Anxiety is a problem many people struggle with every day. Some have it but barely even know what it is, just a feeling of worry or malaise they fight every day. Others find it debilitating, with spiraling panic attacks that prevent them from doing anything at all for hours or days.
There is a wide range of different treatments for anxiety at all levels. What we're covering today are some of the more low-level treatments you might consider. Supplements, nutritional changes, and healthy foods can help ease the symptoms of anxiety, but they are rarely going to treat anxiety on their own.
If you struggle with anxiety, by all means, feel free to try some or all of the remedies we mention below. However, if anxiety is getting in the way of your daily life, you should see a licensed therapist and try CBT, as well as explore options for psychiatric drugs. Drugs may be an extreme measure, but hey; if they make your life better, why not use them? They exist for a reason, after all.
If you're trying antianxiety drugs, don't be afraid to tell your doctor when they aren't working. Some people experience worse symptoms on some drugs than without them, and not all drugs work for all people. Likewise, if you're trying therapy and you don't mesh well with your therapist, try someone else. No therapist will hold it against you. They, like you, simply want you to receive the best treatment you can for your issues.
All the while, if you happen to be trying more natural antianxiety remedies, well, maybe they'll help too. None of them will be quite as strong as a carefully formulated pill, but maybe you don't need something that strong. It's up to you and your medical professionals to determine what you need, what works for you, and how you can live your best life.
With the preamble over, let's discuss 25 different natural remedies you can try for anxiety.
Ice is most useful for anxiety attacks and panic attacks. There are two ways to use it; you can either use an ice pack on the back of your neck when you feel an attack coming on, or you can eat some ice chips or an ice cube or two.
The thermal shock of the ice helps to give your mind something to focus on that's not whatever is triggering the anxiety. Using cold water – and drinking it – can help as well, plus it has the added benefit of helping alleviate dehydration.
2. Vitamin A
Taking a vitamin supplement isn't going to help in the middle of an anxiety attack, but it may be able to alleviate anxiety over time. Studies have found that some people with generalized anxiety disorder have low levels of Vitamin A in their systems. Taking a Vitamin A supplement on a daily basis helped to alleviate anxiety symptoms in some of those people. It's not a guaranteed cure, but it can help in those who suffer from mild vitamin deficiency.
3. B Vitamins
There are a handful of different B vitamins, but what you want to look for here is a B Complex supplement. This combination of beneficial B vitamins has been shown to potentially reduce the symptoms of adult depression and anxiety in some patients.
Taking a single supplement once a day can have a small but beneficial effect over time. You don't want to over-do it with any vitamin supplements (some of them can be harmful in overdoses) but using a vitamin as recommended should be fine.
4. Vitamin C
The typical advice to take vitamin C for just about everything still holds true here. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and can help reduce oxidative stress on the body.
Again, chewing a vitamin C tablet isn't likely going to break you out of a panic attack, but it can do a pretty good job of boosting your body's systems over time. As usual, take a single supplement each day as directed. Vitamin C in excess isn't going to hurt you – you'll just urinate it out – but it's still better to take just what you need.
5. Vitamin D
Vitamin D doesn't have any particular evidence to suggest that it has a direct impact on anxiety. What it does have, however, is beneficial effects on general stress and other health concerns. Taking a vitamin D supplement each day can help boost your health and make you feel better overall. You can also spend some time in the sun every day, whether it's on a morning walk or eating outside during a lunch break, and that additional sun exposure can help a lot. Anxiety also responds to exercise, so taking a walk in the sun can help in a number of ways.
Omega-3 fatty acids are the "good" fatty acids, compared to omega-6s, which we get too much of in our diets as it is. Supplementing additional omega-3s in your diet may be able to reduce anxiety symptoms by as much as 20%, according to this study.
You can get the relevant omega-3s from a supplement that contains them, or by eating foods rich in omega-3s, such as fatty fish and other kinds of seafood, walnuts, chia and flaxseeds, or krill oil.
Magnesium is one of those minerals your body needs to function properly, but it can't create itself, so you have to get it from the foods and supplements you eat. Magnesium deficiency has some anxiety-like symptoms, so it might be worth trying. A simple magnesium supplement will give you more than enough as a once-daily tablet, or you can eat foods like leafy greens and nuts to get more of it naturally.
The plant used to brew beer, hops, has a natural sedative effect that can be beneficial in fighting the effects of stress and anxiety.
You don't get those benefits from beer, but you can from using the herb itself as a tea or aromatherapy treatment. Don't over-use it, though, and be careful; it's quite bitter.
Like hops and chamomile, valerian is an herb often used as a sedative in teas and other herbal remedies. You can easily obtain valerian to add to an herbal tea or take it as a supplement in a more concentrated fashion. Combine it with the aforementioned sedative herbs for a better impact.
We mentioned this in passing above, but exercise is one of the most beneficial things you can do with anxiety. In a sense, you're literally running from your fears, eh?
