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Natural medicine for anxiety

Whole Naturopathy / Adaptogens  / Natural medicine for anxiety
nutrition for anxiety

Natural medicine for anxiety

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Whilst anxiety is part of life, and in some cases it’s even helpful (like when you know your 2-year-old could run onto the road at any moment!). There are many times it can stop you in your tracks and prevent you from normal functioning.

Anxiety disorders form the most common mental health disorders in Australia, effecting 14% of us each year, and 25% of us at some stage of life. These disorders range from generalised anxiety which is an everyday uncontrollable worry, to social anxiety, panic disorders, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


For some people their anxiety is obvious: they may feel fear, panic, or dread, whilst others sometimes notice digestive symptoms, dizziness, shortness of breath, or trouble concentrating, with less obvious mental symptoms.

The problem with anxiety treatment is that it is often with drugs that have unwanted side effects. Whist they can be helpful for some people, for others the risk outweighs the benefits.

Nervous system tonics

Herbal medicines are very effective in treating anxiety, both when you notice it mentally, but also when you only have physical symptoms. What I love about treating with natural products like herbs is that they actually help to heal your body rather than just masking the symptoms which is often the case with pharmaceutical medications.

The first group of herbs for treating anxiety are nervous system tonics. These herbs improve the tone and function of the nervous system. Some herbs in this class energise the nervous system which is more helpful in depression, and others that relax the nervous system, which is what is often used in anxiety disorders.

Herbal adaptogens

The next class of herbal medicines that are helpful in anxiety are adaptogens. These herbs increase the body’s resistance to physical, environmental, or emotional stress, they help you to adapt afterwards. These are really useful when anxiety began after a time of trauma, stress, or even sickness to return the body back to normal functioning. They are like the ‘energiser bunny’ of herbs, they can help you to keep going at times when the ‘battery’ would have already run out.


If your sleep has been affected, then sedative herbs can be really helpful. These are very different to sedative medications in that they will calm and relax the mind to help with sleep without the side effects of sedative medication such as morning drowsiness. Usually, these herbs are just taken before bed, so that your mind an body can relax into sleep.

There are other herbs that can be used if digestion or concentration is affected, or if anger is a prominent emotion. As a naturopath I will prescribe differently for each person, depending on what the best herbs for them are.


Another modality that is really useful in anxiety is homeopathy. Homeopathy can be really effective either alongside herbal medicines or on its own. Homeopathics are prescribed on an individual, depending on their symptoms. The type of anxiety is more important here, as the prescription will be different for anticipatory anxiety (worried about an event or public performance), restless anxiety, anxiety bought on by grief, feeling constantly ‘wired’, or specific phobias.


Nutrition also plays a really important role in mental health. Glucose spikes can have a big impact on mood causing both highs and lows, and a lack of nutrients can leave you craving the foods that you know you shouldn’t be eating. In terms of supplements, magnesium is calming to the nervous system and a great starting point for natural anxiety treatment. Choose a magnesium citrate or magnesium glycinate for the best effects.

The B group of vitamins can be helpful for a low mood or lack of energy, and are great to take in the morning if your energy is low. Ideally choose a high quality multi – B vitamin, but be sure you’re not talking other vitamins that also contain B vitamins, as it can be easy to overdose if you are getting them from more than one source.

Breathing exercises

Breathing exercises can be an amazing tool to bring your body from the ‘fight or flight’ mode back into ‘rest and digest’ mode. There are so many available but for best results,  choose an exercise where the time taken to exhale is longer than the time to inhale as this is what makes the biggest difference. Sometimes breath holds can also be helpful, but you want one that feels comfortable and calming to you.

If you’re looking for individualised anxiety treatment, a naturopathic appointment can make sure you are getting the best products for your unique symptoms.


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