Breathe Easy: 9 Herbs to Help Calm Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Illustration of various calming herbs, symbolizing their potential to alleviate anxiety and panic attacks.

What Exactly is an Anxiety?

Anxiety is something that virtually all of us will go through at some point in our lives, even if it’s just for a short period of time. Anxiety is one of the most common issues affecting people’s mental health in the United States. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, over 40 million individuals, which is more than 19% of the general population, will have anxiety disorders. Furthermore, seven percent of children between the ages of 3 and 17 may also experience anxiety disorders (NAMI).

 According to what herbalist, physician, and midwife Aviva Romm writes:

Anxiety is a genuine condition. It is possible that, in many instances, it will be temporary, or even normal Chronic anxiety, on the other hand, is not something that should be a normal part of the human experience. If you suffer from anxiety, you are well aware that the sensation that something is always preventing you from moving forward is not a laughing matter.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the following are some of the more prevalent indications and symptoms of anxiety:

  • Feeling uneasy, restless, or tense
  • experience apprehensions of imminent danger, anxiety, or misery.
  • Having a faster than normal heart rate
  • Rapidly inhaling and exhaling (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Feeling weak or fatigued
  • unable to focus on anything else or concentrate on anything other than the current concern.
  • have difficulties sleeping.
  • experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) troubles
  • Having trouble keeping your worries in check
  • Having the desire to stay away from items that bring up anxious feelings

Even while the majority of people are familiar with the sensations of worry that accompany normal life, there are a variety of diseases and phobias that might manifest themselves when these emotions become extreme. These are characterized by strong anxieties (phobias) and concerns that are induced by (or end up creating) acute mental and physical health issues. They are more extreme in nature.

What Exactly is a Panic Attack?

In contrast to worry, which may develop gradually or even last for a significant amount of time, panic attacks come on all of a sudden, even when there is no apparent threat. The sudden emergence of crippling anxiety in the midst of a scary situation may trigger a physiological response that is as startling and disorienting as a heart attack.

The majority of the time, a person will only have a panic attack once or twice in their lifetime (if they ever do), but these episodes may be recurrent or generate panic disorder, which is a stress reaction that causes a person to constantly worry about having another attack. Even if the symptoms differ, an increase usually takes place within minutes.

The Mayo Clinic also provides an explanation of some of the warning symptoms of a panic attack, which are as follows: 

  • Sense of imminent calamity or peril
  • concern that one could lose control or perish.
  • An abnormally fast and hammering heart rate
  • Sweating
  • indicated by trembling or shaking.
  • Feelings of difficulty breathing or constriction in the throat may be present.
  • Chills
  • Flashes of heat
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Feelings of vertigo, lightheadedness, or fainting may occur.
  • A feeling of numbness or tingling may be experienced.
  • a sense of being unreal or detached from the situation.

Many individuals may resort to extreme measures to escape an assault, including social seclusion, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) says. Anxiety and panic episodes have a connection to stressful circumstances, whether those circumstances are genuine or imagined, and both conditions may be effectively treated. Continue reading for a list of some of the herbs that our herbalists suggest using to treat symptoms before it is too late.

A Solution in the Short-Term is Big Pharma

According to what Dr. Aviva Romm has written, medicines are the most common and effective treatment for anxiety and panic attacks. These medications include, but are not limited to, Ativan, Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium. These benzodiazepine prescription drugs are not only extremely addictive, but they are also fraught with the possibility of a wide variety of adverse consequences. The “possibly irreversible effects on cognitive function” may “mute” symptoms in the present, but that this will not prevent the symptoms from reappearing in the future. This effect is both short-term and long-term in nature. These medications do not, however, address the underlying issues.

Hypnosis, biofeedback, breathing exercises, and body scanning are just some of the excellent mind-body treatments that can be found at Harvard Health (we’ll go into more depth about these treatments in the next section). And a research article published in 2018 compiled even more methods of coping, such as “doing it badly” (rather than not at all) as a form of liberating yourself from anxiety, and “waiting to worry” as a method of avoiding unnecessary stress from situations that haven’t even occurred yet. Both of these methods are aimed at preventing unnecessary stress from situations that haven’t even occurred yet.

