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A note on supplements

Before trying any new herbal supplements for anxiety, it’s important to ask your healthcare professional about potential medication interactions or safety concerns.

While herbal supplements may be used to help manage anxiety, they do not provide a cure. Therefore, when selecting supplements, be wary of products that claim to treat or cure anxiety disorders.

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Anxiety disorders affect over 18% of people in the United States every year. Over the years, treatment options for anxiety disorders have widened to include both prescription medications and natural alternatives (1).

Research suggests that several herbal supplements may be helpful in managing anxiety, though more research is needed (2).

In this article, we’ll explore some of the most popular research-backed herbs for anxiety, as well as other treatment options to consider.

Anxiety is a feeling of fear or nervousness, often associated with life stressors, like health, money, work, or relationships. While anxiety is a common response to occasional stressors, such as a job interview or a medical procedure, some people experience these feelings more often.

Anxiety disorders cause frequent intense fear or nervousness that can disrupt day-to-day life. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 30% of adults experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their life (3, 4).

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety is caused by genetics and environmental factors, such as trauma, stress in childhood, or frequent negative or stressful life events. A family history of mental health conditions or anxiety can also increase your risk (4).

Many people rely on herbs to help with mild to moderate mental health conditions, such as anxiety, to avoid the unwanted and negative side effects of medications.

Herbal medicine is a type of complementary and alternative medicine that uses medicinal plants to support optimal health or alleviate specific symptoms.

Herbs have been used to relieve mental health symptoms for centuries in some parts of the world and have gained popularity in the United States over the past few decades (5).

One review of more than 100 studies spanning over a 20-year period found that 45% of the studies demonstrated positive outcomes of herbal supplements on anxiety and depression symptoms with fewer negative effects than traditional medication (6).

Before using herbs to support your mental health and manage your anxiety symptoms, talk with a healthcare professional to avoid potential interactions with medications or health conditions.

Also keep in mind that the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve herbal supplements, so choosing herbs from a reputable company is essential for safety and effectiveness.

  • Evidence-based: All of the herbal supplements and active ingredients included have research supporting their effectiveness in managing anxiety symptoms.
  • Quality: We prioritized products that avoid fillers, additives, and artificial colors or flavors. We also looked for products that are third-party tested to ensure purity and potency.
  • Vetting: All of the herbal supplements included here were vetted to ensure they meet Healthline’s medical and business standards.

Why you should trust us

Every brand and product on our list has been vetted to ensure that it aligns with Healthline’s brand integrity standards and approach to well-being. Each product in this article:

  • adheres to allowable health claims and labeling requirements, per FDA regulations
  • is manufactured in facilities that adhere to CGMPs established by the FDA
  • is produced by a medically credible company that follows ethical, legal, and industry best standards
  • is made by a company that provides objective measures of trust, such as having its supplements validated by third-party labs

A note on price

General price ranges with dollar signs ($–$$$) are indicated below. One dollar sign means the product is rather affordable, whereas three dollar signs indicate a higher cost.

Generally, prices range from $0.13–$0.67 per count, or $3.99–$20 per container, though this may vary depending on where you shop.

Pricing guide:

  • $ = under $0.20 per serving
  • $$ = $0.20–$0.50 per serving
  • $$$ = over $0.50 per serving

Note that the dosage recommendations vary between 1–3 capsules or drops 1–3 times daily.

Thus, a product that you need to take fewer times per day may end up being comparatively cheaper, despite having a higher price per count than a product that you need to take multiple times per day.

Best with ashwagandha

NOW Certified Organic Ashwagandha Extract

  • Price: $$
  • Recommended dose: 1 full dropper (1 mL) 2–3 times daily
  • Type: liquid
  • Active ingredients: ashwagandha root
  • Potential side effects of ashwagandha: stomach discomfort, rash, itching

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an herb used in Ayurveda, a form of alternative medicine with roots in India. It’s an adaptogenic herb with a long history of use as a treatment for anxiety. Many of the active compounds in ashwagandha have been shown to have anti-stress, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties (7).

NOW Ashwagandha Extract is certified organic. NOW supplements are also third-party certified by UL Solutions to ensure purity, potency, and safe manufacturing processes.

