Anxiety is an issue that affects many people. It is a feeling of unease and fear. It is a disorder and is also a symptom of many other mental health disorders like social anxiety, phobias and post traumatic stress. People have their own experiences of anxiety therefore treatment is different for each person.
There are a variety of options that can help people, but it is difficult to know what is effective and what isn’t. Presently, scientists have proved that some herbs are beneficial for dealing with anxiety. However, not all are useful, and some should be treated with caution. Here is what you need to know about using herbs to manage anxiety.
Plants Could be An Alternative Medicine
A research team from the University of Melbourne investigated the effects of supplements on gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This is a type of neurotransmitter in the body. These transmitters pass signals between the brain and the body. GABA is the ‘stop’ signal and acts to calm the central nervous system.
Plant based remedies are being looked to as an alternative to pharmaceutical treatments. Although they are effective, medications for anxiety can have undesirable side effects and withdrawal symptoms that can potentially deter sufferers of anxiety from seeking help.
The Most Effective Herb is the Most Dangerous
Scientists found the herb that is the most effective at treating anxiety is Kava. The herb is found on the Islands of Polynesia and is usually consumed in the form of pills, teas and concentrated extracts. It has been reported to elevate mood and create feelings of relaxation.
The plant has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries but despite its effectiveness, it does have problems. Although it is an effective remedy for anxiety, Kava has been linked to liver damage. More than 20 cases of liver damage were reported in Europe; four of which resulted in a transplant and one was fatal.
In these cases, kava was a commonality but so was alcohol use and other potentially liver-damaging drugs, so it is unclear if Kava was the main cause of liver damage. The UK banned the herb from sale in 2003. Although it is legal in the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has expressed safety concerns.
It is unclear that kava causes liver damage. Further research is required but any use should be either avoided whilst there is a lack of substantial evidence. Kava may be problematic, however there are other effective herbal remedies that are completely safe to consume:
Herbs to Help Anxiety
Normally found in tea form, chamomile is a flower that has been used for its calming and anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers from Ohio published a study that found Chamomile to be a mild sedative. The sleep-induced effects help to make consumers calm in times of stress.
Much like chamomile, passionflower also has sedative qualities that are used to help anxiety. Experts from the University of Maryland Medical Centre concluded that passionflower had the same effectiveness as the drug oxazepam. Though the plant didn’t work as quickly as the drug, it still produced the same effectiveness but with less impairment on job performance. This progress was shown in people with generalised anxiety disorder.
Some research suggests that Valerian can ease anxiety, however this research isn’t consistent. Valerian is a mild sedative and has been labelled safe by the FDA.
- Indian Ginseng
Research in 2012 discovered that the stress hormone cortisol was significantly reduced in people consuming the herb, compared to the control group who didn’t.