Anti Anxiety Herbs the Natural Answer to Stress

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Justin Lam, ABAAHP, FMNM; Carrie Lam, MD

Alternatives to modern medication are anti anxiety herbsToday’s modern lifestyle has seen the anti anxiety and antidepressants industry skyrocket like never before. People, generally speaking, know that their lifestyles are too busy, and resort to these in an effort to bring a little balance and relaxation into their lives. The problem, however, is that the western lifestyle and accompanying western medicine only targets the symptoms and does not address the root cause. Homeopathy, on the other hand, looks at the body holistically and often uses anti anxiety herbs to treat many of the problems associated with the modern living.

Many of the health issues faced these days, besides anxiety and depression, are chronic fatigue, digestive problems, immune issues, and hormonal imbalances, to name but a few. All of these, although there are other possible causes for the condition, are related to adrenal fatigue.

Adrenal dysfunction is a common problem occurring when the adrenal glands are overworked. Most practitioners of western medicine do not ascribe to adrenal fatigue, as they tend to treat the symptom and do not look further for the cause. Most of them are not, in fact, even aware that adrenal fatigue is the problem causing the symptom.

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

The adrenal glands form part of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. The HPA axis is part of the neuroendocrine system and is directly responsible for the fight-or-flight reaction. It is the body’s coping mechanism when under sudden stress.

Under stressful situations, the hypothalamus, in the brain, releases a hormone that stimulates the pituitary gland to produce adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH, prompting the adrenal glands to produce cortisol. Cortisol is necessary for your body to deal with stress of any kind. The adrenals also produce adrenaline, which charges your body up in order to take action.

Under normal circumstances, once a stressful situation is over, everything goes back to normal and the usual production of the different hormones ensues.

Adrenal fatigue, however, is the result of a situation where the stress does not stop. It continues over a period and possibly even increases in intensity. Your adrenal glands’ first order of call is the production of even more cortisol to keep up with the demand. At some stage, however, it cannot keep up and the body’s NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response kicks in. It is an automatic reaction to adrenal fatigue.

Prolonged stress has the body going through different stages of adrenal fatigue, each with their own added underlying symptoms.

Stage one of adrenal fatigue has the adrenal glands able to supply the demand for the necessary hormones to ensure the body functions well. You may, however, encounter sleep problem and fatigue.

Stage two of adrenal fatigue has your adrenal glands still operating fairly well to cope with the demands of stress. You may still be able to function well, although you may find yourself totally exhausted at the end of the day and your dependence on coffee, to keep you alert, increasing.

During the third stage of adrenal fatigue, your body might start compromising, producing more of the essential hormones to keep you going, such as cortisol, while producing less of the non-essential hormones such as the sex hormones. The associated symptoms include a downward swing in our sex drive, constant tiredness, and regular infections. Irritability, anxiety, and depression are also increased.

Find some relief with anti anxiety herbsDuring the fourth and last stage of adrenal fatigue, you have what is commonly known as burnout. Your body no longer has ways of manufacturing the hormones it needs to combat the stress, and adrenal exhaustion is the result. You may feel utterly depleted, tired beyond your ability to describe it, have absolutely no sex drive, feel anxious and depressed all the time, start losing weight, and probably have no interest in what is going on around you. If you have reached this stage of adrenal fatigue, it takes a very long time to get healthy again.

The adrenal glands have the ability to restore themselves, but it takes time, patience, and perseverance. It does not happen overnight. The best practice, when you have adrenal fatigue, is to look at your diet, and incorporate the correct supplements. Certain anti anxiety herbs can also help you restore balance to your body and support your adrenal functions. A few lifestyle changes would also be in order.

The Benefits of Anti Anxiety Herbs

Humanity has, for thousands of years, used natural resources such as herbs, to help treat ailments. Amongst these are herbs to treat anxiety and depression. It has only been since the advent of modern medicine that pharmaceutical drugs have been prescribed to treat the myriad of ailments humans have.
These days, herbs are still used to treat certain ailments, anxiety being but one of them. They can be ingested as part of a meal, or in extract or supplement form. They are most often found in health shops.

A few anti anxiety herbs to consider:

1. Ginger

Ginger root helps control the levels of cortisol in your body, is a great fat burner, helps normalize blood pressure, increases your body’s metabolic rate, and stimulates digestive enzymes. The herb also aids in the relief of anxiety and stress, which these days are the result of a rushed, modern lifestyle that has a negative effect on adrenal gland functionality.

Fresh ginger root is a staple in many households around the world due to its uses in cooking. As a home remedy, ginger tea helps to not only relieve stress but is a great aid in promoting digestion while it helps detoxify the body as well.

If you have a lot of food sensitivities, be careful of ginger. Ginger can be stimulating on the gut and body. A sensitive body may not respond positively to ginger.

