7 Natural Herbs For Anxiety & Stress

July 9, 2022

Life gets busy and overwhelming, but I have a tip to help you get through even the hardest days: Consider growing your own herbs for anxiety and stress relief!

That's right—there are certain herbs known to help relieve stress and anxiety, and they can be grown in your own garden or back yard to help you save money and have access to them as needed.

Want to learn more? Keep reading to discover all you need to know about these herbs for anxiety and stress, including growing them at home.


7 Top Herbs for Anxiety and Stress

Here are my top recommended herbs for anxiety and stress.

1. Ashwagandha

What it is:

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an adaptogenic herb, meaning it improves your body’s ability to handle stress, and it’s one of the most commonly used medicinal herbs in Ayurvedic medicine, used for millennia for its many health benefits. [1]

How it works:

The root and leaves of ashwagandha are most commonly used for therapeutic purposes. The root smells like a horse (“ashwa”), and is traditionally believed that someone who consumes it will “have the power of a horse.”

Ashwagandha roots contain anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor, anti-stress, and antioxidant properties, meaning it’s commonly used for insomnia, certain age-related issues, anxiety, joint inflammation, ulcers, skin blemishes, immune-system related disorders, and more.

It also appears to positively influence the endocrine, cardiopulmonary, and central nervous systems. [2] Ashwagandha leaves have a bitter taste and are often used to treat fevers and painful swollen areas.

Why it’s one of the top herbs for anxiety and stress:

Your adrenal glands release cortisol (the “stress hormone) during times of stress. And studies have shown that ashwagandha can aid in lowering cortisol.

According to a 2012 study, 64 people with a history of chronic stress were divided into two groups; one group was given ashwagandha root supplements and the other was given a placebo.

At the end of the study, researchers found that the group taking the supplement has substantially lower levels of cortisol than the placebo group.

Overall, the group taking ashwagandha reported a 69 percent reduction in anxiety (as well as insomnia), compared to an 11 percent reduction in the placebo group. [3]

How to grow it:

Fortunately, ashwagandha is fairly easy to grow and requires pretty minimal care. In fact, it’s known to be resistant to droughts!

Simply plant the seed in soil that’s at least 70 degrees F, and in about two weeks or so, you’ll see the beginnings of your plant. From there, it thrives best in temperature between 70 and 90 degrees.

You can choose to move the plant indoors for the winter or simply harvest the roots before your first frost.

How to use it:

You can easily use the dried roots in teas, tinctures, or mixed in honey.

2. Chamomile

What it is:

One of the most ancient medicinal herbs on record, chamomile comes in two varieties: German Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita) and Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile). [4]

How it works:

Chamomile is a flowering plant, and it’s the dried flowers that are often used for therapeutic purposes.

Research has shown that these flowers are rich in both flavonoids and terpenoids, which give chamomile its health benefits.

Conditions and ailments commonly treated by chamomile include everything from allergies and inflammation to wounds, digestive issues, and pain.

Why it’s one of the top herbs for anxiety and stress:

Chamomile is known to help relieve anxiety and even promote better sleep as a result.

According to one animal study, German chamomile extract was revealed to significantly inhibit brain activity related to generalized anxiety disorder. [5]

Meanwhile, several studies have also noted that chamomile also contains sedative effects, largely believed to be due to the apigenin found in chamomile. Apigenin is a flavonoid known to bind to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain. [6]

How to grow it:

Chamomile is a beautiful flowering herb resembling a daisy, so you can plant it anywhere for an aesthetically pleasing plant.

Regardless of whether you choose Roman or German chamomile, the process for growing them is very similar.

It’s easier to grow chamomile from an existing plant, but you can also grow it from seeds. Plant it in the spring in cool, dry soil that’s partially shaded.

Like ashwagandha, chamomile is drought resistant and is usually not prone to pests.

How to use it:

The essential oils of chamomile are used quite commonly in aromatherapy, but in terms of using your home-grown plant, use the dried petals of chamomile in hot tea.

3. Lavender

What it is:

Lavender (Lavandula) is an herb native to the Mediterranean that is popular in many herb gardens due to their fragrant leaves and vibrant purple flowers. It includes over 30 different species. [7]

How it works:

Lavender’s main constituents include linalool, linalyl acetate, 1,8-cineole B-ocimene, terpinen-4-ol, and camphor. [8]

As a result, it’s known to contain anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antiseptic, and anxiolytic properties. [9]

Why it’s one of the top herbs for anxiety and stress:

Studies have shown that lavender can help relieve stress and anxiety, particularly in those struggling with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

This is because lavender helps calm the central nervous system and, as a result, it can help to relieve anxiety, stress, and depression.

Some studies have shown that lavender oil is comparable or even more effective than prescription anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines and antidepressants known as SSRIs. [10, 11]

How to grow it:

Fortunately, lavender is another easy plant to grow. Use an existing plant and place it in well-drained soil and in full sunlight. Water it consistently until it’s well-established and prune it each spring.

How to use it:

To use fresh lavender, consider adding it to your teas, coffees, cocktails, or even on your salads.

You can also place the dried bulbs in open jars around your house for a pleasing aroma or place a few dried petals in your pillowcase to help promote restful sleep.

