Whether anxiety is a rare visitor who only shows up when you’ve got an important meeting in the morning, or a more consistent companion that’s been with you for years, the herbs are here to help get you through.
Of course, lifestyle practices like conscious breathing, exercise, and ensuring that you’re eating a nutrient-rich diet can make a big difference in dealing with anxiety.
The good news is that there are lots of wonderful herbs that are strongly effective against anxiety, and they don’t share the same risk of addiction and dependence that come with pharmaceutical anti-anxiety medications.
Here’s the Anti Anxiety blend that can help you dance more gracefully through life.
Skullcap – Scutellaria laterifolia, fam. Labiatae
- Skullcap was very popular with the general public in the time before pharmaceutical tranquilizers. In later years more than 295 compounds have been isolated in Skullcap, including some highly active flavonoids and diterpenes.
- A small double-blind, placebo controlled study with Skullcap showed it had a significant anxiety-reducing action on the 19 volunteers who took it
- Another interesting study that was rigorously done with double-blinding and placebo control showed that Skullcap significantly improved mood without reducing mental alertness or ability to concentrate
- Skullcap is the anxiety remedy for people who experience anxiety along with restlessness, muscle tension, and jaw clenching. If you tend to toss and turn in bed, or if you feel like you can only relax when you’re out walking (but sitting still makes you want to jump out of your skin), or if you feel like “climbing the walls” when you’re stuck inside during a bout of anxiety, skullcap can help you to unwind not only your anxiety, but also the accompanying muscular tension and restlessness.
- Skullcap tea is also a very popular method, as it can help to balance the hormones in your body, stimulate the release of endorphins, and generally balance your mood. If you are feeling worked up for no reason, and constantly feel tense, then perhaps what you need is a simple cup of tea.
- It works well for acute and sudden onset anxiety or panic attacks. For people susceptible to sudden onset anxiety or panic attacks, fresh skullcap tea can be kept on them at all times. Not just for acute cases, skullcap can be taken over time as a nerve tonic to support nervous system health in people who have been through prolonged periods of stress and feel like their nerves are constantly on edge. One of the benefits of skullcap is its ability to relieve acute anxiety without causing a lot of drowsiness.
Oat Straw – Avena sativa, fam. Poaceae
- Oat straw is a known nervine, soothing and nourishing the central nervous system making it helpful in treating anxiety, insomnia and nervousness. Oat straw can soothe an over-stressed nervous system, providing centered, calm energy.
- The W.E.E.D promotes the use of oat straw infusion for those whose anxiety is accompanied by excessive nervous energy and is great for anyone of any age to use. It has been known to calm the nerves when undergoing stress.
- When the body is faced with internal or external stressors, the adrenal gland releases hormones that are distributed throughout the body, affecting the whole system. These hormones instigate many chemical and biological reactions throughout the body that may produce tense nerves, soreness, fatigue, and impaired mental and cognitive functions. Oat straw can work to reverse these effects and brings you to a serene state of being.
- The active chemical ingredients found in oat straw help to build immunity against the hormones involved with anxiety, and help normalize the amount of cortisol (the stress hormone) which is released by the adrenal glands. Some of the active ingredients are pyridoxine, riboflavin, niacin, and thiamine, which all play different roles throughout the body. It can help stabilize moods, maintain clear mental functions, and can improve mental acuity and cognition.
St. John’s Wort – Hypericum perforatum, fam. Hypericaceae
- “St. John’s wort is a strong antidepressant and may elevate mood in individuals with mild to moderate depression.” – Jeremy Wolf, licensed naturopathic physician
- Saint John’s wort is primarily used for treating mild to moderate depression. Within the leaves and flowers are potent constituents such as hypericin and hyperforin, which have antidepressant effects. Both these compounds are highly reactive in the body. They each trigger healing effects to the nervous system.
- Hyperforin increases concentrations of sodium and calcium in the blood stream. This helps Saint John’s Wort fight depression. These minerals are essential to smooth, effective connections between neurons and strong bonds between those same neurons and their neurotransmitters, including serotonin.
- Chemical antidepressants block serotonin from making the jump across the synaptic cleft between the neurons. In contrast, hyperforin helps serotonin to better connect with the synapse receptors by allowing it to remain in the synaptic cleft longer so it can bind to the synaptic receptor better by forming a tighter bond. A loose bond causes a lesser response from the synapse and therefore make the serotonin less effective.
- In addition, hyperforin causes monoamine neurotransmitters (which help process emotions) to remain in the synaptic cleft longer by creating an environment that’s favorable for those stronger bonds. This is unlike conventional treatment in that prescription antidepressants seek to increase monoamine neurotransmitters by preventing the receptors from letting go rather than by creating a receptor that wants to hang on. St. John’s Wort’s constituents essentially create an environment that’s tenacious about making the most of all the serotonin and monoamine the body can.
- St. John’s wort is rich in flavonoids and bioflavonoids. This list contains some “all star players.” Among them are quercetin, rutin, luteolin, kaempferol, hyperoside, and myricetin. These are some of the flavonoids that effect neurotransmitters by inhibiting monoamine oxidase (MAO). Simply put, MAO is the enzyme found between nerve cells that degrades neurotransmitters. MAO enzymes are thought to share responsibility for triggering a wide range of conditions such as anxiety, depression.
- St. John’s Wort is known to cause interference with certain medications and the levels present in the blood. Be sure to check with your healthcare professional before taking St. John’s Wort if you are on medications.
Basil – Ocimum basilicum, fam. Lamiaceae
- Multiple scientific studies examining this property of basil have found that supplementation with various extracts of basil decrease stress hormone levels, corticosterone in particular. Lower levels of corticosterone are associated with improved mental clarity and memory, and long-term, can reduce the risk of age-related mental disorders.
- Eugenol and caryophyllene are aromatic compounds, so named because of their pleasing fragrance or “aroma”. These compounds are present in many plants, including basil, and have long been used in essential oils because their fragrant scent is said to elevate both mood and spirit. Scientific studies have shown that eugenol, in particular, helps to combat stress and enhance mental clarity.
*All information presented here is for educational purposes only and should not be taken as fact. No statements have been approved by any accredited health organizations such as the USDA or Health Canada. Consult your healthcare professional with regards to your specific health situations, your medication and these herbs. The information is all stuff we have found useful in our lives. The information will be changed over time as we learn new things and want to present it more clearly for those who may find this information of use. Do your own research and come to your own conclusions; here are some things we’ve found useful for ourselves… Enjoy!