Millions of people are affected by anxiety. While some only find it a minor inconvenience thanks to their own helpful coping methods, others find their anxiety to be overwhelming, drastically impacting their quality of life and making it difficult to think positively and experience comfort and relaxation in most situations.
Several companies have developed medicines to combat anxiety. Unfortunately, most pharmaceutical anxiety treatments have severe side effects, including dependency and a reduced brain function, making them a less ideal treatment for those whose anxiety is strong but manageable, and are not ready to sacrifice their long term health in favor of a temporary medicinal solution. Luckily, there are several safe and natural ways to improve your level of relaxation and reduce your overall anxiety.
Safe Herbal Supplements
While herbal supplements may not be ideal for severe, debilitating anxiety and anxiety attacks, they can be very useful for mild to moderate anxiety. Examples of potential herbal supplements include:
Of all available herbs, Kava has proven to be the most effective as a potential herbal anxiety treatment. Meta-analysis of 7 different double blind studies confirmed that kava is substantially more powerful than placebo in treating everyday symptoms of anxiety. Kava received a bad reputation several years ago when a study linked Kava use to liver damage, however, some researchers have found that the liver damage was caused by a rare allergic reaction, not by the use of kava itself. Furthermore, it was hypothesized that those individuals with adverse liver reactions may have been abusing alcohol at the time of their kava use, indicating that it may be the alcohol combined with the kava, not the kava itself, that created the liver problems. As long as you refrain from alcohol abuse and take the correct dosage, the kava should not have any harmful side effects.
There is no set dosage of kava described by modern researchers, but it is believed that the best dose is around 250mg of kavalactones (the chemical inside of kava responsible for its effects) per day. As always, consult a doctor before taking kava or any herbal medications to decide on a correct dose and possible interactions.
Passionflower has also been considered a treatment for generalized anxiety, but research has only begun more recently. Still, early studies have shown positive results, with effects that can be seen with as little as 45 drops per day dosing. It's still too early to claim that passionflower is a known cure for anxiety, but as research continues, the hope is that this herb will continue to receive positive results in clinical trials.
Additional Herbal Supplements
St. John's Wort used to be considered a useful supplement for anxiety, but has since receive some unfavorable research, so more studies need to be completed before conclusions can be made. Other herbs, such as chamomile (a popular relaxation tea) has also received some positive early results in clinical trials. While research may not be conclusive in any of these areas, these herbs have been shown to be generally side effect free, and those suffering from anxiety may find them to be a soothing addition to their daily supplements. As always, discuss your supplement choices with a doctor.
Positive Therapeutic Outcomes
In addition to herbal supplements, talk therapies continue to be the safest way to address anxiety, because they involve no ingestion or chemicals. Talk therapies have shown impressive benefits for those suffering from anxiety symptoms, and should always be considered before going on any supplement or medicine.
Traditional Talk Therapies – Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most widely researched, and has shown substantial benefits for reducing anxiety, with the least dropout rate and profound long term success. CBT can be fairly expensive, but those that are able to afford it are strongly encouraged to take advantage of it.
Non-Traditional Therapy – In addition to traditional talk therapies, some coaches and counselors are looking to develop other, less expensive therapeutic options for reducing anxiety, such as laughter therapy. For alternative therapies the results are mixed. Few studies have been conducted to find their efficacy, but self-reports seem to indicate that people are finding these therapies beneficial. Trying these therapies is the choice of the anxiety sufferer, and regardless of their clinical benefits, if you experience a reduction in anxiety, then the therapy can be considered effective for you.
As always, new research is constantly being conducted about the potential benefits of both traditional and non-traditional therapies, so new options may be available in the near future.
Treating Anxiety Safely and Naturally
While those suffering from severe and debilitating anxiety may choose to use a pharmaceutical option, those that simply need some additional help managing their anxiety should strongly consider these safer and natural choice. Talk therapies have no side effects, and herbal supplements like Kava and Passionflower are generally side effect free and considerably safer than most traditional medicines.
About the Author:
Ryan Rivera has successfully treated his own generalized anxiety, panic disorder and agoraphobia. His experience with recovery motivated him to help others defeat their own anxiety issues.
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