Top 3 herbal remedies to reduce anxiety in 2024

Anxiety, stress and sleepless nights are all too familiar in this world of overconsumption and trivia. As a recovering overthinker and I use the term recovering very lightly – I have to admit, I too have spent many of nights sometimes worrying about things that haven’t even happened yet! Have you ever done that? A dreaded thought comes to mind and all of a sudden your in full blown story mode catastrophizing the what if’s until you eventually go into a full blown panic!

Well, if this is you, you probably fall into the estimated 4% of the global population who have or are currently dealing with anxiety – one of the most common mental health disorders in the world. Anxiety can show up in many different ways. For me it’s catastrophizing. For someone else, it can be a full blown panic attack which includes shortness of breathe or even feeling the world is speeding up or slowing down.

But, as the numbers continue to rise, the peaked interest and solutions to managing symptoms have also been the talk of the medical and holistic community. Herbal remedies, derived from centuries-old traditions and backed by modern research, offer a promising and accessible way to managing mental health conditions. From anxiety and depression to stress and sleep disorders, the therapeutic potential of herbs has garnered increasing attention in recent years.

Below we have created a list of the top five herbs recommended by the Royal College of Psychiatrists for anxiety and sleep problems. Before reading on, they state, ‘Most of these treatments seem to work on gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA), a chemical in the brain linked to anxiety. We do not know if these drugs cause addiction. They are less powerful than conventional sedatives or sleeping tablets.’

So, I would also consult with a doctor or medical herbalist before taking the herbs below.

Our Top Herbs for Anxiety

Valerian

Valerian, derived from the root of the Valeriana officinalis plant, has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for anxiety and sleep disorders. Its calming properties are attributed to compounds like valerenic acid and valeranone, which interact with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain, promoting relaxation and reducing feelings of anxiety. Valerian can be consumed as a tea, tincture, or in capsule form.

While research on its effectiveness is ongoing, many individuals find relief from symptoms of anxiety by incorporating valerian into their wellness routines. However, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any herbal supplement regimen, especially if you’re taking other medications or have underlying health conditions.

You can buy dried Valerian root here

How good is it?

This remains unclear at the moment, but some studies have shown that people report sleeping better having taken Valerian.

Side-effects 

Drowsiness or excitability. It may slow down reactions, so you should not drive or operate dangerous machinery after taking it. You should not take it in pregnancy.

Drug interactions with

  • sedatives
  • alcohol
  • the pill
  • HIV medicines
  • epilepsy and anti-fungal treatments
  • blood thinning medicines.

Passion flower

Passionflower, a flowering plant native to the Americas, has long been utilized as a traditional remedy for anxiety and insomnia. The plant contains compounds like flavonoids and alkaloids, which are believed to have calming effects on the nervous system by increasing levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation.

Passionflower is often brewed into teas, taken in tincture form, or consumed as a dietary supplement. Many individuals find relief from symptoms of anxiety with passionflower, experiencing reduced feelings of stress and improved sleep quality. As with any herbal supplement, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before use, especially if you’re taking medications or have underlying health conditions.

You can buy passionflower here

How good is it?

Very few studies have been conducted, One trial found it to be as good as conventional tranquilizers.

Side-effects

Isolated reports of severe toxicity even at normal doses. It can cause dizziness, confusion, heart problems, and inflammation of blood vessels. Some species may contain cyanides, so toxicity may depend on the preparation.

Drug interactions with

  • warfarin, a blood thinner.

Hops

Dried hops, the flowers of the Humulus lupulus plant, are commonly known for their use in brewing beer, but they also possess potential benefits for anxiety relief. Hops contain compounds such as xanthohumol and myrcene, which have sedative properties and may help to promote relaxation and reduce feelings of anxiety.

While hops are not typically consumed on their own due to their bitter taste, they can be brewed into teas or tinctures, or used as a supplement in capsule form. Some individuals find that incorporating dried hops into their nighttime routine can help to calm the mind and promote better sleep, indirectly alleviating symptoms of anxiety. However, as with any herbal remedy, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before use, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking medications.

You can buy dried hops here

How does it work?

  • We don’t know.

How good is it? 

One study showed that a valerian-hops combination helped sleep.

Side effects

None reported.

Drug interactions with 

Increases sedation when used with:

  • sedatives
  • sleeping tablets
  • other herbs
  • alcohol.

Please see the link here for the full list. Source: Herbal remedies and complementary medicines | Royal College of Psychiatrists (rcpsych.ac.uk)

Written by

  • Lisa Hanley

    Lisa Hanley is both the Founder and Editor of Ankha Azzura Magazine, a media platform that blends her passion in wellness, science, and holistic living. Having spent over a decade working in media, beginning with local radio and print and later transitioning to producing and luxury travel writing, Lisa established Ankha Global in 2022. She attended three universities in the UK to study Journalism and Media studies and currently resides in London with her partner.

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