Therefore, while it may be tempting to seek solace in the form of a pill, the likelihood is that this won’t be as helpful to you as you believe it would be. Let’s have a conversation about how to deal with anxiety, whether in its acute or chronic forms, before it has the chance to make you feel out of control, hopeless, or powerless in any way.

Natural Stress-Relief

The use of natural remedies as an alternative to conventional anti-anxiety medicine is not a fleeting trend; it has been used for centuries. According to the National Health Service (NHS), the most comprehensive health website in the United Kingdom, even the greatest practices in Western medicine often recommend psychiatric therapy before any prescriptions are ever provided. According to Dr. Shaikhah Alorf, a specialist in preventative medicine and public health, yoga is “as important as any medication” for improving quality of life, achieving greater balance, and overcoming health challenges related to anxiety and stress. Dr. Alorf made this statement in an interview with Arab News.

The following is an excerpt from the book You Are the Placebo, written by Dr. Joe Dispenza:

Simply thinking about something might bring on feelings of worry, tension, and despair. In addition, it’s impossible for any living thing to survive in emergency mode for a lengthy amount of time. The long-term consequences of activating the stress hormones, such as worry, fear, and other negative emotions, disregulate and downregulate genes, which may lead to illness and an imbalance in the body. That being the case, your usual thoughts and emotions have the potential to make you ill.

The use of natural methods to alleviate stress is not only more cost-effective, but it is also more accessible than we may at first imagine. It may be helpful in reducing anxiety and panic attacks, and it gives relief that lasts for a longer period of time than most medicines, which cannot be safely taken for a prolonged period of time. According to Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, the Greek “Bios Pythagorikos” (Pythagorean Way of Life) consisted of “a healthy vegetarian diet, daily rigorous physical exercise, and philosophical group discussions (dialectical discussions) that were meant to help a person better understand their universe and their purpose within that universe.” These activities were intended to help a person better understand their universe and their purpose within that universe.

Dr. Kardaras also cites the work of Dr. Steven Ilardi, the author of The Depression Cure. Dr. Ilardi’s “cure” essentially boils down to six things:

(1) eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids;

(2) getting regular daily exercise;

(3) getting plenty of natural sunlight;

(4) getting ample sleep every night;

(5) being involved in some kind of social activity where social connections are made; and

(6) participation in meaningful tasks, which leave little time for negative thoughts (Source: Psychology Today).

Both Dr. Kardaras and Dr. Ilardi concur that our predecessors engaged in these six activities or had access to them “in plenty,” and as a result, they experienced far less stress, anxiety, and depression than people in our culture do now.

Natural methods of relieving stress may take a variety of forms, including changes in our eating habits, engagement in physical or social activities, and numerous more approaches to preventing and managing anxiety. However, what should we do if we need relief more quickly (for example, if we sense an anxiety attack coming on)? Enter the nervines…

Nervines to the Rescue

If you read about herbs on a regular basis, you probably know a little bit about adaptogens, which are highly renowned stress fighters that counteract detrimental effects caused by chronic stress. You may not be as acquainted with nervines, which are a category of herbs that can immediately heal your neurological system.

There are many different types of nervines, ranging from herbs that are highly nourishing and smooth out the edges, such as fresh milky oats and chamomile, to herbs that are powerful relaxants, such as valerian, kava kava, and hops. Some nervines, such as albizia and lemon balm, assist in combating the negative energy associated with depression as well as disorientation and anxiety. In addition, nervines work very well when combined with adaptogenic herbs that are relaxing. The two of them working together is like having an immediate “chill pill” to combat the negative effects of stress. These include ashwagandha, reishi, and tulsi, which you may learn more about in the next paragraphs.

