The Best Herbs for Anxiety and Panic
Withania, also known as Winter Cherry or Ashwaganda, is a useful herb for the anxious
Using herbs for anxiety problems can really help support your recovery. The great thing is that, though the following are classified as mainly ‘herbs for anxiety’, each herb often has a very broad range of actions helpful to several body systems and so supports the healing process in a number of different ways at once.
For instance, Valerian is known primarily as a sedative, but it is also a muscle relaxant, a digestive tonic, reduces flatulence and mildly reduces blood pressure. As you can see, rather than taking four separate prescription drugs, each with its possible side effects and interactions, Valerian would provide a great wholistic treatment for many anxiety sufferers, where muscle tension, gas and slightly elevated blood pressure are present (all common symptoms in anxiety states).
All of the herbs for anxiety mentioned here will, of course, also be good herbal remedies for panic attacks because as your nervous system starts to settle down, it will stop creating the symptoms that are so scary and that trigger the panic attacks to start with.
First, just a few words of caution about natural remedies for anxiety:
- Make sure you understand that just because a product is ‘natural’ it does not mean that it is safe to be taken in quantities higher than the prescribed dose or without noting its contra-indications (in other words the conditions where it should not be taken).
- It is very important not to rely on herbs or other medicines alone to help you recover – you must also address all the other issues, most importantly taking a look at how your thinking is affecting your anxiety levels and the lifestyle habits you may have that are exacerbating the problem.
- If you rely solely on herbs for anxiety, flower essences or other medicines and supplements to heal you, without making changes in your thought patterns in particular, they will have limited therapeutic value. It is a bit like putting a plaster cast on a broken leg and expecting the leg to heal even though you keep jumping on it. The good work of the medicines can be powerfully undone by your thinking processes and lifestyle patterns.
- Some herbs may interact adversely with synthetic drugs, but these are few and far between. Nevertheless, it is very important that anyone who is taking medication should first check with their doctor before taking any over the counter herbal remedies. All reputable herbalists have up-to-date information regarding drug/herb interactions, so make sure you choose a herbalist with the appropriate qualifications.
- Herbs for anxiety can take time to work just like some medical drugs can take a couple of weeks before their action starts to kick in, so give them time. As a rule, you should notice an improvement within a month and often beneficial effects will continue to increase over time with the herbs. For anxiety that is more severe you may not notice any improvement for some time, though you can be sure that some rebalancing is occurring. The action of herbs is much more subtle than medical drugs but can be equally as effective. Do not increase your dosage without first consulting your herbalist or doctor.
So what are the best herbs for anxiety?
On the next pages, we'll look at the following herbs in some detail:
- Gotu kola
- Kava Kava
- Siberian ginseng
- St. John’s Wort
There are also a couple of very good combination and proprietary brand herbal remedies available that I have found to be especially helpful:
- Cortisol Control (contains Sensoril, a patented extract of Withania (also known as Ashwaganda) and Relora, a combination of two herbs also helpful in reducing anxiety and stress.
- L-Suntheanine (not strictly speaking a herb but a patented preparation based on L-theanine which is an extract from green tea and induces a relaxed state of mind)
- If your anxiety is related to depression St John's Wort has been shown to be very effective. Take a look at EthnoHerbalist for a great run down on this useful herb.
Have a look through the next pages and read through the descriptions of these herbs for anxiety to see whether there are particular herbs that seem to relate to your own symptoms more than others.
Remember that herbal remedies usually work best in combinations of no more than five or so at once and preferably only one or two at a time.
Once you've worked out the herbs you would like to use you can check out your local herbalist to have a remedy combination made up for you - your herbalist will know the correct dosage. Alternatively your health food store will more than likely stock various herbs and herbal combinations - just ask them to direct you to the ones you are interested in that will suit your individual symptoms best. If you are taking any medications (including the contraceptive pill) be sure to check with your doctor or health professional first before self-prescribing any herbs.
Herbs for Anxiety page 2 / 3
See also Supplements for anxiety, flower essences
Preventing panic attacks
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