Natural Anxiety Remedies: What You Need to Know

By Melonie on April 04, 2011

It is estimated that anxiety related disorders affect approximately 19% of the population at one time or another. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD,) Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD,) Obssessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD,) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) are the most prevalent anxiety disorders for which sufferers seek treatment each year. Many general practitioners are the first responders when patients come in reporting anxiety symptoms, thinking they are actually experiencing heart problems or even heart attacks. Anxiety is a particularly cruel disease, as it begins “all in the mind” but quickly causes substantial physical symptoms that can mimic more threatening illnesses. This naturally exacerbates the problem, leading to a vicious cycle of panic, followed by symptoms, followed by anxiety that the attack will occur again.

For many years in the United States, the first line of treatment for someone suffering a full blown panic attack often involved the class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. Names of these medications include Xanax (alprazolam,) Valium (diazepam,) and Klonopin (Clonazepam,) – and while they are highly effective at controlling immediate effects of panic and anxiety, they are now often prescribed with more caution than in earlier times. It is believed that some patients can experience physical dependence on benzodiazepines, or that tolerance will occur after prolonged use.

Panic and anxiety disorders are increasingly treated with antidepressants in the class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, and Paxil – or serontonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) like Effexor and Cymbalta. These relieve symptoms of anxiety by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain. SSRIs have become the most popular class of antidepressant medications used to treat anxiety, and most are generally well tolerated once initial side effects have subsided, but the side effects in the beginning cause many people to abandon treatment before therapeutic levels of the drugs have been achieved. Side effects include insomnia, increased agitation and anxiety, decreased appetite, sexual dysfunction, and excessive sweating.

It is well known that many natural supplements can also have an effect on levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain. But just because a substance is marketed as “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe or without adverse side effects.

The most commonly used natural supplement for anxiety and panic, Kava Kava, is said to have a rapid calming effect and to improve mood. It decreases mind racing, and is used to treat insomnia and menopause symptoms as well as anxiety – but safety warnings about potential liver damage have been issued in several countries in recent years. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned in 2002 that severe liver injury had been associated directly with the use of kava-containing supplements, and the substance has even been banned in other parts of the world.

Chamomile, a far milder supplement, can be taken in 400 to 1600 mg doses daily by adults, or in liquid extract and tincture forms. Most of us instantly recognize chamomile on the tea and coffee isle in the local grocery store – 1 to 4 cups of the tea per day can have the same calming effect. It should be noted, however, that not much reliable clinical research exists to support claims that Chamomile has a significant impact on anxiety and panic disorders. If you suspect you are suffering from a true anxiety disorder, it is not a good idea to rely on your own self-medication and risk inadequate treatment of your condition. Always seek the advice of a trusted health care professional.

Finally, Rhodiola Rosea, also known as golden root and rose root, has also been used to relieve stress and improve mood in people suffering with mild depression. An adaptogen, this root can increase ones resistance to physical and mental stress. It has been shown to stimulate all three neurotransmitters believed to have an impact on anxiety and depression: serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. It is taken in capsule form and is considered to be one of the safest natural supplements of its kind.

In this article, I’ve outlined both pharmaceutical and natural treatments for anxiety and panic disorders – but I will leave you with this caveat: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the production of herbs and supplements. Without adequate clinical studies and research, it would be unwise to rely solely on unregulated substances to treat what could be a serious condition. In many cases, SSRIs are far more effective and safe. So consult your doctor before beginning any treatment for any type of mental illness.

Author Bio: Melonie enjoys writing about healthy, nutrition, and anxiety disorders. She currently writes for

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