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What are the Best Herbal Remedies for Anxiety?

By T. Webster
Updated May 17, 2024
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Among the best or most popular herbal remedies for anxiety are Chamomile, St. John’s Wort and Valerian. These herbal remedies are not new; Chamomile, for example, has been around for thousands of years. Similar to the other above-mentioned herbs, one of Chamomile’s most popular uses is promoting calmness and curbing mild anxiety.

As a general rule, most herbal remedies are not governed by regulatory food and drug agencies. This means the effectiveness of the herbs is sometimes anecdotal and not scientifically proven. Similar to prescription drugs, herbal remedies can have side effects. Some of these side effects can be quite serious or even fatal. When herbal remedies are used with caution and in moderation, however, some people swear by their effectiveness in reducing anxiety.

Chamomile is perhaps one of the most well-known herbal remedies for anxiety. The flowers of the chamomile plant are often used in making teas, liquid extracts or pills. Chamomile is known as a remedy for insomnia and anxiety, and it is used as a treatment for an upset stomach and other gastrointestinal problems.

Rare allergic reactions to Chamomile include throat swelling, shortness of breath, skin rashes and a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Allergic reactions to herbal remedies are most likely to occur in people with allergies to the daisy family. In addition to daisies, this plant family includes chrysanthemums, marigolds and ragweed.

St. John’s wort also is among the well-known herbal remedies for anxiety. It has been used for centuries. This flowering top of this herb is commonly used in tea and capsule form. Scientific studies have shown mixed results for the effectiveness of St. John’s wort.

A study by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States found that St. John’s wort was not effective in treating moderate depression. Some evidence was found that it could be effective in treating mild to moderate depression. Some side effects to watch for include sensitivity to sunlight, fatigue, headache, dry mouth and even increased anxiety.

The root of the Valerian plant is another well-known herb for reducing anxiety. Valerian is often taken in the form of a tea or in capsules. Valerian is known for its sedative effect and is commonly used to treat insomnia, with some indications that it is effective in treating anxiety.

Significant and long-term side effects of Valerian are generally not known. Similar to St. John’s wort, Valerian might actually increase anxiety and excitability in some people. Other possible side effects include irregular heartbeats and headaches.

When using any herbal remedies for anxiety, one should carefully follow all dosage recommendations under the guidance of either a trusted herbalist or a physician. A physician should be consulted if any other herbs or medications are being taken, as interactions can occur. As with prescription drugs, some people will feel an improvement in their condition while using herbs, and others will not. Prolonged anxiety can indicate a serious condition and might require psychological treatment or other forms of treatments.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Ocelot60 — On Mar 22, 2014

I tried St. John's wort, but I didn't feel any differently after taking it for several weeks. On the other hand, I feel that taking Chamomile does seem to ease my anxiety. I was surprised to read in this article that it has potentially serious side effects though, because I've never experienced any problems after taking it.

Though I sometimes take Chamomile supplements, I prefer to drink Chamomile tea. It is available at most health food shops and grocery stores. However, just as the article recommends, I did not begin trying herbs for my anxiety until I consulted with my doctor. She has monitored me closely, and given me advice about the best way to take these natural ingredients for my specify anxiety issues.

By Spotiche5 — On Mar 22, 2014

I was curious if anyone reading this has any opinions about which of the herbal remedies mentioned in this article is the most beneficial for anxiety? I have tried Valerian, but I didn't notice any difference in my anxiety level after taking it.

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