9 Natural Remedies for Anxiety

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It is normal to feel anxious or to worry on occasion. In fact, most people feel anxious or worried from time to time. But for those with an anxiety disorder, the worry and anxiousness often are fairly constant and can become intrusive or even disrupt their lives.

The exact number of people with anxiety in the U.S. is unknown because many people may go undiagnosed. However, it is estimated that 19.1% of adults have experienced an anxiety disorder in the past year.

Some people can experience mild anxiety that is not necessarily classified as a disorder and includes feelings of worry, fear, dread, and emotional upset. Physical symptoms can include increased heart rate, muscle tension, sweating, and an upset stomach.

Regardless of your specific experience with anxiety, you should talk to a healthcare provider or mental health professional about persistent or recurring anxiety symptoms. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Causes and Treatment

No one knows for sure what causes anxiety disorders, although there are a variety of factors that influence their development including genetics, environment, stress levels, brain changes, and trauma. Researchers are consistently discovering links to anxiety all the time.

"There are a number of causes for anxiety," says psychotherapist Z. Karen Balumbu-Bennett, LCSW. "For instance, a build-up of stressful events, past or present trauma, life transitions, and any time your basic needs like food, shelter, safety, housing, and income [are disrupted] can all be a trigger for anxiety."

Other factors can contribute to anxiety as well, such as personality traits and temperament. Medical conditions like thyroid disorders and heart arrhythmias also can impact anxiety levels. Even the amount of caffeine you consume can exacerbate underlying anxiety.

"It is best practice to seek out professional support whenever you notice [or others notice] that your anxiety is affecting your daily functioning," says Balumbu-Bennett. "Perhaps, you are more irritable, have difficulty with self-regulating, are extremely tense, fearful, or you just can't quite shake that nagging feeling of nervousness or worry."

Working with a mental health professional and taking medication are the most common ways of treating anxiety. People who are working on addressing their anxiety also learn how to cope with their anxiety in healthy and productive ways.

Z. Karen Balumbu-Bennett, LCSW

It doesn't hurt to seek out professional support and possibly learn other ways to manage your symptoms of anxiety.

— Z. Karen Balumbu-Bennett, LCSW

Even if you turn to natural remedies to address anxiety, you can still benefit from talking to a professional. They can help you recognize your triggers as well as provide additional tools for easing your symptoms.

"It doesn't hurt to seek out professional support and possibly learn other ways to manage your symptoms of anxiety," says Balumbu-Bennett.

Natural Remedies for Anxiety

Natural remedies for anxiety can often be used in conjunction with medication or therapy. Here is a closer look at some of the most useful natural remedies for anxiety. After reviewing this list, you may want to talk to a healthcare provider to determine which ones might be right for your situation.

Exercise

One of the most potent and effective forms of anxiety relief is physical activity. Research shows adults who regularly participate in physical activity experience fewer symptoms of anxiety.

Studies have demonstrated that regular cardiovascular exercise is associated with lower reactivity from your sympathetic nervous system and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis—areas of the body responsible for the flight or fight response and the physical symptoms of anxiety such as sweating and increased heart rate.

Further research has shown that 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) turnover is increased with physical activity. This chemical byproduct of the amino acid L-tryptophan is responsible for mood.

It is a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin and the hormone melatonin. Melatonin and serotonin help regulate mood, and when they are not in balance, can lead to anxiety.

CBD Oil

CBD (cannabidiol) is a compound found in the cannabis Sativa plant. It is currently being studied widely as an effective treatment for anxiety. Cannabidiol is not a mind-altering compound but offers medicinal benefits without the effects of other compounds found in the plant.

“The research around CBD is still fairly new," says Balumbu-Bennett. "However, people who use CBD to manage anxiety have raved about the calming effects of the natural chemical.”

Promising research shows that CBD has the potential to alleviate symptoms of various types of anxiety, such as generalized anxiety and social anxiety. More research needs to be done on the topic to understand the benefits fully.

