If you suffer from occasional anxiety, breathing exercises and other relaxation techniques may help. If nervousness and anxiety occur regularly, you should seek medical attention. Some herbs may alleviate symptoms of stress, including depression and insomnia. But natural remedies can prove harmful. Ask your doctor before taking herbal antianxiety remedies.
Kava kava compares to some prescription medications, including valium, for its ability to relieve anxiety, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Kava kava may also improve mood and cognitive ability as well as improve insomnia. But kava kava may cause liver damage, and concerns about this side effect led to a decrease in research about the herb. You should not take kava kava with alcohol. Kava kava may also interact poorly with some medications, including those used to treat seizures, some prescription antianxiety medications, antipsychotic medications and a medication used to treat Parkinson's disease.
Valerian, used to treat anxiety and insomnia for nearly 2,000 years, may prove safer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration classifies it as "generally recognized as safe." In some persons, valerian causes rather than relieves anxiety. Valerian will not likely create dependency but can cause withdrawal symptoms if used for a long time. You should not use valerian when driving. Valerian may increase the effects of prescription sedatives, herbal calming remedies and alcohol. Valerian may also interact with antihistamines, anitfungal drugs, anesthesia and statins, a drug used to lower cholesterol.
St. John's Wort
St. John's wort relaxes your muscles and signals mood receptors in your brain. Clinical studies of St. John's wort, a popular treatment for depression in Germany, show mixed results, indicating that the herb both does and does not relieve major depression. St. John's wort may interfere with the effectiveness of some drugs used to treat HIV. It may also interact with some medications to treat depression, heart disease, seizures and some cancers. It can compromise the effectiveness of some oral contraceptives.
Two varieties of skullcap exist: American skullcap, used to treat anxiety, and Chinese skullcap, used to treat inflammation and headaches. American skullcap remains less popular and less studied than other herbal treatments for anxiety and tension. You should obtain skullcap from a reliable source, as some American skullcap proved to be tainted with a plant known to cause liver problems. If you take skullcap in high doses, it may cause giddiness, mental confusion, seizures and irregular heartbeat. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take skullcap.