Originally published September 9 2013
Seven top herbs for naturally taming anxiety
by Jonathan Benson, staff writer
(NaturalNews) If you are one of the roughly 40 million Americans today who suffers from some form of anxiety, you likely already know how difficult it can be to manage troublesome symptoms like persistent uncertainty, worry, obsessive compulsiveness, and depression. But did you know there are a number of herbs that can help treat these conditions naturally, and restore health and balance to your mind? Here are seven of the top choices for your consideration:
1) Holy basil: A member of the mint family, holy basil, also known as "Tulsi," has been used for centuries throughout Asia and India to promote mental, physical, and even spiritual health. Since it functions as an adaptogen, holy basil assists the body in effectively responding to physical and emotional stress. Many people who regularly take the herb report feelings of calm and relaxation.
Various studies have found that holy basil possesses unique compounds that help reduce stress hormone levels, which can in turn help improve mental clarity, boost memory, and prevent the onset of age-related mental disorders. Holy basil is also a powerful antioxidant with antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. (http://medicinehunter.com/holy-basil)
2) Lavender: A powerful essential oil, lavender has long been used in aromatherapy to calm the nerves and promote restful sleep. Since getting restful sleep is important for dealing with stress and anxiety disorders, lavender oil is often used to treat anxiety, as it slows the activity of the nervous system, promotes relaxation, and improves mood and concentration. (http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/lavender-000260.htm)
Drinking lavender tea can also help reduce stress and stabilize mood. Many people who suffer from depression symptoms gain considerable relief from drinking lavender tea. The medicinal beverage can also be used to improve digestion and ease gastrointestinal upset. (http://www.healthguidance.org)
3) Chamomile: A popular bedtime tea, brewed chamomile is a favorite when it comes to easing stress and promoting rest. In fact, chamomile extract was shown by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania back in 2009 to effectively alleviate anxiety symptoms in a "clinically meaningful and statistically significant" way. (http://www.naturalnews.com/034454_chamomile_anxiety_depression.html)
Depression sufferers may also benefit from taking chamomile as the condition is typically marked by anxiety and insomnia, both of which are targeted by the herb. Chamomile is an effective remedy for treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), stomach cramps, and other digestive problems that can trigger anxiety as well. Beyond this, chamomile can help reduce inflammation, calm nerves, and promote restful sleep. (http://www.naturalnews.com/034454_chamomile_anxiety_depression.html)
4) Skullcap: Another herb from the mint family, skullcap combines well with valerian root to synergistically reduce stress, decrease nervous tension, fight insomnia, and fight anxiety symptoms. When made into a tea or tincture, skullcap can be taken throughout the day to combat stress and promote restfulness, even in the midst of irritating or stressful situations.
Skullcap is also a powerful anti-inflammatory herb with unique antiviral and anti-fungal properties. Individuals with various mood and behavioral disorders can also benefit from taking skullcap. (http://www.herbreference.com/skullcap.html)
5) Kava: Commonly used in traditional Pacific Island culture as a ceremonial beverage, kava root has an amazing ability to promote relaxation and focus. Drinking a cold concoction made from the plant's root pulp can help significantly improve mood, boost feelings of contentment, and mitigate the symptoms associated with anxiety and nervous disorders. (http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/kava-kava-000259.htm)
Kava is so effective at treating anxiety symptoms that many cities now have kava bars, where health-conscious patrons can grab a quick kava to help relax and take the edge off. Since kava tends to provide similar effects as alcohol without causing impairment, the herb is a popular alternative to beer and wine among those wanting to have fun without getting "buzzed" or drunk.
6) Ashwagandha: Said to work better than pharmaceutical drugs at relieving anxiety and depression symptoms, the adaptogenic herb ashwagandha is a great natural option for overcoming stress and unease. According to the Life Extension Foundation (LEF), ashwagandha provides protection for the nervous system, which tends to go into overdrive in response to chronic anxiety.
Ashwaganda is also loaded with powerful antioxidants that mitigate the free radical damage often caused by stress. Studies have shown that taking ashwagandha can normalize the free radical damage caused by stress, and thus prevent premature aging and other chronic illnesses. (http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2006/jun2006_report_ashwa_01.htm)
7) 5-HTP: Many people do not produce enough of the brain neurotransmitter serotonin, which can cause depression, eating disorders, and various other symptoms of anxiety. But taking 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), the precursor to serotonin, can help replenish this deficit and effectively mitigate these symptoms.
Said to work far better than pharmaceutical drugs for these purposes, 5-HTP also aids in the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, which makes it a great bedtime supplement for promoting relaxation and restful sleep. Studies have shown that 5-HTP can provide substantial relief for those suffering from insomnia, as well as help relieve chronic pain symptoms. (http://www.naturalnews.com/035931_5-HTP_depression_anxiety.html)
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