Anxiety is unfortunately a mental health issue on the rise and these days we are looking to seek out more natural ways to help manage this day to day.
There are many beautiful and gentle herbs used in western herbal medicine to help alleviate some of the symptoms in conjunction with some lifestyle techniques such as breathwork, meditation, mindfulness, and movement.
However, before using this class of herbs to support your mental health and manage your anxiety symptoms, it’s a good idea to talk with a qualified healthcare practitioner to avoid potential interactions with medications or health conditions.
Some of our favourite herbs are:
It’s probably fair to say we can’t get enough of this one in our lives. With so many of us suffering from insomnia and anxiety, we should be bathing in it daily! Simply inhaling Lavender at night improved the quality of sleep as shown in human trials, whilst tincture form has demonstrated potent sedative and hypnotic activities in vivo. The essential oil contains potent chemical compounds - linalyl acetate and linalool, and their potential therapeutic effects of reducing anxiety and ability to improve mood has gained a lot of attention lately, and rightfully so!
Bacopa or Brahmi as it’s called in India (not to be confused with Gotu Kola also known as Brahmi), is one of the long-standing traditional herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine for cognitive health, especially our long-term memory, concentration, and mental performance. Clinically, Bacopa is used in memory and cognition, but also to treat anxiety, epilepsy, and specifically learning & memory in ADHD, and the research is there to back it up! Studies have found Bacopa improved memory consolidation, information processing and a reduction in anxiety amongst healthy volunteers. In children, it had improved visual & motor function, short-term memory & amp; mental reaction times as opposed to placebo groups.
This most intricate of flowers has an incredible history and was named after the crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ during the crucifixion due to the resemblance of the corona. Once introduced in Europe it became a traditional phytotheraputic & homeopathic remedy for the relief of mental stress, anxiety and sleep disorders. This calming herb has been shown in research to have an affinity to GABA receptors (our cool, calm and collected neurotransmitters), so it is a good one to keep in the cupboard for those restless nights where our busy minds just won’t let up.
Valerian has been used in ancient Greece by Hippocrates and Dioscorides themselves as a sedative for nervousness, and to treat dyspepsia over 2000 years ago. Clinically today, its often teamed up with other relaxing herbs like lemon balm, Chamomile, Skullcap or Passionflower in order to treat conditions like insomnia, anxiety or restless legs syndrome. It has an unmistakeable aroma and some amazing active components such as Valepotriates, essential oil, valerianic acid and its derivatives, sesquiterpenes, lignans and alkaloids. It also contains free amino acids like GABA, tyrosine, arginine and glutamine. Valerian is a beautiful herb to prepare your body and mind for a blissful night sleep, and for general wellbeing.
Chamomile is one of the most widely used and well documented medicinal plants worldwide not only for its sedative action (let’s face it who doesn’t need some of that these days), but it also acts like a nice warm hug for your insides. The anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, healing and soothing affects may help improve conditions and their symptoms such as IBS, Gastro-oesophageal reflux, peptic ulcer, as well as nausea, motion sickness, basically all aspects of digestive discomfort this herb has it all covered. You know that feeling when nerves kick and suddenly nausea follows? Yep that’s your enteric nervous system in your gut talking to your brain, and that is where Chamomile can help bring the calm in more ways than one
When our nervous systems just need a big warm squeeze, or the perfect herb to round out the restorative hatha yoga practice you just finished, that’s where our amazing Skullcap comes in. We consider Skullcap to be our nervous system restorer, especially on those days where we have over done it and over activated our sympathetic responses. We start heading into broken sleep territory and no one has time for that! Skullcap like our lovely mint and rosemary is part of the Lamiacea family, and its key constituents include flavonoids (baicalin and scutellarin), diterpines, amino acids, and some essential oils, and has had notable outcomes in trials in reducing symptoms of anxiety and boosting mood via stimulating GABA. The perfect chill zone herb.
Find these heavenly herbs in Little Wildling co blends:
Other amazing anxiolytic herbs include California Poppy, Hops, Kava, Lemon Balm, Lime Flowers, Mexican valerian, Oats, St John’s Wort and Zizyphus.
Bone, K, 2007, “The Ultimate Herbal Compendium”.