Finding Calm with Herbs: The Top 10 Herbal Medicines for Anxiety

anti-anxiety tea

Herbal medicine has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for alleviating anxiety. The use of herbs for anxiety is becoming increasingly popular as individuals seek a more natural approach to managing their symptoms. Herbal remedies offer many health benefits compared to traditional pharmaceutical options, including fewer side effects and a lower risk of dependency. Additionally, herbs work in harmony with the body to promote overall well-being, making them an attractive option for those looking for a holistic approach to anxiety management.


In this article, we will explore 10 of the top herbal remedies which have been used in traditional folk medicine and studied extensively for their calming and anxiolytic properties.  Anxiolytic herbs are used to treat anxiety. They contain natural compounds that interact with the brain's neurotransmitters and receptors involved in the anxiety response, such as GABA, serotonin, and dopamine, to promote a calming and relaxing effect. Some commonly used anxiolytic herbs include passionflower, valerian root, ashwagandha, and lemon balm. These herbs can be consumed as teas, tinctures, capsules, or in other forms.


Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

For centuries, Chamomile has been valued for its calming and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a popular remedy for treating insomnia and nervous complaints. Its mild sedative action promotes relaxation and helps to alleviate anxiety, making it an effective sleep aid. Chamomile is also known to be useful in the treatment of digestive problems that arise from anxiety, such as nervous dyspepsia, IBS, diarrhea, constipation, and nausea. You will find this beautiful herb in Bodhi Organic SereniTEA.


Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)

Lemon balm is a fragrant herb belonging to the mint family that has been prized for its soothing medicinal and aromatic properties. It was first introduced as a remedy for depression and anxiety by the Arabs in the 11th century, who believed it to have a positive effect on the mind and heart. Herbalists today commonly use lemon balm to treat conditions related to anxiety and insomnia, including nervous gastrointestinal complaints such as indigestion, nervous dyspepsia, and nausea.Lemon balm has a sedative and calming effect on the nervous system. It contains rosmarinic acid which enhances GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) availability in the central nervous system. GABA is a neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation and helps reduces anxiety. As a culinary herb lemon balm can be used in salads, soups and other dishes. You will find Lemon balm in Bodhi Organic SereniTEA.


Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

Passionflower is valued for its sedative and anxiolytic properties. Passionflower is known to promote relaxation and support the nervous system, making it particularly useful in managing restlessness and nervous tension. Passionflower is also a popular herbal remedy for insomnia, as it can facilitate a restful sleep without the adverse effects of traditional sleeping pills. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, studies have found that passionflower can be equally as effective as benzodiazepine drugs to improve anxiety. You will find this effective botanical in our Bodhi Organic TranquiliTEA (SLEEP).


Withania (Withania somnifera)

Withania, also known as Ashwagandha, is a popular Ayuverdic herb that is a highly effective ‘adaptogen’. Withania is used widely by herbalists to improve the body’s resistance to stress along with strengthening the immune system. Withania supports adrenal health and calms the nervous system, making it beneficial for alleviating anxiety in people who feel stressed, strung-out, and exhausted. It also helps promote better quality sleep. Withania powder can be added to smoothies. Withania is one of the key botanicals in our adaptogenic blend and, Bodhi Organic VitaliTEA. and Hot ChocolaTEA (Healthy Hot Chocolate).


Skullcap (Skullcap lateriflora)

Skullcap is an American herb used traditionally by Indian tribes as a sedative. Herbalists today use skullcap to treat anxiety and support nervous system health and vitality. This calming herb is also beneficial for treating insomnia, depression and exhaustion associated with stress.


Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

Valerian is a widely recognised herb used to address sleep disturbances and insomnia due to its gentle sedative and calming properties. Unlike pharmaceutical equivalents, valerian can help promote restful sleep without causing grogginess or drowsiness the following morning. Valerian is also an effective treatment anxiety. This is due to its ability to sustain levels of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain, which has a calming effect on the nervous system. Valerian is the key botanical in our Bodhi Organic TranquiliTEA (SLEEP).


Rhodiola (rhodiola rosea)

Rhodiola is an adaptogenic herb that has been traditionally used for its stress-reducing properties. Research has shown that rhodiola may be effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as improving overall mood. One of the mechanisms by which rhodiola may help to reduce anxiety is by regulating levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Rhodiola may also have a beneficial effect on neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which are involved in mood regulation. Studies have suggested that rhodiola may increase the availability of these neurotransmitters, leading to an improvement in mood and a reduction in anxiety symptoms. Rhodiola is one of the key botanicals in our Bodhi Organic PositiviTEA (MOOD).


Oats (Avena sativa)

Oat is a herb that has been traditionally used for its calming and nervine properties. Oats are rich in various nutrients such as B vitamins, magnesium, and zinc, which are important for maintaining healthy nervous system function. Studies have suggested that oats may have an anxiolytic effect, due to its ability to stimulate the production of certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which are involved in mood regulation. Oats are also known for their ability to nourish and strengthen the nervous system, making it more resilient to stress and anxiety. Oats may also help to improve sleep quality, which can have a positive impact on overall mental health and well-being. A nourishing bowl of oatmeal is a perfect way to start the day.


Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Lavender is a well-known herb with a long history of use for its relaxing and calming properties. The essential oil of lavender contains several compounds, including linalool and linalyl acetate, which are believed to contribute to its anxiolytic effects. Research has shown that lavender may help reduce anxiety symptoms in individuals with mild to moderate anxiety. A 2019 systematic review and meta-analysis of 15 randomized controlled trials found that lavender had a significant anxiolytic effect, particularly when administered as an aromatherapy or oral supplement. Lavender is commonly used in aromatherapy, either by inhaling the essential oil directly or by adding it to a diffuser. Studies have shown that inhaling lavender essential oil can help reduce anxiety symptoms, improve sleep quality, and promote a sense of relaxation. Having a massage using lavender essential oil can also be particularly beneficial for alleviating anxiety and muscle tension. For a calming massage oil, combine 2 drops of lavender essential oil per tablespoon of carrier oil such as almond oil. You will find lavender flowers in our beautiful calming tea Bodhi Organic SereniTEA.


Vervain (Lemon Verbena)

Vervain is a herb that has been traditionally used for its calming and relaxing effects. It is believed to work by increasing the levels of GABA in the brain, which helps to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. Several studies have investigated the anxiolytic effects of Vervain. One study published in 2017 in the Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine found that a Vervain extract had significant anxiolytic effects in patients with generalized anxiety disorder. Vervain is also beneficial for soothing stomach spasms and digestive complaints associated with anxiety. Vervain can be used as a culinary herb or enjoyed as a tea. You will find this calming herb in our Bodhi Organic SereniTEA.


Written by Lisa Guy, naturopath and founder of Bodhi Organic Tea.

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