Klonopin can be an effective short-term treatment for the symptoms of anxiety, but Mayo Clinic notes that it can cause serious side effects, including drowsiness, addiction, memory problems and muscle disorders. Klonopin is a member of the class of drugs known benzodiazepines, which also includes Xanax and Valium.
Several medicinal herbs may act as viable alternatives to this strong prescription drug. Your health care provider may recommend any of several herbs to treat anxiety, but you should never change medication or stop taking Klonopin without telling your doctor. With the approval of your licensed practitioner, consider any of the following natural alternatives to Klonopin.
The Pacific herb kava-kava may be the most viable, evidence-based natural alternative to Klonopin. According to MedlinePlus, kava is roughly as effective as the prescription drug Buspar for relieving symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). MedlinePlus also references preliminary evidence suggesting that kava rivals the efficacy of benzodiazepines like Klonopin and Valium. While kava's efficacy has been well-documented, concerns exist regarding its safety. Kava-kava has been linked to hepatitis and other forms of liver disease.
Although scientists have not investigated chamomile to the degree that they have researched kava-kava, chamomile's use in anxiety treatment is supported by centuries of traditional use. MedlinePlus notes that healers traditionally use chamomile to ease symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, agitation and irritability. However, there is not enough evidence to compare chamomile's effectiveness to prescription drugs like Klonopin.
Valerian is a member of the same botanical family as chamomile, and the two anxiety-relieving herbs are often sold in combination. According to MedlinePlus, valerian root does not appear have instant sedative effects. However, it seems to reduce anxiety levels and enable restful sleep for people suffering from anxiety disorders. While preliminary evidence is encouraging, MedlinePlus notes that most studies have been small and poorly designed. More trials are needed to determine if valerian can out-perform Klonopin as a safe treatment for anxiety disorders.
Passionflower has been used for centuries as a gentle, natural sedative. Noting several encouraging animal studies, MedlinePlus suggests that passionflower may be a viable treatment for anxiety, insomnia and agitation. MedlinePlus also acknowledges the theoretical use of this medicinal herb to ease withdrawal symptoms in people who are overcoming substance abuse; this may make it an ideal option for former Klonopin abusers. Passionflower is generally safe when used alone, but it should never be combined with kava-kava. At least one person suffered terminal liver failure after ingesting the two herbs together.