One 2019 small double-blind study in 60 adults with insomnia and anxiety found that taking 600 mg of ashwagandha daily for 10 weeks significantly improved anxiety and insomnia scores, compared with the placebo (8).

Another recent small study found that healthy adults taking 600 mg of ashwagandha daily for 8 weeks had significantly reduced cortisol (stress hormone) levels, perceived stress scores, and reduced anxiety levels, compared with those taking the placebo or a lower dose (9).

To help relieve anxiety, current research suggests taking at least 600 mg of ashwagandha per day. Each 1 mL serving of NOW ashwagandha extract provides approximately 500 mg of ashwagandha.

Keep in mind that because studies are limited, it’s important to talk with your healthcare professional before using this supplement.

Pros

  • third-party certified
  • certified organic
  • non-GMO verified
  • vegan-friendly
  • liquid formulation

Cons

  • some reviewers dislike the taste
  • includes cane alcohol, which some users may prefer to avoid

Best with passionflower

NOW Passionflower

  • Price: $$
  • Recommended dose: 1 or 2 capsules daily, as needed
  • Type: capsules
  • Active ingredients: passionflower (flower and ariel parts)
  • Potential side effects of passionflower: drowsiness, confusion, uncoordinated movements (10)

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) has been used for centuries to treat anxiety symptoms and is a common ingredient in mental wellness supplements for its potential ability to help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety (11, 12).

In one study, 40 participants were given either passionflower or midazolam (an anti-anxiety drug) 30 minutes before a tooth extraction (13).

The study found that passionflower and midazolam similarly reduced symptoms of anxiety. Additionally, unlike midazolam, passionflower did not cause negative side effects, like amnesia, after the operation.

Keep in mind that more research is needed on the long-term safety and effectiveness of passionflower supplements. Passionflower should be avoided during pregnancy because it may induce uterine contractions (10).

Additionally, as passionflower may interact with several medications, it’s important to talk with your healthcare professional before taking passionflower supplements.

NOW Passionflower provides 700 mg of passionflower extract per 2-capsule-sized serving. It’s also vegan-friendly and free of dairy, nuts, soy, and gluten.

NOW supplements are UL Solutions certified and tested multiple times throughout the manufacturing process.

Pros

  • third-party certified
  • dairy-, nut-, soy-, and gluten-free
  • non-GMO verified
  • vegan-friendly

Cons

  • may interact with several medications
  • not suitable for people who are pregnant

Best with lemon balm

Mary Ruth’s Lemon Balm

  • Price: $$
  • Recommended dose: 15 drops, 1–3 times per day
  • Type: liquid
  • Active ingredients: lemon balm leaf
  • Potential side effects of lemon balm: stomach upset, dizziness, allergic reaction

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is another medicinal herb traditionally used to help improve anxiety, depression, cognition, and other mood disorders (14).

Studies suggest that supplements containing 1,000–,500 mg of lemon balm may help ease symptoms of anxiety (15).

One study in 67 adults with insomnia found that taking a supplement containing 1,000 mg of lemon balm and 400 mg of lavender every night for 4 weeks resulted in significant improvements in insomnia symptoms and anxiety and depression scores (16).

Mary Ruth’s Lemon Balm is vegan-friendly, non-GMO, free of artificial flavors and colors, and soy, sugar, dairy, and nut-free. It’s also third-party tested, though the name of the testing organization isn’t disclosed on the company’s website.

Because Mary Ruth’s Lemon Balm is a proprietary blend made from pure lemon balm leaf soaked in vegetable glycerin to form a tincture, the company states that it can’t confirm the exact amount of lemon balm per serving.

Instead, they recommend starting with 15 drops, 1–3 times per day to find a dose that’s effective for you.

Pros

  • third-party tested
  • certified organic
  • vegan-friendly
  • non-GMO
  • free of soy, sugar, dairy, and nuts
  • alcohol-free
  • pleasant taste

Cons

  • unknown amount of lemon balm per serving

Best with rhodiola

HUM Nutrition Big Chill

  • Price: $$$
  • Recommended dose: 1 capsule daily with food
  • Type: capsule
  • Active ingredients: Rhodiola rosea root extract
  • Potential side effects of Rhodiola rosea: dizziness, either dry mouth or excessive saliva production (17)

Rhodiola rosea is an herb neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects that has been shown to be effective at reducing depression and anxiety symptoms in people with mild to moderate depression and generalized anxiety (18).