Magnesium Supplements

The mineral magnesium is associated with the prevalence of anxiety, meaning that not getting enough magnesium may contribute to anxiety symptoms. Magnesium [has been] proven to be an effective sleep aid, muscle relaxer, and mood stabilizer, says Balumbu-Bennett.

According to research, 68% of Americans do not get enough magnesium, which has been linked to several adverse health effects, including anxiety.

All elements of the HPA axis are sensitive to the action of magnesium, and studies that have purposely caused magnesium deficiency in participants showed increased symptoms of anxiety.

Additionally, studies on test anxiety show that stressful events cause increased urinary magnesium excretion, reducing levels in the body. Further research shows that magnesium helps to control stress hormone responses in the body.

Green Tea

Compounds found in green tea may help alleviate anxiety symptoms, namely L-theanine, arginine, and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). L-theanine increases the neurotransmitter GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid), leading to anxiety reduction. Drinking green tea is associated with a reduction in the stress hormone cortisol, producing stress and anxiety-reducing effects.

Weighted Blankets

A weighted blanket is bedding containing weighted beads or filling that creates a more heavy blanket than you would typically use. The weight is thought to help you relax and feel comforted when relaxing or going to sleep.

Research backs up the use of weighted blankets as a therapeutic tool for reducing anxiety, especially at night.

More research is likely needed to understand the full potential of weighted blankets as a deep touch pressure tool for reducing anxiety. But, overall, they offer an easy and effective way of treating anxiety at home.

Breathwork

Breathwork is often recommended for bringing a sense of calm and relaxation. Breathing provides your blood cells with oxygen and releases carbon dioxide. Anxiety can cause you to breathe quickly and shallowly, reducing the amount of oxygen you inhale and preventing the release of carbon dioxide effectively.

Deep, diaphragmatic breathing techniques and being mindful of taking deep, slow breaths into your belly can help reduce anxious feelings. Research shows that breathwork can help regulate your heart rate, control the central nervous system response, promote relaxation, and reduce anxiety.

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is an herb considered to be an adaptogen. Adaptogens are medicinal plants that have stress and anxiety protective effects. Long used in traditional Indian medicine practices, research shows that ashwagandha can, in fact, decrease anxiety and stress by reducing cortisol.

Chamomile

Another herbal remedy, chamomile, is a soothing flower that can be made into a tea or tincture to aid in relaxation and produce a calming effect. Research shows chamomile is safe and effective to use at home. More research is needed to draw full conclusions on the effectiveness of chamomile for anxiety.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the use of scents, usually in the form of essential oils to help induce specific feelings or sensations. For anxiety, aromatherapy is used to promote calm and relaxation. Parts of the brain responsible for emotion and memory may be affected by smells, according to researchers.

Lavender oil, in particular, has been researched for its use in treating anxiety symptoms. Studies do show a significant reduction of anxiety when using lavender oil. Other essential oils to try for anxiety include ylang-ylang, grapefruit clary sage, and bergamot.

When to Call a Healthcare Provider

Feeling worried from time to time is normal, but when your worry becomes constant or appears disproportionate to your circumstances or situation, it may be time to see a healthcare provider.

People with anxiety disorders often experience worry, fear, and anxiety that impact their daily functioning and quality of life. They may fear going out in public, avoid hanging out with friends, cancel plans or trips, experience persistent nausea, have difficulty sleeping, think or obsess over their concerns, struggle to eat, and more.

If your anxiety and worry are interfering with your life, reach out to a healthcare provider or mental health professional for help.

A Word From Verywell

Anxiety is a complex condition that can vary from mild to more extreme. While it is best to get professional help, there are some natural remedies that you can try alongside your treatments.

If you experience infrequent symptoms of anxiety that are due to a temporary life event, some of these natural remedies may work on their own. More persistent or chronic anxiety may require additional support. Whatever you decide to do, it is best to talk to a healthcare provider or mental health professional about your symptoms.

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