List of 10 Anxiolytic Herbs & Natural Substances
Anxiety is one of the most vicious mental health problems that can ruin your professional and social life, your daily activities, your sleep, and many other aspects of your life and well-being.
If you go to consult with a psychiatrist about it, chances are they’ll prescribe you one of the mainstream anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines. While these drugs are quite effective, they also come with many nasty side effects and risks, and can easily lead to addiction.
In the long run, those “FDA approved” anxiolytic and hypnotic medications are likely to end up doing you more harm than good.
Prescription medications aren’t the only option you’ve got when struggling with an anxious mind though. In fact, many argue they should be the very last option to consider when nothing else helps.
Natural, over-the-counter anxiety relief supplements can be found everywhere, and while the majority of the branded formulas are no more than overhyped BS, there are certain natural/herbal substances that have been shown to possess significant anxiolytic properties.
These aren’t approved treatments, they aren’t as potent as prescription drugs, and they may not work for everyone, but if you are looking for a natural anxiety reliever, the following is a list of the most powerful substances that are back by some degree of scientific evidence.
Skullcap (scutellaria) is a small flowering herb in the mint family. It is considered a relaxing nervine and it is mainly used to combat anxiety and insomnia.
Valerian (valeriana officinalis) is a flowering plant whose roots and root extracts are used as a sedative remedy for people suffering from insomnia or anxiety disorders.
It has been suggested that the anxiolytic effect of valerian is mainly due to its content of valerenic acid; a GABA(A) receptor positive allosteric modulator, although other bioactive components of the plant may also be responsible for its sedative activity.
3. Magnolia Bark Extract
The bark of the magnolia tree contains two compounds that possess anti-anxiety properties: magnolol and honokiol. Studies have shown that magnolol and honokiol act as modulators of GABA(A) receptors, with honokiol having stronger anxiolytic activity.
4. Magnesium Glycinate
Magnesium glycinate is an amino acid chelate that consists of magnesium and glycine. Magnesium plays an essential role in nerve transmission, and a deficiency in this important micronutrient has been linked to anxiety, insomnia, and several neurological disorders.
Glycine is an amino acid that functions as an inhibitory neurotransmitter. Glycine supplementation helps improve sleep quality and reduce daytime fatigue in people suffering from sleep disorders.
If you suffer from anxiety or sleeplessness and you don’t regularly consume foods that are rich in magnesium, then supplementing with magnesium should be one of the first things to consider. Magnesium glycinate is one of the best forms of magnesium as it has high bioavailability and does not cause diarrhea like some other supplemental forms of this mineral.
5. Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola rosea is a small plant that has different uses in traditional medicine. It is often prescribed as an adaptogen to help individuals who are under constant stress reduce its negative effects on mental and physical performance and increase the body’s resilience to stress.
L-theanine is an amino acid naturally found in tea leaves, and it is commonly used to reduce stress and anxiety.
One study found that a combination of L-theanine and GABA (an amino acid and inhibitory neurotransmitter) has a synergistic relaxing and sleep-promoting effect.
It has also been suggested that theanine has neuroprotective and cognition-enhancing benefits. Many people take theanine and caffeine together as a nootropic supplement where theanine works to counteract the agitation and anxiety often caused by caffeine.
7. Gotu Kola
Gotu kola (centella asiatica) is an herb native to Asia and has a few uses in traditional medicine. This plant contains asiatic acid, which has demonstrated anxiolytic and antidepressant activity through modulation of GABA(A) receptors.
A 2016 study found that gotu kola provides protection against oxidative damage and anxiety resulting from lack of sleep. It also has the potential to improve cognitive function, especially in patients with neurological disorders.
Oleamide is an organic amide derived from the fatty acid oleic acid; a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid found in some fats and oils, most notably olive oil.
Some studies suggested that oleamide acts as a stereoselective modulator of GABA(A) receptors. It may also modulate the activity of other neurotransmitter systems, including the cannabinoidergic, dopaminergic and serotonergic systems.
9. Passion Flower
Passion flower (passiflora) is a flowering plant that has a long history of use in traditional medicine as a sedative and anxiolytic.
One study noted that oral administration of this herb reduces anxiety without inducing sedation.
10. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm (melissa officinalis) is an herb that belongs to the mint family. It is used in the form of an herbal tea or a dietary supplement for remedying anxiety, stress, and insomnia.