Do Herbal Remedies for Anxiety Really Work?

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Herbal remedies for anxiety are special plants, or botanicals, that have been shown to be psychotropic. Psychotropic herbs directly interact with our body chemistry so are used to treat various mental disorders, including anxiety. Some people prefer using herbal remedies to get rid of stress and anxiety over prescription anxiety medication, proclaiming that botanicals work just as well as synthetic medication. In determining if the use of plants is right for you, it’s helpful to learn if herbal anxiety remedies really work.

Effectiveness of Herbal Anxiety Remedies

Numerous studies on the effectiveness of herbal anxiety treatment have some consistent findings regarding the nature and efficacy of herbs (Are Herbs and Supplements for Anxiety Safe?).

  • With the exception of an herb known as kava, herbs are not as strong as prescription medication. Common tranquilizers such as Xanax and Klonopin are much stronger than botanicals.
  • Unlike their strong prescription counterparts, psychotropic herbs have few side effects.
  • Herbals are non-addictive.
  • Herbal remedies have been shown to be effective in treating mild- to moderate anxiety but not severe anxiety.
  • Herbs interact with body chemistry and thus work for the body’s physical symptoms of anxiety. However, they don’t address other aspects of anxiety such as external causes or behaviors. That said, by improving physical and some emotional symptoms of anxiety, botanicals do equip people to deal with other aspects of their anxiety that neither psychotropic herbs nor pharmaceuticals can directly treat.
  • As with every other treatment approach to anxiety, herbs work well for some people’s anxiety symptoms but don’t work at all for others. You might need to experiment over time to see whether or not herbal remedies help your anxiety.

Herbal Remedies Can Benefit Anxiety

Sometimes herbalists refer to botanicals as adaptogens. This captures well how herbal remedies work for anxiety. Certain psychotropic herbs help the body, including the brain and central nervous system adapt to anxiety, to the world, and to themselves.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that it helps people give in to anxiety and life stresses. Rather, adaptogens help create healthy, properly functioning bodies and brains so that they process information accurately, take charge of their emotional responses to situations, and act with confidence. Just like tuning a car helps it run well and for a long time, tuning your body systems, such as with herbal treatments for anxiety, can help you run well and for a long time and power you to tackle other life-limiting aspects of anxiety.

To benefit anxiety, herbal treatments also can

  • restore balance,
  • center thoughts,
  • soothe the body’s response to stress,
  • decrease the sense of worry and apprehension,
  • help us stop anticipating the worst,
  • decrease irritability
  • calm (depending on the herb)
  • energize (depending on the herb)

How to Use Herbal Remedies for Anxiety so They Work for You

If you look into psychotropic herbs, you may notice that they’re neither arranged nor designed like over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. With OTC medicine, you shop by symptom; if you have a headache, you seek and find medicines for headaches, but if you have allergies, you look for allergy medicine (not cold medicine, because that’s different altogether).

It’s different with herbs. Herbs share in common with homeopathic remedies the fact that each one does its own combination of things. For example, there might be several that have tranquilizing effects, several that reduce muscle tension, and one or two that do both, and another few who do both plus increase mental clarity. Additionally, each person reacts uniquely to a given herb. A tranquilizing herb might put one person to sleep but calm someone else just enough to be productive and focused. For these reasons, it is highly recommended to consult with a trained herbalist or naturopath before deciding on herbal remedies for anxiety.

Herbs are available in different forms, and an herbalist can help you determine which form will work best for you. They’re available as teas, extracts, tinctures, and capsules. Sometimes herbal treatments are made to be absorbed through the skin. Again, which type of herbal anxiety remedy to use is highly individualized, which makes a consultation with a professional wise and most effective.

List of Herbal Anxiety Remedies That Can Work

The following list of psychotropic herbs is meant to merely introduce some of the common herbs for anxiety you will likely encounter if you pursue herbal anxiety treatments. Both herbs and individuals are too complex for recommendations here. The following herbs have been shown to work in treating anxiety in many, but not all, individuals who have tried them.

  • lavender
  • chamomile
  • lemon balm
  • lemongrass
  • lemon verbena
  • rose petal
  • passionflower
  • ginseng
  • dried red clover
  • St. John’s Wort
  • ashwagandha
  • oats
  • avena
  • skullcap
  • verbena,
  • ginko biloba
  • gotu kola
  • catnip
  • bilberry
  • reishi
  • valerian
  • kava-kava (or just kava)
  • linden

Clearly, psychotropic herbs abound, and many treat anxiety. Whether or not they are effective is an individual matter. If selected and used with professional guidance, herbal remedies for anxiety can work.

article references

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2021, December 21). Do Herbal Remedies for Anxiety Really Work?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Last Updated: January 6, 2022

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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