Natural Remedies to Alleviate Anxiety

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 14, 2020

Some anxiety is a normal part of life. You might feel a certain amount of unease or uncertainty when it comes to stressful situations such as taking a test, giving a presentation, or meeting new people. In many cases, a small amount of anxiety every so often can be a good thing. It helps to keep you aware of potential dangers and motivates you to be prepared. 

For many people, however, anxiety occurs more frequently. They experience it almost every day. Anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or phobias can interfere with normal daily activities, affecting their work, home, and personal lives. They differ from regular anxiety in that people feel an excessive amount of fear or anxiousness. 

Dealing with anxiety can be stressful, but it is treatable. Many people with anxiety find relief with treatment. While some people benefit from taking medication, others find success with natural remedies. 

Natural Remedies for Anxiety

Natural remedies for anxiety are those that don’t involve conventional medications (medicine you get  from a doctor or health professional). They include things such as herbs, aromatherapy, and performing certain actions that promote relaxation. Some people with anxiety use natural remedies alongside conventional treatments to find relief. 

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Examples of natural remedies for anxiety include:

Exercise

Exercise isn’t just good for your physical health; it’s also beneficial for your mental health. While the connection isn’t well understood, studies do show that exercise can help to alleviate symptoms of anxiety.

Getting active helps to take your mind off of the issues bothering you. It also triggers your body to release endorphins, which are natural feel-good hormones.  

Herbal Remedies

Several different herbs and herbal supplements may help alleviate anxiety symptoms, helping you to relax and feel calmer. Some of the more well-known varieties include:

Studies show that chamomile can help with symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. While many of the studies on herbal supplements for anxiety are limited, the results are promising.

You can find many of these (and other) supplements in capsule (pill) form. Many people also drink herbal teas to help them relax. 

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Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy involves the use of essential oils to improve health and overall well-being. Many scents can help to boost your mood, help you relax, and reduce anxiety. 

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There are a few ways you can use essential oils. You can use a diffuser, place a few drops on a lava bead bracelet, or mix your favorite scent in a carrier oil to place on your wrist or neck.

Scents to use for anxiety include:

  • Lavender
  • Ylang ylang
  • Grapefruit
  • Clary sage
  • Bergamont 

CBD Oil

Hemp-derived CBD oil has risen in popularity in recent years. Unlike marijuana-derived CBD, CBD from hemp plants has little (less than 0.3%) to no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the cannabinoid that causes a high.

Several studies have shown that CBD can help with many ailments, such as pain, inflammation, insomnia, and anxiety. While research is still in the early stages, studies show that it may have a lot of potential as an alternative anxiety treatment. 

You can find CBD products in many mainstream stores. There are many options, including:

  • CBD oil tinctures (liquid drops)
  • CBD gummies
  • CBD chocolate and candies
  • CBD topicals (creams or lotions)

Meditation

Meditation involves the practice of mindfulness. You focus on removing chaotic thoughts from your mind and replacing them with calm. Research indicates that meditation can help to relieve anxiety symptoms, helping you to feel more at ease. 

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Deep Breathing Exercises

Rapid, shallow breathing is a common symptom of anxiety. Breathing in this manner can increase your heart rate, make you feel dizzy, and may even increase the risk of a panic attack. Deep breathing involves taking deliberately deep and measured breaths to restore normal breathing patterns, which can help to reduce anxiety. 

Weighted Blankets

Research shows that weighted blankets can be beneficial for alleviating symptoms of anxiety. The pressure helps to put your body into “rest mode,” reducing those symptoms and preparing your body to rest. These blankets come in many different sizes and weights, enabling you to find what works best for you. 

Quit Cigarettes and Alcohol

Both alcohol and cigarettes may appear to calm your nerves at first. After taking a drink, however, your anxiety may worsen. A cycle can develop, leading to alcohol dependence.

Several studies also show that smoking can worsen symptoms of anxiety. Therefore, it’s a good idea to try to avoid drinking or smoking to reduce feelings of anxiety.

When to See a Doctor

While natural treatments can help with anxiety symptoms, some signs may indicate that you need to call your doctor:

  • Your anxiety is chronic (long-lasting), and it interferes with your ability to function daily
  • Your symptoms have persisted for six months or more
  • You’re experiencing physical symptoms such as rapid heart rate, difficulty sleeping, stomach issues, or chronic fatigue
  • You’re avoiding people or places 
  • You’re having thoughts of self-harm or suicide

Your doctor may prescribe anti-anxiety medications or refer you to a specialist. In some cases, the natural remedies described above may be used along with more conventional treatments to help you manage your symptoms.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

American Addiction Center: “The Connection between Anxiety and Alcohol.”

American Psychiatric Association: “What Are Anxiety Disorders?”

Brain and Behavior: “How cigarette smoking may increase the risk of anxiety symptoms and anxiety disorders: a critical review of biological pathways.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Stressed Out? Aromatherapy Can Help You Feel Calmer.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Cannabidiol (CBD) – What we know and what we don’t.”

Mayo Clinic: “Depression and anxiety: Exercising eases symptoms.”

Mayo Clinic: “Herbal treatment for anxiety: Is it effective?”

Michigan Medicine: “Stress Management: Breathing Exercises for Relaxation.”

National Institute of Mental Health: “Anxiety Disorders.”

Neurotherapeutics: “Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Meditation for Anxiety and Depression?”

Journal of Clinical Trials: “Long-Term Chamomile Therapy of Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A Study Protocol for a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial.”

Penn Medicine: “More than Just a Fad: 4 Ways Weighted Blankets Can Actually Help You.”

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