Unlike the occasional nervous feelings everyone gets, anxiety is described as a mental condition that is characterized by exaggerated, persistent feelings of nervousness. Herbal supplements are a popular and natural alternative to prescription drugs. There are several herbal supplements that have been known to help ease anxiety and balance hormone levels.
What Causes Anxiety?
Anxiety can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. It is most commonly triggered by stress. However, there are many factors related to anxiety.
During menopause, sex hormone levels start to fall. Because of the decrease in progesterone and estrogen and the effect this has on mood regulation, women may begin to feel overwhelmed and frustrated. In some women, this leads to anxiety episodes. In severe cases, women may feel palpitations and tension headaches, which can lead to panic disorder.
Factors that are known to cause anxiety include:
- Side effects from certain medication
- Traumatic events
- Certain illnesses
Herbal Supplements for Hormonal Imbalance
Many women are afraid to try herbal remedies because they're uncertain about safety. However, there are two low-risk natural remedies for menopause symptoms that may help women: phytoestrogenic and hormone-regulating herbal supplements.
Phytoestrogenic herbal supplements
Phytoestrogens are plant-based estrogens. When introduced into the body, they can weakly activate cells' estrogen receptors, causing them to have action like estrogen. Soy and red clover are common phytoestrogenic herbs.
Hormone-regulating herbal supplements
These supplements, such as Macafem, stimulate the body to produce the estrogen and the other hormones it needs. They do not contain any estrogen, but rather regulate hormone levels to alleviate menopause symptoms.
Other Herbal Supplements
These supplements do not impact hormone levels, but rather address the symptoms of anxiety.
This is one of the most popular herbal supplements for treating anxiety symptoms because of its high kavalactone content. Kavalactones promote relaxation, as well as improve dopamine production and cognitive performance. Kava offers sedative properties and relaxes the muscles. It is available in pill or tea form.
This sedative herb has been popular among people suffering from anxiety because it promotes relaxation and stress relief. Valerian is more popularly used as a sleep aid because it helps achieve a natural sleep and fights insomnia.
Passion flower has been widely used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. Passion flower possesses sedative and anti-inflammatory properties, making it an ideal calming herbal remedy for anxiety episodes.
Hops are sedative in nature, which helps counter anxiety symptoms. Hops also contain phytoestrogenic compounds - which have been known to help ease menopausal symptoms in women by restoring hormone balance. Hops is available in tablet form, or you can boil the dried flowers and drink them as an herbal tea.
Damiana is a sedative herb that is most commonly known for its ability to stimulate sex drive. It has also been known to help ease anxiety and depression symptoms. Damiana can be taken in capsule form.
St. John's wort
This herb has been used for thousands of years for nervous system disorders like anxiety and depression because it is said to help prolong the action of the mood-regulating neurotransmitter, serotonin.
Lavender is a soothing herb that has been used to treat a number of menopausal symptoms, like anxiety and insomnia, because of its calming, sedative properties. Lavender can be taken as a supplement.
Lemon balm is a popular herb for treating anxiety episodes because of its stress reducing effects.
Anxiety is a psychological condition that comes in many forms and can range from mild to severe. It is recommended to seek professional treatment if you think you are suffering from an anxiety disorder in order to be properly diagnosed. Herbal supplements are a natural alternative to prescription medications, and can be beneficial in soothing the nerves and promoting relaxation.
- Bruton-Seal, J. & Seal, M. Backyard Medicine. (2009). New York: Skyhorse Publishing.
- National Institutes of Health. (2014). Stress and anxiety. Retrieved September 25, 2014, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003211.htm
- National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.). Anxiety Disorders. Retrieved September 25, 2014, from http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml
- National Women's Health Network. (2014). Herbs and Phytoestrogens. Retrieved from September 25, 2014, from https://nwhn.org/herbs-and-phytoestrogens
- Office on Women's Health. (2012). Anxiety disorders fact sheet. RetrievedSeptember 25, 2014, from http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/anxiety-disorders.html