From occasional anxiety before an interview or getting the doctor’s results after a scan to severe anxiety and panic attacks, herbal supplements can provide the much-needed relief naturally. The thought of taking prescription drugs can cause stress, considering the side effects you have to endure. Whether it’s our current lifestyle, over-prescription or changes in the environment, the National Center for Health Statistics reports that the use of antidepressant has risen by almost 400 percent since 1998. In other words, approximately one in every 10 Americans takes an antidepressant. The advantage of using natural remedies for panic attacks, anxiety and stress is that it addresses the root cause of the problem. This means that you are able to get long-lasting relief from such disorders, without the ugly side-effects.
What Causes Panic Attacks
Experts are still trying to find what really causes panic attacks. However, certain factors are known to trigger the attacks. They include hereditary genes, over-sensitive brain cells that misinterprets the feelings of fear (without the presence of a real threat) and over-reacting to a change in carbon dioxide levels. Usually, a panic attack occurs without warning and the victim is suddenly filled with extreme fear. Some of the symptoms that the affected person feels include:
- Lightheadedness, dizziness, and nausea.
- Chest pain and elevated heartbeats.
- Sweating, trembling and shaking.
- Breathing difficulties.
- Feeling that you’re dying or losing your mind.
The following herbs have traditionally been used as natural alternatives to antidepressants and have science to back it up.
For centuries, lavender has been an effective stress reliever as well as a natural remedy for both mild and severe anxiety in many cultures. It has become the mainstay for most herbalists and medical practice. Lavender oil can be taken in tea to relax your nerves and in a diffuser as aromatherapy. Other approaches include a few drops on the pillow before sleep, in your bath or as a topical application for its soothing effects.
Previously known to treat inflammation and digestion problems, several studies now show that turmeric can help with anxiety and depression. Curcumin is the primary active compound that is not only anti-inflammatory but also effective in reducing anxiety triggered by stress. The recommended daily dose of curcumin extract is 80 to 500mg daily. For people with iron deficiency or pregnant women, seek your doctor’s advice first before taking this supplement.
You must have heard good things about chamomile tea. Taken before bed, chamomile relieves anxiety and improves your moods. Chamomile tea is safe for pregnant women and you can mix it with lemon balm or St. John’s wort. You can also take chamomile supplements whenever you feel overwhelmed or stressed out. A study by the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center in Philadelphia found that patients who took chamomile supplements showed a significant reduction in anxiety-related symptoms.
Green tea contains an amino acid called L-Theanine which helps to curb a rise in your heart rate and blood pressure. It’s known to be relaxing and calming, thus helping to improve the quality of sleep. Preparing green tea is easy and fast and you can take as much or as little as you like.
Famously known as a traditional Indian herb, the use of the Ashwagandha dates back over 6000 years ago. Several studies prove the ability of this herb to reduce stress hormones in the body, improve mental health and promote good memory. It has also proven to be effective in patients with bipolar disorder. Ashwagandha is an adaptogen, an herb that helps us to adapt to the stress levels. It can be taken in powder form by adding one or two teaspoons to your favorite smoothie, as a capsule of 500-100ml or in tincture form, two to four ml daily. If you have trouble sleeping, take it just before bed to induce a worry-free sleep.
This is a great sedative that’s best taken in the evenings or when you’re not partaking in major activities such as sports or work. Lemon balm calms and reduces anxiety making it a must-have herb in your kitchen, You can include lemon balm in your chamomile tea or you can take it as a supplement.
This plant originated from South Pacific and has gained much popularity in the U.S. due to its calming effects. Some studies show that kava has similar effects to valium in curbing anxiety but unlike valium, it improves cognitive function. Its tranquilizing effects could help clear headaches, tension, insomnia, and nervousness. Kava can be taken as a liquid or supplement. However, Kava may have adverse effects on people with certain conditions such as hepatitis and other liver conditions.
St. John’s Wort
This herb is commonly known to counter depression and help reduce anxiety symptoms. Experts suggest that St. John’s wort balances the neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in our brains, that may be imbalanced in people with anxiety disorders. However, more research needs to be conducted to confirm these findings. Before taking St. John’s wort, you should know that it doesn’t interact well with certain medications and could cause serious side effects. Additionally, experts warn that this herb decreases the potency of birth control medication. Therefore, only take this herb after consultations with your doctor.