Anxiety and restlessness effect our day to day tasks by impacting cognitive function, decision making and natural bodily functions like digestion, heart rate and immunity, and usually carries on into hindering sleep.
Because of a high addictive potential of pharmaceutical medication when it comes to treating such states of mental health, looking towards alternative and safer therapeutics is important for not only individuals but communities and governments alike.
The increase in investigations, studies and trials involving and comparing herbal medicines and their active chemicals is evident for the increased curiosity and need for complimentary and alternative medicines in all fields of healthcare.
Here are some of The Remedy Rooms favourite herbs to use in cases of anxiety. Not only do they promote a calm and balanced nervous system, some of their actions can be applied for digestive spasm, muscle tension and insomnia. Introduce yourself to them in the form or tea or through The Remedy Rooms Clinic where higher potency and dosages can be prescribe by a Naturopath.
The leaves of passionflower have been used in traditional herbal medicine for anxiety, nervousness, insomnia and hysteria due to its sedative and anxiolytic activities.
The medicinal activity of Passionflower is through acting on pathways involving a neurotransmitter called GABA.
GABA is our main inhibitory neurotransmitter, needed for the brain to be calm, rest and support optimal sleep.
Passionflower has shown to prolong the activity of GABA and act in a similar way, therefore it acts by promoting and prolonging a calming effect on the nervous system.
Studies have measured the calming effects of Passionflower through electroencephalography (brain activity) imaging and physical examination of patients with anxiety.
A 2017 study showed a clear resistance to stress with treatment of Passionflower extract accompanied by improvements of inner restlessness, fear, sleep disturbance, and exhaustion.
Most of us intentionally or non-intentionally have used or have seen lavender at some point in our lives for relaxation. In bath products, in aromatherapy and under pillows - just to name a few! Traditional users of Lavender sought out its medicinal properties for anxiety, depression, migraine management, and nervousness.
Like Passionflower, Lavender can work on GABA pathways promoting an inhibitory action over an otherwise overexcited nervous system.
Studies have shown Lavender to be as effective in treating generalised anxiety disorder in comparison to some pharmaceutical alternatives. In depression, co-treatment with imipramine (anti-depressant) resulted in sooner and better improvements in mood.
Additionally, brain activity imaging has represented visual anti-anxiety activity on brain regions based on wave activity. This supports its beneficial effects in anxiety and insomnia.
The essential oil profile of Lavender makes it well suited to be absorbed through the skin, so as a topical agent, it can be quite effective also.
The main constituents found in lemon balm that are thought to have anxiolytic activity are obtained from the volatile oils. Mechanisms of activity have been proposed to occur due to the active chemicals citral and limonene and their influence on GABA in the nervous system. GABA inhibits over activity of nerve transmission and lemon balm may prolong its inhibitory effects on the nervous system in moderate stress. Animal studies have also shown lemon balm to prolong the effects for serotonin by slowing down its breakdown, maintaining its activity. This means alterations in duration of serotonin activity may further contribute to its benefits on mood and stress.
A medicinal root commonly used in the Pacific Islands to promote relaxation and sleep, as well as being important for religious and social gatherings.
Trials have shown it significantly effective in reducing anxiety with good tolerability. Its actions work on GABA neurotransmission in a similar way to benzodiazepine medications. Kava has 6 major medicinal constituents responsible for its calming effects on not only the nervous system, but muscle tension also.
A meta-analysis on the effects of Kava in the treatment of generalised anxiety disorder showed a successful reduction in anxiety.
When looking into herbal medicine it is crucial to ensure you check any interactions or contraindications with exisiting medical conditions, current medications and supplements. Seeking healthcare advice through a qualified healthcare practitioner ensures safety in not only clinical prescribing but in product quality, correct species of herb, dosage guidelines and more.