Herbs for Anxiety & Nervous Tension

Author: ANCP   Date Posted:26 August 2014 

Herbal medicines have been used to ease tension, relieve anxiety and calm frazzled nerves for centuries. Here we outline six of the most important herbal medicines to consider trying next time you’re feeling under pressure.


Lemon Balm:

Lemon balm has been used to promote calmness, alertness, clear thinking and to relieve anxiety for hundreds of years. Preliminary clinical studies appear to support these traditional uses of the herb. For example, in a placebo-controlled study in which 18 volunteers were subjected to stressful conditions in a laboratory setting, taking a single 600 mg dose of lemon balm was found to reduce the negative effects of the stress, and improve feelings of calmness and alertness.



When we mention oats, you probably think about porridge, but Western herbalists have traditionally used the green part of the oat plant, which is sometimes referred to as the oat ‘straw,’ as a nourishing tonic that helps rebuild energy levels and emotional reserves when the nervous system is exhausted or overwhelmed.



The essential oil of lavender is widely used in aromatherapy for its relaxing properties, it also makes a soothing addition to any bathtub, massage oil or oil burner. Lavender is regarded as having similar properties when taken as a herbal medicine and may be indicated for restlessness and insomnia.




A good night’s sleep is often the first thing that goes out the window when you’re worrying about something and being sleep deprived may further reduce your ability to cope with stress. In clinical studies involving people with insomnia, the relaxing herb Valerian has demonstrated an ability to improve sleep quality and reduce the length of time it takes to fall asleep. For best results, it should be taken consistently over at least two weeks, rather than used only on those occasions when you’re having difficulty dozing off.


Passion flower:

In Western herbal medicine, the sedative herb Passion Flower has traditionally been used to aid insomnia, promote restful sleep and relieve feelings of nervousness, restlessness and anxiety. For these purposes, it is often taken with Valerian.


St John's Wort:

Numerous double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical studies have confirmed the long held reputation of St John's wort for helping to relieve mild-to-moderate depression. NB: St John's Wort may interfere with the way many prescription drugs work, including oral contraceptives. Consult your doctor before using it if you are taking any prescribed medicines.