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What natural remedies for stress

In this article, learn about a wide range of natural and home remedies that can help with stress and anxiety.

In some cases, another health condition, such as an overactive thyroid , can lead to an anxiety disorder. Getting an accurate diagnosis can ensure that a person receives the best treatment.

Anxiety is among the most common of mental health issues. In the United States, more than 19% of adults are affected by anxiety disorders yearly.

Many people have chronic stress and anxiety. They face symptoms such as nervousness, agitation, tension, a racing heart, and chest pain.

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Natural remedies are generally safe to use alongside more conventional medical therapies.

However, alterations to the diet and some natural supplements can change the way antianxiety medications work, so it is essential to consult a doctor before trying these solutions. The doctor may also be able to recommend other natural remedies.

1. Exercise

Studies show that physical exercise can help reduce anxiety symptoms. Limited research also suggests that high intensity exercise may be more effective than low intensity regimens.

Exercise may also help with anxiety caused by stressful circumstances. Results of a 2016 study, for example, suggest that exercise can benefit people with anxiety related to quitting smoking.

Learn more about the mental health benefits of exercise here.

2. Meditation

Meditation can help to slow racing thoughts, making it easier to manage stress and anxiety. A wide range of meditation styles, including mindfulness and meditation during yoga, may help.

Learn more about meditation here.

3. Relaxation exercises

Some people unconsciously tense their muscles in response to anxiety. Progressive relaxation exercises can help to alleviate this tension and reduce stress.

Learn more about breath management exercises here.

4. Journaling

Finding a way to express anxiety can make it feel more manageable.

Some research suggests that journaling and other forms of writing can help people to cope better with anxiety. For example, a 2018 study found that emotion-based journaling may reduce mental distress and improve overall well-being.

Learn more about journaling for anxiety here.

5. Time management strategies

Some people feel anxious if they have too many commitments at once. These may involve family, work, and health-related activities. Having a plan for the next necessary action can help keep this anxiety at bay.

Effective time management strategies can help people reduce anxiety. Some people also find that breaking major projects down into manageable steps can help them to accomplish those tasks with less stress.

6. Aromatherapy

Smelling soothing plant essential oils can help to ease stress and anxiety. Certain scents work better for some people than others, so consider experimenting with various options.

Limited research suggests that lavender may be especially helpful in treating anxiety disorders.

Learn more about aromatherapy here.

7. Cannabidiol oil

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a derivative of the cannabis plant. Unlike other forms of cannabis, CBD oil does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the substance that creates a “high.” CBD oil may help treat anxiety, but there is insufficient evidence to confirm or deny its medicinal benefit.

CBD oil is readily available without a prescription in many alternative healthcare shops. In areas where medical cannabis is legal, doctors may also be able to prescribe the oil.

Visit our dedicated CBD hub here.

8. Herbal teas

Many herbal teas promise to help with anxiety and ease sleep. Some people find making and drinking tea soothing, but some teas may have a more direct effect on the brain that results in reduced anxiety.

Results of a small 2018 trial suggest that chamomile can alter cortisol levels, a stress hormone.

Discover the other benefits of chamomile tea here.

9. Herbal supplements

Like herbal teas, many herbal supplements claim to reduce anxiety. However, little scientific evidence supports these claims.

It is vital to work with a doctor knowledgeable about herbal supplements and their potential interactions with other drugs.

Learn more about herbal supplements for anxiety here.

10. Time with animals

Pets offer companionship, love, and support. Research in 2018 confirmed that pets can be beneficial to people with a variety of mental health issues, including anxiety.

While many people prefer cats, dogs, and other small mammals, people with allergies will be pleased to learn that the pet does not have to be furry to provide support.

Learn more about animal therapy here.

Is there an effective herbal treatment for anxiety?

Answer From Brent A. Bauer, M.D.

Several herbal remedies have been studied as a treatment for anxiety, but more research is needed to understand the risks and benefits. Here’s what we know — and don’t know:

  • Kava. Kava appeared to be a promising treatment for anxiety, but reports of serious liver damage — even with short-term use — caused the Food and Drug Administration to issue warnings about the use of dietary supplements containing kava. While these initial reports of liver toxicity have been questioned, use extra caution and involve your doctor in the decision if you’re considering using products containing kava.
  • Passion flower. A few small clinical trials suggest that passion flower might help with anxiety. In many commercial products, passion flower is combined with other herbs, making it difficult to distinguish the unique qualities of each herb. Passion flower is generally considered safe when taken as directed, but some studies found it can cause drowsiness, dizziness and confusion.
  • Valerian. In some studies, people who used valerian reported less anxiety and stress. In other studies, people reported no benefit. Valerian is generally considered safe at recommended doses, but since long-term safety trials are lacking, don’t take it for more than a few weeks at a time, unless your doctor approves. It can cause some side effects such as headaches, dizziness and drowsiness.
  • Chamomile. Limited data shows that short-term use of chamomile is generally considered safe and can be effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety. But chamomile can increase the risk of bleeding when used with blood-thinning drugs. Use of chamomile can cause allergic reactions in some people who are sensitive to the family of plants that includes chamomile. Other members of this family are ragweed, marigolds, daisies and chrysanthemums.
  • Lavender. Some evidence suggests that oral lavender or aromatherapy with lavender can reduce anxiety; however, evidence is preliminary and limited. Oral lavender can cause constipation and headaches. It can also increase appetite, increase the sedative effect of other medications and supplements, and cause low blood pressure.
  • Lemon balm. Preliminary research shows lemon balm can reduce some symptoms of anxiety, such as nervousness and excitability. Lemon balm is generally well-tolerated and considered safe for short-term use, but can cause nausea and abdominal pain.

Herbal supplements aren’t monitored by the FDA the same way medications are. Despite enhanced quality control regulations in place since 2010, the quality of some supplements may still be an issue. Remember, natural doesn’t always mean safe.

If you’re considering taking any herbal supplement as a treatment for anxiety, talk to your doctor first, especially if you take other medications. The interaction of some herbal supplements and certain medications can cause serious side effects.

Some herbal supplements taken for anxiety can cause you to feel sleepy, so they may not be safe to take when driving or doing dangerous tasks. Your doctor can help you understand possible risks and benefits if you choose to try an herbal supplement.

If your anxiety is interfering with daily activities, talk with your doctor. More-serious forms of anxiety generally need medical treatment or psychological counseling (psychotherapy) for symptoms to improve.

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  1. Natural medicines in the clinical management of anxiety. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed Feb. 13, 2018.
  2. Kava. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed Feb. 13, 2018.
  3. Passion flower. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed Feb. 13, 2018.
  4. Valerian. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed Feb. 13, 2018.
  5. German chamomile. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed Feb. 13, 2018.
  6. Lavender. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed Feb. 13, 2018.
  7. Lemon balm. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed Feb. 13, 2018.
  8. FDA issues consumer advisory for dietary supplements containing kava. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/Health_Information/kava.aspx. Accessed Feb. 13, 2018.
  9. Bystritsky A. Complementary and alternative treatments for anxiety symptoms and disorders: Herbs and medications. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Feb. 13, 2018.
  10. Mixing medications and dietary supplements can endanger your health. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm420349.htm. Accessed Feb. 13, 2018.
  11. Dietary supplements: What you need to know. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/Food/DietarySupplements/UsingDietarySupplements/ucm109760.htm. Accessed Feb. 13, 2018.
  12. Using dietary supplements wisely. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/supplements/wiseuse.htm. Accessed Feb. 13, 2018.
  13. Bauer BA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Feb. 16, 2018.

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