Best Herbs For Anxiety
There are many herbs that can be used for anxiety and many of them can safely be taken daily as tonics to restore and replenish the nervous system. Here are 5 of the best herbs for anxiety that I love using in my clinical herb practice. Many of these herbs are regarded as NERVINES, a category of herbs that work to tone and nourish the nervous system. They may decrease stress, mental highs, and lows, ease sadness, overwhelm, angst, and improve sleep thus offering people a more joyous and uplifting day. I almost always mix nervines into a base of Milky Oats and/or Tulsi which you'll find in Zizia's Nerve Tincture, my #1 recommended formula to take for those who experience mood shifts, stress, and daytime angst.
Passiflora incarnata, Passifloraceae
I use the leaves in my practice as I find them stronger than the flowers. Both can be used medicinally and sometimes I toss the flowers in when I’m making a tincture. This is an herb I like using for in the moment anxiety and also build it into formulas for those who experience anxiety 24/7. It works well as a tea, tincture, powder, or capsule. You can find it in Zizia’s Night Blossom Sleep Powder and 11 Flowers Tincture, two remedies I love and formulated specifically to support the nervous system and anxiety. A tip: you can take the Night Blossom Sleep Powder during the day in smaller amounts, start with ¼ tsp. and work your way up as needed. Or 1-5ml of the 11 Flowers Tincture (my favorite for daytime anxiety, emotional support, and for those who experience nervous digestion). Dosage: 1-5 ml of tincture as needed or 2ml 2-4x daily.*
2. Kava Kava
Piper methysticum, Piperaceae
I work with the fresh root of this plant, and it’s one of my top five favorite herbs. Many people feel concerned about Kava and its effects on the liver, after researching it, using it for years, and speaking with multiple clinical herbalists who’ve been practicing for decades, none have reported this ever causing any long term effects or elevated liver enzymes from a blood panel for individuals. It’s really a wonderful and effective botanical, its effects are pretty immediate which why Zizia’s Relax Tincture is so beloved and is my #1 best selling formula. Kava is also amazing for pain, and for taking before getting a tattoo. You can experiment with the dose, anywhere from 15 drops to 5ml. It’s relaxing but not sedative. If it’s your first time trying Kava, I recommend doing it at the end of the day before bed and see how you like it. It's not for everyone. I also find it really helpful for sleep for turning off the pre-bed mental chatter or for those who have chronic pain and have a difficult time falling asleep from it.*
Dosage: 1-5 ml of tincture as needed or 2ml 2-4x daily.
Warnings: If it's your first time taking Kava, I recommend trying it in the evening to see how it works for you. Do not operate heavy machinery or motor vehicles within two hours of consumption. Use responsibly.*
Scutellaria lateriflora, Lamiaceae
I use the aerial parts of the plant. Aerial parts refer to above ground parts, leaves and flowers. Skullcap is in the Mint Family and is one of my favorite herbs for the nervous system, it’s also very easy to cultivate making it a sustainable botanical. Skullcap can be found in my Nerve Tincture, a #1 I adore, take it daily or as needed for mental health and stress support, I’d put this formula in the drinking water if I could. Very safe herbs that are also potent and offer results. Skullcap isn’t too sedative, though you’ll see it in a lot of sleep formulas, it has a nice way of dropping things down a notch without causing a hypnotic effect like Hops or Valerian. So for anxiety, states of feeling overwhelmed, insomnia, and when you’re feeling tightly wound, try Skullcap. Oh, I love it and I think you will too!*
Dosage: 1-5 ml of tincture as needed or 2ml 2-4x daily.
Valeriana officinalis, Caprifoliaceae
The roots of the plant are used medicinally. Valerian has a very long history of use by people all over the world. It is a popular remedy for insomnia, while I certainly use it in formulas for this, I also adore it as a low dose botanical for daytime anxiety and restlessness. For those who feel tense and overtaken by the lizard brain throughout the day, and have a difficult time turning off angsty thoughts, I'd recommend trying this, it may offer you support. It's also wonderful as a pain remedy, it eases tension, calms the mind, and can weave its way into many different types of herbal formulas that address a variety of health disruptions. I find in small amounts it isn't sedative which makes it lovely for daytime anxiety, but please be aware of this as you experiment!*
For daytime angst: try 3-10 drops for in the moment restlessness, you can take up to 5ml but do keep in mind you may become drowsy after taking 5 ml. So to start, take 3-5 drops, wait 15 minutes, if things are a little better but you don't feel totally calm, try another 3-5 drops, and so on, working your way up to 5 ml as needed. Zizia's Night Blossom Sleep Powder is multipurpose, and yes you can try it during the day but in smaller amounts. Start with .25 tsp., you can blend it up with ice and nut milk for a refreshing daytime chiller drink.*
For evening time: take .5-2tsp. of Zizia's Night Blossom Sleep Powder before bed. You can simply add it to a cup of hot water with a splash of milk, stir, and let steep 10 minutes. At the end of tea time, add a splash of water to your cup and drink the powder that's settled to the bottom of the cup for maximum benefits.*
Warnings: Valerian is considered a sedative so I don't recommend driving after taking it or operating heavy machinery within two hours of consumption. For some people, Valerian can cause an opposite effect (very rare), so if it's your first time trying it as a single herb, try taking 5-10 drops and pay attention to how your body reacts. If it does make you feel a little hyper or energized, don't worry, there are dozens of other herbs you can try for sleep.*
Lavandula spp., Lamiaceae
Lavender is a beautiful aromatic that can calm the mind and support digestion. Important note: I never recommend taking essential oils internally as they can potentially be harmful due to their level of concentration, particularly when taken straight in water. Tinctures, powders, and teas are as potent and effective but do not run the risk of potentially doing harm. I say this because Lavender is very popular as an essential oil, so I want to be clear that when taking it internally, do not take the essential oil, but rather take it in tincture, powder, glycerin, loose tea, or as a capsule. It's also rather strong, so I prefer always mixing Lavender with other herbs in formulas. Not only does it make formulas tasty, but it also adds notable calming effects. You can find it in Zizia's 11 Flowers Tincture and Night Blossom Sleep Powder.*
If you aren't sure where to start with Zizia's formulas for the moods, I always recommend people get a bottle of the Nerve Tincture and either the 11 Flowers or Relax Tincture based on your constitution. Take the Nerve Tincture twice a day, and the other one as needed for in the moment anxiety and overwhelming mind chatter.*
All of these herbs work well as tinctures, capsules, and tea. Kava isn't the most palatable as a tea, but Passionflower and Skullcap work nicely. Combine them with other herbs like Tulsi, Rose, and Chamomile for a more pleasant sipping experience. These tasty aromatic herbs also are lovely for calming a racey mind, easing stress, and nourishing the nervous system.*
Find all of the above-mentioned plants in Zizia formulas, made especially for you to calm, nourish, and support your nervous system.
Passionflower: 11 Flowers Tincture, Night Blossom Sleep Powder (aka Day Time Chiller)
Valerian: Night Blossom Sleep Powder
Kava Kava: Relax Tincture
Skullcap: Nerve Tincture
Lavender: 11 Flowers Tincture, Night Blossom Sleep Powder (aka Day Time Chiller)
To read the full guide on herbs for mental health, grab a digital copy of Zizia's E-Booklet On The Moods here.
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Written and compiled by herbalist Abbe Findley. Abbe Findley is a clinical herbalist and founder/creator of Zizia. Please use this information responsibly.
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*The contents of this is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen in any of Zizia's educational content including newsletters, social media, and website resources.