It is possible that the influence of nervines will be noticed very immediately. This is due to the fact that nervines are used to assist in alleviating a broad variety of symptoms that have a direct impact on the neurological system. Do you have an interest in learning more about tried-and-true favorites that the herbalists employ on a regular basis? Check out the herbs that are use to rapidly calm down, whether you require nervine boosters or relaxants. We have them all. Here are five extra helpful herbs to consider taking if you are also suffering from depression and anxiety at the same time.

Ashwagandha

Since we published an article in 2019 entitled “The Top 9 Reported Health Benefits of Ashwagandha, Backed by Scientific Research,” you probably already know that we are huge fans of this root that alleviates stress, anxiety, and sadness. A scientific investigation conducted in 2016 proved the following about ashwagandha root: “Ashwagandha root decreases psychological and physiological indices of stress, enhances mental well-being, and reduces serum cortisol levels.” This herb is specifically used to relax the nerves. In other research, Ashwagandha has been shown in other research to be effective in treating anxiety, depression, irritability, and hormonal imbalance, in addition to promoting increased muscular development and reducing the severity of nervous cravings for food.

Kava Kava

The use of kava kava as a herbal remedy for acute stress reactions, nervous and social anxiety, and sleeplessness has garnered a lot of attention and research over the years. The roots of the Kava Kava plant have a long history of medicinal and ceremonial usage throughout the Polynesian civilizations of the Pacific Ocean. These cultures include those of Hawaii, Vanuatu, Melanesia, Palau, and Fiji, among others. It is one of the most powerful herbal muscle relaxants that is currently known, and it has the potential to significantly relieve emotional tension as well as anxiety problems. In contrast to the family of anti-anxiety medicines known as benzodiazepines, which boost levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), kava kava increases noradrenaline signaling while simultaneously boosting GABA levels. As a result, it is able to facilitate relaxation without negatively impacting on cognitive function. It is essential to keep in mind that Kava Kava should not be used in large quantities for an extended period of time owing to the risk of liver damage.

According to herbalist Jim McDonald, the most beneficial time to use kava kava is when one is feeling overwhelmed and there is muscle tension present (McDonald, n.d.). The effects of kava kava help us break through barriers in our social interactions. It is also helpful for those who suffer from social anxiety or stage fright. Others believe that this plant is more of a hypnotic and sedative, while yet others consider it to be more of a relaxant. Kava kava is a good alternative for treating a number of anxiety-related problems since research has shown that it does not induce any detrimental cognitive consequences or physiological reliance when it is dosed and given effectively (Gendle, Stroman, & Mullin, 2011; Singh, 1992).

Lavender

When it comes to preventing anxiety and panic attacks before they start, the herb and its essential oil are powerful allies in the fight against these conditions. This herb may be cooked with or added to drinks (teas, syrups, etc.), while the oil extracted from it can be diffused, breathed, rubbed on the skin, or placed on surfaces that come into contact with the body while sleeping, such as pillowcases. According to the findings of the research, lavender has the ability to generate “a relaxing effect without sedation, as well as a lack of reliance, tolerance, or withdrawal.” [Citation needed] In addition to this, the “onset of effectiveness is quicker than existing first-line medications,” and the findings of the trial demonstrated that there is hope for its use in the treatment of anxiety disorders. According to the trials conducted by the researchers, the results began to take root within two weeks, whereas it takes monoamine reuptake-inhibiting antidepressants between four and six weeks to produce similar results. This is just one of many advantages that this medication has over benzodiazepines or pregabalin.

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Lemon Balm

Lemon balm, which is often referred to as Melissa officinalis, has a flavor that is light and energizing and smells like lemons. At the very least, since the Middle Ages, people have been turning to this natural cure for anxiety as a remedy for its antispasmodic, analgesic, and relaxing effects. It has been suggested that the use of lemon balm for the treatment of digestive problems, headaches, and even migraines may be beneficial. In addition to assisting with sleep difficulties and reducing overall neurotic agitation, the relaxing and soothing effects of this herb have earned it widespread renown. Find out more information and place your order for our Calm Stress Relief Tonic Tea, which was first designed as a community tea to support Black Lives Matter, women, and other marginalized communities. Our Calm Stress Relief Tonic Tea contains lemon balm as a major component.

