· By Caitlin Bray
Herbs for Anxiety: 9 Natural Remedies for Relaxation
In the quest for a decrease in the day to day anxiousness that many of us face, options that don't include prescription medication have become an increasing popular google search.
Specifically, people are looking for herbal remedies that can help them to relax and naturally lower their stress level. We’ve compiled a list of 9 of what we think are the best natural remedies out there, so that you can start using them today to help promote good mental health and get back to living your best life.
The use of lavender for relaxation has been around for centuries and is one of the most frequently discussed natural remedies, even in medical circles. For many, just the scent of lavender is enough to calm them. However, lavender is beneficial for more than just aromatherapy.
Lavender oil, when used orally, has been shown to have a “significant and clinically meaningful effect” in promoting calmness.* Lavender oil, though, can be tricky to source, and even more difficult to verify quality.
That’s why lavender teas are such a popular option to help create a sense of relaxation. These teas combine all of the best parts of lavender usage - both oral ingestion and its aromatherapy benefits - with the additional advantage of the natural relaxation drinking a cup of tea can cause. It is also an easy product to find without having to hunt it down in a speciality store.
Rhodiola rosea belongs to a category of herbs known as adaptogens. Adaptogens are natural substances that work to help our bodies cope with periods of stress.
The herb works by helping to stimulate the production of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine in the brain.* These neurotransmitters are essential to healthy neurological and emotional functionality.* Without them, we are much more prone to succumb to feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed out.
Basically, rhodiola rosea helps our body to help itself, so that we can use our mental coping skills to deal with stress and restlessness on a more even playing field.*
Rhodiola rosea can be taken alone as a supplement in capsule form, as an extract, or in a tea. However, it works best when combined with other herbs that work similarly, like L-theanine.
It’s simply one of the most effective herbs out there to help support mental wellness.*
Lots of people have heard of chamomile and its relaxing effects in the body, as it is one of the most popular herbal supplements out there. Chamomile tea is often one of the go-tos for people going through stress. It just makes people feel more relaxed, both physically and psychologically.*
Unfortunately, there aren’t many studies to corroborate this, but preliminary research has shown that chamomile has serious potential for helping to promote GABA production in the brain and naturally reduce stress.* It also can help promote healthy sleep by relaxing the mind so that the body can follow.* And who doesn’t love a nice cup of tea at the end of the stressful day?
We’re looking forward to more studies that can show clinically what people have been saying about chamomile for decades… it just works!
While there haven’t been many studies shown to officially prove the relaxing properties of passionflower, the ones that have been performed have a lot of potential!*
There’s so much relaxation potency in one tiny package! Passionflower is definitely an herb to watch. Try it in a tea, as a liquid extract, or in a capsule.
Lemon balm isn’t commonly heard of, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great natural mood soother. Instead of being related to lemon, like the name would suggest, lemon balm is actually a member of the mint family. Even a single dose of lemon balm extract a day (between 300 - 500mg is recommended) can provide feelings of improved mood as well as feelings of alertness and concentration.* However, taking too large of a dose can result in feelings of anxiousness, so finding a healthy medium is important.
While valerian is more well-known for its sleep supporting properties, its mild sedative properties also help promote relaxation.* Historically, valerian has been used for “nervousness,” and it was even mentioned by Hippocrates way back in ancient Greece.
What makes valerian so effective is that one of its compounds, valerenic acid, may be able to affect mood pathways in the brain.* With how important these pathways are to a happy, healthy, functional brain, valerian has the potential to really help with relaxation.
While technically an amino acid and not a herb, L-theanine is the subject of so much positive research, we would be remiss not to include it!
L-theanine, which occurs naturally in both black and green tea, acts directly on the brain. Studies show that it can actually significantly increase activity in the alpha frequency band of the brain (the “relaxed” brain wave pattern) without causing excess drowsiness.* It may also work with the brain to help promote dopamine, GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid), and serotonin, which all increase mood.*
For all of those reasons, we chose L-theanine as one of the key components in our PYM Mood Chews. Its quick acting nature, neuroprotective properties, and natural ability to promote both physical and mental calmness are all amazing qualities, especially when combined with other healthful ingredients like rhodiola rosea and GABA to work to its best effect!*
Ashwagandha has been used in medicine for centuries, specifically in Indian Ayurvedic medicine. Another adaptogenic herb, ashwagandha helps to alleviate stress.* Stress is particularly dangerous when allowed to build up because it can actually do physical damage (like causing heart disease and weight changes) if it is allowed to persist long enough in the body.
Ashwagandha is generally seen as most effective when used in its powdered form, but can also be used in capsule or liquid extract form. It is also generally safe when being used long term, unlike some other herbs and natural remedies. Ashwagandha also has no potential for toxicity, making it both safe and effective.*
The last herb we’re going to feature, but certainly not the least, is ginseng. Ginseng doesn’t work as directly as some of the other herbs we’ve talked about, but it is just as effective! The herb, which is also considered an adaptogen, works by helping to regulate the way the immune system and the body’s hormones respond to stress, helping to maintain homeostasis.*
Ginseng has also been said to increase feelings of vitality and energy, help improve both physical and mental performance, and promote feelings of alleviated stress.* Much like many of the other herbs featured, it helps promote GABA function.*
There are a few different types of ginseng, though, some of which are more potent than others. Siberian Ginseng, for instance, is seen as less potent than Chinese Ginseng. That doesn’t mean that it's not as good, but may be better for people with less experience taking it. Keep that in mind before adding ginseng into your routine!
A Final Thought
Herbs and other natural remedies have been used for centuries. Now that we have the ability to more closely study them -- specifically the way they work and their effectiveness -- we can better prove what we’ve always known.
Natural mental wellness remedies aren’t always as cut and dry as taking a prescription medication. For people exploring additional options, supplements and wellness products containing these above herbs are a great way to help promote our overall mental health.
You deserve to live your life without worry, and supplementing your wellness regimen with relaxation-boosting ingredients is a good step towards that. Just make sure to check with a doctor if you are taking other medications to avoid any potential interactions before starting.
*FDA Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.