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17 Herbs For Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety can come in all forms, but will affect 40 million Americans each year.

Here I’ve collected 17 herbs for your anxiety and depression.

Nearly 1/4 of our children aged 13-18 will develop anxiety disorders!

Holiday Savings on your Herbal Education!

However not all herbs are safe for children. For an idea of what you can use on your kids, check out my post Herbs That Are Safe For Kids.

Out of these 40 million, only 37% ever receive treatment, and the most common pharmaceutical treatments carry with them scary side effects!

In this post we’ll go over three different classes of herbs that you can use to treat anxiety naturally.

herbs and essential oils to treat anxiety

Before we get into the herbs (feel free to scroll down if you just want the quick answers!), there are a few things to consider:

Herbal remedies will not fix a broken lifestyle.

Before you start looking for a quick-fix, you need to take a hardcore, honest look at your lifestyle.

If you don’t feel confident that you can be objective ask a friend or your spouse, or even a therapist to help you.

(Or ask your mother – mother’s are great at knowing what’s wrong).

There are several forms of anxiety, all with varying causes: acute anxiety over a test, excited anxiety because of a first date, or chronic long-term anxiety caused by financial difficulties.

For a specific look at how to address stress from financial difficulties check out my post here.

If you do not address the causes of stress in your life, or support your body with a nutritious diet and get a full 8 hours of sleep, herbs won’t solve your problem.

Herbs can help treat the symptoms of anxiety, but if you do not address the cause, anxiety will continue to rear it’s ugly head.

As with everything herbal, you need to take the time to take a holistic view of your lifestyle and your constitution. Which brings me to the next point…

Herbs are not a one size fits all.

Human beings are as varied as wildflowers, so what one person may need to combath stress, the next person might need something completely different.

Even different forms of anxiety and depression require different approaches.

When we’re stressed about an upcoming deadline at work, we tend to overthink, think in circles and your heart rate increases.

When this happens, we can turn to sedatives and nervines.

When anxiety is caused by lack of sleep or hormonal disturbances, we can turn to adaptogens to help support our nervous system and help it “adapt” to the underlying cause of the disturbance.

For more information on the types of herbal actions, such as nervines, sedatives and adaptogens, check out my post on the Top 18 Herbal Actions and How to Use Them.

When choosing an herbal family to turn to, take into account your own natural tendencies and how you are feeling in the moment.

Herbal Constituents

Also keep in mind that herbs are not pills.

With modern pharmaceuticals, they have identified and separated individual constituents to be able to replicate them in pill form. 

For example, in 1853, chemists found a way to extract the medicinal properties from willow leaves to create aspirin.

When you take an aspirin, you’re taking the medicinal constituents and maybe some stabilizers to make it self-stable, and little else.

When you take willow leaves, you’re getting much more than just one constituent. 

When taking herbs, do so under doctor supervision and pay close attention to how you feel after taking them.

There may be another constituent that doesn’t agree with you.

Be mindful. 

The three types of herbs we’re going to focus on are: Nervines, Adaptogens and Sedatives.

Nervines nourish and calm the nervous system.

Adaptogens support our body’s natural ability to respond to stress, or “adapt” to the situation well.

Herbal sedatives, like their chemical counterparts, help soothe anxiety and calm the patient.

Nervine Herbs to Consider

  • milky oats
  • chamomile
  • lemon balm
  • linden flower
  • skullcap
  • st. john’s wort

Adaptogen Herbs to Consider

  • ashwagandha root
  • eleuthero root
  • gotu kola
  • licorice root
  • reishi mushroom
  • holy basil

Sedative Herbs to Consider

  • california poppy
  • hops
  • kava kava
  • passionflower
  • valerian root

There are several ways to take each of these herbs: in a tea, in a tincture, in a capsule.

While looking at our different options for taking each herb, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. creating an herbal extract (via water in a tea, or via alcohol in a tincture) concentrates the constituents of an herb rather than eating it fresh
  2. dried herbs are more concentrated that fresh herb
  3. the different parts of the plant need to be treated differently to extract their medicinal qualities. For example, roots generally have to be simmered for a long time in hot water, where leaves can be steeped for a short amount of time. 

Essential Oils For Anxiety and Depression

  • lavender
  • bergamot
  • vetiver

Gradually add these herbs into your daily rituals and see if they help with your anxiety symptoms!

If you’d like to learn more about identifying causes of stress and anxiety in your life and how to use herbs, check out my FREE online course: Herbal Self Care and Stress Management.

Herbal Academy also has an excellent program I’ve taken to go even further in depth to understand the biological impact of stress on our lives and the herbs we can use to treat ourselves.

herbs to treat anxiety symptoms