Anxiety, panic attacks, and other related disorders affect millions of people all over the world. Although mild anxiety is a very natural reaction to stress, it can becoming debilitating, causing sufferers to fear and dread even the most common, everyday situations. Physical symptoms can be just as bad for those with anxiety disorders. Heart palpitations, shaking, sweating, chest pains, stomach aches and headaches are among the many physical reactions anxiety can cause.
Although those suffering from anxiety disorders often find some measure of relief from traditional Western medicine, many drugs used to treat these problems are expensive, addictive, and have significant side effects. For these reasons, many people are seeking out alternative therapies for anxiety and panic attacks, including herbal remedies. Herbs can be taken in several forms, including teas, tinctures, and capsules. Here is an overview of some of the most popular and effective herbs used for treatment.
Of all the herbs used to treat anxiety, chamomile is probably the one most commonly found on kitchen shelves. Chamomile is often used to treat mild anxiety and insomnia, and is most commonly taken in a tea, although it is also available in tinctures and capsules. Very few side effects are associated with chamomile, but it should not be taken by anyone with allergies to plants in the daisy family, such as aster, daisy, chrysanthemum, marigold, and ragweed. Chamomile has a lightly sweet flavor, which also makes it popular as a tea drink.
A member of the pepper family, kava kava is a plant native to South Pacific islands, and has long been used as a natural remedy for anxiety, insomnia, nausea and some symptoms of menopause. The active ingredients in the kava plant are called kavalectones, which are widely considered quite effective as a mild sedative. In the South Pacific, kava root is used to make traditional beverages, but commercial kava drinks are also available. Kava can also be taken as a supplement in pill or capsule form. Side effects are rare, but people with liver problems should consult their doctor before using kava.
For thousands of years, valerian root has been used to treat symptoms of many ailments, including anxiety and sleeplessness, especially if taken regularly over a period of time. Derived from a plant native to Asia and Europe, valerian root can be steeped in a tea, or taken in a tincture or capsule form. Side effects are rare, but can include daytime drowsiness and dizziness. Valerian root has a very strong smell in its dried form, but when steeped in tea, it has an earthy flavor which is not unpleasant, especially with a bit of sugar or honey.
Historically used by Native Americans and passed on to European colonists, passion flower has been show effective for treatment of insomnia, anxiety, depression, and other ailments. Passion flower is also known to have analgesic properties. Taken in the form of a tea, liquid extract, or tincture, passion flower has a distinctive herbal flavor. Though side effects are rarely reported, it does have the potential for interaction with other medications and supplements.
St. John’s Wort
Though most commonly used as a treatment for depression, St. John’s Wort has also shown promise treating anxiety. This supplement is usually taken daily in pill form, but is also available in teas and tinctures. St. John’s Wort is generally tolerated very well, with few side effects, but does have the potential for drug interaction.
The herbs listed above are just a few of the most commonly used to treat anxiety disorders and panic attacks. Herbal supplements are a wonderful way to treat many medical issues, often at less expense and with fewer side effects than with traditional medicines. Many resources on herbology are available, including books, websites, and professional herbologists. As with any new treatments, it is important to consult with a doctor to avoid health risks and potential for drug interactions.