Most people think of herbs as simple flavor-boosters, but they can be so much more than that! Herbs have been used for thousands of years for innumerable natural remedies, and they can have a profound effect on your mood!
You can use herbs for anxiety to gently and naturally bring your body back into a state of balanced calmness.
Read on for the best herbs for anxiety and depression, where to buy your herbs and natural supplements, and other techniques to help you reduce feelings of stress and anxiety- naturally!
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Why use herbs for anxiety?
First off, I’d like to say that I’m not anti-anti-depressants. I’ve needed them before. They’re great for acute issues, and they’re potentially lifesaving! If you need anti-depressants, I’m not going to judge or think less of you. I’ve known many people who need help with their mood and their doctors have been able to help them.
However, I don’t think anti-depressants should be your first option necessarily. I’d like to educate people about the other options out there, natural options that will support your whole body!
I believe herbs are one of those healthy options, and worth giving a try when you’re dealing with the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
In part, this is because of the risks and side effects related to anti-depressants and anxiety medication, including:
- Suicidal thoughts
Some of those seem kinda counter-intuitive, don’t they?
These prescriptions can also feed your brain in a way that stops it from producing feel-good chemicals on its own, potentially making you somewhat dependent on the medications.
Instead of doing something to suppress your symptoms (and potentially needing more and more of it), you might as well start out with a gentle, natural approach and see how that works for you!
Related: 10+ natural remedies for anxiety
Although I’d like to gently remind you that if you’re suddenly feeling worse or your usual methods don’t seem to be working, please don’t hesitate to go to the doctor- you deserve getting the care and help that you need!
None of us should have to deal with long-term anxiety or depression. Thankfully, herbs are an option for anyone looking for a drug-free approach to dealing with what they’re going through!
The best herbs for anxiety and depression
If you’re one of the many people who regularly experience anxiety attacks, unsettledness, or you just feel down sometimes, look through these herbs and try one that sounds like it might be what you need!
My top picks of the best herbs for anxiety include:
- CBD and hemp
- Lemon Balm
- Milky Oats
- St. John’s Wort
- Herbal blends
Read more about each of these herbs below! And please note that the serving and dosage suggestions are only suggestions– you might want to work with a naturopathic doctor or herbalist to find the dosage that works best for you.
Ashwagandha is an ancient adaptogenic herb, meaning that it helps your body to balance no matter where your levels are at.
A randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study demonstrated how ashwagandha is safe and effective in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. (source) This herb may help to lower cortisol levels and can support a feeling of calm by supporting your body as it deals with stress.
Ashwagandha root is safe for most people, and it comes in capsules, extracts, or as a dry cut root or powder. Try taking 2 capsules or 10-20 drops of the extract daily to support a balanced mood.
This herb is very uplifting and can also be energizing. It’s grounding, and good for your blood and circulation. Damiana is also beneficial for your heart, and it can be a slight aphrodisiac! Some people might even feel slightly euphoric with this herb.
Damiana also helps to reduce anxiety and supports a feeling of ease and acceptance.
Take dried damiana leaf as a tea, using one heaping teaspoon per cup, up to three times a day.
Even though catnip is normally associated with cats, it has some amazing medicinal properties for humans too!
Besides being helpful for headaches, cramps, and stomach problems, catnip is also a very slight sedative. Catnip helps to promote relaxation and a sense of calmness without any unwanted drowsiness or major side effects!
Try using a tablespoon of dried catnip in a tea, flavored with lemon if you want. Avoid this herb if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
I know hemp might not seem like an herb, but it is according to the dictionary!
Using full-spectrum CBD oil (also called hemp oil) made from organic hemp can be a game-changer with your mood and anxiety. I especially loved using it when I was struggling with anxiety from Lyme disease.
Related: The best herbs and tea for chronic Lyme disease
I would usually take some before going into a big crowd, and I was always amazed at how much it helped to calm me down! CBD oil helped make life manageable, and it soothed me during times that would normally cause too much anxiety to function.
So I’m definitely a fan of CDB- I think it could help so many people and I want to tell everyone about it! I think it’s especially helpful as an herb for social anxiety but it has a ton of other uses.
And if you like saving money, you can use code HOPEFUL15 for 15% off your order from my favorite local hemp oil supplier! They have the best quality CBD I’ve found, and I’ve had great success with their products -including vegan CBD caramels!
You can read more about why I chose this company at this post: How to make sure you’re getting quality CBD products.
It’s also easy to grow your own hemp plants at home for making CBD oil!
Related: How to make your own CBD oil and CBD salve
Dried chamomile flowers might not seem all that special, but it’s really quite a powerful herb! Chamomile is good for fevers, menstrual cramps, easing tension, and relaxation.
This herb is a nervine, meaning it works with the nervous system to restore balance and put you back into a parasympathetic state (where you can better heal, digest, and rest) and balance your nerve function.
Enjoy a tablespoon of dried chamomile as a tea (sweetened with a little honey if you’d like) to help you wind down before bed. You can also use chamomile essential oil in a diffuser for some calming aromatherapy!
This is one of my favorite herbs to use regularly, for all kinds of things. It’s calming, relaxing, and smells amazing!
One of my favorite ways to use lavender is by tossing a spoonful in the blender with my homemade almond milk, straining it, and then steaming the milk to make a calming lavender latte. It’s delicious!
Related: How to make your own almond milk
Try using lavender essential oil for relaxation, either in your diffuser or as a calming essential oil roller, or use a spoonful of dried lavender in a tea.