2. Chamomile

Recent research proves that chamomile not only has a relaxing effect but also serves to combat depression and anxiety. The different research conducted, not only studied the plant component and its effect as an essential oil during aromatherapy, but the use of chamomile extract in pill form as well. The results of all three types of research were conclusive in that the herb was effective in combating anxiety, stress, and depression.

Chamomile is commonly taken as a tea. For those who have any signs of these symptoms, a cup of chamomile tea in the early morning is a great way to start out the day.

Herbalists often suggest the long-term use of this anti anxiety herbs family member as the effect is usually most effective after a lengthy period. Chamomile has no known side effects.

3. Lemon

Anti anxiety herbs include lemon water. Warm lemon water is an anti anxiety herbs family member that is rich in vitamin C. It boosts the immune system, fights infection, helps with liver detoxification, aids kidney function, restores the body’s pH balance, enhances the body’s brain and nerve function, helps combat diabetes, eases joint pains, fights fat, promotes hydration, and helps prevent adrenal fatigue.

Additionally, the non-assuming lemon plays a role in adrenal recovery. It is high in vitamin C. The highest percentage of vitamin C in the human body is stored in the adrenal glands where it is used in the production of hormones. The most notable of these is cortisol, the hormone that deals directly with any stress and anxiety-related issue.

4. Jojoba

Jojoba is found in many beauty products, essential oils, bath oils, and soap. Besides containing vitamin E, iodine, zinc, copper, silicon, and chromium, it also contains vitamin B complex. Each of the B vitamins has a direct or indirect impact on the functionality of the adrenal glands and adrenal fatigue.
It must be noted that B vitamins can be stimulating on the body. As such, those in advanced adrenal fatigue should proceed with caution in the use of B vitamins and jojoba as too much stimulation may lead to a crash.

Vitamin B1: Thiamine

  • Enhances circulation
  • Plays a role in metabolizing carbohydrates
  • Aids blood formation
  • Plays a role in the formation of certain neurotransmitters
  • Plays a role in digestion

Vitamin B2: Riboflavin

  • Needed for the metabolism of fatty acids, carbohydrates, and amino acids
  • Activates vitamin B6
  • Assists in the creation of niacin
  • Assists the adrenal glands

Vitamin B3: Niacin

  • Plays a role in cellular respiration
  • Helps with the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats
  • Boosts brain function
  • Plays a role in the nervous system
  • Aids in the synthesis of sex hormones

Vitamin B5: Pantothenic Acid

  • Plays a role in the secretion of a number of hormones, most noticeable of which is cortisol in the adrenal glands
  • Assists the metabolism
  • Fights allergies
  • Helps in the maintenance of nerves, skin, and muscle

Vitamin B6: Pyridoxine

  • Balances hormonal changes in women
  • Assists the immune system
  • Controls mood swings
  • Metabolizes carbohydrates, proteins, and fats

Vitamin B9: Folic Acid

  • Needed for the synthesis of DNA
  • Necessary for formation of red blood cells
  • Plays a role in oxygen transport

Vitamin B12: Cyanocobamin

  • Appetite stimulator
  • Plays a role in red blood cell formation
  • Gives you a mental boost

5. Celery

As part of the anti anxiety herbs family, Celery can be beneficial to your healthBesides being part of the anti anxiety herbs family, this herb has a lot to offer. It is calorie free and contains an abundance of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and fiber. It is a real superfood.

Benefits of celery:

  • It lowers blood pressure
  • Is a stress and anxiety reducer due to the presence of vitamins B6, K, and C
  • It is an immunity booster
  • Aids in weight loss due to the high water content giving one a feeling of fullness
  • Lowers cholesterol due to the presence of phthalide which combats bad cholesterol
  • Is a natural diuretic due to the high water content and balance between sodium and potassium which flush excess fluids from your system
  • It hydrates the body
  • Beneficial for sleep and relaxation as it reduces stress hormones while the magnesium in celery has a relaxing effect
  • Boosts your sex drive due to the presence of androsterone and androstenol which are steroids

Celery can be eaten raw, used as a flavor enhancer, or juiced.

6. Valerian

The root of this anti anxiety herbs family member is used in medication in order to combat the effects of adrenal fatigue. Anxiety and an inability to have a good night’s rest are but two of these symptoms. Both are countered by valerian.

Valerian also has been found to be of benefit to those who suffer from depression, asthma, have headaches, migraines, upset stomachs, and chronic fatigue. These are all symptoms of the various phases of adrenal fatigue.

Valerian acts on both the brain (the hypothalamus which is part of the HPA axis) and nervous system where it has a calming and soothing effect.

In advanced states of adrenal fatigue, sensitivities are common. A paradoxical reaction to valerian root can present and cause you to feel more wired instead of calm.