Passionflower

Passionflower, a magnificent velvet bloom that is commonly used as natural medicine for the treatment of anxiety, is the source of the power of soothing conversation that lies behind both our Dream Tea and our Lucid Dreaming Elixir. These third-eye tonics make use of passionflower to help relax both the mind and the body in preparation for sleep. They do this by relying on passionflower’s ability to cure insomnia and anxiety disorders. According to research conducted on passionflower extract, thirty out of forty-one individuals diagnosed with anxiety disorders reported feeling a “good impact” after taking the supplement. In addition to this, the patients reported having fewer episodes of irritability and an improvement in the quality of their sleep. Learn more about the vitality-boosting capabilities of passionflower by perusing articles online, where you’ll also find a recipe for passionflower chai.

Reishi

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), also known as Lingzhi in Chinese, has been treasured as a spiritually powerful “fungus of immortality” by the Traditional Chinese Medicine pharmacopeia for more than two millennia. This mushroom has one of the oldest medicinal histories of any mushroom. Throughout history, the roughly 400 bioactive compounds contained in this medicinal mushroom have been utilized to enhance mental clarity, promote vitality, increase stress tolerance, and boost immune function. These benefits are just a few of the many therapeutic advantages associated with this mushroom. This fungus, like the majority of adaptogens, has the ability to make humans more resistant to the effects of stress. It is described as an “elite herb” and “the ideal treatment for the normal American suffering from chronic stress” by Donald Yance, CN, MH, RH(AHG), a member of the American Herbalists Guild. We often feel less tired and have fewer problems falling or staying asleep when our levels of stress are reduced and our thoughts are improved.

Rhodiola

Rhodiola, which is sometimes referred to as “golden root,” is widely regarded as one of the most significant adaptogens for mental health owing to the powerful benefits it has against depressive moods and mood disorders in general. Rhodiola may be used to treat mental as well as physical exhaustion; enhance energy and stamina; and gently stimulate energy in situations of deficiency, depression, and lethargy associated with poor emotions. Rhodiola also improves energy and stamina. In addition, Rhodiola rosea might be of assistance throughout the healing process after both physical and psychological stress. We strongly suggest that you take this tonic, which has a modest stimulating effect, if you are struggling with chronic deficiency, mood disorders, or overall weakness. Rhodiola is included in our Happiness Formula, which may be taken in the form of a super powder that tastes similar to coffee and is free of caffeine, or as a tonic that is very powerful.

The Herb of St. John

St. John’s Wort, also known as Hypericum or Hypericum perforatum, is one of the herbs for treating mood disorders that has received the most attention from researchers. As a result, many of our readers are likely already familiar with this remedy. Both anxiety and depression may be treated with St. John’s Wort, and research suggests that the herb may boost levels of dopamine, GABA, serotonin, and noradrenaline in the brain synapses. Most significantly, it has the ability to boost your mood via a multitude of different pathways all at once. It’s possible that hypericum may reduce the emotional suffering that’s brought on by stress. Due to the fact that it also acts as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), there are some worries over the potential for interactions between it and other drugs and herbs. St. John’s Wort favors dopaminergic transmission in comparison to other forms of neurotransmission, which contributes to the plant’s mood-enhancing effects. It is important to note: If you are currently using antidepressants or anxiolytics, you should talk to your healthcare professional before consuming St. John’s Wort. You should also avoid attempting to diagnose your own condition on your own.

*A Word About Children:

Recently, I have been asked a lot of concerns about children and the ways in which they are suffering from high levels of worry and stress, as well as other symptoms, including a wide variety of others. Tulsi and lemon balm are two risk-free herbs that many parents have found to be of great assistance in guiding their children through these stages of development. They are both quite safe to consume, and it is simple to include them in beverages and dishes, such as tea and lemonade. If you are ever unsure about anything, please check in with your healthcare practitioner, whether that be a doctor or a therapist.