You don't need to actually take up running, but going for a walk, lifting some weights, or getting in a little cardio can get your body in a different mode and take your mind off whatever is causing your anxiety.
11. Arctic Root
Found largely in northern China, arctic root is used in both Chinese and Scandinavian medicine as an herbal remedy. It's one of many substances that shows evidence of being able to boost resistance to stress, which in turn can minimize the effects of anxiety.
Another Indian herb, Bacopa is used in a lot of traditional medicine, though it hasn't made its way over to the US quite as much as some other ayurvedic medications quite yet. It can help reduce anxiety, though it needs more study to see how effective it may be.
If you're going for traditional herbal remedies, nothing can be more prominent than Ginseng.
Ginseng is one of the most common and most used herbal remedies in the world, for treating everything from anxiety to depression to fatigue. Give it a try.
Kava is a very strong natural sedative, similar to valerian or melatonin. It's much stronger than most herbal sedatives and can rival even some commercial sedatives, so it's something you should only consume in moderation, but it can be quite helpful if you need it.
An amino acid found in energy drinks, taurine is a supplement that activates GABA receptors in the brain. One of the medical symptoms of anxiety is low levels of GABA in the brain, so this supplement may be able to alleviate that form of anxiety.
You may be familiar with tryptophan as the ingredient in Turkey that supposedly makes you sleepy after the big Thanksgiving meal. While it's more likely a large amount of food and energetic day led to the sleepiness, tryptophan does have some chemical effects on the brain that may be worth trying for anxiety.
A surprisingly large amount of brain chemistry relies on gut chemistry to function properly.
There's increasing evidence that gut health is hugely important to proper brain function, and anxiety is a huge potential symptom. Try some probiotics, like kombucha or kefir, to give your brain and gut a boost.
18. Holy Basil
Not to be confused with regular culinary basil, Holy Basil is another Indian herbal remedy and is reportedly one of the most revered medicinal plants in India. It, like Ginseng and other medicinal herbs, helps reduce cortisol in the body and reduces stress.
What's more natural than the air you breathe? Fresh air can help with a lot of stress and anxiety symptoms. Opening a window or stepping out to the sidewalk can be beneficial to help you get more oxygen in your system and help improve your mood, reduce anxiety, and live a healthier lifestyle.
20. Any Food
In an almost universally observed trend, most people have higher levels of anxiety and stress when they're hungry. Eating something, even if it's just a few crackers or a granola bar, puts the body to work digesting and takes the mind off anything but flavor for a few minutes, which can be enough to break an anxiety cycle.
21. Peppermint Tea
The last five items on this list are all varieties of tea. Tea, in general, has a wide range of health benefits, both in green/black form and in herbal varieties.
Peppermint tea is an herbal tea with a combination of a warming sensation from the hot beverage and a cooling sensation from the peppermint. The aroma of mint tea has been shown in a variety of settings to reduce fatigue and anxiety with its relaxing effects. Trying out a peppermint herbal blend can be an easy way to reduce some low-key anxiety in your day to day life.
22. Chamomile Tea
Another herbal tea, the chamomile flower is one of the most famous teas for reducing stress. Some studies have shown that long-term consumption of chamomile can reduce the symptoms of anxiety, though this was at larger quantities than you normally get in tea. We recommend drinking a good cup of this tea in the evenings before you go to bed, for its soothing and sleep-promoting effects. This may also help minimize sleep anxiety.
23. Green Tea
Your basic green tea is a great and healthy plant to consume in beverage form. There is a huge array of different benefits that have been studied over the years, with varying degrees of impact. One study found that green tea consistently reduced stress in test groups compared to placebos, and stress and anxiety go hand in hand.
Our caution is simply to avoid drinking too much green (or black) tea in the late evening. Green tea has some amount of caffeine in it, and black tea has more. Caffeine makes it harder to sleep and your sleep quality worse, so try to drink something softer – like an herbal tea or chamomile – in the evenings, and green in the mornings and afternoons.
Ashwagandha is an herb primarily found in India, and like many Indian herbs, it has a near-mystical reputation as a curative. While many of the claims about it and similar plants are exaggerated to the point of nonsense, there's some evidence that this plant – also known as Indian Ginseng or Winter Cherry – might have a beneficial impact on anxiety over time. You can find this herb as a supplement, but you can also brew it as a tea, which adds the benefit of drinking water and other herbs you mix into the brew as well.
Fennel is an herb used in both cooking and consumed as part of an herbal remedy. You can find fennel in your local grocery store easily enough. Brewing up tea with fennel in it may have a beneficial effect on anxiety, as found in this study. Note that the study in question was limited to postmenopausal women, and there isn't a ton of research into the medical benefits of fennel for other people. It certainly won't hurt, unless you really don't like the taste of the herb, at least.
If you're interested in other teas that might help with anxiety, this list is pretty great. There are 23 options on that list for you to explore.