Herbal Favourites for Anxiety

The potential combinations of herbs for the treatment of anxiety are almost limitless! As with any condition, herbs are chosen for their ability to address the physiological and energetic mechanisms at play within anxiety. Here are some of my favourites in clinic:

Divine Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

Divine Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

Gentle Passi is the favourite of many a Naturopath. The gorgeous flowers resemble the wavy and erratic iris fibres often present in the eyes of individuals with a nervous system under siege! It is an anxiolytic herb and assists in the uptake of GABA (a calming and relaxing neurotransmitter). Passionflower is particularly beneficial for resolving insomnia due to repetitive thoughts and for settling those who wake during the night with heart palpitations or anxiety. 

Lemonbalm (Melissa officinalis)

Lemonbalm? More like Lemon-calm! Melissa is a talented garden herb. Aside from her anti-viral properties, Lemonbalm is a digestive nervine herb, which means she is indicated for stress induced bloating and digestive imbalance. Perfect for anxiety induced butterflies, loss of appetite, nausea or discomfort. Conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) has a huge nervous system component so Lemonbalm is frequently called upon for those suffering IBS.

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)

For me, Chamomile tea goes hand in hand with Peter Rabbit and other sweet childhood memories. Similarly to Lemonbalm, Chamomile is also a tummy-easer and is indicated for digestive issues like food intolerances and bloating. It’s also incredible suited to restless children (and the inner child within all of us!). Chamomile is traditionally prescribed to relieve colic, indigestion, nausea, anxiety as well as nervous irritability. A strong cup of loose-leaf, organic Chamomile tea can do wonders - add a little honey if it’s for your little one!

Magnolia (Magnolia officinalis)

Magnolia is a less commonly known medicinal herb, but is wonderful at reducing the perception of stress and making life a little more manageable. She takes the edge off of anxiety by improving GABA uptake and has been traditionally administered over the centuries to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and low mood. 

Withania (Withania somnifera)

You can’t go far without hearing the wonders of Withania being heralded from every herbalist and health food shop. Withania is an incredibly valuable herb in the treatment of stress and anxiety as the root helps to regulate the release of neurotransmitters and hormones from the hypothalamus to the adrenal glands. Perhaps this is how Withania supports sexual function as well, by levelling out nervous tension and improving the body’s response to stress. Ever noticed a link between stress and your libido?

These are but a few of the magnificent herbs available to Naturopaths in the treatment of anxiety. There are so many others: Skullcap, St. John’s Wort, Lavender, Kava Kava, Saffron and Valerian just to name a few. 

How to get your hot little hands on some herbs:

Over the counter (OTC) herbal preparations are frequently sold without an understanding of potential interactions and contraindications. Sometimes they are not manufactured or stored to a high standard, undermining results. Often OTC products do not contain enough of the active constituent to elicit a noticeable effect. Herbs should always be prescribed by a qualified Naturopath or Herbalist. Only practitioners with these qualifications have undertaken the study required to understand and safely combine herbs for therapeutic use!

Want to know more about how plants can be used to address anxiety? Make an appointment so that we can choose the best match for you.

Alexandra McPhee