4. Valerian

What it is:

Valerian is an herb found all over the world, and its root and extract are often used in medicines and supplements to help promote relaxation and fight anxiety.

How it works:

Valerian is known to contain sedative effects. This is due to its ability to bind GABA receptors in the brain and slow the removal of GABA from the body, resulting in a feeling of calm and relaxation.

This occurs because valerian contains both valepotriates, which have natural sedative properties, and sesquiterpenes, which contain calming properties.

Why it’s one of the top herbs for anxiety and stress:

Studies have shown that valerian can be incredibly effective and reducing anxiety levels.

According to a 2010 animal study, animals who were administered valerian extract exhibited a significant reduction in anxious behaviors. [12]

Additionally, it’s important to note that low GABA levels are linked to anxiety. And due to how valerian benefits your GABA levels, it naturally combats anxiety.

How to grow it:

Another easy plant, valerian seeds can be planted in the grown once all chances for frost have disappeared. Alternatively, you can begin growing it in a pot inside and transfer it once the weather is appropriate.

While it can grow in shaded or full-sun areas, it does need to be watered regularly.

Harvest the roots in the fall before the plant dies in the winter. But don’t worry—it will come back in the spring!

How to use it:

My favorite way to use valerian root is to include the dried root powder in a cup of tea before bedtime.

5. Lemon Balm

What it is:

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is an herb whose leaves provide a soft lemon aroma. But you may be surprised to learn that lemon balm is actually a member of the mint family!

It’s often used today as a flavoring agent in foods and beverages, but it was traditionally used to aid in treating poor digestion and sleep along with serving as an analgesic agent and tonic. [13]

How it works:

Research has shown that lemon balm contains significant anti-microbial and sedative properties and acts as an anti-spasmodic.

Additionally, it contains a high amount of antioxidants due to being rich in flavonoids, rosmaric acid, gallic acid, phenolic contents. [14]

Why it’s one of the top herbs for anxiety and stress:

Research has shown that lemon balm can help promote calmness by inhibiting certain brain chemicals, which can produce anxiolytic effects. [15]

Additionally, a 2014 study found that when lemon balm was added into foods, it was associated with improvements in both mood and cognitive performance. [16]

How to grow it:

Lemon balm is easy to grow if planted in late spring—once frosts are over. Plant plants or seeds in full sun areas in well-drained soil for best results.

How to use it:

Dried lemon balm leaves are great in teas, while fresh lemon balm leaves are delicious as a salad garnish. You can also use them to flavor soups or sauces.

6. Astragalus

What it is:

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) is an herb that’s been commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for hundreds of years for its therapeutic properties. As a synergistic herb, astragalus is one of the best supplements for stress is best used in conjunction with glycyrrhiza, ginseng, schisandra, and ashwagandha.

How it works:

Astragalus contains more than 100 compounds, including flavonoids, saponins, polysaccharides, and amino acids. Researchers believe it’s these compounds that provide the many health benefits of astragalus.

In fact, astragalus is commonly used for many conditions and health concerns, such as stress, fatigue, viral infections, fibromyalgia, edema, blood disorders, certain cancers, and diarrhea.

Why it’s one of the top herbs for anxiety and stress:

Astragalus is one of my favorite herbs for anxiety and stress.

According to a 2009 animal study, using astragalus significantly reduced stress-induced learning and memory deficits in lab animals. Specifically, the astragalus improved the animals’ special learning and memory and also reduced their stress-induced anxiety.

As a result, the researchers surmised that astragalus shows potential as a treatment to help recover from behavioral or mental impairments caused by stressed. [17]

How to grow it:

While you can plant the seeds directly in your garden, you may find it easier to get the plant to germinate by beginning it indoors in the later part of winter and then transferring it outdoors in the late spring.

Make sure to plant it in a partially shaded area in sandy, well-drained soil. Water it regularly

How to use it:

The root of astragalus is ground and easily used in teas, soups, and extracts.

7. Passionflower

What it is:

Passionflower is also known as passiflora (Passiflora incarnata). It’s a climbing vine featuring purple and white flowers. It’s native to the Southeastern U.S. along with Central and South America.

How it works:

Similar to valerian, passionflower seems to boost the GABA in your brain, which is known to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety.

Why it’s one of the top herbs for anxiety and stress:

Passionflower has a long history of use in Europe as a traditional remedy for sleep and anxiety. [18] And both human and animal studies have demonstrated that its extracts can help to induce sleep. [1920]

Additionally, studies have shown that consuming passionflower significantly reduced anxiety in surgery patients when compared to a placebo. [21]

How to grow it:

It’s best to grow passionflower in full sun in well-drained soil. You can begin with seeds or stems from an established plant.

Make sure to fertilize the plant in the spring and repeat every six weeks until fall; water regularly.

How to use it:

You can steep dried passionflower in water to make a relaxing tea. You can also use the whole flower as a garnish for desserts or in salads.


Herbs for anxiety - Dr. Pingel

Looking for even more tips on ways you can help combat anxiety and stress? Check out my book, Total Health Turnaround, which features, tips, tricks, more herbs and natural supplements for anxiety, and a meal plan designed to manage your body’s stress response.

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