This happy little herb is great for cranky kids (or adults). It can take the edge off, boost alertness, sharpen your memory, and center your mood.
Even though lemon balm can make you feel more alert, it’s not energizing, just uplifting. You might find it especially helpful for alleviating symptoms of ADD! Dried lemon balm makes a delightful tea and you can drink as much of it as you want. Or try putting lemon balm in your bath for a cheerful, uplifting experience!
Lemon balm is also easy to grow in your backyard!
This herb helps to deeply nourish the nervous system. It’s best for type A people, those who have a lot on their plate and are always overachieving and are highly driven, especially those who are constantly going to caffeine or alcohol to get energy or relax.
Milky oats can help relax the constant state of overdrive experienced by anyone who is stressed or high-strung and offers a more sustainable energy pattern.
Related: Natural ways to have more energy- with no crash!
Take a fresh herbal tincture of milky oats, 15-60 drops daily. This will be especially beneficial over long periods of time.
Isn’t that a fun name? Motherwort is a great herb that helps give you an overall sense of wellbeing– something that’s great for anxiety!
Motherwort is also a good choice for using right after childbirth because it can help tighten and tone the uterus. To me, this sounds like the perfect herb for warding off post-partum depression!
You can take dried motherwort herb either as a tincture (starting with 15-30 drops daily) or a tea. Be aware that motherwort tea will be a tad bitter, but this can actually help aid digestion!
This beautiful herb supports a sense of calm and good feelings. Passionflower increases the ability of the neurotransmitter GABA to work in the brain and gut, which might be especially helpful during menopause or hot flashes.
It’s also very helpful if you feel jittery from too much caffeine! It won’t make you feel sleepy but it will help you go return to a healthy level of calm.
Passionflower leaf works well as a tea or tincture- fresh passionflower tincture is best, start with 30-60 drops 1-2 times daily. Try having a cup of passionflower tea to help take the edge off at the end of a long day.
This herb is a nervine that’s great at calming down anxiety. Scullcap works to rebuild and strengthen the nerves.
This might be an herb that’s especially great for people who are working really hard and have raw nerves from exhaustion, or anyone who finds it hard to slow down their mind. Scullcap is a great option for taking before bed so that you get a good night’s sleep!
Related: How to sleep better, all-naturally
Dried scullcap herb is best taken regularly over time, either as a daily tea or in capsule form. Don’t take large doses of this herb, and avoid it entirely if you’re pregnant.
St John’s Wort
This powerful herb can help to fight depression! It’s a cheerful, happy little yellow flower that is best used over a course of at least six weeks, but not long-term.
Be aware that this herb can take up to six weeks to kick in. It works kind of like an SSRI (selective serotonin receptor inhibitor) and can help to block some receptor sites in your brain so that others can be saturated, supporting balance in the neurotransmitters.
Take St. John’s Wort as a fresh tincture if you can, but dry is fine too. Use 30-60 drops 2-3 times a day.
Herbal blends for anxiety
Of course, you don’t need to focus on using just one herb at a time! Give yourself time to try out different solutions, or you can even mix and match the herbs you’re using to best suit your needs.
Is does take some time to create your own herbal blends, though, and it can be hard to find the optimal mixtures and amounts that are best.
If you’d like a quicker option, try my favorite anxiety relief herbal extract! It includes a mix of some of my favorite herbs from the list above- St. John’s Wort, catnip, ashwagandha, chamomile, and lavender. This extract is perfect for gentle, natural anxiety relief.
You might also like the calm and clarity herbal extract, which has catnip, Brahmi leaf, and other ingredients- all you need for a calm mood, healthy energy, and mental clarity!
I also enjoy carrying a calming essential oil roller with me for any time I need a little bit of relaxing aromatherapy when I’m out and about.
Where to buy herbs and herbal supplements
It can be difficult to grow all the fresh herbs you need or find them locally, which is why I’m thankful that we can order any herb you could imagine online!
It’s important to shop somewhere reliable, where you know you’re getting high quality, organic herbs that haven’t sat on a shelf for a long time. I enjoy getting my herbs from Starwest Botanicals, because I know I can trust their products and they have pretty much everything I need for all my herbal projects!
If you want to make an herbal tincture or tea, make sure you buy the cut and sifted (C/S) herbs from Starwest Botanicals rather than a powdered herb, as this will make it easier to strain and use.
Other anxiety relief techniques
There are several other methods you can use along with herbs for treating anxiety, stress, and other mood issues.
First, I’d highly recommend trying tapping for anxiety. Tapping using the same kind of mechanisms as acupressure or acupuncture to directly impact your body and nervous system, but it’s free and all you need are your fingertips!
Check out my post on how to use tapping for emotional freedom, anxiety, and more to learn how to start tapping.
I’ve also got a whole post on 10+ natural anxiety remedies for you to find some more ideas on how to manage anxiety naturally and holistically. And if you just need a quick pick-me-up, you can check out this post on self-care tips for a better day in 30 seconds.
And last but not least, grounding yourself is a great way to restore balance and feel better. You can learn more on my post about how and why to ground yourself!
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I have been diagnosed with major depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety. I have been on meds for 12 years, but would very much like to change to natural medication. How would you go about the transition, the process, timing, dosage change over etc. Very little psychiatrist (if any) use the all natural way. Please assist.
Hi Adelle! I’m sorry to hear what you’re going through, that’s a lot to deal with! Unfortunately, I don’t feel licensed or comfortable giving that sort of advice and it isn’t something I am able to provide. I would start working with a naturopath or someone who can help you get to any root cause and support you with herbs or homeopathics. Hope that helps!