Herbal medicine offers a holistic approach to treatment. It can be used to prevent acute anxiety symptoms as well as healing the body to improve the long term response to stressful events. Other factors may exacerbate anxiety and require actions, in tandem with herbal treatment, to maintain blood sugar levels, identify any food allergies, ensure adequate intake of nutritional supplements such as B vitamins and magnesium and getting sufficient good quality sleep.
Two groups of herbal medicines are particularly effective in the treatment of anxiety. First, adaptogens such as Siberian Ginseng, Ashwagandha and Rhodiola. These herbs improve the body’s ability to respond to stress. They do this by regulating the neuroendocrine system and particularly the hypothalamic-pituitary – adrenal axis to normalise the production of adrenal hormones. All adaptogens help to modulate and enhance the immune system and provide antioxidant nutrients. Second, nervines or nerve tonics such as Oat seed, Skullcap, and St John’s Wort which are calming and relaxing, restore emotional balance and nourish the nerves and nervous system. Nervines such as Passion Flower, California Poppy and Motherwort are effective in calming excess nervous activity and can be used to relieve acute anxiety symptoms.
Combining adaptogens and nervines herbs for the treatment of anxiety restores the function of the nervous and adrenal systems and allows the body to normalise its response to stress.