What Are the Best Natural Remedies for Anxiety?
What Are the Best Herbs For Anxiety?
Learning about natural remedies for anxiety was part of my own healing journey many years ago. After prescription medications had failed me and left me feeling sicker than ever, I turned to using natural herbs and lifestyle changes to control and reduce my anxiety attacks. It took some time for me to figure out which natural remedies for anxiety worked for me. Remember that not everyone is going to respond the same way to some of these natural remedies for anxiety, so be patient as you figure out which ones work best for you.
With more and more people becoming concerned about the availability and side effects of prescription drugs used to treat anxiety, natural remedies for anxiety are becoming more popular. I was not particularly thrilled with the idea of ingesting a prescription medication that would affect my brain chemistry, so that’s why I turned to natural remedies for anxiety. And let’s face it: in modern society, we’re under more pressure than ever before. All types of anxiety are at an all-time high, it seems, including people like me who live with functional anxiety.
Natural Remedies for Anxiety: Herbal Tea
A soothing cup of hot herbal tea is one of the best natural remedies for anxiety that I’ve ever used. The hot water is soothing to the nervous system, and depending on which herbs you choose to brew, you’ll get some added benefits like cancer prevention and anti-inflammatory properties. When using herbal tea as a remedy for anxiety, try to get whole flowers/herbs. Organic plants are also preferable to conventionally grown herbs. To make a cup of herbal tea, boil three cups of water and allow it to cool for five minutes before adding two tablespoons of dried herb. Allow the herbs to steep in the hot water for about 15 minutes before drinking. Adding sweetener is optional, but I like to add a small spoonful of honey to soothe my throat.
- Chamomile is a popular choice for a soothing cup of herbal tea to combat anxiety. Try to get whole flowers, or grow your own chamomile plant in your garden.
- Green tea is another effective herbal tea for anxiety. The amino acid L-theanine has a calming effect on the body, but you need to drink a lot of it to get the proper amount – around five cups a day.
- Lemon Balm is another soothing herb for anti-anxiety tea. This herb is mildly stimulating, so limit your intake or mix it with lavender or chamomile.
- Lavender uses for anxiety are most often in the form of an essential oil, but drinking a cup or two of lavender tea throughout the day helps to calm and soothe an overactive nervous system.
- Tulsi, also sometimes called Holy Basil, is another gentle herbal remedy for anxiety. Even better, this herb tastes wonderful when made into a hot tea!
Natural Remedies for Anxiety: Herbal Tinctures
You can make your own herbal tinctures for anxiety, or find them at your local natural foods store. Some of the best herbs for treating anxiety include:
- Holy Basil (Tulsi)
- Kava Kava
Take one to two droppers full of the tincture in a small amount of water or juice twice a day, or as directed on the bottle.
Natural Remedies for Anxiety: Diet
What you put into your mouth can have a dramatic impact on your anxiety. I learned that by modifying what I ate I could actually soothe my nervous system and even improve my health a little bit at the same time.
If you’re eating to treat anxiety, make sure that you include plenty of healthy fats in your diet like organic vegetable oils, avocados, and almonds. Limit the amount of processed food you eat, and avoid caffeine and sugar whenever possible.
In addition to what you eat, take a look at how you eat it. Are you eating in front of the television or the computer? Do you eat in the car as you rush between appointments all day long? Whenever possible, create a calm, quiet setting for yourself to eat, and try to allow at least 20 minutes to eat. Not only does this help soothe your nervous system and quiet your anxiety, it also might improve your digestion.
Natural Remedies for Anxiety: Lifestyle Changes
Of course, one of the best natural remedies for anxiety is also one of the most difficult to do: lifestyle changes. Because of the way that we live our lives in modern society, many of us face pressures that trick our nervous system into being in a state of constant fight or flight. Taking the time to include things like meditation and yoga have profound effects on anxiety and overall well-being,
Meditation has been proven over and over again to not only change the structure of our brains, but to help reduce and eliminate the symptoms of mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Even just 10 minutes of meditation twice a day can have a significant impact on your anxiety symptoms. If you’re not sure how to meditate, find a qualified instructor near you who can help you out.
Yoga, just like meditation, can help soothe the nervous system and switch off that fight or flight response. If you choose to include yoga as part of your lifestyle change for treating anxiety, stick with a slow-paced style of yoga like Yin, Gentle Yoga or Restorative Yoga. Avoid physically strenuous types of yoga like Power Yoga, Hot Yoga, or Vinyasa as these can actually trigger an anxiety attack and make you feel worse.
Oil massage is one of my favorite lifestyle remedies for anxiety. In Ayurvedic medicine, an herbalized oil massage is one of the best remedies to calm anxiety and to help improve sleep. Use an organic sesame oil to give yourself a head-to-foot oil massage every morning before getting into a warm shower or bath. (Be careful not to slip on oily feet as you’re getting into the tub, or better yet, oil your feet after you get out of the shower!) Giving yourself a gentle oil massage every day soothes the millions of nerve endings located in your skin, and can really help to reset your nervous system. An added bonus of daily oil massage is improved sleep at night!
A daily routine is important to treating anxiety. Trying to keep a daily routine can help calm the nervous system and reduce anxiety attacks.
Magnesium and Epsom salt baths are another great remedy for anxiety. Oral magnesium supplements can cause diarrhea, so I prefer to get my magnesium through the skin in the form of magnesium oil rubbed into my legs and feet or in a warm Epsom salt bath with a dose of lavender oil for good measure.
Sleeping poorly at night and suffering from anxiety? You’re not alone. One of the best lifestyle changes you can make to treat anxiety is to improve the quality and the amount of sleep you get every night. The best way to start is by creating a relaxing, soothing bedtime routine. Try starting with a few of these ideas and see what it does to your sleep at night:
- Be in bed by 9:00 p.m. whenever possible so that you can be asleep by 10:00 p.m. These are the times when the body is naturally ready for sleep.
- Be out of bed in the morning by 6:00 a.m. whenever possible.
- Remove all electronics from the bedroom, including digital clocks, televisions, and computers. Try not to work or watch television in the bedroom.
- Turn off all electronics at least an hour before bed. This includes cell phones, computers, tablets, and televisions. The blue light from these items can disturb your natural body cycles and disrupt your sleep.
- Finish dinner before 7:00 p.m. every night, and try to eat a light, warm, well-cooked (and whenever possible) vegetarian meal. This kind of food is easier to digest and is less likely to lead to stomach discomfort at night that might keep you up.
- Take a warm (not hot!) bath or shower before bed, using essential oils like bergamot, lavender, rose, chamomile, ylang-ylang, sandalwood, or cedarwood. Add just a few drops of two or three different oils to your bath, or add them to a diffuser kept next to your bed.
- If you can digest dairy, warm up ¾ cup of milk (organic and/or raw, whenever possible) and add 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg to it. Drink it up about an hour before bedtime.
- If you do happen to wake up in the middle of the night, try some meditation or some gentle breathing exercises to help you get back to sleep.
You can also include any of your favorite herbal sleep remedies to help ease you into a gentle slumber every night, but remember that most herbal remedies are really only meant to support you through lifestyle changes.
This list of natural remedies for anxiety is by no means comprehensive. Many people treat and control their anxiety using essential oils and aromatherapy, massage, reflexology and acupuncture. Do you have experience using natural remedies for anxiety? I’d love to hear your success stories. What works for you? Leave a comment and share your experiences with us!