Anyone who has suffered from anxiety understands that it can be hard to find pharmaceuticals that genuinely help manage this issue. Doctors often hesitate to approve medications for what they see as “mild” cases of anxiety. But even if you obtain a prescription, conventional pharmaceuticals can often hurt as much as they help manage anxiety.
Natural medicine is an increasingly popular alternative. The growing availability of CBD products that are supported by a burgeoning body of research has led many people to discover how natural medicine can help target anxiety without side effects or exhausting yourself speaking to medical professionals.
Are you interested in using natural medicine for anxiety? Our guide covers all your best options.
What Are the Best Herbal Treatments for Anxiety?
Herbal remedies have been used to help calm the nerves and reduce stress worldwide for thousands of years. However, increased awareness of how common anxiety disorders are - and how they can be comorbid with other conditions that can benefit from natural medicine - has led to strong growth in popularity since the 1960s.
Let's take a look at the best herbal remedies for targeting anxiety.
CBD (Cannabidiol) is a naturally occurring derivative of the cannabis plant. Products containing CBD have become ubiquitous in the natural medicine market over the past decade or so. So why is CBD viewed as such an exciting prospect in targeting symptoms of stress?
Scientific understanding of how CBD can benefit people suffering from anxiety and stress is still in its infancy. However, early preclinical studies have suggested that it might be effective in treating wide-ranging conditions, including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder.
One study found that the most common reason for using CBD products was to treat anxiety (42.6%), with sleeping problems (42.5%) just behind it. Stress was another common factor, with 37% of users reporting using CBD to help combat stress. Participants in this survey suggested that they broadly considered CBD an effective treatment for all these conditions and promoting their sense of wellness in general.
Too little is known to make authoritative claims about CBD's benefits at this stage. However, the growing body of research suggesting that users find CBD treatments beneficial is very encouraging and makes CBD an exciting natural medicine for treating anxiety.
Lavender is a pleasant-smelling herb that has been used in traditional natural medicine for millennia. It's commonly used in scented candles, soaps, and air fresheners due to its soothing aroma. Products such as lavender oil are also frequently used to help promote good sleep.
The relationship between lavender and reduced anxiety isn't well understood, as relatively few clinical trials have been done in this area. However, one study compared the effects of a type of lavender oil with Lorazepam, which is often prescribed for generalized anxiety disorder. The findings suggested that the lavender compound was similarly effective in combating anxiety but avoided the addictive side effects of Lorazepam. This is an attractive prospect for anyone seeking natural medicine as an alternative to addictive pharmaceuticals.
The results of a single clinical study aren't enough to make scientific claims about lavender's effectiveness. Still, the results are encouraging and could potentially supplement lavender's “soft” benefits for combating anxiety and promoting wellness - e.g., its relaxing aroma. Many natural medicines contain lavender extract due to its potential benefits and long history as a herbal remedy for treating stress and anxiety.
Mint is an aromatic and well-known herb used in many household products, from air fresheners to toothpaste. Its aroma and taste have a unique “cleansing” quality - this is due to menthol, a compound that makes your mouth feel cool in the same way that capsicum in chilies makes your mouth feel hot. Mint is commonly used in oral hygiene products for this reason, but it also has properties that make it a popular natural medicine for treating anxiety.
A study involving university students suggested that ingesting peppermint improved sleep and reduced stress compared to a control group. It's also been suggested that mint has a positive effect on digestion — this is relevant to its use as a natural medicine for reducing anxiety because indigestion and nausea are common physiological symptoms of anxiety disorders.
Mint extract has a pleasant taste and complements or improves the flavor of other herbs often found in natural medicine. This includes CBD and lavender — the potential soothing benefits of mint may also act in harmony with these herbal remedies to promote general wellness.
Ashwagandha is a herb that has been used in traditional Indian medicine for many centuries. Also known as Withania somnifera, the latter part of which means “sleep-inducing”, has purported benefits in treating anxiety, improving sleep, and reducing stress levels.
Only a few clinical trials have analyzed whether ashwagandha is an effective treatment for these conditions. Still, a 2019 study remarked that patients using the extract displayed lower cortisol levels than patients in the control group. Cortisol is a hormone associated with stress, suggesting that there might be some connection between consuming ashwagandha extract and reducing stress levels.
It's a popular component of many natural medicines designed to reduce anxiety levels due to its long history and the growing body of research investigating its effects.
Reishi mushrooms, also called lingzhi in Chinese, grow at the base of certain trees and are considered rare, valuable mushrooms in some Chinese and Japanese traditional medicine. Historically, they have been consumed in dried or powdered form to promote wellness.
There's little modern research into the effects of reishi mushrooms, although one study found that an extract produced anti-depressant effects and mediated anxiety hormone levels in rats. Proponents suggest that it may also have immunological benefits.
The purported health benefits of reishi mushrooms contribute to their growing reputation as a natural medicine that may have applications in treating anxiety. As the mushrooms can be quite bitter, reishi extract is often combined with aromatic or pleasant-tasting compounds like lavender extract or mint.
Magnesium L-threonate has been suggested to help mediate subjective anxiety. Magnesium is an element that occurs naturally in a lot of healthy food — its presence in the body helps with relaxation and can promote high-quality sleep.
Magnesium L-threonate is sometimes considered one of the more effective magnesium compounds for interacting with the brain and helping to reduce stress directly. However, the body of research behind this is limited.
Using Natural Medicine in a Health Routine
Any natural medicine should be used as part of a healthy routine and not considered a supplement that “cures” anxiety or depression. Bringing natural, healthy ingredients and behaviors into your life is what most people are looking for when they search for alternatives to modern Western medicine and the stress of day-to-day working life.
You might reduce your anxiety and stress levels significantly by making these supplements part of your routine. Remember that you can augment this by finding ingredients like lavender or mint in other sources, such as tea or aromatic candles. You can even grow them in a garden as part of a healthier, more nature-focused lifestyle — mint is an incredibly strong grower, while lavender variants thrive in most U.S. climates.
Regular exercise is another essential part of helping natural medicine work for you. This combination may also help you sleep more easily. Poor-quality sleep has a highly detrimental effect on our health and wellbeing, and getting enough rest should be an important part of using natural medicine for anxiety.
What You Should Know When Taking Natural Medicine
The body of research surrounding most herbal treatments for anxiety is limited. This is partly because most medical practitioners acknowledged only very severe cases of anxiety until relatively recently — anxiety issues are known to be extremely common today.
This means that most herbal remedies haven't had their benefits clinically tested rigorously enough to make authoritative claims at this time. Potential side effects are also still being researched; you can always speak to your physician if you have questions about natural medicine ingredients.
Best Herbal Remedies for Anxiety - Final Thoughts
Combining herbal compounds like CBD, lavender, mint, and ashwagandha may have wide-reaching health benefits when used as part of a more naturalistic lifestyle. MDbio Wellness offers all of these herbal remedies in our MDcalm™ product. Using supplements to boost your mood, reduce stress, and combat anxiety could be a game-changer for those who want an alternative to the harsh effects of conventional pharmaceuticals.