By Tara Brooks, Naturopath
Anxiety does not only affect the brain with repetitive thoughts and excessive thinking, but it also affects the whole body. The sympathetic nervous system or what is more commonly know as the ‘flight or fight’ state increases the heart rate, reduces digestion and increases adrenalin, as well as numerous other physiological changes.
Originally we would only go into this flight or fight state when we were running away from a tiger, literally running for our lives. These days though, it is a regular occurrence. You can imagine that if these physiological changes are constant, it is not great for the body.
Naturopaths can prescribe numerous different herbs that act to reduce the time you are in the flight or fight state and thus decrease anxiety. Here are some of the most effective herbs for reducing anxiety:
- Passionflower: Passionflower helps to relax the nervous system, is known as an anxiolytic, thus a must when reducing anxiety and helps to reduce muscle spasms that are related to anxiety. Herbalist Matthew Wood states that passionflower is suited to those with insomnia from overstimulation of the mind, excessive thinking and chatter in the brain.
- Kava: Kava has been used in the Pacific islands for centuries and is a great herb for reducing anxiety. Kava reduces overactivity of the nervous system and decreases nervous tension throughout the body. Kava can also help reduce insomnia by calming the overthinking brain and relaxing the body.
- Lavender: Lavender is a beautiful herb that is easily accessible and is great to have by your bed at night. A therapeutic dose of lavender will help to reduce anxiety and can also induce your mood. Lavender is not only relaxing to the nervous system but also helps to calm the digestive system.
- Zizyphus: Zizyphus is a great herb for anxiety where there is excessive sweating as well as heart palpitations and irritability. This herb is used a lot for anxiety that is associated with menopause and is also great to generally help relax the body.