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10 herbs that have been researched for anxiety

Whole Naturopathy / Herbal Medicine  / 10 herbs that have been researched for anxiety
herbs researched for anxiety

10 herbs that have been researched for anxiety

Anxiety disorders are often felt with symptoms such as worry, reduced concentration as well as with physical symptoms like insomnia, muscle tension, or digestive upsets. Pharmaceutical medications for anxiety usually target Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, but these medications can have significant side effects. A scientific study found 10 herbs to be effective in treating anxiety by regulating GABA, and I’ll break these herbs down into different categories so that they’re easier to understand.*

Just a quick warning about self-prescribing herbs at a therapeutic level. Usually, the amount you would have in a tea is a low enough dose that it is unlikely to cause any problems.

Some herbs are not meant to be taken long term, so always have your herbs checked with any medications you may be taking by a health care professional in case of interactions. If you do want to take therapeutic doses of herbs you would be best to get advice from a naturopath or herbalist, just to be sure of safety.

Anxiety with trouble sleeping

Hypnotic herbs: I know this sounds a bit weird and mystical, but it’s actually just language that is not used the way it used to be. In terms of herbs, this just means that they induce drowsiness or sleep. These are not like drugs used for sleeping in that there is no hangover effect the next day, you would generally take these before bed, have a nice deep sleep and wake refreshed. The following herbs are all hypnotic herbs with their other actions for anxiety listed beside them:

Hops – mild sedative

Kava – anxiolytic (alleviates anxiety), mild sedative, muscle relaxant

Passionflower – mild sedative, anxiolytic

Valerian – anxiolytic, mild sedative

Other herbs for anxiety

This next group of herbs cover a variety of actions. When I’m choosing a herb to go into a herbal medicine mix, I’m very aware of the other symptoms in the person I’m treating. So, I would choose a different one depending on what else this person is presenting with.

Chamomile – mild sedative

Gotu kola – nervous system tonic, adaptogen

Gingko – cognition enhancing, neuroprotective

Withania – mild sedative, adaptogen

My favourite 2 herbs for anxiety

These next 2 herbs, I use a lot, the first one is calming to the digestive tract, I find it really effecting in cases of anxiety that presents itself with digestive issues, or it the person has digestive issues and anxiety, it also works really well. The second is my absolute go to for anxiety. It’s a nervous system tonic that’s calming, so it works to gently calm and relax the nervous system, bringing it into balance.

Lemon balm – mild sedative

Skullcap – nervous system tonic, mild sedative

Herbal teas

Some of these herbs you will find available as teas. This is a safe low dose way to take herbs. You will need to have the tea more than once each day and for at least a month or so, to see some difference in your anxiety. For a therapeutic dose of herbs, a naturopath or herbalist can help make up an individual herbal mix.



* GABA-modulating phytomedicines for anxiety: A systematic review of preclinical and clinical evidence


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