7 Natural Remedies to Reduce Anxiety

Although it's normal to feel anxious from time to time, if you feel anxious without reason and these worries persist to affect your day-to-day life, you may have generalized anxiety disorder.

Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder may include restlessness, feeling tense or on edge, irritability, impatience, or poor concentration. People may also notice changes in their physical health such as headaches, jaw pain, muscle tension, difficulty falling or staying asleep (insomnia), dry mouth, fatigue, chest tightness, indigestion, bloating, excessive sweating, and headache.

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Natural Remedies for Anxiety

Although some research suggests that certain natural remedies may offer benefits, it's important to talk with your doctor before using alternative medicine. Keep in mind that it should not be used as a substitute for standard care in the treatment of any health condition. These are some of the natural remedies that are being explored for anxiety.

1) Passionflower

The herb passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) has a long history of use as a folk remedy for anxiety and insomnia, as well as "racing thoughts" at nighttime.

Two studies involving a total of 198 people examined the effectiveness of passionflower for anxiety. One study found passionflower to be comparable to benzodiazepine drugs. There was also improvement in job performance with passionflower and less drowsiness with passionflower compared with the drug mexazolam, however, neither was statistically significant.

Side effects of passionflower may include nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, and rapid heartbeat. The safety of passionflower in pregnant or nursing women, children, or people with kidney or liver disease has not been established. There have been five case reports in Norway of people becoming temporarily impaired mentally after using a combination product containing passionflower. It's not known whether the other ingredients in the supplement played a role.

Passionflower should not be taken with sedatives unless under medical supervision. Passionflower may enhance the effect of pentobarbital, a medication used for sleep and seizure disorders.

2) Bodywork

Massage therapy, shiatsu, and other forms of bodywork are widely used to diminish muscle tension, relieve stress, and improve sleep. Try a variety of popular massage styles.

3) Mind-Body Techniques

Mind-body breathing exercises, physical exercise, yoga, tai chi, self-hypnosis, meditation, and biofeedback are just some of the stress-reduction techniques used for anxiety. Try different techniques to find a routine you can stick to with a hectic schedule. A few great options are diaphragmatic breathing, the relaxation response, and mindfulness meditation.

4) Valerian

The herb valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is best known as an herbal remedy for insomnia. Valerian is also used in patients with mild anxiety, but the research supporting its use for anxiety is limited.

For example, researchers with the Cochrane Collaboration reviewed studies on valerian for anxiety. Only one study met their quality criteria. It was a four-week study comparing valerian, the medication diazepam (Valium), and a placebo in 36 people with generalized anxiety disorder. No statistically significant differences were found between the groups, perhaps due to the small size of the study.

Valerian is usually taken an hour before bedtime. It takes about two to three weeks to work and shouldn't be used for more than three months at a time. Side effects of valerian may include mild indigestion, headache, palpitations, and dizziness. Although valerian tea and liquid extracts are available, most people don't like the smell of valerian and prefer taking the capsule form.

Valerian shouldn't be taken with many medications, especially those that depress the central nervous system, such as sedatives and antihistamines. Valerian shouldn't be taken with alcohol, before or after surgery, or by people with liver disease. It should not be used before driving or operating machinery. Valerian can also increase or perpetuate vivid dreams. Consultation with a qualified health practitioner is recommended.

5) Kava

Native to Polynesia, the herb kava (Piper methysticum) has been found to have anti-anxiety effects in humans.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, has issued an advisory to consumers about the potential risk of severe liver injury resulting from the use of dietary supplements containing kava. To date, there have been more than 25 reports of serious adverse effects from kava use in other countries, including four patients who required liver transplants.

6) Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA)

GABA is an amino acid as well as the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter of our parasympathetic nervous system, meaning it oversees all things related to our rest and digest processes. It is also known to play a role in the physiology of anxiety. Some prescription drugs for anxiety work by affecting GABA receptors in the brain. The degree to which orally ingested GABA supplements can reach the brain, however, is unknown.

7) Aromatherapy

Plant essential oils can be added to baths, massage oil, or infusers. Essential oils that are used for anxiety and nervous tension are bergamot, cypress, geranium, jasmine, lavender, melissa, neroli, rose, sandalwood, and ylang-ylang. Lavender is the most common and forms the base of many relaxing blends.

Other Remedies


It's important to be evaluated by your doctor for a proper diagnosis and to rule out other medical problems that may resemble anxiety.

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