Important: Always consult with your healthcare provider before taking any herbs for anxiety or other medicinal purposes.
There are a number of herbs for anxiety that you can take to help ease tension and get more restful sleep. Anxiety and insomnia are intrinsically connected, according to experts.
People who suffer from chronic stress often have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. This can turn into a vicious cycle, as lack of sleep can worsen anxiety and make it even more difficult to maintain good sleeping habits.
Some of the following herbs need to be further studied to confirm their efficacy, but anecdotal evidence suggests it’s worth it to give them a try if you’re having trouble relaxing and falling asleep at the end of the day.
Note: Always consult with your healthcare provider before taking any herbs for anxiety or other medicinal purposes.
Valerian is one of the more studied herbs for anxiety and sleep. In particular, valerian seems to help reduce the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep.
In a 2011 research study, experts found that postmenopausal women who took a valerian extract twice a day for four weeks suffered less insomnia and experienced an improvement in the quality of their sleep.
Kava has a similar effect to valerian. Both herbs help relieve anxiety, improving cases of stress-related insomnia. Kava has been used in the treatment of nervous disorders (including depression and anxiety attacks) and to elevate mood and induce relaxation.
Some believe kava has a similar effect to Valium in the brain. As the body and the mind relax, patients are able to fall asleep faster. As noted above, always talk with your doctor before taking kava or other herbal remedies. Kava has been linked to liver damage and shouldn’t be taken for long periods of time or by people with pre-existing liver conditions.
Although less known than other herbs, passionflower is purported to be an effective herb for anxiety. Passionflower has been used for centuries in folk medicine as a mild sedative and sleep aid. A recent study published in the "Phytotherapy Research" journal showed that passionflower can help improve sleep quality when taken regularly.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort is best known as a treatment for depression, but this herb also has anti-anxiety properties and it has been studied as a possible treatment for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
As it evens out mood, St. John’s Wort might improve sleep quality and help fight insomnia that’s a result of anxiety and mood swings.
In a study by the University of Pennsylvania, chamomile proved to be significantly helpful in reducing symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Because of its soothing abilities, chamomile is often used in herbal medicine as a sleep inducer for and people suffering from chronic stress.
Chamomile is also an anti-inflammatory and a digestive aid, both of which can improve sleep quality. The botanical is most often taken in the form of hot tea. Chamomile tea has a delicate, sweet taste – and is used in a variety of herbal tea blends.