Valerian

According to a study that was published in The Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine in the year 2020, valerian “is not a simple hypnotic or anxiolytic agent.” Instead, valerian is a “safe and useful herb alone and also in combination in treating sleep problems, anxiety, and associated comorbidities.” It was shown that valerian helped improve the quality of sleep in both children and adults. This was one of the quality of life elements that Valerian helped improve. According to the findings and arguments presented by the researchers, this is an essential component in the fight against a wide variety of mental and cognitive disorders. To put it another way, valerian root treats the problem at its source, which is worry. It is essential to bear in mind that the origin of our issues may be located in the mind and have an effect on the body just as easily as it can be located in the body and have an effect on the mind. In many instances, plants such as valerian are able to handle this issue in a manner that is superior to any pharmaceutical and does so in a more environmentally friendly manner.

Other Tools for Managing Stress, Anxiety, Panic

Take some time to think about Dr. Ilardi’s “six things” while you are trying to decide which natural method of stress management will work best for you. How is your diet? Do you frequently exercise? Are you getting enough sun and sleep? What kind of social network are you building, and what kinds of significant activities are you taking part in? To assist you in providing an honest evaluation, you should consult with members of your family and friends as well as reputable health specialists (such as therapists, mind-body practitioners, herbalists, etc.).

The following are some more tools that might assist you in managing your stress, anxiety, and panic attacks:

Breathe Differently

You probably weren’t aware of this, but breathing exercises may practically save your life. Check out the breathing instructions provided by the American Psychological Association for an easy-to-follow approach to practicing breath retraining, a method that may be used to calm down for a moment or for the rest of one’s life.

Meditate Daily

No experience? No time? There is no reason for any of these things—or any of the other countless reasons we are so ready to come up with—to prevent you from practicing your daily OM. Even for those who have never meditated before, research has shown that even short-term regular meditation may improve mood and emotional stability. This is just one of the many health advantages of meditation.

Exercise Regularly

Get those endorphins out of your system! When you make the commitment to exercise on a regular basis, your hormone balance improves, you sleep better, and, as a consequence, the anxious feelings that have been building up are reduced or removed entirely. Remember that “doing it poorly” is better than not doing it at all, so begin with one healthy decision and work up to a regular practice that may alleviate several anxiety symptoms in a single session. Harvard Health argues that “doing it badly” is better than not doing it at all.

Think About Adding Supplements

It is not a secret that the diets of many Americans are low in important nutrients as a result of our culture’s emphasis on busyness and other factors that contribute to stress and leave little time for, or access to, a healthy way of eating. These supplements could help make up for the deficiencies in the food that we eat. Before ingesting, it is recommended to consult a healthcare expert about the following:

L-theanine is an amino acid that may be found in tiny levels in tea leaves and in Bay Bolete mushrooms. It is most typically found in tea leaves. There have been a lot of studies done on how well it works for treating anxiety and panic attacks. The amino acid L-theanine elevates levels of serotonin, sometimes known as the “happy hormone.” Aside from that, research has shown that L-theanine may boost GABA synthesis. GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in our bodies. It plays an important role in regulating both anxiety and addiction, and it also helps us to maintain a state of calm.

Patients diagnosed with clinical depression who took Omega-3 supplements exhibited evidence of improvement in their condition, according to many pieces of research. It is recommended by most authorities that you get your omega-3 fatty acids from food whenever it is feasible to do so. The greatest places to get these fatty acids are from oily fish that live in cold water, such as salmon.

DISCLAIMER: The purpose of this article is only to provide information; it is not meant to promote the practice of self-diagnosis in any way. We are in no way advising that any of these herbs be used in lieu of traditional treatment or as an alternative to conventional therapy. It is highly recommended that you consult with the herbalist, healer, or physician of your choice on the optimal way to incorporate these and other herbal medicines into your regimen to improve your mental health. The ancient knowledge of plant-based treatments entails a complicated system that must be navigated with the assistance of practitioners who have extensive knowledge that cannot be condensed into a single article. When using plant remedies, please do so with caution and consideration. Directly asking a healthcare practitioner questions or having reservations about anything is the best way to clear them up.

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