plant. It has a range of effects on your moods, feelings and thoughts, and although the FDA has yet to approve CBD as an anxiety treatment, studies have found that it appears to treat certain forms of anxiety, like anxiety attacks. Using products containing CBD may also contribute to better sleep quality. Our full guide to CBD for anxiety goes into more detail on the latest scientific research.
Lavender oil and other essential oils. While the science on most essential oils is mixed, there’s some evidence that lavender oil may help reduce the severity of generalized anxiety disorder, mixed anxiety-depressive disorder (MADD) and anxiety-related sleep issues. That said, questions still remain about how (and how much) to use when it comes to essential oils for anxiety. You may want to give our mind unwind calm drops a try if interested.
Passionflower. Passionflower, or Passiflora incarnata, is a type of climbing vine widely known for its white and purple tentacle-like petals. It might help with symptoms of anxiety and nervousness. One study found that Passiflora extract was equally effective at treating generalized anxiety disorder symptoms as the benzodiazepine medication oxazepam — with fewer performance issues.
Magnesium. Magnesium is a natural mineral that contributes to bodily functions such as blood pressure and heart rate regulation. Some research suggests it might also be one of the better anxiety supplements. One study found that supplementation of magnesium could help reduce the negative effects of anxiety on your nervous system. According to the same study, magnesium regulates cortisol, a stress hormone that can cause anxiety. It can be found in many mood probiotics and mood-boosting supplements if you’re interested in trying it out.
Most healthcare professionals agree that breathing exercises, aromatherapy and chamomile tea aren’t going to cure anxiety. Though they’re generally right about this, the fact is that big changes can shift the balance.
Sometimes, making changes to your anxiety-inducing habits and the lifestyle that promotes anxiety can reduce the severity of your anxiety symptoms and improve your quality of life without treatment.
Try the following approaches to limit feelings of anxiety and gain more control over your moods, thoughts and emotions.
Exercise. A healthier cardiovascular system, healthier blood sugar and a reduced risk of obesity aren’t all a trip to the gym can do for you. Research has found a clear link between physical activity and a reduced risk of developing certain forms of anxiety, so if you’re physically inactive, try getting up and moving. The CDC’s recommendation of 150-plus minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, plus two or more strength-based workouts, might sound daunting. But a simple daily walk around your neighborhood for 30 minutes and a couple of weekend gym trips add up.
Relaxation techniques. Stress is a major cause of anxiety, and chronic stress is linked to an increased risk of developing anxiety or depression. Common short-term stress management techniques include deep-breathing exercises and meditation. These methods might help reduce feelings of anxiety, depression and insomnia — not to mention lower blood pressure and treat health conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome. Check out our guides to the 478 breathing technique and other relaxation techniques for tips to get started today.
Journaling. Dear diary, research has shown that people with anxiety symptoms who keep a journal tend to show mood improvements over time. One study found that adults who kept a web-based journal showed reduced depressive symptoms and anxiety after one month. For tips on journaling to deal with mental health issues, our guide is a great place to start.
Limiting caffeine intake. Caffeine could be both the cause of and solution to your stress, but in the long term, it’s mostly a risk. While consuming a small or moderate amount of caffeine doesn’t seem to have negative effects on your health, research shows excessive caffeine consumption could increase your risk of feeling anxious or stressed throughout the day. It might also cause sleep issues and anxiety in some people. But this doesn’t mean you have to quit coffee altogether. Instead, aim to keep your caffeine consumption within the FDA’s recommendation of 400 milligrams per day — about four cups of coffee — and only in the mornings.
Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol. If you’re a smoker, research shows that over the long term, the nicotine you’re inhaling to deal with stress is making your anxiety symptoms worse. Quitting can reduce your anxiety while lowering your risk of cancer, heart disease and other serious physical health issues. The same goes for alcohol. According to the CDC, reducing the amount you drink to moderate levels (two drinks per day for men) can help limit your anxiety symptoms.
Getting good sleep. A regular sleep schedule is vital for positive mental health. If you’ve been paying attention, it’s also the end goal of several other treatments mentioned above. Why? Lack of sleep is bad for anxiety. Using certain anti-anxiety supplements can help you get a solid night’s sleep. But can lack of sleep cause anxiety? If your brain neurons don’t have the chance to repair themselves, you might start noticing higher levels of stress and anxiety.
Acupuncture. People who hate needles may disagree, but acupuncture for anxiety does appear to show some down-the-road promise in alleviating symptoms. One 2021 systematic review suggested it offers benefits compared to placebo controls, but we think more research is needed to really give this one a seal of approval.
You’re aware of the importance of things like B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants for your physical and mental health. But you also know that therapy and anxiety medications have a scientifically proven track record in treating anxiety.
So then, what’s the best course of treatment?
Here’s our hot take: While meta-analysis and rigorous testing of medications and therapy really do stack taller than the herbal stuff, the truth is that these are all complementary treatments for someone who wants to see results.
If you have severe or persistent anxiety, it’s always best to talk to a mental health provider about your symptoms and the best ways to treat those individual symptoms.
That might mean psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is designed to help people overcome problematic thinking and behavior cycles with self-awareness.
It might also include medication like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which interact with the neurotransmitters and their receptors in your brain to affect your mood — though they may produce some side effects.
A healthcare professional can tell you more — connecting with one is your next step.
Let’s take a step back from the supplement labels for a moment. Herbal teas, l-theanine amino acid sources and other natural ways to treat anxiety might help in the management of anxiety — just like they may offer numerous health benefits. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to go with what the professionals recommend.
You don’t need to swallow handfuls of supplements to calm down. Instead, here’s all you really need to know about treating anxiety:
Generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder and other forms of anxiety can have an immense impact on your well-being and quality of life. But these are almost always treatable issues — you just have to take treatment seriously.
If you’ve recently experienced symptoms of anxiety, you may want to consider the treatment options listed above. But if your anxiety is severe or persistent, it’s also important to reach out to an experienced mental health provider for expert diagnosis and treatment.
Over the long term, changing your lifestyle to include more leisure time, exercise and improved work-life balance can help to get rid of stress and reduce your risk of developing anxiety.
Sound like a plan? We’re ready to help.
You can seek help for anxiety using our online mental health services, which include virtual therapy, counseling and support groups. You can also learn more about dealing with anxiety by exploring our free online mental health resources.
Once you connect with a mental health provider, you can get a proper medical diagnosis and a tailored treatment plan. Your treatment will be specific to your medical history and symptoms and might include FDA-approved anti-anxiety medication.
Hers also offers naturally formulated relaxation calm drops that may help decompress your mind and body.
Ready to get naturally calm? Contact us today.
Kristin Hall is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with decades of experience in clinical practice and leadership.
She has an extensive background in Family Medicine as both a front-line healthcare provider and clinical leader through her work as a primary care provider, retail health clinician and as Principal Investigator with the NIH.
Certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, she brings her expertise in Family Medicine into your home by helping people improve their health and actively participate in their own healthcare.
Kristin is a St. Louis native and earned her master’s degree in Nursing from St. Louis University, and is also a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. You can find Kristin on LinkedIn for more information.
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