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6 Natural Remedies for Anxiety

Concerned about the potential side-effects of prescription anti-anxiety medication? Consider these six herbs and supplements, which can serve as natural remedies for anxiety.

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1. Kava

This pepper plant from the Pacific islands has been used for centuries as a natural way to induce sleep and soothe anxiety. It works by affecting levels of calming chemicals in the brain. However, high doses can cause liver damage, so we don’t recommend kava if you have an increased risk for liver disease (if, for example, you drink heavily or take medications that also stress the liver). Talk to your doctor before taking this remedy, so your liver function can be monitored, and to ensure kava won’t interact with other herbs and prescription medication you may be taking. The herb is not without risks, but it’s less risky than most anti-anxiety drugs, which also carry a threat of liver toxicity-and addiction too.

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2. Valerian

Various studies link use of this herb with improved sleep-often a problem when you’re anxious. Take 300 to 400 milligrams of a product standardized to 0.4% valerinic acids. You’ll need to take this natural remedy for a couple of weeks to get the best effect.

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3. St. John’s Wort

This herb is typically used to remedy depression, but a few studies and case reports indicate it may also help reduce symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. For best results, take it along with the herb valerian. Talk to your doctor first because St. John’s Wort can interact with some prescription drugs. Take 300 milligrams of a product standardized to 0.3% hypericin or 2% to 5% hyperforin 3 times a day.

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4. Passionflower

In one study of 36 people with generalized anxiety disorder, those who took passionflower extract for 4 weeks found their anxiety improved as much as those who took the prescription medication Serax (oxazepam). Although the drug worked faster, it also had more side effects, including impaired job performance. Take 1 to 2 droppers full of a passionflower tincture 3 or 4 times a day. You can drop the tincture right in your mouth or put it in a bit of hot water and swallow.

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5. L-theanine

Although clinical trials have yet to find a definitive link between this amino acid and reduced anxiety, many patients report good results after taking it. As a result, L-theanine has made its way into many “calming” herbal preparations on the market. Take 200 milligrams daily.

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6. Magnesium

When you feel anxious and your body heads into fight-or-flight mode, you use up the magnesium in your body. This can create a vicious cycle, since low magnesium levels can contribute to anxiety. Take 100 to 200 milligrams magnesium 2 to 3 times a day.

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