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Native Natural Remedies » Anxiety » Herbs for Anxiety – Do They Work?

Herbs for Anxiety – Do They Work?

A number of medications are available for the treatment of anxiety. However, some of these medications can be addictive and may have other side effects that make them inadvisable. Herbal supplements can offer some relief for generalized anxiety disorder and other anxiety conditions. Consumers should discuss these herbal supplements with their physicians before taking them.

Kava

Kava, also called kava kava, is an herb from the Pacific Island, where it grows as a tall shrub. The root is the part of the plant used medicinally. It is used as a ceremonial drink in Pacific Island cultures. It is chewed or ground into a pulp and added to cold water and drunk as a mild intoxicant. Kava is said to increase well being and produce a feeling of relaxation. Some studies have found kava supplements to be effective in treating anxiety. However, some studies have shown a risk of liver damage associated with taking kava. Some countries have taken it off the market because of this linkage, which is not well understood at this time. You should only take kava under the supervision of your doctor. The University of Maryland Medical Center advises consumers to avoid taking kava for longer than 3 months. You should also allow a two-week rest period in between periods of use. Kava should not be given to children.

Passion Flower

Passion Flower was used in the Americas and in Europe as a calming herb for the treatment of anxiety, insomnia and seizures. Scientists theorize that the herb works by increasing levels of a chemical called aminobutyric acid in the brain. This chemical lowers the activity of some types of brain cells, causing a feeling of relaxation. Passion flower is often used in combination with other calming herbs.  Though studies testing its effectiveness are not conclusive, they do suggest some reduction of anxiety. Passion flower should not be taken if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Valerian Root

Valerian is a flowering plant that is native to the Americas, Europe and Asia. It is the root of the plant that has medicinal value in treating anxiety and sleeplessness. The limited number of studies that have been done are inconclusive regarding its effectiveness. Extended use is needed for it to be effective for inducing sleep. Valerian should not be taken with alcohol, muscle relaxants, antihistamines or other drugs with sedating side effects. Those with liver or kidney disease should consult their physicians before taking valerian root. Stopping this medication can cause withdrawal effects. Valerian root should be tapered off slowly.

St. John’s Wort

St. John’s wort is a flowering plant native to Europe, northern Africa and western Asia. It is widely used in Europe to treat a number of mood disorders, including depression, anxiety and sleep problems. It is only available by prescription in Germany, but can be found in many health food stores in the United States. Hypericin is the active ingredient in St. John’s wort. The amount of this compound in supplements that are widely available can vary greatly. A number of studies suggest it can be effective against mild to moderate depression. Its effectiveness against anxiety has not been conclusive. Drug interactions can occur when taking St. John’s wort. Dizziness, dry mouth and upset stomach can occur when taking this medication.

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