One study in 80 people experiencing burnout found that taking 400 mg of Rhodiola rosea for 14 days significantly improved self-reported anxiety, anger, confusion, depression, and stress, compared with the placebo group (19).

HUM Nutrition Big Chill contains 500 mg of Rhodiola rosea root extract per serving and is third-party tested for purity and potency.

The capsules are also vegan-friendly and free of artificial colors and preservative. Many reviewers claim that the supplement helps them feel calmer and better able to cope with everyday stressors.

Pros

  • third-party tested
  • subscription includes access to a registered dietitian
  • vegan-friendly
  • gluten-free
  • non-GMO

Cons

  • expensive
  • requires a subscription

Best with valerian root

Sundown Naturals Valerian Root

  • Price: $$
  • Recommended dose: 4 capsules before bedtime
  • Type: capsules
  • Active ingredients: valerian root
  • Potential side effects of valerian root: headache, upset stomach, decreased alertness, excitability, uneasiness, heart disturbances, insomnia (20)

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) is an herbal supplement that is often found in tea form. Active compounds in the valerian plant have sedative properties, making this herb another popular option for anxiety (21).

One review of 60 studies found that doses ranging from 100–1,300 mg of valerian root may reduce anxiety symptoms by changing the brain’s chemistry and the way it connects to anxiety (22).

Valerian root is considered safe for short-term use, up to 28 days (20).

Sundown Naturals Valerian Root is free of dairy, gluten, and artificial colors, sweeteners, and flavors.

Sundown Naturals has a great reputation in quality control and manufacturing processes. The products are also third-party tested by UL Solutions.

Pros

  • third-party tested
  • dairy- and gluten-free
  • non-GMO

Cons

  • not vegan- or vegetarian-friendly

Best with multiple herbs

Swanson Vitamins Full Spectrum Valerian, Chamomile & Hops

  • Price: $
  • Recommended dose: 2 capsules, 2–3 times daily
  • Type: capsules
  • Active ingredients: hops flower, valerian root, chamomile flower
  • Potential side effects of valerian root: headache, upset stomach, decreased alertness, excitability, uneasiness, heart disturbances, insomnia (20)
  • Potential side effects of chamomile: nausea, drowsiness, diarrhea, allergic reaction (23)
  • Potential side effects of hops: drowsiness, dizziness, hypersensitivity reactions (24)

Swanson Vitamins Full Spectrum Valerian, Chamomile & Hops supplement is third-party tested, and customers rave that it helps with relaxation and sleep.

Each 2-capsule serving provides 250 mg of hops, as well as 250 mg each of chamomile flower and valerian root, both of which are also associated with benefits for anxiety and sleep (22, 25).

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is a popular herb that’s most widely used as a caffeine-free tea. Although chamomile contains a wide range of beneficial compounds, it’s well known for promoting relaxation, especially in people with anxiety (25).

One study in adults with moderate to severe generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) found that taking 1,500 mg of pharmaceutical-grade chamomile extract daily for 8 weeks resulted in significant improvements in anxiety scores and overall well-being (26).

Just keep in mind that as chamomile can interact with certain medications, it’s important to talk with your healthcare professional before taking chamomile extract, especially if you’re taking blood thinners or hormonal birth control or have had an organ transplant.

Hops (Humulus lupulus) are the flowers of a commercially grown herb commonly used in beer production. Like chamomile, certain compounds in hops are sedating, making them a potentially useful option for people with anxiety.

One study in 36 healthy young adults found that taking hop extract for 2 weeks resulted in a significant decrease in subjects’ depression and anxiety scores, compared with a placebo (27).

Human studies on hops and anxiety have been small, but the above study found that 200 mg of Humulus lupulus daily could help lower or relieve anxiety over time. Still, more research is needed.

