Valerian has been used for generations to treat insomnia and anxiety. It is available in pill form or can be steeped in a tea, but it does have a rather strong odor, so most people prefer to take it in pill form. It does cause drowsiness and is usually taken within an hour of bedtime. It can take some time for it to become effective and should not be used for more than three months at a time. Some side effects include indigestion, headache, heart palpitations and dizziness.
L-Theanine is an amino acid that has been shown to be effective in treating anxiety. It is found in green tea as well as mushrooms. It is also available as a supplement in pill form. It works by altering the chemicals in the brain that regulate mood. It should not be used by those who are undergoing chemotherapy as there is the possibility for adverse affects.
Passionflower is widely used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Research indicates that passionflower is as effective as its prescription counterpart. It is shown to have calming effects on the central nervous system. Because of this, it should not be used within two weeks of being put under general anesthetic because it can amplify the affect of the anesthesia. Common side effects include nausea and vomiting, drowsiness and rapid heartbeat.
4. St. John's Wort
St. John's Wort is often called the "herbal prozac" because of its antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties. The two active chemicals in St. John's Wort, hypericin and hyperforin, work on chemical receptors in the brain that control mood. St. John's Wort can interfere with some medications, either by decreasing their effectiveness or increasing it, so it's important to talk to a doctor or pharmacist before taking it to ensure safety. It can be taken in capsule form or in tea form.
SAM-e works with other chemicals in the body to help regulate mood. It is found naturally in all living creatures. Because it naturally occurs in the body, there is the potential for it to run low, causing all sorts of mood problems. It is considered safe, with no known side effects and positive effects can be seen in as little as 1-2 weeks. Those with bipolar disorder shouldn't take SAM-e without talking to their doctor first as this can cause some interactions with their medication.
Kava is an herb that is native to Polynesia and has been used by the natives for hundreds of years to treat anxiety. It has been shown to be just as effective as prescription medications, but unlike prescriptions medications, it does not dull cognitive function, rather it enhances it. There is some concern that kava can cause liver damage, though more research is needed to examine how exactly the damage occurs.
Chamomile has been used for its calming effects for generations. It is primarily consumed as a tea, but is available in capsule form as well. One study out of the University of Pennsylvania found that chamomile significantly reduces anxiety. People should not use chamomile if they have an allergy to ragweed or any other plant in the daisy family, as chamomile is part of the daisy family and a life threatening reaction could result.
GABA is an amino acid that plays a role in the physical symptoms of anxiety. How it works is not completely clear, but it is thought that anxiety affects GABA receptors in the brain so supplementation could relieve the symptoms. GABA is available in capsule form at most health food stores. As GABA occurs naturally in the body, there is little risk of side effects.
Aromatherapy works on the limbic system in the brain to affect mood. It is especially effective for treating anxiety. Many different essential oils can be combined in an oil burner to diffuse into the surrounding environment. Oils like bergamot, cypress, geranium, frankincense, and clary sage. Essential oils should never be consumed as most of them are toxic if taken internally.
Bodywork encompasses various massage techniques, reiki energy work, and yoga help relieve anxiety by helping to relieve stress. The energy exchange that takes place is effective at relieving stress, anxiety and depression, though how it works is still unclear.
There are many natural and herbal remedies to treat anxiety, though they may not be enough for some who have severe anxiety disorders. A person should always consult with a qualified mental health practitioner if they do not see an improvement in their symptoms after self-treatment using the techniques, remedies and supplements listed above. While there is no one magic cure for anxiety, these natural and herbal remedies can go a long way toward helping people reclaim their happiness.