7. Green Tea

Green tea contains thianine, an amino acid that works on the hypothalamus to release dopamine and serotonin that combat anxiety. This helps address stress levels while at the same time helps to restore the functionality of your adrenal glands.

Be careful with green tea as it also contains caffeine. Caffeine is stimulatory on the body and can increase anxiety levels. Anyone who has AFS in moderate to advanced stages should avoid this anti anxiety herbs family member.

8. Passion Flower

The passion flower, also extensively known as the Passiflora incarnata is used as a calming herb. Don’t be deceived by its beautiful name, as this flower, if ingested, will cause you a passion for sleepiness and drowsiness. It is readily used in herbal medicine, and has dated to have been discovered in 1569 in Peru, and became an herb used for calmness and relaxation. Positively speaking, nevertheless, it is widely used for reducing anxiety, stress, seizures, hysteria, and insomnia. It has additionally been linked to helping relieve high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, asthma, and even some symptoms of menopause. If you constantly are having trouble falling asleep, you will find a great sense of relaxation upon taking passion flower. You can consume it as an herbal supplement, in the form of herbal tea, or extract. It is also used on the skin to heal hemorrhoids, inflammation, and burns. The passion flower is actually a sedative and has been proven to cause restlessness and nervousness alike. With that being said, you should not take it if you are on a prescription sedative of any sort, without first discussing it with a health practitioner. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should avoid using passion flower for a health ailment of any kind.

9. Lemon Balm

As opposed to the impression from what its name reveals, lemon balm is actually from the mint family. Lemon balm is also known as Melissa Officinalis and is commonly known as a calming herb. It has actually been dated to have been used all the way to the Middle Ages. Lemon balm relieves stress, reduces anxiety, promotes better sleep, reduces pain, bloating, and gases in the gastrointestinal tract, and improves appetite, too. Additionally, lemon balm is used on the skin to relieve cold sores. You can take lemon balm as a supplement, as dried leaves for tea, in the form of an essential oil or as a cream if you are using it on your skin. Lemon balm causes relaxation in the body, reduces stress hormone levels, and improves the condition of insomnia and other sleep disturbances.

10. Hops

Now this one might be a pleasant surprise to many, as hops is actually an herb that is found in beer and used as a flavoring agent. It is also known as Humulus lupulus, and it comes from a flowering plant species in the Cannabaceae family. Besides flavoring your favorite brew, hops can actually relieve your anxiety and stress remarkably. It has a long history in herbal medicine used to alleviate anxiety, stress, and insomnia. Hops are used by many bodybuilders to calm the body, help with weight-loss, and get a pleasant night’s rest. It’s most recognized for reducing sleep disturbances, which can be caused by an increase in stress hormones swimming around in your blood. You can find it in the form of a supplement or powder. It has also been found to help in increasing the flow of breast milk, improve appetite, relieve indigestion, reduce tension, and ADHD (attention deficient-hyperactivity disorder). If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, hops have not been reliably tested, so it is best to avoid taking it. Hops also act like estrogen, so those with breast cancer or endometriosis should stay away from ingesting it.

11. L-theanine

If you are a fan of green tea for its popularly known fat-burning benefits, you are in for some more virtuous news. L-theanine, a non-essential amino acid found in green tea, can relieve your anxiety, stress, and even depression. It has been analyzed and is found to have some incredible effects on the brain! The amino acid helps lessen stress signals in the brain and increases your “feel good” receptors, thus, boosting your mood. Researchers found that this unique amino acid waysides both rising blood pressure and heart rate, and for that, makes you feel an overall sense of calmness. It can also help you better focus, as being in the state of anxiety can really blur your mind and thoughts. Additionally, due to its aid in relieving anxiety and stress, L-theanine can relieve those suffering from insomnia. It can also boost your immunity, increase stamina and energy levels, and enhance overall brain function. You would certainly want to consume it as a supplement or as an extract, as it will take numerous cups of green tea to reach an amount enough to aid in reducing anxiety and optimize the health of your adrenal glands.

Radical Changes are Not Needed

As part of the anti anxiety herbs family, Valerian root is know for it's healing powers.Recovery from, or prevention of, adrenal fatigue and the associated symptom of anxiety, need not change your life. It can be a gradual progression, starting with baby steps. By introducing a few small changes in your diet or lifestyle, and as your condition slowly turns around, more changes can be made.

One of these changes is possibly the introduction of certain herbs into one’s daily regimen, and the cutting out of one harmful substance at a time. As time progresses and the benefits are both seen and felt, and as you start your path towards adrenal recovery, not only your health but your outlook on life benefit as well.

© Copyright 2016 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Valerian root is part of the anti anxiety herbs family
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