Pros

  • third-party tested
  • affordable
  • contains several herbs in one formulation

Cons

  • not vegan-friendly

There are many herbs commonly recommended to help in managing anxiety. However, not all of them have been shown to be safe or effective.

For example, research suggests kava and St. John’s wort may be effective for managing anxiety. However, neither made our list because kava is linked to severe liver damage, and St. John’s wort has serious interactions with several common medications (28, 29, 30).

American skullcap and guarana are also traditionally used for anxiety but lack enough research to recommend them at this time (6, 31, 32).

  • Quality testing: Supplements don’t undergo the same FDA approval as medications, so it’s important to purchase supplements that are tested to verify the contents, amounts, and potency of its ingredients, ideally by a third-party lab.
  • Potential side effects and drug interactions: Even though herbal products are natural, they can still be dangerous if taken incorrectly. Additionally, many herbs can interact with medications or may not be recommended if you’re pregnant or have certain health conditions. Always check with your healthcare professional before adding an herbal product to your routine.
  • Supplement type: Herbal supplements can be found in various forms, such as powders, liquids, capsules, or even teas. Choose one that’s easy to take and fits into your routine.
  • Effectiveness: While herbs have been used for years, and sometimes centuries, it’s important to look for ingredients that have been researched to be safe and effective.
  • Dose: The amount of herb in a supplement is almost as important as the herb itself. Many studies have found minimum amounts of an herb are needed to have the desired effect. Make sure your supplement meets the dose requirements.

In addition to lifestyle changes, some healthcare professionals may recommend recommend psychotherapy, medication, or a mixture of both, to help manage anxiety (33, 34).

Psychotherapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective treatment options for anxiety disorders. CBT teaches people how to recognize and respond to the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors associated with these disorders.

Other forms of psychotherapy, such as psychodynamic therapies, may also help treat mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.

Medication

Medications are another effective treatment option for people with anxiety disorders, especially when combined with therapy. Antidepressants are commonly used as a long-term treatment option for anxiety.

Quick-acting medications like benzodiazepines can also be used to treat anxiety. However, they’re not prescribed long term because they can be habit forming.

Even with clinical treatment, many people with anxiety benefit from making lifestyle changes. Here are some of the ways you can continue to reduce anxiety in your daily life:

  • Practice relaxation techniques: Deep breathing, meditation, and other relaxation techniques can help reduce the symptoms and severity of anxiety.
  • Get enough sleep each night: Lack of sleep can worsen anxiety symptoms, so it’s important to practice proper sleep hygiene to ensure an adequate amount of shut-eye.
  • Engage in regular physical activity: Exercise produces beneficial hormones, many of which have been shown to help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Keep in mind that you don’t have to hit the gym to reap these benefits. For example, walking, dancing, and gardening are all great ways to move more.
  • Eat a balanced diet: In addition to eating a well-rounded diet, it’s a good idea to incorporate foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and healthy fats, that are high in nutrients and support brain health.
  • Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and other harmful substances: Although it can be tempting to use alcohol, nicotine, and other substances to reduce stress, these can often do more harm than good.

If you’re regularly experiencing symptoms of anxiety, it’s best to make an appointment with your healthcare professional. They can discuss treatment options with you and refer you to a therapist or psychiatrist for further treatment.

Additionally, it’s important to talk with your healthcare professional before taking any new supplements, especially if you’re on medications, are pregnant or breastfeeding, or have a chronic condition.

Can anxiety be cured naturally?

Anxiety isn’t curable. However, there are many ways to treat and manage anxiety, including natural options like therapy, herbal supplements, deep breathing exercises, physical activity, and eating a balanced diet.

Will herbs help my depression?

There are several herbs, including Bacopa monnieri, Rhodiola rosea, and chamomile that may help manage symptoms of depression in some people (6).

Always talk with your healthcare professional before taking herbal supplements to ensure that you’re choosing a product that’s appropriate for your needs.

While more research is needed, certain herbs can be helpful for some people in managing symptoms of anxiety.

Be sure to choose a supplement that is manufactured by a reputable company and that contains effective doses of evidence-backed ingredients.

Always speak with your healthcare professional before starting any herbal supplements, and never take more than the recommended amount.